Changes Coming To Amex Marriott/Starwood Cards – Here’s What You Need To Know


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Following last week’s announcement that Marriott Rewards/SPG/Ritz Carlton Rewards would all be rebranded as Marriott Bonvoy from February this year it was inevitable that the loyalty program’s co-branded credit cards would be getting a make-over too….and now we know what to expect from Amex.

Amex currently issues 3 credit cards linked to Marriott’s rewards program and, courtesy of historic ties, all are currently carry the Starwood branding – not for much longer.

Name Changes

From 13 February 2019 the three Amex/Starwood co-branded credit cards will be getting new names:

  • SPG Credit Card from American Express Card —-> Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
  • SPG American Express Luxury Card —-> Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
  • SPG Business Credit Card from American Express —-> Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

I have absolutely not idea who thought calling a credit card “Brilliant” was a good idea but it reminds me far too much of the monumentally dumb names Starwood gave to some of its rooms – I hate it.

The “Luxury” card may not have been everyone’s favorite name for the credit card but at least it told you a little about the card itself – the $450 annual fee wasn’t a surprise and the fact that it was attempting to be a high-end card wasn’t a surprise either.

The word “Brilliant” tells you absolutely nothing about the credit card and, instead, just conjures up images of advertising executives attempting to be hip and cool and failing dismally.

If Amex is attempting to foster an image of “style over substance” this is a good first step.

Benefit Changes

The first and most important thing to note is that there are no benefit cuts being announced at this point….but there are a few minor improvements.

Elite Night Credits

Since the beginning of the year the Amex Starwood Cards (soon to be Bonvoy cards) have all offered cardholders 15 elite nights credit each calendar year. These credits can only be earned once per year regardless of how many Marriott credit cards are held by an individual.

Image – Marriott

“Brilliant” Card To Offer $100 Property Credit At Select Properties

From 28 March 2019 the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card (the “Luxury Card”) will offer cardholders up to $100 in property credit per stay when they use their card together with a special rate code to book stays of two or more nights at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties.

This benefit will be in addition to the existing $300/year statement credits that cardholders can already earn from spending at Marriott properties.

Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal

Business Card Holders Can Earn An Additional Free Night

From 28 March 2019 the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card will be able to earn an additional free night award (valid at properties costing 35,000 points or less) when they spend a minimum of $60,000 in a calendar year.

This benefit will be in addition to the free night award (valid at properties costing 35,000 points or less) that the card offers cardholders every year simply for holding the card.

New Bonuses For Cardholders & New Sign-Up Bonuses

Between 13 February and 24 April 2019 the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card will offer a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after $5,000 in spend made in the first three months of Card Membership.

Deals We Like has reported that Marriott has confirmed that these credit cards are just being rebranded so they’re not going to be considered as new products.

This means that restrictions on getting the sign-up bonuses will continue to apply to people who have applied for select Marriott/SPG cards in the past (full details here)

If you were considering applying for one of these cards (and if don’t fall foul of the sign-up bonus rules) you’d be advised to hold off applying until 13 February.

Also, from 24 February 2019, Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card Members whose accounts were opened before January 23, 2019 will be eligible to earn up to 100,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points based on the spend put on the card.

Registration will be required but, once registered, eligible Card Members will earn 25,000 bonus points for every $25,000 in eligible purchases on the card with maximum earnings set at 100,000.

Amex says that the bonus points earning is “through the end of the year” so…

  1. Cardholders will have 10 months in which to earn the full 100,000 points
  2. It will be interesting to see if this a 1-year only bonus or if this will be a permanent feature of the card going forward.

Amex has said that cardholders can expect to receive more information about this offer”soon”.

Annual Fee Changes & A Card Closes To New Applicants

  • The annual fee for the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card will remain at $95
  • The annual fee for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card will remain at $450
  • The annual fee for the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card will increase to $125 (from $95) effective 28 March 2019

From 12 February 2019 American Express will no longer accept new applications for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card.

Per Amex:

When the Card is rebranded to the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card on February 13, 2019, existing Card Members will continue to get access to the Card’s great benefits and offerings, including 6X points on purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties worldwide, the new 15 Elite Night Credit benefit, Automatic Silver Elite status, and an annual free night award (redemption level at or under 35,000 points). The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card will continue to have an annual fee of $95.

This is in line with what we were told when Marriott first announced its new credit card line up  back in December 2017 – American Express would concentrate on ‘super-premium and small business co-branded products’ while Chase will concentrate on ‘premium consumer co-branded products.

New Card Designs

I have trouble putting pretentious advertising speak into normal language so I’m just going to let Amex  tell you, in its own words, what you can expect (although you’ve probably got a pretty good idea considering I’ve used the new card images in the article’s featured image!).

To further bring to life the new Marriott Bonvoy brand, American Express and Marriott are excited to announce a collaboration with Manhattan-based mural and studio artist, Tony “Rubin” Sjöman to design the new Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card. Rubin’s modern artistic Card design is inspired by Marriott’s new visual identity and aims to evoke the desire to travel and explore.

“The shapes within the design emulate a cityscape and the color palette is intended to mirror sunrise and sunset reflecting off buildings,” said Rubin.

Additionally, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card will be offered in a sleek stainless-steel Card design…..

……and the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card will be offered in a sophisticated blue-gray plastic Card design.

The new Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card designs will be available to new Card Members starting March 2019, and the new Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card design will be available starting May 2019.

Existing Card Members will automatically receive the new Card designs over the following months.

I have just one comment to make: I hate credit cards that use a broad “color palette” – it makes them look infantile and like something you’d find in the credit card slots of a new wallet – I’ll be holding on to my old purple version of the card for a long as it still works.

Bottom Line

I like the idea of a further $100 credit for “Brilliant” (Luxury) cardholders but I’d like to know more about the rate code that will have to be used – will this increase the rates above what could have been booked without the code? Will the code only be available for flexible reservations?

We’ll have to wait and see.

Overall there isn’t anything major that’s changing for existing cardholders so here’s a round-up oif the news.

The Amex SPG cards will rebranded as Marriott Bonvoy cards from February, the Luxury card is getting a silly new name, no benefits are being cut (although one annual fee is increasing), there’s an increased credit coming to the Luxury Card, Business Card holders will be able to earn a bonus award night and the entry-level card is being withdrawn to new applicants but it will offer existing cardholders a chance to earn up to 100,000 bonus points through the end of the year.