Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The Starwood American Express free night voucher is now valid ANY day of the week

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Whilst the merger of Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards does not happen until 18th August, the changes to the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card take place today.

I had thought there were only two changes:

The earning rate will move from 1 SPG point per £1 to 3 ‘new scheme’ points per £1.  This is in line with the 1:3 exchange rate being used by all other ex-Starwood partners.

The free night voucher, triggered when you spend a whopping £25,000 in a card year, moves from being valid on a Category 1-4 hotel to being valid on any hotel costing up to 25,000 points per night

Starwood American Express UK free night voucher

There is a third change, however, which I didn’t know about until Amex sent me a fact sheet on the new card yesterday:

The free night voucher is no longer restricted to weekends.  You can use it on any day of the week as long as reward nights are showing and the reward night costs 25,000 points or less.

I am obliged to remind you that the representative APR on this card is 39.7% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. The interest rate on purchases is 22.9% variable.

Note: Because we won’t know the name of the combined Starwood Preferred Guest / Marriott Rewards loyalty scheme until January, I have used the phrase ‘new scheme’ in this article to describe the programme as it will be from 18th August.

Where can you use the free night voucher?

Historically there were a grand total of FOUR UK hotels where you could use the free night voucher.  You could of course use it globally, at any Starwood hotel which cost up to 10,000 points per night (so 30,000 ‘new scheme’ points equivalent) but that figure gives you a good impression of how useless it was.

From today, the free night voucher will be valid at any Marriott or Starwood hotel costing up to 25,000 points per night, using the new reward chart from 18th August.

Importantly, what emerged yesterday is that you can now use your free night during the week.  This improves the value a little, since most hotels are more expensive on midweek nights.

SPG American Express card UK

Whilst the free night voucher will only be valid at hotels costing up to 25,000 points per night, there is a LOT more opportunity to use it because the Marriott portfolio is also available to you.

Just looking at the UK, these hotels are now bookable on the SPG American Express free night voucher:

  • Aberdeen Marriott
  • AC Hotel Birmingham
  • AC Hotel Manchester Salford Quays
  • Aloft Liverpool (reviewed here)
  • Aloft London Excel
  • Bexleyheath Marriott
  • Beardsall Priory Marriott
  • Bristol Marriott City Centre
  • Cheshunt Marriott
  • Courtyard Aberdeen Airport
  • Courtyard Glasgow Airport
  • Courtyard London Gatwick
  • Durham Marriott
  • Forest of Arden Marriott
  • Glasgow Marriott
  • Hanbury Manor Marriott
  • Heathrow / Windsor Marriott
  • Huntingdon Marriott
  • Leeds Marriott
  • Leicester Marriott
  • Lingfield Park Marriott
  • Liverpool Marriott City Centre
  • London Marriott Twickenham
  • Manchester Airport Marriott (photo below, reviewed here)
  • MOXY Aberdeen Airport
  • MOXY Glasgow
  • MOXY London Excel (reviewed here)
  • MOXY London Stratford
  • MOXY Heathrow Airport
  • Newcastle Gateshead Marriot Metro Centre
  • Northampton Marriott
  • Peterborough Marriott
  • Portsmouth Marriott
  • Preston Marriott
  • Renaissance London Heathrow
  • Residence Inn Aberdeen
  • Sheraton Heathrow
  • St Pierre Marriott
  • Swansea Marriott
  • Tudor Park Marriott
  • University Arms, Cambridge
  • Waltham Abbey Marriott
  • Worsley Park Marriott

This is obviously a substantial improvement – we have gone from four UK hotels where you could use your free night voucher to 43.

However, don’t get carried away.  Spending £25,000 on an Amex card is NOT easy – and your only reward is a free night at a relatively low-rent hotel …..

Manchester Airport Marriott

Should you consider getting the SPG American Express card?


The free night benefit may be rubbish (it IS rubbish, let’s be honest, and remains so even with another few thousand ‘cheap and cheerful’ potential places to use it) but here’s why the card makes sense for many readers:

You can get the Starwood Amex irrespective of what other American Express cards you hold

Even if you already have a Gold / Platinum charge card and a British Airways American Express card, you can still get the sign-up bonus on the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card.

It comes with a good sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios

The sign-up bonus is 30,000 ‘new scheme’ points.  30,000 ‘new scheme’ points should – subject to final confirmation on 18th August when we see the new chart – convert into 10,000 miles with over 40 airlines, including Avios and Virgin Flying Club.  Used for hotel rooms, you should get £150 of value from your 30,000 points.

There is a low spend target to trigger the bonus

You only need to spend £1,000 within 90 days to receive 30,000 ‘new scheme’ points as a sign-up bonus.   This should not be tricky for most Head for Points readers, given that the BA Premium and Gold / Platinum cards have far higher thresholds.

It is a good way of earning airline miles if your airline no longer has a credit card

Now that Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa, American and United no longer have UK credit cards, the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex is the best way to earn miles in these programmes.  There are also 30+ other airlines who never had a UK credit card, such as Air Canada and Qatar Airways, where this credit card is the best way to earn miles in the UK from day to day spend.

You receive double points for spending at Starwood or Marriott hotels

Until 31st December 2019, you will earn 6 ‘new scheme’ points, worth about 3p, for every £1 you spend at a Starwood or Marriott property

You get ‘new scheme’ Gold status for spending £15,000 in a card year

This isn’t worth much, to be honest, because ‘new scheme’ Gold has few benefits.  More importantly, you can Gold status for free simply by taking out an American Express Platinum charge card, no spending required.

