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. O/T but does anyone know if the free Curve card will have the ability to link to Amex? I don’t expect high limits for fee free top ups but just having the ability to use Amex in shops where it’s not directly accepted would be quite useful.

    • Yes it will. 0.65% fee.

      • Just seen the new Metal Card in the new Curve app. Anyone worked out how to view the Policy Wording to see if the trip has to be booked on the Curve Card in the same way the N26 metal card works?

        • Jonathan says:

          The car insurance definitely has to be paid with the curve card so chances are yes, the trip too.

      • Rob – will we be able to keep our current free cards and link Amex or will we have to apply for new ones?

        • Someone please answer Anna today – I’m also keen to know!

        • Genghis says:

          No.
          Mass email from Curve on 21 Jan to the Beta population
          “We received the feedback that you want the option of keeping your current Curve Black card benefits, without paying monthly. Thank you for your feedback.”

          “Without doing anything, you will still have 6 months to trial the new benefits of Curve Black. We are convinced that you will love them!
          If you are still not convinced after the 6 months’ trial, you will be able to keep your current “original” Black tier with its benefit of unlimited fee-free foreign exchange, without paying any monthly subscriptions. Please note that the Curve “original” Black tier will not have any Amex free top-up allowance or insurance benefits, as these are only being launched as part of the new Curve Black benefits. This tier will not be available to new Curve customers.
          For a limited period of time, you will also still have the choice of upgrading to Curve Metal and get 4 months for free, after you pay the first instalment. (To get this discount, upgrade to Curve Metal in your app now). Please note: after the upgrade to Curve Metal, you will not be able to revert to the “original” Black tier benefits.”

        • Genghis says:

          No. Email from curve on 21 Jan below. You’ll have to “downgrade” to Blue if you want the card for free and then PAYG on Amex at 0.65%.

          “Without doing anything, you will still have 6 months to trial the new benefits of Curve Black. We are convinced that you will love them!
          If you are still not convinced after the 6 months’ trial, you will be able to keep your current “original” Black tier with its benefit of unlimited fee-free foreign exchange, without paying any monthly subscriptions. Please note that the Curve “original” Black tier will not have any Amex free top-up allowance or insurance benefits, as these are only being launched as part of the new Curve Black benefits. This tier will not be available to new Curve customers.
          For a limited period of time, you will also still have the choice of upgrading to Curve Metal and get 4 months for free, after you pay the first instalment. (To get this discount, upgrade to Curve Metal in your app now). Please note: after the upgrade to Curve Metal, you will not be able to revert to the “original” Black tier benefits.”

        • Optimus Prime says:

          My understanding is that you can keep your current free cards. Beta testers are just using a different version of the app with our same old card.

          BTW if you have more questions and need quick responses you can pop by Curve Community. They might have been answered already – https://community.curve.app

        • Optimus Prime says:

          @Genghis – They have said you can keep your grandfathered Black and use the Amex wallet with the 0.65% fee. It’s still a little better than Blue because of higher allowances for foreign spend and ATM withdrawals.

        • Genghis says:

          @Optimus Prime What’s your source? The curve community? I quoted there a mass email sent out. Saying that, Curve seem to change their minds on a daily basis.

        • Genghis says:

          Ah – mentioned deep in the curve community. Typical curve comms.

        • I have the free blue card and was invited to the beta earlier in the week. I can confirm that I haven’t had to sign up to a subscription for the new cards and have been able to link my Amex, top it up for a 0.065% charge and pay my HMRC bill. What isn’t clear is whether current blue card holders will be grandfathered or forced to move over to the new Curve Blue which has MUCH lower allowances overseas spend.

        • Actually, I’ve just double checked and the old and new blue card overseas spend limits seem to be the same now

        • Cheers Tartan. Very helpful.
          @Genghis – Cheers but I took Anna’s query to mean the “Blue” card in that she was talking about the “free” card. Black was never free – or am I missing something?.

        • Thanks tartan! Yes the free/blue (even though it’s black). I’m quite happy to pay the 0.65% charge, much better value for me than paying a monthly fee.

        • AndyGWP says:

          Was it ever confirmed as to how people who are Black Curve (but it was via. a free upgrade from Blue) stand?

          Are we still blue, or are we ‘officially’ classed as Black?

        • @AndyGWP, I didn’t pay the £50 and got Black for free, and am still Black (was able to use Amex £1000 on beta)

  2. How ‘new’ is this? I took out an SPG Amex 2 weeks ago – should I expect a Silver Elite card to arrive or is it something that I need to apply for – or did I miss the boat?

