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The new Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card is the latest card to join the Marriott stable of Rewards earning credit cards. The first premium credit card to carry the iconic SPG branding, the SPG Luxury Amex comes with full suite of luxury travel perks that, if leveraged wisely, will more than cover the out of pocket expense for holding the card long term.
The new card launches with a limited-time 100,000 point welcome bonus (Offer ends 10/31/2018) and packs top-tier benefits including:
- $300 annual Marriott/SPG hotel credit
- Anniversary free night valued at up to 50,000 points
- Complimentary Gold Elite status and a path to Platinum Elite via card spend
- Priority Pass Select membership
- Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® credit
Here’s what you need to know about Amex’s latest co-brand rewards card.
SPG Luxury Amex Welcome Offer
New cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points with the new SPG Luxury Amex after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first three months. Remember, the SPG cards now earn Rewards points in the combined Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG loyalty program which went live on August 18, so points earned with this card are Rewards points, not Starpoints.
If we use the 3:1 Marriott to Starwood conversion as a gauge, the bonus on this new card is equal to 33,333 Starpoints in the SPG program of old.
The welcome bonus combined with the longterm benefits of holding the card place it squarely in the ‘lucrative premium cards’ category, something to keep in mind when formulating your application strategy for the combined Rewards program. While the earn rate on non-bonus spending isn’t as high as the SPG cards of old, the cards still earn highly flexible points that can be redeemed for stays at 6,500+ hotels, transferred to 40+ airline partners, or exchanged for unique experiences you’ll find hard to get through any other program.
Points Earning Potential and Category Bonuses
- 6x points on purchases at properties that fall under the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG loyalty umbrella
- 3x points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with the airline
- 2x points on all other purchases
The value of these points now lies in their utility. The ability to use them across a wide range of redemptions from ultra-premium hotels to airline transfers to low-end hotels in almost 130 countries around the globe.
From 2019, when Marriott introduces Category 8 and peak/off-peak pricing, you’ll be able to redeem properties at the low end of the Marriott award chart for as little as 4,000 points per night (off-peak PointSavers awards). Any award booking of more than four nights qualifies for Marriott’s fifth-night free policy, which drops that cost down as low as 3,200.
You’ll also receive 5,000 bonus miles every time you transfer 60,000 points to one of the 40+ airline partners, for a total of 25,000 miles in the frequent flyer program of your choice. Perfect for topping off mileage accounts across a wide range of airlines, many of which now partner exclusively with Marriott.
To be frank, the drop in earning power on the SPG cards has seen them fall off the radar as the best cards for everyday spending, but it’s worth running the numbers on how you’ll use the points before deciding on a rewards earning strategy, not focus solely on point values.
For example, World of Hyatt points claim the top spot when it comes to the most valuable hotel points, but Hyatt has such a small footprint compared to Marriott, roughly 650 vs. 6,500 properties. The lower value of Rewards points buys a kind of flexibility that Hyatt can’t deliver in the respect there are 10x more properties to choose from.
SPG Luxury Amex Feature Benefits
The SPG Luxury Amex falls into the premium travel card category due to the $450 annual fee. To help offset the annual fee, and provide additional value for cardholders, Amex provides top-tier benefits you’ll receive year-on-year just for holding the card and paying the annual fee. Benefits include:
$300 Annual Marriott Credit
We rate the annual hotel credit on the SPG Luxury Amex as a key feature of the card and assign it close to face value when offsetting the credit against the annual fee. Here’s why.
Unlike annual travel credits provided on some premium cards, which are only good for specific incidental purchases like airline baggage charges or upgrade fees, the $300 hotel credit is good for any purchase made directly with Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood, including the cost of your room. All you need to do is charge everything to your room, and use your SPG Luxury Amex to pay the bill when you checkout.
Provided you spend at least $300 per year with Marriott, that you would have spent whether you held the card or not, you can write the full value of the credit off against the annual fee. And, for what it’s worth, if you're not spending $300 in the next year at one of the 6,500 properties under the new Marriott program, this card should not be on your application radar.
Anniversary Free Night up to the Value of 50,000 Points
One of the most valuable perks of any co-brand hotel card, and often the motivation to hold it long term, is the annual free night provided when you pay the annual fee.
