spg amex card

SPG Amex Review: Is This Credit Card Still Any Good?

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The SPG Amex credit card used to be touted as one of the best travel credit cards. Is it still as good as it used to be? We’ll find out. Since the merger of Marriott and SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) hotels, the co-branded credit cards have changed. Especially the SPG Amex credit cards due to the changes in their point structure.

During the merger, SPG points were converted at a 1:3 ratio into Marriott Rewards points. Because of this, the SPG Amex introductory offer changed from a typical 25,000 points to the now 75,000 points. The introductory offer was not the only thing that changed with the SPG Amex. We’ll review the Amex SPG card in more detail to figure out if it’s still a good credit card or not.

 

Changes to the New SPG Amex Card: Features & Benefits

The SPG Amex credit cards made it through the merger still intact, but they had some changes in the process. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. We’ll try to decide whether the card is still good overall.

New Earning Potential with the SPG Amex Cards

The earning potential from the cards changed. Purchases used to earn 1X on all non-bonus spending. Now those purchases earn 2X points which may sound better but it’s not. SPG points were converted into Marriott points during the merger at a 3:1 ratio. This means that points are now a third as valuable. Because your purchases now earn 2 points, that means you’re getting a final value of 2/3 what you used to.

One positive change to how points are earned is the addition of bonus spending categories for the Amex SPG business card. It now earns 4X points on US restaurants, gas stations, on cell phone services from US providers and on US shipping purchases.

Free Night Awards on Your Cardmember Anniversary

The huge positive change to the cards is the addition of a free anniversary night at hotels up to Marriott category 5 (up to 35,000 points). Having a free night award each year more than offsets the annual fee that the cards hold. Marriott has 8 categories, but there are some amazing properties in category 5. Check out our review of the best Marriott category 5 resorts in the United States to get an idea of what you can use your free night on.

Elite Status with Marriott

With the Amex SPG business Card, you’ll earn automatic silver elite status and gold status if you spend over $35,000 on your card in a year. Silver Elite status within Marriott Rewards gives you a 10% earning bonus when you book a Marriott room and priority late checkout. These benefits aren’t worth much, but they’re better than nothing I suppose. Gold status gives you enhanced room upgrades, but spending $35,000 on this card might not be worth it.

Between the status upgrade and the extra spending benefits, it’s obvious that the business SPG Amex is the clear-cut winner between the two cards. If you’re able to get the business card, it’s a no-brainer over the personal card considering they have the same annual fee and the business card has more benefits. It’s mind-boggling why the two cards aren’t exactly the same as far as benefits.

amex spg card

 

Amex SPG Card

75,000 Points After Spending $3,000 in the First 3 Months

spg card art marriott category 5

Learn More >>

  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Anniversary Free Night: Earn 1 free award night at a category 1-5 Marriott property after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Boingo Wi-Fi: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices after enrolling.
  • Bonus Earning Categories: You’ll earn 6X per $1 spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels. Earn 2X points on all other qualifying purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived in year 1)
  • Terms Apply

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Amex SPG Business Card

75,000 Points After Spending $3,000 in the First 3 Months

spg business card art marriott category 5

Learn More >>

  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Anniversary Free Night: Earn 1 free award night at a category 1-5 Marriott property after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Boingo Wi-Fi: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices after enrolling.
  • Bonus Earning Categories: You’ll earn 6X per $1 spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels. Earn 4X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, cell phone services from US service providers, and on US shipping purchases. 2X points on all other qualifying purchases.
  • Elite Status: Complimentary Silver Status with your Card. Earn Gold Elite status after spending $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Note: starting January 1, 2019, the spend threshold will increase to $35,000.
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived in year 1)
  • Terms Apply

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Marriott Rewards Points FAQ

  • Does Marriott Have Transfer Partners?

Yes, since the merger Marriott Rewards now has the most transfer partners of any points system. Marriott points can be transferred to airline miles at a 3:1 ratio (plus 5k bonus points for every 60k Marriott Rewards points transferred). The best airline options are Alaska Airlines, Japan Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, All Nippon Airways, and Korean Air.

  • How much are Marriott Rewards points worth?

Marriott Rewards Points are worth approximately 0.8 cents per point when redeemed for hotel stays and 0.7 cents when transferred to partner airlines.

  • Do Marriott Rewards points expire?

Yes, they only expire if you don’t earn or spend any Marriott Rewards points in a 24 month period. As long as you earn or spend at least 1 point, the expiration date will extend another 24 months. Because points are stored in your Marriott account and not in your credit card account, points will not expire if you cancel your card.

