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 It has been replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.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.
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.
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…
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 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!