No Marriott, The Starwood AMEX Card Will Not Be Richer Than Ever. You Are Just Changing What I’ll Use It For

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David Flueck, SVP of Global Loyalty for Marriott, helped launch the Starwood AMEX, so he should know a thing or 2 about creating a valuable card. After all, the Starwood AMEX has endured as a valuable card for well over a decade, no easy feat in the competitive credit card space.

Which is why I was surprised to hear this from Mr. Flueck today about the SPG AMEX card,

Most cardmembers spend under $35,000 and if you spend under $35,000, the card just got richer. Which is amazing news for the vast majority of cardmembers. On your everyday spend it’s true, it’s going to 2 points per dollar. But you also get a free night certificate up to 35,000 points, and that’s why it gets richer for anyone that spends under $35,000.

For those that spend more, that’s why we launched the luxury card, which is fantastic. It comes with a free night up to 50,000 points, a $300 statement credit when you stay in Marriott hotels, a $100 Global Entry credit, and you can spend $75,000 to get Platinum status. For those people who are high spenders, I think they’re going to love being able to get Platinum in our hotels.

That statement has more spin on it than my washing machine.

Mr. Flueck is asserting that the Starwood AMEX cards will give richer rewards for most people despite that as of August they will only award 2 Marriott points (0.67 Starpoints) per dollar instead of 3 Marriott points (1 Starpoint) per dollar. That’s because the card will give a free annual night at hotels that cost up to 35K points.

That would be fine and dandy if the card gave a 35K annual bonus, but it does not. A free night is valuable, but it is not worth 35K points.

  1. The free night will be awarded regardless if you have any spending at all, so it won’t have any effect on the equation of which card I use for my everyday spending.
  2. The free night will expire after a year, while 35K points does not.
  3. If you have 35K points and want to stay at a hotel that costs 40K points that’s perfectly fine. However the 35K anniversary night can’t be used for anything towards a 40K hotel night.
  4. The most surprising part of his assertion to me, is that Mr. Flueck surely knows that many people use the Starwood card as way to earn extremely versatile and valuable points. It’s an excellent way of earning transferable airline miles or hotel stays. The free night is great, but it does nothing to help the card’s value proposition for earning a versatile currency.

I think it’s great that Marriott managed to keep the redemption side of Starwood intact. But their murder of the Starwood AMEX card as a go-to card for spending shows just how clueless they are about what SPG loyalists fans loved about their credit card.

There are cards that excel for a great signup bonus, cards that excel for their benefits, and cards that excel for spending.

The Starwood AMEX has had a smaller signup bonus than some other cards. It doesn’t have some of the flashy travel benefits that other cards have. But it has always excelled as a card for everyday spending. It has earned 1 Starpoint per dollar (equal to 3 Marriott points) which could be transferred into 1.25 airline miles, used for hotel stays, or used for experiences like playing softball in Wrigley Field or throwing out the first pitch before Game 7 of the World Series.

That will all change in August when the card will only award 2 Marriott points (0.67 Starpoints) per dollar spent. Instead of earning 1.25 airline miles per dollar spent you will only earn 0.84 airline miles per dollar spent. The card will go from a great option for everyday spending to a really crummy one.

The Starwood business card at least gets a small bone. It will earn 4 Marriott points per dollar (1.33 Starpoints per dollar) on US restaurants, US gas stations, US wireless phone services, and US shipping charges. However the only category there that’s mildly compelling is gas stations because other cards give much bigger bonuses for the other categories. Even the gas station category isn’t all that compelling for me as my local Costco gas station is always much cheaper than other stations and they no longer take AMEX cards.

Frankly, I’m surprised that AMEX allowed Marriott to do this. This card will no longer be competitive with other more lucrative everyday spending cards and that will hurt both AMEX and Marriott in the long run due to fewer people using the card and less points being sold by Marriott to AMEX.

Yes, I’ll keep my Starwood cards open for the free annual night and valuable AMEX Offers. But I won’t use the card for everyday purchases after 8/1.

I’m even more surprised that AMEX is launching an ultra-premium $450/year Starwood Luxury card that will still only earn 0.67 Starpoints per dollar spent. Sure, that card has even better benefits that can make this a compelling card to have, including an annual free night with a value up to 50K points, $300 Marriott credit, Global Entry, and Priority Pass. But I’m shocked that even the premium card doesn’t make a compelling case for everyday spending. It’s great for those who need to earn Platinum status via $75K in credit card spend, but doing that means earning 0.84 airline miles per dollar instead of 1.5-2 airline miles per dollar on other cards. That’s a massive sacrifice for a status that gives free breakfast (though surprisingly not at Ritz-Carlton), 4pm late checkout (though not guaranteed at resorts where they are most useful) and potential suite upgrades at checkin, but won’t come with confirmed suite nights as those are only awarded to those who have 50 actual hotel nights.