 

Booking Free Nights with Marriott Rewards Points

Marriott Rewards has eight different redemption categories, ranging from 7,500 points all the way up to 85,000 points per night. These point levels are for booking a standard room (not including peak and off-peak dates). As seen in our review of the category 5 resorts in the US, there are some great properties to stay at for a reasonable amount of points. Personally, I prefer the award chart of Hyatt to this as their points are much more valuable.

You can also transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards to Marriott just like you can with Hyatt. The problem is you’ll lose a ton of value transferring to Marriott because their points are worth so little compared to their competition.  Here is a chart that shows how many points it will take to book a free night in each Marriott Rewards category.

CategoryOff-PeakStandardPeak
15,0007,50010,000
210,00012,50015,000
315,00017,50020,000
420,00025,00030,000
530,00035,00040,000
640,00050,00060,000
750,00060,00070,000
870,00085,000100,000

*Category 8 will not be used until Feb 1st, 2019

**Only Standard Rates will be used through 2018.

 

Earning Marriott Rewards Points

Marriott Rewards points can be earned in multiple ways. By far the easiest way is by applying for any of the credit cards that earn Marriott Rewards, such as the two SPG Amex cards. You’ll earn enough Marriott Rewards points through the introductory offers to stay up to 10 nights at some of the lower end hotels or one night at their top end properties after a bit of spending.

You’ll also earn points by making purchases on the cards, although you could be earning more value by spending on other cards. It seems that with the new Marriott Rewards program, the best value for points is on their high-end luxury properties. They used to cost hundreds of thousands of points per night, but now can be had with 70,000 points if you book during the “Off-Peak” season.

 

Marriott Rewards’ 5th Award Night Free

One thing that is great about the Marriott Rewards program is their 5th Night Free perk on award nights. If you book a stay of 5 nights using your points, you’ll only pay the number of points for 4 nights. When booking a room at a Marriott category 8 hotel you would pay 340,000 points instead of 445,000 which is a pretty big chunk of points saved. With that said, keep in mind on your next Marriott stay that if you’re booking 4 nights, you might as well add an extra night considering it’s complimentary.

amex spg business card

 

Understanding Your Annual Free Night Award

After your cardmember anniversary with the SPG Amex credit cards, a free night award will appear in your Marriott Rewards account. You’ll find the award night on the “Activity” page. To use your free night award, you’ll log in to your account and search for a hotel night selecting the “Use reward points” checkbox. On the “Reservation Details” page, you’ll have the option to use your free night award. Continue booking your stay as you normally would. Your Free Award Night credit will be applied to the reservation giving you a free night.

Note, that at some hotels you will still have to pay a “Resort Fee”, which is a made up worthless fee charged by many hotels to get extra money out of you for basically nothing extra in return.

You’ll be able to use your free night award on any category 1-5 hotels, but be aware that only Marriott category 5 hotels with standard or off-peak pricing will be bookable. Category 5 peak pricing is above the 35,000 point limit that comes with your free night award.

Are you just short of having enough points for the room you want? When booking a stay with Marriott Rewards, you have the option to use both points and cash. This is pretty handy for those straggling points you can’t seem to figure out how to use. Also, if you have any other questions about booking a stay using Marriott Rewards you can check out Marriotts official FAQ page.

 

Redeeming at Category 5 Hotels will get the Best Value

As mentioned above, you can use your free night awards at any Marriott category 1-5 hotels, but you’ll usually get the most value if you stay at a category 5 resort. With the addition of Starwood hotels, there are now a total of 1138 Marriott category 5 hotels worldwide and 695 in the United States alone, so you’ll have many to choose from.

Free night awards at category 1-5 Marriott hotels can be worth a high value. The value of your stay ultimately depends on where you stay. Some Marriott category 5 resorts can save you upwards of $700 for a single night!

Yes, you’ll have to pay the $95 annual fee for the SPG Amex cards every year. But, if you use your free night award for a hotel stay costing more than $95, it’s worth it. It’s easy to find a hotel stay that will at least cover the $95 fee you pay. For instance, you could use your free night at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. It sometimes costs over $700 per night! By using your award it would be like paying $95 for a $700 room. I’d say that’s a pretty valuable redemption.

 

Remember, the best way to earn Marriott points is by getting an SPG credit card. Plus, you’ll get a free night award every anniversary.

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