AMEX Changes SPG Sign-Up – For the Worse!

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AMEX Changes SPG Sign-Up – For the Worse!

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Sometime last night American Express changed the pretty standard sign-up bonus on the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) cards. This all comes after the news earlier this week that the Marriott-Starwood merger would indeed close. Though that’s one of the early and first steps, it is a major one. However, based on past airline mergers, loyalty programs take time to successfully come together.

And, just as we saw with US Airways and Barclays, they pushed that card and sign-ups until the last minute to get as many new acquisitions as possible. One can assume AMEX will be doing the same.

So why the change in sign-ups?

It could be AMEX testing the waters. After all, when Marriott and SPG programs merge, the value of SPG points will change. 25,000 SPG points from a sign-up is not the same as 80,000 Marriott points.

The Benefits

The benefits for both personal and business versions have stayed the same. As a reminder

Personal

  • Annual fee $0 for the first year, then $95
  • Earn up to 5 Starpoints per $1 spent at Starwood properties (varies based on membership level)
  • As a cardmember earn 5 nights and 2 stays towards SPG elite status each year you hold the card
  • Free-in room premium internet
  • Unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at a time
  • No foreign transaction fees

Business

  • Annual fee $0 for the first year, then $95
  • Earn up to 5 Starpoints per $1 spent at Starwood properties (varies based on membership level)
  • As a cardmember eaern 5 nights and 2 stays towards SPG eltie status each year you hold the card
  • Free-in room premium internet
  • Unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at a time
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Complimentary access to Sheraton club lounges

The Sign-Up Bonus Change

The SPG cards typically offer 25,000 points after spending $3,000 (personal) or $5,000 (business). Once a year they usually go up to 30,000 points, and most recently they increased to the unprecedented 35,000.

SPG Updated biz offer

A new and inferior offer.

Now these cards offer two certificates at any category 1 – 5 Starwood. Starwood has 7 categories – unlike Hyatt, Hilton, Fairmont and even Ritz, these card leaves off two of the best and highest categories.

With the points sign-up bonus, you could redeem 25,000 points for about eight nights at a category 1; four nights at a category 3 (after spending), and almost three nights at a category 4, etc. Now you can only redeem a maximum of two nights at a category 5 – about 32,000 points if you’re redeeming at a category 5 and it’s at the higher rate.

The terms say that this offer will end October 19. At that point, I hope it will revert back to it’s old offer of 25,000 (or maybe even 30,000) points, but we’ll have to wait and see.

I did find this old link – use at your own risk. Take a screenshot of it before you apply.

Old link spg

Bottom Line

This is definitely an inferior offer. Not only are you limited to the categories and amount of nights, you’re losing the ability to transfer your points to SPG’s multitude of airline partners. Ironic considering they just announced Avianca as their thirty-sixth airline transfer partner.

Who knows – maybe AMEX will loosen the reigns of once-per-lifetime as they get closer to losing the ability to add new accounts…

-The Miner


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