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The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is one of the oldest credit cards that I hold and, as of 13 February 2019, the card is no longer open to new applications.
There was a lot of ‘noise’ in the days leading up to the card’s closure to new applicants with what appeared to be a significant number of people rushing to open the card while they still had the opportunity to do so.
My feelings towards the card were slightly different.
Back in July 2018 I explained that because I hold both Chase Marriott and Amex SPG credit cards I couldn’t see the point in keeping both open and, as my SPG Amex annual fee recently became due, I called up American Express to cancel it.
Before I go any further allow me to recap my thinking.
I currently hold the legacy Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit card on which I have an offer from Chase to upgrade to the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card in exchange for 50,000 bonus points (both these cards will soon be rebranded with Marriott Bonvoy names).
The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card offers pretty much exactly the same benefits as my SPG Amex and, as I don’t often get to use the free night certificates that come with both cards, I didn’t see the value in keeping both cards open.
Before my annual fee hit I had decided that I wouldn’t upgrade the SPG Amex to the Luxury Card (now called the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card) and that I’d prefer to hang on to my Chase card rather than it’s equivalent Amex….so it was time to cancel.
A little over a week ago I called Amex with the specific intention to either secure a retention bonus or to cancel my Platinum Card while on this call I was focused on just getting the card cancelled.
My Amex Cancellation Call
It took a representative less than 10 seconds to answer my call and I immediately let her know that I was calling to cancel my Starwood Preferred Guest credit card.
Unlike with my call regarding the Platinum card I made no mention of the retentions department and I gave no indication that I wanted to do anything other than cancel.
Within a minute, the agent had transferred me over to “the department that deals with cancellations”.
I’m pretty sure this is the same department that handles retentions as the agent that I spoke to politely tried to talk me out of cancelling by pointing out the SPG Card’s benefits.
6 points/dollar for spend with Marriott – ” I already get this with my Chase Marriott Visa”
2 points/dollar for spending on Rental Cars, Restaurants & Airfare – “I earn significantly more in each of those categories with other credit cards I hold…like my Platinum Card”
Free night certificate for use at properties costing no more than 35,000 points/night – “I already get one of these with my Marriott Visa from Chase and I’ve struggled to use it on a few occasions in the past and Marriott’s recently announced hotel category changes won’t made things any easier”
The agent was going to carry on listing the card’s benefits but I decided to save us both some time and, while doing my best not to be impolite, I jumped in and said that I had already given this quite a bit of thought and I’d just like to cancel.
Silence followed for about 10 seconds (I thought I’d been cut off) before the agent asked me to “hold for a minute”.
I did as asked and, after a bit of typing, the agent came back with “we have two offers for you that may change your mind”
I was being given a retention offer without having asked for one and, considering I haven’t had a retention offer on this card for 4 years, I really wasn’t expecting one.
I have to confess that I wasn’t expecting very much but this is what was put to me:
- $75 statement credit for spending $2,000 in 3 months
- 20,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 in 3 months
The SPG Amex Card costs $95/year so the first offer doesn’t quite cover the annual fee…but the second offer was far more interesting anyway.
I value Marriott Bonvoy Points at 0.6 cents each so the 20,000 bonus points is worth $120 and that’s a very good deal for me – I would essentially get to cover my annual fee, get a ‘free night certificate’ (which I may or may not be able to use) and I’d walk away with a net profit of $25.
What sweetens the deal a little more is that I have $2,000 of Marriott spending which I can bring forward and use to meet the retention bonus requirements – this means I won’t be missing out on earning more valuable points from other cards as I work to meet the spend requirements of the retention bonus.
Naturally I accepted the bonus points offer, thanked the agent and then ended the call.
I know that a lot of people love the idea of having both the Chase and Amex Marriott cards because they get use out of the ‘free night certificates’ and these more than justify the annual fees….but I’m not in the same position.
In most years since I applied for the Chase Marriott Visa I have either failed to use the free night certificate, had to book a lesser hotel for one of my trips to make sure I used the certificate or had to make a stay I wasn’t really planning on making just to use the certificate up….and most of that is a colossal waste of my time and, in some instances, money.
I genuinely felt that I no longer had a use for the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express so I was more than happy to cancel and move on.
As it is I’ll keep the card for another year, earn 20,000 bonus points and see its name changed to the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card…..which is a name that just sounds wrong.