Why I Am Passing on the SPG Luxury Card – Should You Too?

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Marriott Travel Package Mapping Old to New

The SPG American Express Luxury Card Is Now Live, Should You Care?

I am sure you have seen the many SPG American Express Luxury card is now live posts.  I for one don’t find the card very interesting but I know that some of you will.  And if you are planning on applying sooner is better than later with the new rules.  I will take a look at who the card could work for and explain why I am not at all interested in the card.

SPG American Express Luxury Card Details

Let’s do a quick overview of the credit card

Welcome Bonus Offer:
  • 100,000 points after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months
  • $450 annual fee is not waived
Card Perks:
  • $300 in statement credits that can be used at SPG and Marriott properties
  • Annual “free” night for properties up to 50,000 points each cardmember anniversary
  • Gold status (Platinum status after $75,000 in spend – don’t do this)
  • Priority Pass membership
  • Global or TSA Precheck fee credit
Earning Structure:
  • 6X at Marriott hotels & resorts
  • 3X at restaurants & on airfare booked directly with airlines
  • 2X on all other purchases

Bonus Restrictions – Why You Should Apply Now
Effective 8/26, welcome offer not available to applicants who (i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card from JP Morgan in the last 30 days, (ii) have acquired The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, or The Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a welcome or upgrade offer for The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, or The Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.

Direct Link to the Offer

SPG American Express Luxury Card Makes Sense For…

This card makes sense for Marriott/SPG loyalists.  The annual fee is offset by the $300 in statement credits and the annual free night.  If you maximize the 50,000 free night that is like getting $350 in points (.7 cents per point) to spend on one night and $300 in property credit for $450.  So a decent little discount.  But there is almost no reason to put any kind of meaningful spend on the card. Even paid stays only produce a return of 4.2%.  That return for hotel stays can be bested by some cards out there like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Citi ThankYou Premier.

 

Why the SPG American Express Luxury Card is a Pass For Me

First off, I need another $450 annual fee like I need a hole in the head.  But with the welcome offer it would still be a profitable deal.  I just don’t see the yearly value like I did for the Aspire card.

You are essentially getting $650 worth of Marriott stays (if you max out the perks) for $450.  Getting 30% off is always nice but it forces you to spend money at their properties and to do it with an inferior product.  Plus you all know that I avoid paying for travel at all costs.

The real problem I have with the Marriott program is that there is no way to accumulate large amounts of points outside of paid stays.  After neutering the SPG personal and business card earning rate you can only earn 2 points per dollar instead of 3.  That is a return of 1.4% which just isn’t good enough to bother with the program.  There is also no free night spending bonus like with the World of Hyatt card or American Express Hilton Ascend card.  And those cards come with actual useful bonus categories to boot. Heck even the IHG cards offer extreme value when the situation is right.

This card does not offer enough value to keep for the perks and it does not have a good enough earning structure to put meaningful spend on.  I don’t feel like shelling out $450 to get (a max of) $650 worth of Marriott credit.  The bonus isn’t enticing enough for me either since it is now near impossible to add meaningful points to the bonus.  This card is essentially a one off.  I will stick with Hilton and Hyatt where I can amass points with ease and at a reasonable cost outside of paid stays.

Conclusion

I know my view will not be the popular view but I hope I gave you some things to consider.  If you have a lot of business travel and frequent Marriott properties then I could see this being a good fit.  But overall I think the card is kind of a dud and the less expensive Marriott/SPG personal cards offer similar value in my opinion.

 


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64 COMMENTS

  1. Completely agree. Also this is an Amex card, so the once per lifetime rule is in effect, and the bonus will almost certainly be higher. Given how hard it is to get chase’s Marriott cards because of 5/24, I think most people will find themselves meeting the qualification rules for this card at some point when the bonus is much better than 100k.

    • Agree. I was expecting at least 125k bonus for a card with $450 annual fee. It doesn’t offer trip delay protection, a benefit included in other cards that cost this much. I’ll pass and wait for a better offer.

      • FYI I just received welcome bonus offer in the mail for 125K for SPG LUXURY that will expire 12/31/2018 and introductory 0% APR for 12 months. At the same time I received SPG BUSINESS card offer also in the mail for 100K and decided to opt in for BUSINESS instead since $95 fee is more manageable and I don’t stay in SPG hotels often enough to use $300 hotel credit. I love 4x Restaurant (I don’t cook) and 4x phone bill on new BUSINESS SPG card. I can still apply for LUXURY until 12/31/2018 since business and personal cards have no restrictions against each other. Still debating, but I will pull trigger most likely in December towards the end of my deadline. Now need to find $5,000 to spend on my BUSINESS card.
        Already recruited family member 🙂

    • People have been reporting upgrade offers for 100K but you have to have had the SPG card for over a year to get it and not everyone is.