    Do you get any points for adding a supplementary card?

  3. Not sure you actually get a silver elite card – my wife’s online status updated to silver elite automatically on receipt of the card and that was 4 months ago.

  4. Colin JE says:

    Does Silver Elite stop points expiring, like IHG status does?
    It’s a shame there isn’t a free SPG/Marriot c/card. That’d be worth getting just to keep some activity going.

  5. RussellH says:

    I have just canx my third SPG Amex. I like the card for the bonus, but once you have got that the ongoing earning rate gets cancelled out by the card fee. The fee is £6.25 per month, so at 1.5% return in points your fist £420 per month is eaten up by the card fee. Spending that much (difficult apart from over the Christmas period) on a one year Gold Credit card or a free BA Amex makes much more sense.

  6. Good to see some better choice now for the free night certificate.

  7. I’m still confused. The one night certificate for £25,000 spend doesn’t make sense to the point of thinking they don’t actually want you to put money through it. Just taking the Renaissance for example, it’s a category 4 hotel at 25,000 points a night. Surely that £25,000 spend values the ‘free’ certificate at £1000 a point?

    If you have Amex Platinum, refer and pick up 18,000 points, convert to Iberia avios and for the same date you can get the Renaissance for 12,400 avios a night and 5,600 avios in change. Parking is only £10 per night rather than the £15 Marriott currently charge as well. I just can’t make this card work for me anymore other than the sign up bonus on the referral card.

    • Genghis says:

      Not too sure of your £1k a point argument but yes, the “prize” for £25k spend is poor. However, the card is still great for high spenders: 1.5% return on points that are pluripotent so add a bit on for optionality vs say BAPP at 1.5% of lowest common denominator avios.

      • Thanks Genghis and Mr Dee. Alas math wasn’t my strong point at school! As I see it it still feels like I’d be dishing out £25,000 spend for one night at a category 4 hotel.

        I don’t personally value the flexible feature of Marriott points highly but looks like it works well for some. I’ve a few full service cat 2 hotels I frequent in asia which are great for just shutting the door and working interrupted for a week for 60,000 points.

    • It’s not a £1000 a point and I think you meant £1 a point return. Which is actually pretty good.

      If you were spending 25k you’d also get the 1.5 points per £1 making 75k.

      So if you can make use of the 25k voucher your effectively getting 4 points per £ for the first 25k spend

  8. O/T though still Marriott (and sorry for a semi-duplication, but didn’t get a reply last week, which is fine btw 🙂, but thought I’d try again):—

    I’m still having issue sending MR points from Gold card to Marriott a/c (even though my SPG Amex Card points are swept across to my Marriott a/c without problem each month; and same Marriott a/c number in both Gold and SPG Amex account areas).

    Amex has repeatedly told me it’s a problem at Marriott’s end; and Marriott, surprise surprise, keep fobbing me off with “we’re looking into and we have your case number”. IT HAS BEEN NOTE THAN FOUR MONTHS OF THIS NOW AND NO RESOLUTION! And, for what it’s worth, I’m Platinum Premier Elite With Marriott,

    Can any HFPers suggest a way to get around the impasse? I’m losing my mind/hair/weight* (* delete as applicable) over this.

    Thank you 🙏

    • I’m sure that you have checked, but my points from Platinum vanished into thin air because I had my old SPG number on the Amex points transfer page. They were returned eventually.

  9. I have recently repeatedly tried to sent some MR points to my Radisson account,no success.Sorry,an error had occurred!Anyone else in the same situation?

  10. OT- Any way to book a highly flexible ticket (to anywhere) with a view to change date or destination by paying the fare difference in future in order to use current Amex Platinum 200 off 600 offer?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Isn’t it until 28th Feb?

      I imagine a fully flex ticket will wipe out that £200 saving and more

      • Bad idea. You’ve got a month to decide what to do with it. I wouldn’t leave it too long as charges from Tuesday are still pending for me.

        We’ve booked business returns to Tallinn via Helsinki – offer was on main and supp so 2×200 discounts. Was a trip we wanted to do anyway but it was a bit pricy (or maybe the memory of the £232 tier point run has distorted expectations!) Separate PNRs but we shall cope!

        • TGLoyalty says:

          As long as it goes to pending before 28th Feb it’s completely irrelevant when it posts.

  11. Natalie says:

    We took out our SPG Amex cards in May 2018 and we got Marriott Silver Elite …so this must have been going on for a while by the sounds of it.

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