Marriott & Starwood New Combined Loyalty Program – New Credit Cards Coming


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With Marriott having now announced almost all of the major details surrounding the new Marriott Rewards/SPG Traveling For Miles is today dedicating 3 posts to everything you need to know about the combined program and then changes that are coming our way.

Following on from my earlier post (which just covered the facts surrounding the new combined loyalty program) I’m now going to take a look at what we’ve been told we can expect from the new Marriott/SPG credit cards that will be coming out later this year and what changes are coming to the credit cards that are already available.

The Marriott Credit Cards – New & Old

At the beginning of December 2017 we found out that Marriott would be maintaining a credit card relationship with Chase and Amex after the Marriott Rewards and SPG programs were merged.

We were told that American Express will be introducing ‘super-premium and small business co-branded products’ while Chase will offer ‘premium consumer co-branded products’…..but that’s about it. Marriott didn’t tell us what these cards would offer.

Now we have a much better idea.

The New Chase Credit Card

On 3 May 2018 Chase will introduce a new Marriott co-branded credit card – the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card.

The card will come with a $95 annual fee and the following benefits:

  • 6 points/dollar spent at Marriott & Starwood properties
  • 2 points/dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Annual free night award at any property valued at up to 35,000 points
  • Silver elite status for as long as the card is held
  • Gold elite status after spending $35,000 in an account year
  • 15 elite night credits every calendar year (coming in 2019)
  • Free premium internet access at participating Marriott & Starwood properties (from August 2018)
  • No foreign transaction fees.

The Existing Chase Credit Cards

Chase Credit Cards

The existing personal Chase Marriott co-branded credit card will be slightly tweaked to allow it to earn points at Starwood properties as well as at Marriott properties. The earning rates remain the same on this card as do the annual feee of $85and the free category 1 – 5 certificate (ie. properties valued at up to 25,000 points/night).

On significant change is that the 15 night elite credit is now only obtainable one per year regardless of how many cards you have that offer this benefit.

The Chase Marriott Premier Business credit card keeps all of its earnings too but will now also earn 2 points/dollar on internet, cable and phone services as well as airfare booked directly with airlines. The card will still cost $99/year and, just as with the personal card, the Business card will continue to offer 15 elite nights credit per year (but this is now limited to just one 15 night credit per marriott member) and the free category 1 – 5 certificate (ie. properties valued at up to 25,000 points/night).

Lastly, spending $50,000 on this card will continue to earn the holder Marriott Gold status

Thoughts On The New Chase Card

At $95 the new card is $10/year more expensive than the current Chase Marriott co-branded Visa card and, for that, you get:

  • 1 point/dollar more at Marriott & Starwood properties
  • 1 point/dollar more everywhere else except for restaurants, car rental agencies and airline tickets
  • A better free night award valid at properties valued at up to 35,000 points rather than 25,000 points per night.

That seems a pretty good deal for just $10 extra per year but there is one interesting thing missing. Marriott’s new literature is still showing the existing personal Chase co-branded card and the Business card as earning 1 elite night credit per $3,000 spent while there’s no mention of this benefit for the new card.

This may be a crucial difference to those looking to spend their way to elite status or even elite lifetime status.

The Amex Credit Cards

In August 2018 American Express will introduce a new high-end credit card with a $450 annual fee.

The new Amex will come with the following benefits:

  • 6 points/dollar spent at Marriott & Starwood properties
  • 3 points/dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2 points/dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Annual free night award at any property valued at up to 50,000 points
  • Gold elite status for as long as the card is held
  • Platinum elite status after spending $75,000 in a calendar year
  • Up to $300 of statement credit in each card membership year for eligible purchases at Marriott or Starwood properties.
  • 15 elite night credits every calendar year (coming in 2019) – limit of one 15 night credit per Marriott loyalty program member.
  • Priority Pass membership which includes up to two guests
  • $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck credit every 5 years
  • Free unlimited Boingo WiFi worldwide
  • Free premium internet access at participating Marriott & Starwood properties (from August 2018)
  • No foreign transaction fees.

The Existing Amex Credit Cards

As of 1 August 2018 the current personal Amex Starwood card will start to earn Marriott Rewards points rather than Starpoints at the following rate:

  • 6 points/dollar spent at Marriott & Starwood properties
  • 2 points/dollar spent on all other purchases

The annual fee remains at $95 but there are a few new perks coming:

  • Annual free night award at any property valued at up to 35,000 points
  • Silver elite status for as long as the card is held
  • Gold elite status after spending $35,000 in an account year
  • 15 elite night credits every calendar year (coming in 2019) – limit of one 15 night credit per Marriott loyalty program member.
  • Free unlimited Boingo WiFi worldwide
  • Free premium internet access at participating Marriott & Starwood properties (from August 2018)
  • No foreign transaction fees (not new).

There are changes coming to the current business version of the Amex Starwood card too and, as of 1 August 2018, this is what cardholders can expect the card to offer:

  • 6 points/dollar spent at Marriott & Starwood properties
  • 4 points/dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. wireless phone services & shipping **new**
  • 2 points/dollar spent on all other purchases

Also:

  • Annual free night award at any property valued at up to 35,000 points
  • Silver elite status for as long as the card is held
  • Gold elite status after spending $35,000 in an account year
  • 15 elite night credits every calendar year (coming in 2019) – limit of one 15 night credit per Marriott loyalty program member.
  • Free unlimited Boingo WiFi worldwide
  • Free premium internet access at participating Marriott & Starwood properties (from August 2018)
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Thoughts On The Amex Cards

The earning rates on the $450 premium card are disappointing as they’re not significantly better than what you’ll get on the $95 non-premium cards.

On a positive note the annual free night looks interesting at a value of up to 50,000 points and the $300 statement credit should be easy to spend every year and will help offset the annual fee…but Gold elite status but Gold elite status is no longer what it once was and the remainder of the benefits are a bit lacklustre for my liking.

High spenders (and those who generate spend on credit cards) may like the chance to earn Platinum status by spending $75,000 but, for most of us, there are a number of other cards on which that kind of spend would probably be more rewarding.

The existing SPG cards will continue to earn points at hotels at the rates they have had in the past and there are some nice additions coming.

I like the free night award benefit (up to a value of 35,000 points) and the addition of Boingo internet to the personal card is a nice touch.

The addition of a few categories to the business credit card which allow cardholders to earn 4 points per dollar may be useful for some but the fact that the categories are limited to US establishments is a big negative for me…especially when it comes to dining out.

Lastly, I don’t see the option of being able to earn Gold status after spending $35,000 as a major benefit as Marriott Gold status will soon be worth a lot less than it is now.

Bottom Line

The new card from Chase looks interesting as, for just $10 more per year than the existing card, the increased benefits are well worth it and I like the positive changes to the existing Amex SPG cards too.

I’m a bit underwhelmed with the premium Amex credit card as it doesn’t really have a USPs that I can see. I guess the annual fee can technically be considered to be just $150 as the hotel credit is easily earned but, aside from the free night every year, I’m not sure there’s too much here to entice all that many people.

The biggest annoyance for me is that the Amex cards limit the ability to earn points in some of their bonus categories to US locations/retailers and, considering these cards are designed to be used when traveling, that’s more than a little mean.

What do you guys think of the new cards and the changes?

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