      • Bleah. I’ve had my SPG card for nearly 2 years, my husband has had his for 18 months … and neither of us got an upgrade offer :-/ Not feelin’ the love here, Amex.

  2. Mark, I appreciate your contrarian views sometimes, but having even a modest stable of the world’s largest airline, AA, &
    hotel chain, Marriott, are really pretty important if you do very much travel! Not saying you absolutely can’t get by without either but they can also sure be helpful & save time rather than booking them thru other channrls.

    I also think, though, that earning Marriott points thru non-bonus spend on their, or AA’s, cc is not a great value proposition. And that loops us right back to cc sign-up bonuses.

    • I would say having both makes things easier but I rarely stay in Marriott hotels, never valued their program. Hilton and Hyatt with a little IHG mixed in covers me pretty much everywhere I go. I think AA is a little harder to get around not having but using Avios helps with that some. The partners is where you get tripped up with AA though.

      • Hilton bothers me a lot because of the amount of points that it requires to reserve their rooms. I sat on 80,000 points until I made a visit to Memphis and needed to stay in a little town called Dyersburg. The room was 10K a night. I had never seen that before. I wasn’t even looking for a Hilton property there. It was an accident. I am not familiar with Hyatt and IHG either, but Marriott has typically been everywhere. The point values for rooms have typically been great as well. Comparing Marriott to itself, it does seem that the point value is lower, but in side by side comparison of Marriott and Hilton, Marriott points values for rooms seem higher. Not to mention my luck with Hilton customer service.

        • Hilton points are definitely worth less but they are easier to earn. 3 pts/$ for non bonus spend vs 2 for Marriott. 6 pts/$ for restaurants vs 3 for Marriott, 6 pts/$ on gas and groceries vs just 2 etc. Plus their card comes with meaningful status that gets you free breakfast. You have to look at the earn side as well as the redemption side to get a full picture. If you are happy with Marriott then it is hard to move on but racking up free rooms is gonna be a lot hard going forward in my opinion.

          • Yeah, my brother worked for Marriott years ago and I got hooked by the availability. Before that, I often looked for Doubletree or Embassy Suites. I feel like those lines have been declining rapidly.
            One more thought here. In some of your other articles you list a Marriott points value at .07 and a Hilton point at .004. That is a 17.5 times difference. It looks like the earning value of Marriott vs Hilton is about 1/2 through the cards. Does that not still make the value of the Marriott point considerably higher? I realize that they do not offer immediate status, through points earning and your stays, it may not take long if you patronize the line. My point is that there still seems to be a lot of value in earning Marriott points; even more so, in earning them directly.
            Btw, I obtained the SPG business vs obtaining that luxury card. It definitely did not add up.

          • I list Marriott points at .7 cents or .007 so they are pretty close. Marriott points are usually valued in the .007-.008 range and Hilton are in the .004-.005 range. So Marriott points are usually worth double but in the biggest spending categories they earn 1/2 or 1/3 of what Hilton does plus you get better status and you can earn a free night with Hilton via spend. That is why I prefer their cards and program.

            When SPG was earning 3 points per dollar or over 2% back it was worth putting spend into the program. Now it is earning 1.4-1.6% back and most people would be better off using a 2% card and paying cash for their stays. They also don’t have any meaningful bonus categories outside of restaurants. Gas and Grocery are huge spending areas for most people and that is where Hilton comes out ahead imo.

            Marriott hotels are nicer overall though so that is something to consider. And you will end up paying a little bit of a premium for it.

  3. I was on the fence but now agree with your analysis and will forgot it this time. Between my wife and myself we already have a total of 6 spg and Marriott cards,which will each get a 35,000 room. Nice for some 2-3 day quickie staycations in Florida. I’ m already taking a reward certificate in Maui next month, another certicate booked next summer, and another yet unused new category 5 certicate probably to st. Kitts. My Marriott points are about shot. It was good while it lasted. Thanks for the advice.

  4. I agree. The SPG business card is actually more interesting to me. Unfortunately, I would only use the card to meet the bonus requirements. The bonus and free night for a $95 fee is interesting.