In other words, it’s easy to recommend having all 3 Starwood AMEX cards for their free nights and other benefits, but very hard to justify putting everyday spend on the cards.

That’s a shocking 180 degree turn from the Starwood AMEX that I’ve loved using for the past 12+ years that has excelled at everyday spending.

In summary, Mr. Flueck is correct about the card becoming more valuable, but only for people that spend nothing on their card. They will enjoy the free annual night that will be worth more than the annual fee as well as benefits like free premium WiFi and silver elite status.

However he’s wrong about adding value for the vast majority of cardmembers. For most people, Marriott has destroyed the incentive to actually take the Starwood AMEX card out of their sock drawer and use it for everyday spending. And that’s a real shame.

You can view a chart comparing the Starwood AMEX changes on 8/1 here.

How will your spending habits change after the 8/1 SPG AMEX changes?

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102 Comments On "No Marriott, The Starwood AMEX Card Will Not Be Richer Than Ever. You Are Just Changing What I’ll Use It For"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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Chapshnell

Effective 8/1 this card will collect dust. Goodbye SPG CC, you were a good friend for many years.

Robert

I’m not going to accrue more SPG points. I have enough SPG points to take advantage of the discounted rates come August assuming they are even available. All the aspiration properties will be flooded with points stay on Aug 1.

Anom

So what card will you be using for your everyday purchases after 8/1? Is the Ink business cash a good alternative?

MarkG

Reality is that 3 Marriott points per 1$ spend is too good, and who in the hell would get a Chase Marriott card getting 1 or now 2 points when they could get 3 with the SPG card? So 3×1 was too good, and also banks need to offer the same earnings. So…it sucks…but makes sence. Amex have no other option…

Nun

No it was not too good. Maybe 12 years ago yes but not today. Simply Cash, BBP, and Double Cash are all better for daily spending and have fee. If you want to pay then FU and CSR combined is better in all ways

Mike

If you don’t travel yearly and generally saved points from spending to use later on it seems like the card has little value at all now

bigissy

Dan, with all your knowledge Amex should hire you and make a DansDeals cc. It would be the best program

Alex

Thank you, Dan! Well said.

Jinxiang

Should I transfer all of my starpoints to Marriott before 8/1?
I’ll be using my Freedom Unlimited for my everyday spend.

Michael

What exactly will be the difference between Gold and Platinum in regard to upgrades?

Joe

What status will AMEX platinum card holders receive in the new program?

Dancinteach

What other good credit card options are there to replace these by gone benefits? Is the chase sapphire reserve a good second best?

Mike

I’m done with my SPG card come 8/1. I’m moving to the Chase Quadfecta. SPG and Amex are of no further use to me. Dan – Will Amex refund my $95 annual fee since they are essentially changing the program terms in the middle of my membership year?

Harry

Couldn’t agree more ;(

Marc m

Do u suggest the Marriott card as a substitute?

Rissie Stroh

If I have a nice amount of Marriott points, is it worth to combine them now to use for Starwood as 3 points into one star point ? Or just use them in the future to stay at a Marriott ?

miriam

When do the anniversary night awards begin? In August? So the fist time you hit an anniversary following August is when you get an award? I just closed an spg card because of it was my anniversary and was charged $95 – I’d reverse that for a free night.

miriam

When are the new cards issued? Any idea what the sign-up bonuses will be like?

JB

dan, i think we have to look at the new hotel classes. They claim they will be downgrading many..If the hotels go down in class, which in turn means less points per night, it might help compensate for the loss of everyday points..I think its a wait and see-what do you think?

Al

“as well as benefits like…SILVER elite status”. Did you really write that?! LOL

Admirer of Dan

Why is everyday spending on SPG before 8/1 better than spending on Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5x) and redeeming through CSR?

Emgee

As the death sentence for this card is closing in, maybe it’s a good time to make a post of the best ways to MS with this card…

Help me out

What about the benefits of the spga amex like returns. Warranty. Etc. Any other card have easy claims?

Rob

Yep major screw up. Spg cards are no brainer cancel for me now. I don’t need a night at a Fairfield inn 20 miles out of city center.

puzzlefighter

Hmm, can I reapply to this card and still receive a sign up bonus now that it has become such a different product?

collegegirl

So should I sell/use my points before then or the value will still be the same. If yes which is better to sell/use – around 80K points.
Thanks!

