New Details About Changes To The American Express SPG Cards In Canada

2018-06-28T08:11:37+00:00 June 28th, 2018|American Express, Credit Cards, News, Reviews|

Changes To The American Express SPG Cards Introduction

First, let me say it took Amex long enough to announce the changes to the American Express SPG Cards in Canada. While our American counterparts have known how their cards would change with the merger of Marriott and Starwood, we were left in the dark to speculate.

The changes are…. ok, kind of. I guess it really depends on what you value more – perks, or earning potential on everyday spend. I’ll break down what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s basically unchanged below!

Changes To The American Express SPG Cards – The Good

Really only one thing to report here, and that is regarding the annual free-night certificate. Previously, American Express SPG Card members were eligible for a weekend free-night stay after spending $40,000 per year on the card. This was valid on weekends only, up to a category 4 hotel, or 10,000 SPG points.

That is being replaced on both the Personal and Business SPG cards, which will now receive a complimentary one-night stay on the anniversary date with a redemption value up to 35,000 points with no minimum spend requirement.

This, on the surface, is definitely a huge improvement, though it’s yet to be seen how Marriott will categorize all of their properties under the new program. Based on the sneak peak they released a few weeks ago, this benefit would be good for a one-night stay at W in Mexico City, or The Westin Resort Nusa Dua in Bali, two properties that regularly sell between $170 and $300, depending on season, demand, etc.

Changes To The American Express SPG Cards In Canada Include An Annual Free-Night Certificate

Changes To The American Express SPG Cards In Canada Include An Annual Free-Night Certificate That Could Be Used At The Westin Resort In Nusa Dua

Changes To The American Express SPG Cards – The Bad

Unfortunately, this is where the positives seem to end, as the earning rates have been devalued across the board.

As a reminder, previously you would earn:

  • 2 points for every dollar at eligible Marriott/SPG properties
  • 1 point for every dollar on everything else

On the surface, these didn’t seem very good, though SPG points are valuables, and there were some instances where using this card on everyday spend made more sense than using a card with a higher earn rate.

Under the new program, earning rates will vary slightly between the business and personal cards, and neither are improvements.

For the Personal SPG Card:

  • Earn 5 points for every dollar at eligible Marriott and SPG properties
  • Earn 2 points for every dollar on everything else

For the Business SPG Card:

  • Earn 5 points for every dollar at eligible Marriott and SPG properties
  • Earn 3 points for every dollar on gas, dining, and travel
  • Earn 2 points for every dollar on everything else

 

Keep in mind that SPG points currently transfer to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, meaning the old earning rate of 1 SPG point/dollar translated to 3 Marriott points. In other words, for hotel purchases, we’re seeing about a 17% devaluation on earnings, and for everyday purchases we’re seeing a 33% cut. Not good.

Changes To The American Express SPG Cards – Status

With the changes to The American Express SPG Cards, cardmembers will now receive Silver status automatically (which is essentially useless), and be upgraded to Gold Elite after spending $30,000 per year on the card.

Would I suggest anyone spend $30,000 a year on a card with such poor earning rates for status? Probably not, unless you really value 2pm late check-out and room upgrades subject to availability (remember that under the new program Gold Elites will no longer receive lounge access).

If you really want to keep Gold Status with Marriott, I would suggest getting it automatically with the American Express Platinum Card instead, and putting your everyday spend on a more rewarding product!

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the new card is the lack of elite-qualifying nights towards status, which is being included on the American versions and was a prominent feature of the old Chase Marriott Visa in Canada.

Changes To The American Express SPG Cards Bottom Line

Well, I’m disappointed, but not terribly surprised. We knew the earning rates on the American cards were devalued, so it was really not too shocking to see the same fate on the Canadian counterparts.

The annual free-night stay is definitely a nice benefit, but even still I’m not sure it makes the card worth keeping, especially not knowing how Marriott will categorize most of their hotels under the new program. essentially you’re paying an annual fee for this and only this, though I suspect there will be a small collection of properties where this benefit could be really valuable.

A few unknowns still exist for me, which will help solidify my opinion of the new cards:

  • How American Express Membership Reward points will transfer to the new Marriott program, assuming that opportunity still exists.
  • How Marriott chooses to categorize all of their properties
  • If the annual fee will change on either of the SPG cards

And the biggest question: will they be offering a new and improved welcome bonus on this card, or is the lousy statement credit here here to stay?

Overall, not terribly impressed with the changes, and sad they aren’t offering more in the way of incentives to keep disgruntled SPG cardmembers. I’m still holding out for a new and improved Marriott credit card in Canada, as the devalued SPG cards just aren’t looking that great to me.

What do you think of the new changes to the American Express SPG Cards in Canada? Is the annual free-night certificate enough to make up for the slashed earning rates? Let us know in the comment section below!

About the Author:

Champagne taste on a beer budget has always been reminiscent of Tyler’s travel style. Raised in British Columbia, Tyler has an unquenchable thirst for more adventure, which is fueled by leveraging airline and hotel loyalty programs to travel the world in luxury and style. Want to learn how you can travel the world on points, like Tyler? Check out the ebook for more expert advice.

6 Comments

  1. John Bucher June 28, 2018 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Frankly, I do not think it is worth it. I plan to cancel before the anniversary date and wait for something new. If I find that it is still of value I can always re apply. The bonus is so pitiful that I would not be missing out on anything by so doing.

    • Tyler Weatherup June 28, 2018 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Hey John,

      I agree – to me the free-night stay is nothing more than a wash with the annual fee, though there are instances where you could get a lot of value out of it.

      I’ll be cancelling all of my SPG cards, though I am waiting to see if they issue a free night certificate to current cardmembers shortly after the transition, which is quite possible.

      -Tyler

  2. JJ June 28, 2018 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Do we get 15 nights status credits in 2019? The Amex SPG is quite a big downgrade from the Marriott Visa. Losing No Forex fees, status nights and greater acceptability is a significant downgrade. I hope Marriot finds another partner.

    • Tyler Weatherup June 28, 2018 at 11:54 am - Reply

      Hey JJ,

      No status credits – probably what I’m most disappointed about. I agree, it’s quite a downgrade for Marriott loyalists in Canada. I’m hopeful we’ll see a new product launched. My guess would be a Marriott Visa through Scotia, but that’s pure speculation.

      -Tyler

  3. JJ June 28, 2018 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    I hope you’re right. It’s comical that they don’t have a name for this new loyalty program yet. I have a feeling if there’re any new credit card partners it be announced until January when the new name will be announced. I can’t imagine anyone issue cards now that they will have to re-issue when the name changes.

  4. JG August 3, 2018 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Without the 15 day status credits, which was what we got with the Marriott Chase Visa Canada, the new SPG Amex is useless–I plan to drop the card before its renewal date if that is the case. Instead of paying $120 for this, the AMEX platinum or platinum business would offer you more (not only SPG Gold but points that are transferable elsewhere) All in all, a big downgrade from the Chase Visa that offered the free anniversary night, 15 status nights *and* no forex fees for the same $120 annual fee. We’ll see if someone like Scotia (who used to run the backoffice for the Chase Visa by the end of it) would offer a similar no Forex visa card instead. Big mistake on Marriott’s side, since of all their markets, Canada is closest to many Starwood and Marriott properties and Canadians would therefore be more inclined to get a proper card with the same offerings as in the US.

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