  5. If you want 100K Marriot Monopoly Money you may as well get the business card instead. Marriot is being such a damned cheapskate on these cards that they just gutted themselves out of the market. Put a 150K sign up bonus on it and you have a product that will last for two years or so. If they offered at least some decent earning rates, you might have a winner. As it stands they have a wiener instead.

    • Yeah why not offer the 3 points per dollar like the old SPG card…would be a reason for the higher fee. I have a feeling Chase is calling a lot of the shots here which is sad.

  6. I feel the same way…however…the part I’m still on the fence about is what you mentioned about it being difficult to accumulate a lot of Marriott points. I agree, which is why it could make sense to get annual night certificates instead. If I add the SPG Luxury card to my portfolio, then I’d end up with 4 annual night certificates each year. While Hilton + Hyatt are my favorite loyalty programs, Marriott actually has more attractive properties to my eyes now.

    • I have a love hate relationship with annual nights since you are paying for them with the annual fees and then you are forced to use them on category locked rooms within a year. I think a lot go unused and that is where the issuers clean up some profit. I also think they can lead you to making less than desirable options just to use them. I also think cat 1-5 Marriott certs are a lot less valuable than Hyatt 1-4 certs. All things to consider. If you find yourself staying where they are useful then you can come out ahead with a nice discount on those “paid” stays.

      • Fully agreed here. And that was part of my mental debate: feeling ‘trapped’ into using nights that are either less desirable or limiting in some way. However, after finding a large handful of properties that are 35K per night, I’m going to give my Marriott certs a go for the next year. I just booked the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain for 35K and am looking forward to the Ritz Carlton Coconunut Grove later on. Probably follow with the JW Marriott properties at 50K / night with my higher-grade certs. I’ve had my eyes on these properties, so if the certs prove easy to use then I’ll be happy. If not, then I’ll have a cancel / downgrade decision to make. Gotta try & have the experience to fully know if it’s right for me.

  7. The way I see it for $450.00 the card should offer more but I like that I can get to Plat status on 75K in charges. Although many of my stays will be at Hyatt and others now I think I will still use SPG/Marriott so for me the Plat status at the 75K is worth it. The signup bonus is not much that is agreed.

  8. What exactly is Marriott “Platinum” status that you earn with a $75k spend? Is is
    Platinum Elite, Platinum Premier Elite or Platinum Premier Elite with ambassador? If a 75k spend only gets “Platinum Elite”, that’s the equivalent of SPG Gold, and gets you very little. The article just says “don’t do this” next to the 75k spend and status upgrade, however does not say why.

    • Plat Elite – I said don’t do it because I don’t think you will ever get enough value out of it to put 75K of spend on the card.

      • $75k put on the new Hyatt card gets you 37.5 nights toward Globalist. That progress seems like a better much goal than Marriott Plat. No?

        • You would still need 30 more nights and Globalist is a much better status imo but you would also rack up more valuable points and earn a free night in the process. So I would probably agree with that.

    • I should have read closer. Plat Elite makes a difference. Previously AMEX Plat gave SPG Gold. I have been a SPG Plat for years. However Plat Elite does give free breakfast. Hyatt due to the upgrade certs etc is a better program with a small footprint. SPG was my goto program. My godson has 23 million Marriott points now…LOL. I got him into SPG years ago.

  9. The AF is NOT offset by the free night. You only get it 8-12 weeks after anniversary, which means paying two AFs. So many out there either wishfully thinking it will credit sooner or are uninformed about the T&C of this horrible card, which after the disappointing signup bonus is on par with the Korean Air premium card as biggest turd sandwich of the year. Get the SPG biz instead if you haven’t already. 100k no AF first year.

    • I am talking about it long term but yes you will have to pay 2 annual fees before getting the first free night.

  10. I agree with your decision. I am also not going to apply for this card unless the SUB is increased dramatically and even then it will be a one and done. From what I am seeing on My Fico and other sites very few people are applying.

  11. I do have a question though. While I completely agree with you regarding the lackluster appeal of this SPG Luxury card, how else to effectively accumulate Marriott points? I have the Ritz, SPG Biz, and Regular Marriott. You mentioned that you get better value putting travel on the CSR. But if your goal is trying to get Marriott points, how is that better? I do love Marriott properties, especially here in Asia, and do recognize that a property that costs 25,000 points, technically used to cost $8,333 in spend , and assuming if you put regular spend on this card at 2:1, then it will now cost you $12,500. Is that the best route? Because if you book through CSR portal, you won’t get your Platinum Elite benefits honored right?

    Thanks in advance for the clarification, I’m still seeing how I can best do this and make the best of Marriott while i still have Platinum Elite status.

