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 It has been replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.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!
Changes To The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
It looks like we can expect some changes to The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card in the near future. While the changes are unknown at this time, I’d hazard a guess that they won’t be good.
Right now American Express is offering 50,000 American Express points on the personal and business SPG cards, with a 5,000 point bonus per eligible referral. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that this offer is only valid for applications made until April 16th, 2018. 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 It has been replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.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!
- Referral bonus dropped to 15,000 Membership Reward points per eligible referral from 25,000
- Welcome bonus lowered to 60,000 Membership Reward points from 75,000
- Minimum spend requirement increase from $5,000 to $7,000 in the first three months of membership
Perhaps worst of all, this all came shortly after an annual fee increase from $399 to $499, which represents a fairly significant devaluation, and made me consider whether the Personal Platinum Card is now a better card for beginner travel hackers.
While I’m not a fan of speculating, many readers have already reached out to ask what changes to the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card they should expect. While it’s tough to say definitely, I can almost guarantee these changes will be negative, so if you’ve been considering an application, I would initiate it before April 16th, 2018. Based on what happened with the American Express Business Platinum, I suspect we’ll see:
- A decrease in the referral bonus, quite possibly to nothing, though more likely to 1,000 SPG points per eligible referral
- A decrease in the welcome bonus, with my best guess being 10,000 SPG points on each card
- Maybe an increase in the minimum spend requirement for the business card
Why the changes?
Unfortunately, I think it’s just following a trend right now where we’ve seen a lot negative enhancements to many products. Most noticeably we saw the removal of the first year free on the Personal Gold Rewards Card and the loss of being able to refer from the Platinum Family Cards (which was a real sweet spot). We also saw the introduction of the Cobalt Card, which on the surface looks decent, but hints at a new business model for Amex where annual fees are paid on monthly basis with welcome bonuses spread out over the year with the monthly minimum spend requirements, which effectively makes churning the card worthless.
If there’s one thing I know, change is inevitable. Credit Card companies are always adjusting their incentives for consumers, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. Starwood Preferred Guest is one of my favourite programs, and I’ve been able to use it for some pretty incredible redemptions, such as a first class flight to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific for just 60,000 points:
And more recently a stay at the incredibly luxurious Prince de Galles Hotel in Paris:
I’ll be sad to see the SPG program end, though I’ve been having some really incredible luck with Marriott recently, having just redeemed 360,000 points for a 7-night stay at the Marriott Wailea Beach Resort on Maui AND 120,000 Alaska Airlines miles, which is incredible.
Here’s hoping that American Express will release a Marriott co-branded credit card when they do decide to discontinue the SPG cards. Hopefully there will be some very generous welcome bonuses when they do!
What do you make of the new language on the referral page? Do you expect changes to The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card next month?