This past weekend marked the official integration of the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Starwood Preferred Guest hotel loyalty programs. While integrated, the three programs will still run under separate names until the new year when a unified program name and name for the currency will be revealed. So right now, the currency is being simply referred to as ‘Points’ and we still have the Starwood branded credit cards until then.
In anticipation of the integration the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express was pulled from the market temporarily in late July. It had already gone through one transformation earlier in the year when the typical bonus points offered for getting the card was replaced with hotel credits. We knew that the U.S. card would be getting bonus points offer back as those details were revealed several months ago. At that time we asked Amex Canada if the same thing would happen here and they said it would but wouldn’t reveal what the offer would be.
Fast forward to today and we now know what the offer is with the relaunch of the card today. The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express will now offer 50,000 bonus points in the new program when you spend $1,500 on the card within 3 months of approval. Now 50,000 points may sound big but you have to remember those are points for the new program (well essentially Marriott Rewards points) and those are worth 1/3 of what Starpoint was worth before the integration. To compare apples to apples, this 50,000 point sign up bonus is the equivalent of 16,667 Starpoints and you will probably recall the card offered a 20,000 Starpoint bonus for the longest time, with 25,000 being recently offered for old Marriott Visa cardholders. The base sign up bonus on the card was 15,000 Starpoints but we hadn’t seen that in several years so one could take 20,000 as the level to compare to the new card. This means the new sign up bonus is nearly 17% lower than what we were accustomed to.
Here’s the thing though, 50,000 points is still a pretty good sign up bonus based on the new combined program award chart. Its value, anywhere from $400 to $500 is still significantly higher than many other card sign up bonuses in Canada.
It can get you up to 10 nights in a Category 1 hotel during off-peak times, 4 standard nights in a Category 2 hotel, 1 night in a Category 6 hotel during standard times or even Category 7 for off-peak. Still 60,000 points (which would equal 20,000 Starpoints) would have been an ideal bonus offer to offer on this card, at least for a limited time, to soften the blow of the lower card earn rates and lesser elite benefits in the new program.
The sign up bonus is not the only decrease on the card, as we previously revealed in June, the everyday spend earn rate on the card is also lower. The card will earn 2 points per dollar spent.
This is a down from the previous earn rate of 1 Starpoint
per dollar spent which was equivalent to 3 Marriott Rewards points. So it is a 33% reduction in earn for most spending made on this card.
For Marriott and Starwood purchases, the new earn rate is 5 points
dollar – again another devaluation from the previous promotional rate of 2
Starpoints per dollar or 6 Marriott Rewards points.
On the bright side, as we already knew as well from the post in June the card does now come with annual free night award without the spend requirement that was on the previous iteration of the card and it also includes automatic Silver Elite status which isn’t much but better than nothing I guess! The card also retains Gold Elite status after $30,000 in spending however that elite status level has lost some lustre in the new combined program. It has also been mentioned in literature from American Express that the card will provide elite night credits starting in 2019. Our guess would be 15 like we saw on the Marriott Visa card.
It is unfortunate to see what has been one of the best cards in Canada take some of these hits to what made it so good. I know some people may not get the card now but the value is still relatively high when comparing it to other cards in our market. For us, we already have this card in our family card portfolio and will keep it for the annual free night, the elite night credits that will come in 2019 and for paying for our Marriott and Starwood stays.
How about you? Will you apply for the new version of the card? Or if you already have it will you keep it? Let us know in the comments section below!
To learn more about the Marriott SPG integration please visit our resource page here.
Here are the details of the re-released Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express: