For years, the American Express SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) portfolio has included some of the most coveted business travel credit cards on the market. Cardholders were able to use their points to book rooms at great hotels with excellent perks, including suite upgrades for SPG Platinum members. Earlier this year, Marriott International acquired SPG, creating the world’s largest hotel company. While this is clearly great news for Marriott, what does it mean for SPG cardholders? Some have worried that their points would diminish in value or they would miss out on hard-earned perks (SPG Platinum members qualified for suite upgrades, Marriott Platinum members did not.) Fortunately, most of the changes bode well for pre-merger SPG cardholders. Here are some of the details.
SPG Points Transfer at 1:3 Ratio
Pre-merger SPG members who may have feared the loss or depreciation of their SPG points can rest easy. Marriott has announced that, effective August 1st, 2018, any Starpoints accumulated by SPG members will be transferred to their new Marriott account at a 1:3 ratio.
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Members will then be able to receive two points per dollar spent on eligible purchases, with an additional two points (four total) for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, cell phone services purchased directly from U.S. cellular service providers, and U.S. purchases for shipping. Members can also receive an additional four points (six total) for every dollar spent at Starwood properties, retail shops, or online stores, as well as at Marriott locations.
Elite Status Transfers
For SPG members who have advanced to a certain elite status, the new program will allow you to retain your status. Marriott will be streamlining the brands into one single reward system, but SPG members will be able to earn points towards the pre-merger SPG Elite Status tiers through the end of 2018. This is great news for those on track for a bump in level, who will be able to keep that momentum going through the end of the year.
The elite program structure changes slightly with the merger. There will be five elite tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Premier, and Platinum Premier with Ambassador. Members who reach Platinum will be able to choose five Suite Night Awards, and an additional five at the Platinum Premier. Members who had already reached Platinum level or higher prior to August will be granted 10 Suite Night Awards for the year.
Basic card members will be granted complimentary Silver Elite status, and the requirements to advance to Gold Elite will be changing. Effective January 1st, 2019, Basic card members who spend at least $35,000 on qualifying purchases will be granted Gold Elite status.
Airline Point Transfers
One of the best features of the previous AmEx/SPG partnership was the ability to transfer points to certain airline partners. They’ve managed to improve on this feature after the merger, which members should be very happy about. In addition to being able to use the airline partners already used with SPG, Marriott will be rolling in about 10 of their own for a total of 45 airline partners.
The transfer bonus of 5,000 points for every 20,000 transferred to an airline will remain in effect with the new Marriott system.
Overall, the SPG/Marriott merger is a win for AmEx SPG cardholders. Marriott is allowing members to retain the value of their points, to stay at their rewards level they attained through SPG, and is keeping the great Airline point transfer benefit.
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