Thursday, June 28, 2018

New earn rates and benefits revealed for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

For sometime now we've known what the earn rates and benefits will be on current and new U.S. issued Marriott and Starwood credit cards from Chase and American Express respectively. Here in Canada we have not, we have only been able to speculate on what changes will happen to the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. The time has come and now we know what is happening to the card when the three loyalty programs that are owned by Marriott become one this August.

As speculated the earn rate on everyday purchases, that is earning on non-Marriott/Starwood hotel purchases is matching that of the U.S.. This earn rate is 2 points per dollar spent. This is a devaluation from the current earn rate of 1 Starpoint per dollar spent which is equivalent to 3 Marriott Rewards points. So you'll see a 33% reduction in earn for most spending made on this card. For Marriott and Starwood purchases, the new earn rate will be 5 points per dollar - again another devaluation from the current promotional rate of 2 Starpoitns per dollar or 6 Marriott Rewards points. You may be asking why didn't they match the cards in the U.S. on the hotel stay earn rate and I can only speculate that it has to do with the fact that the majority of their hotels are not in Canada and they are taking into account exchange rates. Think about it, a US$100 hotel stay will earn 600 points with a U.S. card but at 5 points per dollar with the Canadian card you'll earn roughly 650 points (US$100 = ~ C$130 x 5 points = 650 points) So the Canadian card will in fact earn more per Marriott/Starwood stay than it's U.S. counterpart. No matter what though it is a still slight devaluation from the promotional earn rate we've become accustomed to.

Now, it's not only the earn rates that are changing on the card, some of the benefits are changing as well and are actually better now and should help offset some of the decrease in points earning. The best news is the change to the free night award benefit. Currently when you spend $40,000 or more on the card annually you get a Category 1-4 free weekend night certificate and that spend requirement will be gone. Every cardholder will now get an annual free night redeemable any night of the week at eligible SPG and Marriott properties with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points (Category 1-5 in the new combined program) This free night will be awarded automatically each year after your anniversary date. This is actually better than the free night award that came on the Chase Marriott Premier Visa card, that one only gave you the equivalent of hotels up to 25,000 points!

The other benefit that sees a change is the elite status benefit. The current SPG card awarded Gold Status when hit $30,000 of spending on the card annually and while that remains ryou'll receive automatic Silver elite status in the new program just by being a cardholder. So if you were one who never hit $30,000 at least you now get some recognition!

You can see now that the card is taking some of the benefits from the discontinued Chase Marriott Premier Visa Card (the Cat 1-5 certificate and automatic Silver status) without eroding the current SPG card too much. If you were used to the Chase card you are getting a better earn rate and insurance package and still get two of its three major benefits. The only one missing is the no foreign transaction fee. That's pretty good a deal. If you've had the SPG card now for sometime it may be hard to get used to the new earn rates but hopefully the new benefits will help make up for that. I think American Express has done a good job in recreating this card for the new program, I knew based on the U.S. cards that there was no way we'd get a 3 point earn rate for everyday spending but I was a little surprised that the hotel earn rate is only 5 points per dollar spent. I thought even with exchange rates and such they would have gone with 6 points like the U.S. card and the fact that its equivalent to the current 2 Starpoint rate they have already been providing.

My wife carries this card and once I learned about the new earn rates and benefits I know we'll keep it in our family portfolio as the Free Night Award is worth more than the annual fee itself.

If you hold the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express the card has the same benefits as above but has one more somewhat better earn option. It will earn 3 points for every dollar in Card purchases on eligible gas, dining and travel. If you make a lot of purchases in those three categories it may be worth it the get the business card over the consumer card.

One last thing we don't know yet is if the sign up bonus on the Starwood cards will change come August. They are going to be in the U.S. so one can hope the same will happen here.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Card Type: Credit   
Annual Fee: $120 Additional Card Fee: $0
Annual interest rate 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on funds advances; Missed payment applicable rates, 23.99% and/or 26.99%

• New Starwood Preferred Guest®* Credit Card from American Express Cardmembers, earn 50,000 bonus points after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership.*
•  Earn 5 points for every dollar in eligible Card purchases at participating SPG®* and Marriott Rewards®* properties.*
•  Earn 2 points for every $1 in all other Card purchases.*
• Receive an Annual Free Night Award at eligible hotels and resorts worldwide every anniversary*
• No annual fee on Additional Cards
• Redeem points for free nights with no blackout dates at over 6,500 of the world's most desired hotels.*
• Automatic Silver Elite status membership.*
• Enjoy an automatic upgrade to Starwood Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in purchases on the Card each year.*
•  American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.
• Conditions apply

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