Avi

Dan, Will the bonus categories on the amex luxury card be capped?

M

What will happen with the 7 night certificates will they stay in the same category? I know they didnt mention it what’s your best guess?

Eli

I disagree. With the new chart, 2 Marriott points will have the same value as 1 SPG point now. Look at all the Spg cat 7’s only costing 60k Marriott as opposed to 90k now.

M

Do you think it will shift in August or there will be a sweet spot till 19?

gshorter

Will Lifetime Gold Marriott become Lifetime Platinum in the new program.

Shimino1

The SPG is my go to card for everything not coded as travel.
Once it drops to .67 ppd I will switch to Amex Plat or Chase Ink.
It is a simple math: 1 MR/UR > .67 SPG

Heidi

Will spg business still offer free lounge access?

Heidi

If hubby and I both have Starwoods and Marriott and looking to consolidate should I combine the SPG to one family member before the merge? Not sure if Marriott allows that.

Hf

Dan, I already called up AMEX to tell them I’ll be cancelling my 4 separate accounts if they can’t convince Marriott not to do this (I spend over 2mm a year on the card)… of course I’m only 1 person and it won’t do anything. Do you think if almost everyone calls AMEX to tell them they’re cancelling their cards that AMEX would fight for us?

Berel

I have the AMEX SPG business card and Chase Marriot Rewards Premier Business card… any reason to keep?

Jon

Regarding February chart change… do you think can lock in lower rate by booking February stay in advance?

Reader

Do you think once they see all the negative PR and internet backlash on the reduction as well the drop in customer spending they will revert / increase the points per dollar on the spending to the way it’s currently .

Laura

I have a 7 night, Cat 1-5 Marriott certificate that won’t expire until november 2018. I already extended it 1 year (from last november to this november). I’m trying to figure out if it would make sense to use Marriott points now to increase the category to a 6 or a 7, in hopes of getting some of the nicer SPG categories. Obviously, we don’t know anything about the categories, so redemption is still a huge question mark. Any advice?

A

What would be the best hotel card to open now?

chaim

is there any way to let them know that will stop use this card and most probably the majority of the consumers will do the same

Reader

Maybe with a massive pressure from social media on twitter /Facebook travel blogs and a big online petition with a few hundred thousand signatures

David Friend

Add to that Marriott raised the level on hotels like the Sheraton TLV from 5 to 6. A double whammy!

Bg

Dan, How many points per dollar will be awarded to the canadian starwood amex card in august?

PSL

First AMEX loses the valuable Costco account, then it hikes fees on its Platinum card, and now it devalues the SPG card. Three strikes, you’re out!

Njmacman

If I have 750000 Marriott points now and 75000 spg points now and want to book a Ritz Carlton, what is the best way to pay points for a night?

Curtis

I’m going to optimistically keep my hopes up that as 8/1 approaches, they realize their mistake with the luxury card only earning 2x, and they upgrade it to 3x. We’ll see…

A guy

Should i get the chase Marriott AND amex spg now so i could get 25k spg+75k marriot then not use them after 8/1

Dr Moose

Is the Starwood Luxury card going to be a charge card?

Karl

Is there any advantage to using my ~40K SPG points before August to transfer to airline partners and get 50K miles, or will that transfer ratio remain the same after then? That’s my main use of SPG points. Thanks Dan!

Bill

I agree. The 21 Starwood Amex cards that my small business uses will go dormant. .84 airline transfer is not competitive.

Jim

The value of these cards is even greatly diluted by the increase in the number of points required to stay at the Starwood hotels. The Number of points required to stay at the Disney Dolphin hotel went from 10,000 Starwood points to 50,000 Marriott points. So now I need to spend $25,000 to earn a free night instead of $10,000.

M thomas

Yesssss. This is horrible

Diana

I absolutely agree. I have been a Starwood platinum card holder with Lifetime Gold Starwood status for 22 years. Having Marriott buy Starwood is A HUGE DISASTER. I’m seriously thinking of using Hilton Honors instead. Marriot took the BEST reward program and turned it into the WORST. They not only won’t match other companies rates for the same hotel, they won’t even match their own rates on their website once you’ve booked with them. They say,” the cancellation period has passed.”. Starwood would allow you to cancel your reservation the DAY OF until 6 pm. AND they ALWAYS matched a better rate! Also, Marriot wants to charge a PREMIUM in points on certain times of the month that are more busy. And they won’t issue a redemption certificate in advance as Starwood did. I don’t trust Marriot at all!!!! They are going to lose MANY customers to HILTON;. starting with me.

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