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Originally posted on 2/24:
Note that AMEX is still in the process of enabling this link for all accounts that had this card before 1/24/19, so if the link doesn’t work for you now, you can try again later today or tomorrow.
Registration will close on 4/7/19 and spending towards a bonus will only start counting after you register.
It has been about 7 months since the Starwood AMEX turned into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight. The longtime valuable card went from earning 3 Marriott points per dollar to 2 Marriott points per dollar, a 33% devaluation in one fell swoop.
Marriott allows you to transfer 60K points into 25K airline miles or 27.5K United miles, so that means card earnings effectively went from 1.25 airline miles per dollar (25K miles/$20,000 spending) to 0.833 airline miles per dollar (25K miles/$30,000 spending) or 0.917 United miles per dollar (27.5K miles/$30,000 spending) after the devaluation.
Marriott said they made up for that by providing a free annual 35K night, but that ignores the fact that the beauty of Starpoints was in their versatility of being used for hotels or airlines, it ignores the fact that you don’t need to spend to earn that, it ignores the fact that the annual free night has an expiration date, and it ignores the fact that the annual free night is limited to hotels costing 35K points or less and you can’t upgrade it to a higher category hotel. Effectively my card was downgraded from the front of my wallet to the back of my sock drawer.
The card is now the Marriott Bonvoy Consumer AMEX and is no longer available to new cardholders (You can still apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card and the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Consumer Card). If you had the card before 1/24/19 you can register via the link above to earn 25K bonus points for spending $25K in 2019 from the time that you register for the bonus. You can also get another 25K point bonus for spending $50K, another 25K point bonus for spending $75K, and another 25K point bonus for spending $100K in 2019.
The max bonus is 100K points, so if you spend $100,000 between 2/24-12/31 on the card, you would earn 200,000 base points plus 100,000 points with this promo, for a total of 300,000 Marriott points.
With this promotion, you can go back to earning 1.25 airline miles per dollar spent (or 1.375 United miles per dollar spent), with the caveat that you’ll only be at that level if you spend exactly $25K, $50K, or $75K, or $100K from the time you register for the promo until 12/31/19.
I value Marriott points at about 0.75 cents each, so this increases the subjective rebate value per dollar spent from 1.5 cents to 2.25 cents.
Of course if you only want airline miles or non-Marriott hotel points, you can do much better that that.
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Ink Unlimited offer 1.5 points per dollar. Combine one of those with other cards from the Chase Quinfecta and you’ll be earning between 1.5-5 miles per dollar everywhere. Plus with the Quinfecta strategy you can transfer those points at a 1:1 ratio into valuable programs like Hyatt, United, and much more, or you can use them at a value of 1.5 cents each towards any paid travel.
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express earns 2 points per dollar everywhere on up to $50K in spending annually, and those points can be transferred into airline programs at a 1:1 ratio without needing any other cards. Best of all? No annual fee!
- Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business and the The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offer 50K signup points plus 2 Capital One miles per dollar. 2 Capital One miles transfer into 1.5 airline miles, so you earn 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere.
- Another big advantage that banks have over Marriott is that their mileage transfers to airlines typically happen instantly, while point transfers from Marriott may take anywhere from 2 days to 6 weeks….
Marriott continues to devalue their program and they haven’t dealt with their customers honestly as you read about here, here, here, here, and here. Hotels are also playing more games with award availability than ever. Marriott has continually eroded the goodwill from SPG loyalists that they had when the merger process started by taking the low road time and time again.
On the flip side, this offer once again offers the prized SPG versatility to choose between earning 1.25 miles per dollar spend on far more airline transfer partners than other credit cards offer, like Aegean, Alaska, American, and Lufthansa, or to use the points for Marriott hotel stays, or throwing out the first pitch of game 7 of the World Series 😉
In the end I’m torn. I certainly don’t trust Marriott like I did SPG. Is it worth investing $25K/$50K/$75K/$100K of spending with them when there are other options that now earn more miles per dollar from companies that don’t have a trust deficit? Or is the Marriott versatility that this offer brings back worth investing in anyway?
The entire question of whether this offer is worthwhile is only if you will exactly spend $25K/$50K/$75K/$100K. If you spend anything lower than or in between those thresholds, the entire proposition loses its value.
Will AMEX run this promotion again next year? That’s another open question and will likely depend on how successful it is in bringing spending back to this card, which has likely cratered since the merger.
I’m still on the fence. What will you do?