The £75 annual fee is refundable pro-rata if you cancel

You can cancel the card at any point and receive a pro-rata refund of the annual fee.

If you collect Marriott Rewards points, it is a great way to build up your balance.

Just don’t focus too much on spending £25,000 on the card to trigger the free night voucher, because there are far better places to put your long-term spending …..

My full review of the Starwood Amex credit card is here.  You can apply for the card here.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – February 2024 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

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Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

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You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

Virgin Money is offering double points on spending until 14th April (£5,000 cap) to new customers when you apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard. Click here to learn more.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

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Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year Read our full review

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For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

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Comments (88)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • K says:

    Hi Rob

    Do you have a press release or something about the free night being valid for any night of the week? I just called SPG and they tried to apply it for a weekday night, but not working. They were not aware of any change in T&C that such award nights can now be used for any day. Maybe nights vouchers awarded from today onwards?

    • Rob says:

      I only have an internal Amex doc, which to be fair did not mention existing certs.

  • Rob Walker says:

    So we know if this applies to vouchers already earned?

    • Rob says:

      I assume yes but don’t hold me to that. It has to move to points based because of the category changes, the only question would be over whether it moves to weekdays or not.

  • pixie says:

    christ, just call them ‘marriott points’ you pedant

  • Roberto says:

    Still not had my points into my Starwood account from last months sweep ( on the 14th ) from my SPG Amex..

    And getting the run around from Amex who its appears dont have a clue.. They said they sent them , Starwood said they have not recieved them.

    Are others still in the same boat?

    • Graeme says:

      I had 800 or so points move over last night. Just missed out on the spend bonus going over – gutted about that.

    • Russ says:

      Same here. Called amex last night saying I wished to cancel the card but have points in limbo. They’ve confirmed card cancellations means forfeit of all outstanding points so have to keep the card open. Nice earner for someone.

    • E says:

      Yes, me too. Should have gone across around the 14th and still not in my SPG account. Amex have agreed to open a case for me but not heard anything back from that yet. Waiting for about 2200 SPG points which I really wanted to hit before the 18th.

    • Mun h says:

      Yep still waiting for points to post from July 12th. Opened a case but have to wait 5 days which is tomorrow. The wife had points posted within 24 hours yesterday so its obviously a problem with my account. I’m due my next points on the 12th August so are concerned these won’t post until after the 18th!!

  • Rash says:

    For those thinking of churning or closing, I rang yesterday to cancel and was offered double points for the next 3 months to stay. I know others have been offered the same to stay

    • Robman says:

      So, is double points for 3 months an attractive offer or should those considering cancelling cancel anyway and hope to churn in 6 months time, if card still around?

    • Mr Dee says:

      Yeah will try this next time and spend 200k to make up for them taking my lounge/breakfast away with my Marriot Gold

    • Alan says:

      Interesting that one is still doing the rounds – could be tempted – esp (as it seems) the self-referral from Plat avenue is gone.

  • The Urbanite says:

    I’m currently on a bonus SPG point promo with Amex. Will report back in 3 or so days what the effect is with this new scheme.

  • Adrian says:

    Hi Rob, do you get any “elite nights” for having the card?
    There’s a link off the Marriott site showing there will be 10 “elite nights” for the new creation Marriott card, when it arrives (it says August), just wondered as this may help towards retaining Plat for some people.

  • pointsarb says:

    OT Trying to refer a friend to the SPG card from my Plat but the only cards showing for the friend to choose from even when clicking “view other cards” is the Gold & Plat.

    Has this changed recently?


    • Mark says:

      you’re right I just tested my link and it only lets you refer within the ‘family’ Rob any news on this?

      • Rob says:

        Oh yes …. Just checked a BA, Gold and SPG link and you can no longer cross-refer outside the same family.

        • Alan says:

          Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo that’s a major devaluation of the new referral setup, was so good 🙁 Have you heard this as an official change, Rob, or is it just an IT glitch?

        • Optimus Prime says:

          In that case, time to cancel my Amex Plat as soon as I hit the signup bonus…

        • Matt says:

          That’s annoying – just when I thought holding a Platinum card would work for me long term they change this. Bye bye Platinum!

        • the real harry1 says:

          The good news is: my new purple Nectar card attracted many more admiring glances today from the gels on the tills (we were shopping for plants in 5 different garden centres & DIYs!)

      • mike says:

        ouch, that’s gonna hurt.

        that is most hfpers churn strategy out the window then. back to the drawing board.

        • Genghis says:

          Yes. I’ll have to update my planning spreadsheet. Back to his n hers…

        • Optimus Prime says:

          Need to think about what to do with mine. Have 10 flights scheduled till year end, all outbounds ex-LGW. First one is at the end of this month, if we like the Granary Store I may keep it for 6 months.

        • the real harry1 says:

          No need to be over-hasty, comrades! 🙂

          I’m sure we can work it out. Still a generous scheme – might have been slightly too generous but if you now can’t go direct, go round the sides!

    • AndyGWP says:

      Argh 🙁 fingers crossed it was a glitch (thought it was my work computer playing up when I tried at lunchtime!)

    • Jeferson says:

      Oh no, I just came here to read the comments if someone else also had that.
      I just tried to do Plat->SPG and failed miserably 🙁
      I’m going to hold it until the merge and see if that changes by any chance.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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