The Starwood Amex free night is now valid ANY day of the week – but is it worth getting?

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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

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.

SPG Amex

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?

Yes.

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 miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Bits: changes to HFP for August, have lunch with Clare Smyth, BAEC drops Atlantis / One & Only
My review of business class on Iberia's brand new A350 (coming to BA's A350's?)
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Comments

  1. 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?

    Thanks!

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

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

        • 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?

        • Not heard anything …

        • Optimus Prime says:

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

        • 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!)

      • 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.

  2. Mr Dee says:

    Bit annoying that I spent 15k to get Spg/Marriot Gold just for the lounge/breakfast and now they do us over on the benefits.

    • Us too. Hope the so called resort fee charged in Hawaii includes breakfast, as we won’t get that now with our Gold. Shame really. One of the main reasons to transfer to spg then marriot. Annoying to say the least.

      • Have you sent your feedback to Marriott? – Might be worth a shot, i mean they upgraded a load of people on the Plat challenge pretty easily!

  3. Frankie says:

    Apologies if I’ve missed posts on this due to being on holiday, but my SPG AMEX credit card account (which I took out a few months ago) shows a balance of 0 and it had about 12000 points and I can’t log onto my SPG account as it says it has been merged to another one and I should log onto that account..but I don’t have an alternative account…. I know amex have suspended transfers but it’s showing as 0.

  4. There’s currently a 25% bonus when you convert 20k SPG into miles. Does anyone know if this will stick under the new scheme? i.e. will 60,000 Marriott points still convert into 20k base + 5k bonus Avios?

  5. Andrew S says:

    Interestingly I logged in to my Amex account and noticed the referral bonus from SPG Amex is now 9,000 POINTS, not the 5,000 STARPOINTS it used to be. The referral lands on a page only for the spg card (no alternative cards given), with a bonus of 33,000 points for those referred (i.e. The same as 11,000 starpoints), 3 points/£, but no mention of the SPG gold or free benefits).

  6. Looking on the AMEX website. It says double points on Marriott hotel spend until 31 December 2019. Is this new (or a typo)? Previously, I’ve only seen this confirmed until end of 2018 and it would imply the card is going to continue at least throughout 2019.

    • Andrew S says:

      True the linked pdf for the terms of the extra points refers to 31 December 2019 now, so that implies the card will survive at least until then

      • May close to new applicants earlier …. although absolutely no proof of this to be clear.

  7. Slighly OT, but Amex related: If I upgrade to platinum from the gold charge card, does the card upgrade come into effect before I actually receive my new card in the post? What I mean is, will any spend I make on the gold card once the platinum is showing on my online account, but before I actually receive the platinum card itself and buy things on that, count towards the threshold spend for the bonus? Thanks

  8. Robin N says:

    I have the SPG Amex solely because it was a no brainer to bank 10k starwood points for £75. Do I use it now? NO!!! I will probably cancel it, wait for 6 months and then reapply. My reasons below:
    1) SPG/Marriott cards in the US blows the UK card away
    2) UK card doesn’t give any elite night credits (this is a major drawback now that the status can’t be achieved on stays)
    3) £25k spend to get a free night at hotels that will usually cost between £60-£110 if booked in advance.

    Rob – Is there any news on the relaunch of UK Marriott credit card?

  9. faffing says:

    didn’t know it was going 3x – much better than the US cards which are going 2x and thus becoming useless

    Id argue this remains a pretty decent card therefore for spend – remains 1.25 airmiles per £spend with their airline transfers – very handy if you need any specific miles – AS for eg

  10. Doog1000 says:

    Obviously I’m sure Rob is correct but on the current amex website there is mention of free night but the link does not give any reference to 25k points?

    • It was on statements last month for existing cardholders as well as being in the document I got from Amex yesterday. I also spotted that and I need to raise it with Amex as it is clearly going to lead to complaints down the line.

  11. Rockhopper says:

    O/T Can anybody advise how I convert AMEX points to Aeroplan or an equivalent to let me book Air Canada flights?

    • the real harry1 says:

      I think you go via SPG but will only get 2:1

      • Rockhopper says:

        Thanks. Those internal flights arn’t looking so cheap at that conversion.

    • I think you convert to Singapore’s Krisflyer and do it that way. 1MR = 1 Krisflyer point.

  12. Amex MR to SPG transfer does not work:
    I get following message
    points transfers will be disabled on 26th July 2018 and will resume on 21st August 2018

  13. The SPG Amex card now says:
    Please note that because of technical issues you may see a delay in receiving your Points, Awards and Status upgrades in your Starwood Preferred Guest Loyalty Account until mid September. If you have any questions please call the American Express phone number on the back of your Card.

    Still haven’t had a response to the case they opened for me but I guess this is why.

    • Roberto says:

      So annoying..
      Wanted to cancel & line up one more churn (hopefully) before its pulled..
      But gotta wait for my 12k points now..
      Grrrr…….

    • Yeah just saw that message too – mid-September is way longer than I expected, esp with Membership Rewards transfers due to be back up in a few weeks.

      I couldn’t cancel a week ago as my sign-up bonus hadn’t moved across. Thought I therefore may as well chuck more spend on it but now those points are stuck if I can’t close it for another month and a half, don’t really want to be paying the fee for longer than necessary. Might try calling them and see if they could put equivalent number of points on Plat a/c (or at least see if they offer double-points rate for retention which would make it more worthwhile keeping).

  14. rams1981 says:

    Oh well. Will keep my mrs’ spg, wait till Oct, refer me, use all my Amex in the shop small promotion and then cancel the spgs and plats.

  15. you can upgrade your room using points.
    I did it in June.
    Phone SPG if no availability or you would like a better room.
    Basic Room was 12,000 points & I paid an extra 1,500
    Went from Traditional Room to Deluxe Room & my Elite part of my status gave me another upgrade to Grand Deluxe.
    (my trip was a bit complicated 4x nights, spread over 3 bookings based on cash & reward availability/bookings as there was a large convention taking over all the cheap rooms, there was not availability for the cheap rooms for all 4 nights & I didnt want to pack up & move rooms)

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