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Change is coming to the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card portfolio and to Marriott Rewards. The new hotel credit cards and program don’t debut until August of this year, but when they do the partnership will offer more travel benefits and ways to earn points to redeem hotel stays, experiences and more. Here’s what changes are coming for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card and Marriott’s new loyalty program.
The expanded Starwood Preferred Guest American Express portfolio
The expanded suite of cards that allow cardholders to maximize their point-earning potential includes Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury, consumer and business cards. The consumer and business cards have been an AmEx/SPG staple, but both are getting numerous upgrades. The Luxury card, however, is brand new and scheduled to roll out with Marriott’s revamped rewards program.
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
The new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury card is designed with premium, business-class customers in mind. The card will come with an annual fee of $450 and automatic Gold elite status. Additional cards are available at no additional fee and cardholders will receive a statement credit of up to $300 for purchases at participating hotels worldwide.
Cardholders will also earn 6X points at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels, 3X points at restaurants in the U.S. and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on other eligible purchases. Other benefits include a $300 on-property credit to use at Marriott International hotels and one annual Free Night Award (at a property worth up to 50,000 points per night) upon renewal of the card.
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury card also promises a tempting welcome bonus after an initial spending limit, but they haven’t disclosed what it will be yet. You can, however, sign up for updates here. Other benefits include unlimited lounge visits for cardholders and up to two guests through the Priority Pass program, a statement credit every four years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre√, and complimentary Gold elite status. Cardholders can also earn Platinum Elite status after making $75,000 in eligible purchases on the card in a calendar year.
Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Consumer and Business Card Upgrades
The already well-established cards in the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card portfolio, the Consumer and Business cards, are also getting upgrades.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express cardholders will receive 6x points for each dollar of eligible purchases at over 6,500 participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels across 110 countries worldwide. They’ll also earn 4X points in small business categories including U.S. restaurants, gas stations, U.S. wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. providers, and shipping purchases in the U.S. They’ll also earn 2 points for all other eligible purchases.
The ability to earn 100,000 bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership is also substantial. The offer ends 10/31/2018.
In addition, cardholders will now receive credit for 15 nights towards their next level of elite status and again every year after. They’ll also receive complimentary Silver elite status immediately and have the ability to earn Gold elite status after spending $35,000 on the card in a calendar year. An annual Free Night Award (at properties valued at up to 35,000 points) is also on the table after card renewal each year.
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card and Marriott Rewards
All three of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit American Express cards are also linked to Marriott’s award-winning guest-loyalty program, Marriott Rewards, in addition to SPG. That includes Ritz-Carlton Rewards, too, and means cardholders can redeem points at nearly 6,500 participating hotels and 29 brands in 127 countries around the world.
How does this all fit in with the newly revamped Marriott Rewards program? Since Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest will be combining into one simple program and point structure, collecting points from participating hotels will be much easier. Marriott estimates members will earn up to 20% more points for every dollar spent under the new combined program. Members will be able to combine points from all three platforms in August. A new moniker for the combined programs won’t be released until early 2019, though.
Earning status will also be easier with the new Marriott Rewards program. All programs will line up with SPG’s tier system. That means members can earn Silver elite status after just ten nights and Gold elite status after just 25 nights. Likewise, they’ll earn Platinum elite status after 50 nights and Platinum Premier elite status after 75.
According to Marriott, a single points currency will be introduced under the new unified benefits. In August, SPG members will see their points balance triple. On top of that, members will all earn ten points for every dollar spent at all brands except for Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element (which will offer five points per every dollar spent). Plus, they’ll also earn points for food, beverage, and incidental purchases during their stay.
There will be no blackout dates, but there will be a free night award chart with standard point pricing across all hotels. The Moments experiential booking platform will be expanding, too. That means in addition to hotel stays, members can use their points to book once-in-a-lifetime experiences around the globe.
The Bottom Line
Coupled with the new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card, it will be easier than ever to rack up points for free stays at Marriott hotels, including Ritz-Carlton and SPG properties. If you’re a traveler who values the Marriott Rewards or SPG system and quality service American Express is known for, this is good news.