With the SPG and Marriott loyalty programs officially merging into one over the weekend, many of us have been holding our breath to see what would happen to Amex Canada’s Starwood Preferred Guest credit card.
Although we’ve known for a few months how this new (still unnamed) program would work, we haven’t been sure what the updated SPG Amex credit card was going to look like…
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card ‒ New vs Old
American Express has officially re-launched the SPG card and we are no longer in the dark.
Curious how the new SPG card is different?
|New Version||Old Version|
|Annual Free Night||
|Annual Fee on Secondary Cards||
|Premium Internet Access||
At a glance, the new SPG Amex has received several improvements over the old version, but when it really comes down to it, the card has lost some of its reward value…
Only 200 gift cards left.
Transferring points to airline partners
One of the biggest reason why Canadian travelers loved this card was the flexibility of the rewards.
You wouldn’t think that a hotel loyalty program credit card would be among the top travel credit cards in Canada – however, the SPG card gave you more than just hotel rewards.
The old Starwood points could be transferred ‒ often 1:1 ‒ to 30 different airline programs. And with the merger of the SPG and Marriott rewards programs, many people worried we would be losing this great perk.
Thankfully, this option is going to carry over to the new unified program (with 40 airline partners).
However, where before it was a 1:1 ratio, it will now be a 3:1 ratio.
While that seems like a pretty major downgrade, also keep in mind that you will be earning more points for every dollar spent (especially if you’re using your card at SPG and Marriott locations).
Previously, you could roughly achieve a 3.1% return on spending when you transferred your points to an airline rewards program like Aeroplan, took advantage of the 5,000 bonus miles when transferring 20,000 points, and ultimately redeeming those miles for high-value flights.
Now, you’re looking at something closer to a 1.7% return on flights through transfer partners thanks to the new 3:1 transfer ratio. You can increase that by a further 25% by taking advantage of the revamped…
Airline partner transfer bonus
The flexibility to transfer your points to airline partners is nice enough, but this deal is even sweeter when you transfer your points in 60,000 increments.
60,000 SPG points will get you 20,000 airline points, plus a 15,000 point bonus (5,000 miles).
After all the math, that works out to the same 25% bonus when transferring to airline miles as the old SPG card used to have.
Besides, a 25% bonus is hard to complain about, even when your SPG points aren’t quite as valuable as they used to be.
If you’re careful to always take advantage of the 25% bonus, then your return on spending will increase from roughly 1.7% on flight rewards to 2.1%.
All the other extras
Then there is all other “other stuff” that makes a credit card worth having.
For starters, this card is going to give you a generous 50,000 points just for spending $1,500 in your first 3 months.
Not bad for a card with an annual fee of $120.
Many premium credit cards charge around $50 for any secondary cardholders that you add to your account.
This card, however, will allow you to add extra cards to your account for free. Paying that extra fee for secondary cardholders is a hard pill to swallow so this is a pretty big win for this new card.
Silver and Gold Elite status
SPG is giving cardholders Silver Elite status, no matter how much they spend annually, as well as Gold status when they reach the $30,000 spent a year.
Gold status gives customers some great perks, like:
- priority late checkout,
- dedicated reservation line,
- in hotel welcome gift, and
- enhanced room upgrades…to name a few.
Free anniversary stay
Plus, every year on your cards anniversary, you will be given a Free Night Award.
This free night can be used on a room at participating SPG or Marriott locations with a standard room rate of 35,000 points, which equates to a category 5 room.
And unlike the old version of this card, there is no minimum spend required to qualify for this free night.
Finally, it’s not new news, but the fact that American Express does not have any income requirements is icing on the cake.
Most premium cards like this would require you to be making anywhere from $60K to $80K a year.
The New Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card
In a similar manner, Amex has also re-launched their
This card will give small business owners the same flexible rewards but with slightly different earn rates:
- 2 points for every $1 spent on everyday business purchases,
- 3 points for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on travel, plus…
- 5 points for every $1 spent at participating SPG and Marriott locations.
It comes with the same big sign-up bonus as the personal SPG Amex – 50,000 points – one of the biggest bonuses of any business cards on the Canadian market right now.
And also many of the same perks, including:
- automatic Silver Elite status,
- Gold status after $30,000 spent annually, and
- a free night every year on your card’s anniversary.
Where the similarities end…
But what makes the SPG business card different?
- The annual fee is higher at $150, plus $50 extra card fee (same as the previous version of the SPG business card).
- You do get a disability plan and protection against employee card misuse, which could be more important to you if you are a small business owner.
Tell us what you think
Whether you are considering applying for this SPG card for the first time, or…
…you have hung onto your card through all these changes, or…
…you had the SPG card and decided to get rid of it when the merger was first announced…
Tell us what you think of the “new” relaunched version?