Not Good – Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada

Not Good – Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada

By |2019-03-06T09:57:14+00:00April 17th, 2018|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

Update 2019-02-26: Please note that the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) American Express Card Canada is no longer available. It has been replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card. Get the details here!

Yesterday we heard some big news about the changes to the Marriott Rewards program coming in August, 2018, and I have to say they were much better than expected. American Express had also indicated a few weeks ago there would be changes to the SPG Credit Card in Canada, as the language on their referral page put a date on which the welcome bonus would expire.

Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada

Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada

I had made some predictions as to what would happen with this card, and while I wasn’t exactly right, I wasn’t too far off either. While Amex is still accepting new applications for the current product, it looks like they’re in the process of phasing it out, at least based on some language surrounding the earning rates and the new welcome bonus, which is truly dissuasive for anyone considering this card.

Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada

Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada

Yikes… Now instead of earning SPG points as the welcome/referral bonus, new cardmembers are eligible for:

  • $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 in the first three months of membership
  • An additional $150 statement credit after charging $200 in purchases at participating Marriott or SPG properties

Presumably, you could charge the $200 at any SPG/Marriott property while working towards meeting your minimum spend (in other words you don’t need to spend $1,500 plus an additional $200), but it’s still a fairly lame welcome bonus, in my opinion. Once you account for the annual fee of $120 (not waived the first year), you’re coming out ahead by $130 if you meet both requirements.

The referral scheme has also changed from each eligible referral receiving 5,000 SPG points to a very sad $25 statement credit. If you value SPG points at 2 cents a piece (which is conservative), this represents a 75% cut to the value of the referral. On the plus side, it doesn’t look Like Amex has imposed an annual limit on the number of referrals you can earn like other cards, though I don’t think anyone would reach the limit anyways given the new welcome bonus.

Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada – Don’t Lose Hope… Yet

Yesterday we saw the announcement of a new luxury SPG card for American consumers, in addition to the current SPG products from Amex getting slight refreshments. While I was initially optimistic that this meant Amex would be doing the same in Canada, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It now looks like Amex is in the process of phasing this card out, at least how we know it, with new products coming by August, 2018.

If you look closely at the highlights of the SPG card, you’ll notice that Amex is only offering the current earning rates on the SPG cards until July 31, 2018, which is exactly the same date the new Marriott Rewards program launches. Probably not a coincidence…

Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada

Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada

Now, I’m not exactly sure what will happen after July 31, but I suspect this card will either be:

  • Discontinued, and turned into a cash back card (similar to what Amex did with the Costco portfolio). The new welcome/referral bonuses indicate this could be a likely scenario
  • Rebranded, and turned into a Marriott Rewards card that earns Marriott points instead
  • Remain unchanged, but earn Marriott Reward points instead

I don’t love to speculate (ok, maybe I do), but if I had to guess, I would think we’re looking at a discontinuation of this product as we know it, with the introduction of a new Marriott Rewards card (maybe by Amex, maybe by a different bank). There is a landing page on the Marriott website that indicates some new benefits are coming for Canadians, but they don’t give any details beyond that.

Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada - New Benefits Coming Soon!

Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada – New Benefits Coming Soon!

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Changes To The SPG Credit Card In Canada Bottom Line

At the moment I’m remaining cautiously optimistic, though I don’t suspect we’ll see cards quite as good as  American consumers saw yesterday. I currently have both the SPG personal and business cards, and plan to cancel both now in the hopes that a new product will be launched later in the year with a new (better) welcome bonus. My hunch is that there will be better incentives for new cardmembers than current ones if a new product is launched, or even if the current SPG cards are just re-imagined.

I’ll be cancelling sooner than later, as I suspect they won’t be very useful for referrals anymore, and the earnings on everyday spend just don’t stack up to The Cobalt Card, which earns up to 2.5 SPG points for every dollar spent (so long as SPG remains a transfer partner of Membership Rewards at a 2:1 ratio).

The American Express Cobalt Card Benefits

  • Earn 2,500 points per month, up to 30,000 points per year when you charge at least $500 per month to your card
  • Earn 5 points for every dollar on grocery, restaurant and bar purchases
  • Earn 2 points for every dollar on flights, hotels, gas, and transportation
  • Earn 1 point for every dollar on everything else
  • $10 monthly fee

Click here to apply for the American Express Cobalt Card to start earning up to 2.5 SPG points for every dollar charged to the card – the fastest way to earn SPG points on everyday spend in Canada!