    • There really isn’t a good way to rack up Marriott points outside of sign up bonuses – that is the main reason why I am kicking the program to the curb and will use a mix of Hyatt and Hilton instead. Easier to rack up their points in a meaningful way. Your only option with Marriott going forward is to stay under 5/24 and get Marriott cards every 24 months for the bonuses. The cost is too high for me to do that. You may be better off focusing that Marriott card spend on a 2% card and then using the rewards to pay cash for the room and earn Marriott points that way.

  12. I have seen reports that the 75K spend gets Plat Elite which is the same as the 50 night SPG Plat status. The Luxury card according to TPG comes with SPG Gold Status/Marriott New Gold Elite, the spend gets to the same Plat Level as 50 nights. I realize I can use spend to get to Hyatt Globalist as well. At least with Hyatt the upgrade certs are more useful and transparent.

  13. There are already reports of targeted emails for this card with 125K sign up bonus. That is still low in my opinion because it is very clear that Marriott is using the SPG merger as a guise to strip the value of their points. Look at their new Travel Package rates, new category map, new Moments rates, etc.

    I think within a year this card will have a 150K offer with a statement credit of $100. Of course, if you have Marriott cards with Chase you need to act before the 26th of August which needs to be in your consideration.

    The American Express Hilton Honors Business card offer of 125K points and $100 statement credit for 3K spend is a better option at this time in my opinion. Historic high rate with statement credit and lower spend amount. Access through doing a dummy reservation on the Hilton site.

  14. I agree, and WAS going to pass…then I found a 100k upgrade offer for my personal SPG. No effect on 5/24, so I took it. Immediately approved. May not be a long term keeper (Ritz-Carlton may work better) but we shall see. Cheers.

  15. Good feedback Mark and crew. I’ve been talked out of this Marriott offer. For some people, including myself, the status is the key since business spending is very high. I have it with Hilton (and only took $40k to get Diamond, their top tier) and Southwest Airlines ($110k spend for a companion pass). Since Marriott is out, what other travel cards allow you to get to their highest elite level/tier?

    • The Aspire gives you Hilton Diamond up front so need to spend the 40K if you wanted to go that route instead.

      Wyndham gives you top tier status, IHG gives you Platinum, you can earn status with some of the Delta cards via spend. I am sure there are others that I am forgetting about.

  16. I’m a newbie here and to the points world in gerneral. I’ve been a dedicated user of the Amex SPG Preferred for years and used it as my everyday spend card. However, I’m concerned with the points devaluation since the Marriot merger. I did receive a Luxury upgrade offer for 100k points.

    So basically I’m looking for a good hotel card that will give me good status within the hotel’s system and is good for everyday spend. I’ve had the CFU suggested to me for everyday spend, but I’d lose hotel status.

    I currently have the CSR which I use for travel and dining.

    Any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  17. To add to Mark’s comment the biggest difference is that the Aspire has an $450 AF while the Ascend has an $95 AF. The Aspire is definitely a keeper esp for hard core Hilton users. I also have both cards. I also believe Aspire is better than the new Luxury SPG card

  18. As someone who doesn’t stay in hotels very often unless at others’ expense (company travel), I was still considering this card for the targeted 125k offer I got. Aren’t the SPG points still valuable as an airline transfer? That’s the only way I see myself using them.

    • These are now Marriott points so it takes 60K Marriott points to get 25K in airline miles. The bonus will get you 50K but you can get that with an airline card with no annual fee the first year (depending on the airline)

  19. Question for the points gurus: I will be staying at a Residence Inn by Marriott for 3 months for work. This property only earns 5 SPG points/$ instead of the typical 10 points/ $ for most of their properties. Does it behoove me to get this card to maximize my earnings and free stays with a chance at Platinum Ambassador status? I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, am I better off using that instead since I’m already paying a hefty annual fee and it has higher point valuations?

    • Depends on how much you value UR and Marriott points at. I think 6x Marriott is about the same as 3X UR so I would say it is a wash. If you think you would get value out of the perks of the card and the welcome bonus then it could make sense. I personally would stick with the CSR but that is me.

  20. Ok, that was my instinct too. What if I was staying at a Homewood Suites for 3 months? Would the Hilton Card you had mentioned be more beneficial than CSR in that case?

  21. Does anyone know if additional cards on the same account get priority pass access like AmEx Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve do? I have the Chase Marriott card which I use quite a bit, but if this comes with priority pass access for additional cards on the account, I may go with it vs the plat or CSR card to save the $175/yr.

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