The SPG Luxury Amex provides an anniversary free night up to the value of 50,000 points, good for one night at any Category 6 Marriott/SPG property pricing out at standard rates. From 2019, when the new award rates kick-off, you can also redeem the free night at Category 7 properties that are pricing at off-peak seasonal rates, hotels that would typically cost 60,000 points per night.
Compared to the 35K annual free nights offered on Marriott’s mid-tier co-brand cards, the 50K free night is enough to put you well inside the luxury hotel category, redeemable at top-tier hotels like The Westin New York Grand Central, or the iconic Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel which can comfortably fetch $400+ per night. Between the $300 hotel credit and the annual free night, you can more than account for the $450 annual fee.
Marriott Gold Elite Status
Another benefit is receiving Gold Elite status in the newly combined Rewards program, with the opportunity to spend your way to Platinum Elite by spending $75,000 in a calendar year. Earning Gold Elite the organic way would require you to stay a minimum of 25 nights in a calendar year. Gold Elite status provides:
- 25% Bonus Points on Stays
- 2 p.m. Priority Late Checkout (Based on Availability)
- Enhanced In-Room Internet
- Gold Welcome Gift (Points – Varies by Brand)
- Enhanced Room Upgrade (Based on Availability)
- Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
- Complimentary In-Room Internet Access
- Member Rates
- Mobile Check-In/Services
- Dedicated Elite Reservation Line
If you plan on sleeping your way to elite status with Marriott, from 2019 the SPG Luxury Amex will offer 15 Elite Qualifying Nights every year you hold the card. Unfortunately, if you hold more than one Marriott or SPG co-brand card, you can no longer stack the elite night credits as Marriott has capped the maximum credits allowed across all cards at 15 per year.
Priority Pass™ Select Membership
Complimentary airport lounge access has become ubiquitous with premium travel rewards cards, and you would be hard pressed to find a top-tier rewards card that doesn’t offer some form of lounge access. To that end, the SPG Luxury Amex receives a full Priority Pass Select membership, providing unlimited complimentary access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide for the primary cardholder + 2 guests (when permitted). Additional guests are charged at $27 per person.
Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
The SPG Luxury Amex provides a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application costs every four years. Global Entry and TSA Pre provide streamlined access through the security lines at airports and select major events in the U.S. Global Entry includes access to TSA Pre✓, and also wears a higher price at $100 as opposed to $85, so if you want to maximize this credit we recommend applying for Global Entry over TSA Pre✓®.
Marriott has introduced new (and overly complex) application restrictions for its revamped credit card lineup. In addition to the Amex ‘once per lifetime per card’ policy on receiving welcome bonuses, the new SPG Luxury Amex is also subject to complicated new application restrictions laid out by Marriott that affect both the Amex and Chase co-brand cards.
The SPG Luxury Amex is considered a brand new credit card product which means all new card applicants qualify to receive the welcome bonus provided they meet the rest Marriott’s criteria.
The first restriction is one we all know well:
“Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.”
The second part is where it gets a little tricky. I think this policy will trip a lot of applicants up as they apply across both card providers, and contain provisions restricting applicants from acquiring personal cards if they hold, or have held, the business card and vice versa.
“Effective 8/26, welcome offer not available to applicants who (i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card from JP Morgan in the last 30 days, (ii) have acquired The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, or The Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a welcome or upgrade offer for The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, or The Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.”
Breaking that down, new cardmembers will not be eligible for the new SPG Luxury Card welcome bonus if they:
- Currently hold a Ritz-Carlton co-brand credit card (or have held the card in the last 30 days)
- Acquired any of the three Marriott co-brand cards issued by Chase in the past 90 days
- Received a welcome or upgrade bonus on any of the three Marriott co-brand cards issued by Chase in the previous 24 months
These new application restrictions will lock a huge portion of the points and miles community out of getting the welcome bonus on the SPG Luxury Amex.
The SPG Luxury Amex card is open to applications and is offering a limited-time 100,000 point welcome bonus for new cardmembers. The card features an array of premium perks including a $300 annual Marriott/SPG credit, an annual free night to the tune of 50,000 points, complimentary Gold Elite status, and international lounge access via a Priority Pass Select membership.
If you want to get your hands on the latest premium rewards card to hit the market, you’ll need to fine-tune your application strategy to factor in the new application restrictions for Marriott and SPG co-brand cards.
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