The quickest way to accumulate SPG points now is by transferring American Express Membership Rewards to Starwood, which can represent really decent value. If you’re considering this option, act fast, as it’s highly speculated that American Express will be devaluing or discontinuing the transfer relationship between Membership Rewards and Starwood by August 1, 2018 when the Marriott and SPG programs are fully integrated!

Apply now for The American Express Platinum Card and earn 50,000 Membership Reward points.

Apply now for The American Express Business Platinum Card and earn 40,000 Membership Reward points.

Apply now for The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card and earn 30,000 Membership Reward points.

What do you think of the changes to the SPG Credit Card in Canada, and do you think we’ll see a new product launched or just a revamp of the current card? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below!

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American Express Platinum Card®

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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.

14 Comments

  1. Sonic April 17, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

    If you look at the details on the US SPG Amex card on the Marriott site, they’re lowering the 1 Starpoint earn rate for ‘all other purchases’ to 2 of the new points which is an earning loss of 1/3. They are introducing 15 night credits on the US SPG Amex, similar to what we used to have with the Chase Marriott Visa in Canada. This will help me maintain 50 nights/year which will now get me access to SPG lounges which I don’t get from matched Marriott Gold today. It will be interesting to see what the changes to the Canadian card are, but I can see ditching it very quickly from being my primary card today.

    • Tyler Weatherup April 17, 2018 at 9:42 am - Reply

      I’m hopeful we’ll see another card in Canada that offers 15 night credits again – that would make the improved Platinum tier in the new program much more attainable for many. To be honest, I would take the 15 night credits over anything else and just get the new card for status. Plenty of other decent cards I can use for everyday spend.

      The decrease in earnings on the American Card is lousy, and I’m almost sure we won’t see a new card earning 3 Marriott Points/Dollar. I don’t think I would use it for everyday spend if it was anything lower.

      I worry what will happen to the Membership Rewards -> SPG transfer with the new program. My best guess is 1:1 with Marriott Rewards (if they keep them), which would be another big hit.

      -Tyler

      • Sonic April 17, 2018 at 11:09 am - Reply

        From what I can tell, the points will be the same on August 1. Whatever your Starpoint balance is on July 31 will be tripled the next day. You then get to choose to combine your accounts. I don’t see how this is a hit?

        I do a good job getting 4 cents CDN+ per Starpoint at the moment, with most of my redemptions on the Marriott side. So using the SPG Amex allows me to collect for something I value and provides an acceptable return. My point earning overall will be down a bit because I’ve switched my foreign $ spend to the Scotiabank Passport without foreign exchange fees from the Chase Marriott Visa. We’ll see if I keep the Scotiabank card after the first year with the sign-up bonus.

        I agree that if they introduce the 15 night credit for the SPG Amex I would likely keep it around for that benefit, especially if it comes with an up-to 35,000 point free night/year benefit, like the US card. I wouldn’t use it except for the occasional Amex Front-of-the-Line event and for higher earn rate at partner hotels.

        • Tyler Weatherup April 17, 2018 at 11:32 am - Reply

          I should have clarified – I meant to say I worry about the future of of the ability to transfer Amex Membership Reward points to SPG as a frequent travel participant.

          Although the transfer rate doesn’t look good on the surface, 2 Amex points -> 1 SPG point can represent great value on certain redemptions, especially being able to get 4+ cents per point.

          I’m sure that as of August 1 it will no longer be possible to transfer from Amex -> SPG, but rather Amex -> Marriott, and my best guess is the transfer ratio will be 1:1

  2. John Bucher April 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    What would be your advice? Does this make sense?
    1. Cancel SPG card soon i.e. Aug/ 2018
    2. Move SPG points to Marriot 3:1 before Aug
    3. Move Amex to SPG to Marriot for future requirements again before Aug
    4. Use Cobalt for best return on Marriott points until SPG disappears and after

    • Tyler Weatherup April 19, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      Hey John,

      That looks like a good strategy to me. I’m a bit on the fence regarding my current SPG cards. I think I will cancel them soon banking that Amex (or another bank) will come out with a new product in the near future. Other camps think holding on to them may be wise as whoever issues the new card could offer incentives for SPG Amex holders (like what Amex did for Chase Marriott cardholders). My hunch is Scotia will issue the new Marriott card, but that’s pure speculation. We have four SPG cards in our house (two personal and two business), so we’ll probably hold a couple and cancel a couple.

