On Friday I ran a short article on the fact that Marriott has announced that the two UK credit cards earning Marriott points (the closed Marriott Mastercard and the SPG American Express) were not rebranding despite the programme name changing to Marriott Bonvoy on 13th February.
The SPG Amex information came from this page of the Marriott website.
Looking at that page again, I spotted something interesting.
Receive automatically a Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status [sic] that gives you 10% more points on every eligible hotel purchase, Priority Late Checkout, a dedicated phone line for Elite members and our Ultimate Reservation Guarantee.
Yes, it seems that the SPG Amex now comes with a Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite card.
This is not entirely surprising. Previously the SPG Amex came with a weird level of Starwood status called ‘Preferred Guest Plus’, which wasn’t even an official status level. I wrote about that here.
American Express never advertised the fact that you got SPG Preferred Guest Plus status. If you take a look at the application page for the SPG Amex, you’ll see that Amex isn’t advertising the fact that you get Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite either.
The benefits of Marriott Silver Elite are not huge
You can see the different Marriott / Starwood tier levels here.
The key benefits of Silver Elite status, which usually requires 10 nights in a calendar year, are:
- 10% bonus on base points earned
- ‘Priority’ for late check-out requests
…. and that’s it, at least in terms of stuff you will find genuinely useful. It isn’t a lot but it should stop you getting the room overlooking the bins.
Here’s one important point: the Marriott site implies that you get Silver Elite status and not 10 elite status nights which automatically gets you Silver Elite status. There is a big difference in this, because the latter puts you 15 nights closer to Gold, Platinum or Titanium Elite. The former does not. The SPG Amex would have been a lot more attractive to regular Marriott guests if you were given 10 elite status night credits which is what happens in the US.
What other benefits do you get with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express?
Before we go on, 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.
One other recent change to the SPG Amex is the free night voucher you get when you spend £25,000 on the card in a year.
This used to be a dreadful benefit. It is now just ‘pretty bad’, so things are picking up 🙂 The changes were:
- You can now use the free night voucher on any of the week, not just weekends
- It can now be used at any Marriott / SPG hotel which costs up to 25,000 points per night
Just looking at the UK (and the voucher can be used worldwide), 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.
Despite the rubbish free night voucher, 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
It comes with a good sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios
The sign-up bonus is 30,000 points. 30,000 points is good for around £150 of free hotel nights or will convert into 10,000 miles with over 40 airlines, including Avios and Virgin Flying Club.
You earn 3 Marriott / SPG points per £1 spent which I value at 1.5p
A 1.5% return on your spending isn’t bad at all. I have been using my SPG Amex heavily recently, because I have enough Avios and Virgin Atlantic miles for now and this is the best non-BA/Virgin card in my view.
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, 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 Silver status just for signing up
As I wrote above, this appears to be a new benefit.
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 Marriott Bonvoy 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 / SPG points, the SPG Amex 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.
(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.