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Has Amex secretly added a new status benefit to the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card?

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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.

Marriott Silver status with Starwood American Express Card SPG

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.

SPG Amex

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.

Manchester Airport Marriott

Despite the rubbish free night voucher, 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 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.

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.

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Comments

  1. Phillip says:

    When I first got the SPG Card a few years ago, I automatically became Silver. Didn’t really think twice about it.

  2. I can confirm that the Marriott Card has lost the free 10 status nights. Just got the 2,000 points on renewal this year

    • I just got my 10 nights but I have both the SPG and the Marriott card so not sure which one I got them from. A little bit irritating that US cards get 15!

    • Thanks Mark.

    • RussellH says:

      Are you certain about that?
      I am told that I need 14 nights to get from Silver (from the Marriott M/Card) to Gold and have not stayed anywhere since the Aloft in Liverpool 11 months ago.

  3. So wait, has the bonus gone now? When you used to transfer so many points to an air miles account you got a bonus on top?

    • No it’s still there. If you transfer in chunks of 60k points you get 25k miles instead of 20k.

    • Shoestring says:

      That bonus is still there – transfer 60K points to BAEC and you’ll get 25K Avios, same math on other airline points

    • Thomas Howard says:

      It doesn’t sound like great value though if Rob values Marriott points at 1.5p, I’d personally value Avios at around 1p.

  4. Bonglim says:

    The really need a route to platinum status – that is the only status that has value. Perhaps at 25k instead of the pointless free night.

  5. Does anyone know if there has been a “rollover”? I obtained Platinum elite last year and now it says I only need 20 nights for Platinum Premier. Maybe just a glitch?

  6. Rob

    I have a 10 night stay booked at ritz Carlton Doha in a club level room. I’m just a rewards member as I don’t really stay much in Marriott’s. I tend to use Hilton’s.

    I want to make the stay pay as best it can for us. Currently have Amex gold and free ba Amex. Should I look at this cars for earning the most out of the stay?

    Thanks

    • Have you got time to get the SPG card?

      • Yeah

        Don’t got until October. Good idea? Rather than whack £2k on the Amex gold thought I might go for this card?

        • Surely better to get the platinum and get Gold Marriott status. Nothing is guaranteed reallly at RC – but we got a stonking upgrade at RC kapalua last year simply for being Marriott gold via Amex Plat – and on a redemption booking.

          If you’re Amex Gold CHARGE you may still be able to upgrade to plat and bag the bonus (though I think it’s technically targeted) Otherwise if you’re looking at Oct, you could have time to cancel gold, wait six months and then apply for platinum.

    • Who is paying? Double points would be good on the SPG Amex but not if you are paying the 3% fee.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Get the plat card and Marriott Gold. Could pay off nicely if it’s a long stay.

      • Bonglim says:

        I would get the Amex platinum. Then get Marriott gold.
        Then in the run up to the trip do a platinum challenge. Which means platinum upgrade if staying 16 nights. (I assume you booked through Marriott).
        On the flight back pop in to an airport Marriott where you have booked 6 nights as cheaply as possible, check in and leave the key in the room.

        It means you’ll be platinum through until the end of 2020.

        • Thanks everyone never thought of the plat really. Just churned my charge Amex gold to my wife so it will be credit Amex gold by then.

          If I do as rob says and get a curve linked to the SPG Amex will it still cost me a 0.65% fee?

          It’s a 10 night stay in a club level room with the three of us so any upgrade would be appreciated!

  7. Is there any quick way of seeing how much you have spent on the SPG card, I think I must be close to 25k spent but now sure?

    • Shoestring says:

      Yep go to your SPG a/c and check points awarded in (say) last 9 months, easy to add them up & work out £££s spent, not forgetting to factor in welcome bonus

    • Phillip says:

      I can’t remember the exact route but if you go into the points section on the desktop site, it does have a sum and how much more is required to hit the £25k spend.

  8. What’s the minimum level of status needed to continue to earn the Crossover Rewards with Emirates from hotel stays?

    It’s a no brainier and you might as well double dip even if you do not primarily collect skywards miles.

  9. OT but Hotel Status

    Anyone waiting for Shangri-la status. It has been more than a week and still awaiting Shangri-la status to upgrade to Jade from my Amex Platinum card.

    The benefits status on my Amex Platinum account shows Pending still after more than a week.

    • They send you a nice package in the post with a physical card…though I think it took around six weeks to arrive for me. Others may know how to access this ahead of the card arriving

    • My SL status took quite a while to come through (about four weeks) from activating my Plat Card

    • Mine took 8 weeks for card and luggage tags etc to come through in a nice little package. However, I rang Shangri La customer services and after passing security they gave me the account number over the phone and the could use with SQ for status match after 3 flights.

  10. I made a Marriott points redemption with points earned from a now cancelled SPG Amex yesterday.

    On completion it told me I’d booked my reservation with ‘Silver Elite status’ and listed the ‘benefits’, and my email confirmation states I get ‘10% Bonus on Base Points Earned
    Free Standard in-room Wi-Fi
    Ultimate Reservation Guarantee’

    The whole Marriott program confuses me so I don’t know if this is confirmation of the above or something completely different. Either way I’ve never done anything with SPG/Marriott other than take out the SPG Amex and the 29 ways to win promo.

  11. OT – Anyone managed to get Amex Paypal £5 off £30 spend from last November?
    I am waiting, nearly 60 days from spend but nothing credited yet.

    • No, never got it. Didn’t get £10 off £20 at Dominos either. Tried via chat and a query was raised. Been a month, nothing happened.

      • I received my Domino’s
        The key was I never received an email about Amex Paypal offer redeemed.
        With most Amex offers, the redeem email is the key whether it needs a manual chase or not.
        I will wait for another month to give them 90 days and then contact CS.

        • Shoestring says:

          HUACA is generally the best option – as some Amex agents are perfectly willing to give you the statement credit there & then

      • My 2 Domino’s credits posted straight away, as did 3 Aldi ones. It does seem very hit and miss!

    • I have got them by going on chat straight away. I did it it last Saturday and I assume it went to Brighton and not India. Both mine and my wife’s accounts sorted instantly (plus a shop small that didn’t work). Just like it use to be with amex!

      First chat about these with offshore CS got nowhere, just that will be raise it and never got actioned.

      • Took me from oct til last week to get my spg bonus points tripled..got lost in translation ig time in the Philippines. Chap in Brighton had it sorted in a week and called me to tell me all good. Think they are only getting on top of the marriot merger now…

    • I used it 3 times, got one straight away, had to chase up the 2nd several times via chat, gave up on the 3rd one as I needed to cancel the card! No email for any of them though.

    • Didn’t get mine either.

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