      I will be watching the Amex->SPG transfer very closely, as I expect that relationship to end/change on (or before) July 31, 2018. If Marriott remains a transfer partner of Membership Rewards (not guaranteed), then I can almost guarantee the transfer ratio will be 1:1, which is worse than the current 2:1 with SPG. I will be moving a lot of Membership Rewards to SPG under the current terms to take advantage of some very sweet redemption rates on bookings with Marriott between August and December, 2018. However, I would like to see how Marriott categorizes their properties before I move the bulk of my Amex points.

      As for the Cobalt card – this used to be a product that didn’t get much love from me. I would encourage anyone looking to earn SPG points on everyday spend to use this card while their points can still be transferred to SPG.

  3. sarah ramkissoon May 30, 2018 at 7:30 am - Reply

    hi: I too am very much interested in the fate of the MR–>SPG transfer. My husband and I got the cobalt card expressly so that we can convert to SPG, then to marriott for the travel packages. I’m thinking I should move out the points soon (comfortable doing so out of Cobalt since those don’t convert to airline partners directly anyway, was more wondering for my business platinum card where I have 80K points whether I should transfer any of it out to SPG)

    • Tyler Weatherup May 30, 2018 at 7:35 am - Reply

      Hey Sarah,

      I don’t think there’s a huge urgency quite yet, as I expect the transfer ratio to remain unchanged for the time being. American Express should give plenty of notice to any changes, which I’m assuming will happen around the time the SPG/Marriott merger is complete.

      That said, I’ll be transferring a lot of MR to SPG before the changes, as the new transfer ratio (if MR remains a partner with Marriott) will almost certainly be devalued.

      -Tyler

  4. JN June 11, 2018 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Hey Tyler,

    I’m new to churning and have not yet started thinking about SPG points, but am almost through a first cycle of business and personal gold and platinum cards. I wonder about your opinion on just waiting to see what they come up with for Canada, rather than applying for either the Cobalt or SPG card. Or, is there some urgency to get one soon and start collecting?

    • Tyler Weatherup June 11, 2018 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      Hey JN,

      I wouldn’t recommend applying for either of the SPG cards right now. I can almost guarantee something better will be available after the programs merge and I think we’ll see a new/improved product in Canada. I really can’t imagine an offer worse than what’s being offered now…

      As for the Cobalt, it’s a decent card for dining/groceries, as it’s essentially 2.5 SPG per dollar (5 MR/$), and you can earn 2,500 MR points per month as long as you’re able to spend $500. If you were to spend that $500 on food, you could earn 5,000 Membership Reward points per month, or 2,500 SPG – not a bad return but you’ll probably get a couple of months at the current transfer rate. Whether or not that’s worth a credit hit is up to you, but I’d say stick to the other MR cards which all feature generous welcome bonuses – even 30,000 on the personal gold card if a great deal despite it not currently offering first year free.

      If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me directly!

      -Tyler

      • Jamvng June 17, 2018 at 11:31 pm - Reply

        When do you expect AMEX Canada will give notice about any changes to the MR->SPG transfer? It’s getting awfully close to July 31 with no news still. I would imagine they would give a good amount of advance notice…

        • Tyler Weatherup June 18, 2018 at 8:27 am - Reply

          I wish I knew a definite date, but I suspect we will get at least a couple of weeks notice. The good thing about Membership Reward points to SPG is there are no daily limits, so even with 24 hours notice most people should be able to transfer all the points needed if the transfer ratio is to be devalued.

          I spoke with a Marriott Exec at a recent SPG/Amex event in Vancouver, and while he was very good at watching his words, he did say that Canadians should expect some news shortly, and that most people will be very happy with what’s to come! I’ll definitely keep the blog updated as I learn more.

          -Tyler

          • Jamvng June 18, 2018 at 10:00 am

            Aug. Yah they are fairly tight lipped it seems. Im holding onto some hope still given Canadians have always had a better exchange ratio.

          • Tyler Weatherup June 19, 2018 at 8:49 am

            Personally I think we will see a devaluation, and assume it will be 1:1 Membership Rewards to Marriott, which is slightly less than the 2:3 currently being offered by going through SPG. Fingers crossed though!

            -Tyler

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