My gosh, I really don’t want 2019 to come at all… it will mean the end of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), the best hotel chain in the world. SPG has always had a special place in my heart due to their uniqueness, luxury, incredible redemption opportunities, and elite benefits. Ever since Marriott acquired SPG, it hasn’t been the same, sadly. I’ve stayed at a number of SPG hotels after August of this year… and I’ve felt the difference. Suite upgrades are harder, I have to fight for basic elite benefits (such as lounge access), and I can certainly feel Marriott’s “corporate” environment.
In August, American Express launched the new Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury credit card with a number of benefits. This is in addition to the already existing Personal and Business AMEX SPG Credit Cards, which have been available for a long time. Going forward, both AMEX and Chase will issue credit cards for the combined SPG/Marriott programme – which is great news as competition between banks only brings joy to us consumers.
SPG points were multiplied by 3, in order to be aligned with the Marriott points structure – so 1 previous Starpoint equals 3 new Points. You can still transfer to airlines at the same ratio – which is now 3 Points to 1 airline mile. The transfer bonus still remains in place – so I’m overall happy with Marriott’s decision to keep this unique aspect of SPG. In fact, Marriott added a bunch of other new airlines as transfer partners, most of which have a 3:1 ratio.
The new AMEX SPG Luxury Card is awesome. I applied for it the day it launched and was instantly approved (thanks, American Express!), and have been using it daily. The current sign-up bonus is 100,000 points after making $5k or more in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. This is a limited time offer which is scheduled to expire on 31 October 2018. 100k points is a great deal and it more or less represents the previous sign-up bonuses on the AMEX SPG credit cards. The card does come with a $450 annual fee, however the annual fee is well worth it given that the card comes with a $300 annual SPG/Marriott credit when you make purchases at hotels. There are no foreign transaction fees when using your card outside of the United States.
The earning structure is as follows:
- 6 points per $1 spent at participating SPG and Marriott hotels
- 3 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
- 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
The AMEX SPG Luxury card also includes other benefits such as a free night award every year after your card account anniversary – the free night can be redeemed at hotels that cost 50,000 points per night or less. The card also includes Gold Elite status, with an opportunity to earn Platinum Elite status after spending $75,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year. Like most $450+ annual fee credit cards, this card also includes a Priority Pass Select membership with unlimited lounge visits for you and up to two guests. A $100 statement credit for Global Entry or $85 statement credit for TSA PreCheck is also a benefit (limit to one credit in a four year period). There are also a number of other benefits including premium internet access, roadside assistance, car rental loss and damage insurance, etc.
You can redeem points for free nights at over 6,500 SPG and Marriott hotels across 29 brands. You can also transfer points to over 40 different airlines.
Is this card worth it? If you are loyal to SPG/Marriott, then absolutely. When you factor in all of the benefits and the $300 annual credit, this card is only slightly more expensive than the regular AMEX Personal and Business SPG credit cards. I think the biggest benefit for new cardmembers is the sign-up bonus… you can do a lot with 100k and even after completing minimum spend, you will have more than 100k points.
I will be keeping this card for however long possible and I’ve cancelled my Personal and Business SPG AMEX cards (which I’ve had for ages) and I think this card is a great replacement for the “regular” credit cards if you have Platinum Elite status or above (which includes lounge access and complimentary suite upgrades). My only complaint is that the card isn’t metal – you would think it is based on the image online, but it actually isn’t. It is also one of the first major credit cards in the U.S. to include a “tap” feature – you don’t have to swipe or insert the chip, you can just tap your card and pay (just like you would with your iPhone, for example).
All in all, if you love SPG and stay with SPG/Marriott, then I think this card is for you. The benefits are worth the annual fee and the limited time sign-up bonus is huge – enough for a bunch of free nights at some awesome hotels. If you are thinking about applying, you still have around ten days before the sign-up bonus is possibly changed or reduced. As a loyal SPG Platinum Elite, it was a no-brainer for me to get the card and I plan on having it for a long time.