Earn 4 Points Per Dollar With This New SPG Amex Promo

I stopped using my SPG Amex card for everyday spending due to some changes as a result of the SPG/Marriott merger.  Long story short, you now earn 33% less for the same amount of spending.  Click here for more details.  I’ll explain it in a little more detail at the end of the post if anyone needs a refresher.

My annual fee on my SPG Amex isn’t due again until March, so I have no reason to close it just yet.  I need to see if the new benefits are going to make the card worth keeping even though I stopped using the card.  I’ll save that discussion for another post.  The point is, I haven’t cancelled my SPG Amex yet.

To be clear, the SPG Amex is NOT the same as Amex Membership Rewards cards.  American Express just happens to be the issuer of the SPG co-branded credit cards.  Those cards earn Marriott/SPG points.  American Express Membership Rewards cards earn Membership Rewards.

Just as I was finishing some posts about using Amex Membership Rewards cards where I specifically stated that I took my SPG Amex out of my wallet, I logged into my Amex account to find an offer.

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card fall 2018 targeted bonus offer

Were you targeted for this SPG Amex promotion?

The offer is targeted.  Ryan and I both received offers, but each of our offers was different.  I’m not sure how many versions of this offer are out there, but there are at least 2.

I did eventually receive an email about the promotion, but I noticed it in my Amex account before I received the email.  So even if you have not received an email, log in to your Amex account to see if you were targeted.  The message looked like this:

SPG amex spending promo fall 2018

It states “Limited Time Offer: Register your SPG card until 10/31/2018 and earn up to 30,000 bonus points on eligible spend.  Terms apply.”

Promotion details

This is the offer I received.  I’ll discuss Ryan’s next. 

This is a tiered spending bonus.  If I spend $10,000 prior to November 30, 2018, I earn 20,000 bonus points.  If I spend another $5,000, I receive an additional 10,000 bonus points.

Starwood Amex Fall 2018 spending promo

Since August 2018, the SPG Amex earns 2 points per dollar.  Other than spend at Marriott and SPG properties, which is 6 points per dollar, this card doesn’t really have any bonus categories.  Sidenote: I know 2 points per dollar sounds tempting but remember, not all miles and points are equal.  New Marriott/SPG points are not as valuable as ‘old’ Starpoints were. 

Is this promotion good enough for the Amex SPG to earn its spot back (temporarily)?

If I’m going to switch my spending back to my SPG Amex, I need to make sure that the points I earn are more valuable than if I stick with my Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards earning cards.  Math time.

For the first tier, I need to spend $10,000.  Not saying I’m going to spend that, but let’s assume I am.

Without this promo:

  • $10,000=20,000 Marriott/SPG points
  • I would earn 20,000 points for spending $10k

With this promo:

  • $10,000=20,000 Marriott/SPG points PLUS
  • 20,000 bonus points
  • My total would be 40,000 points

For the second tier, I need to spend $15,000 total.  Again, not saying I’m going to spend that, but let’s assume I am.

Without this promo:

  • $15,000=30,000 Marriott/SPG points
  • I would earn 30,000 points for spending $15k

With this promo:

  • $15,000=30,000 Marriott/SPG points PLUS
  • 30,000 bonus points
  • My total would be 60,000 points
What redemptions are possible with 40,000 Marriott/SPG points?
  • 1 free night at a category 5 property (35,000 points)
  • ~13,333 airline miles (40,000/3)*

*You can transfer SPG/Marriott points to airlines at a 3:1 ratio.

To compare, this is what $10,000 in non-category bonus spend earns on other cards:

Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve: 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points (1 point per dollar) 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for:

  • 10,000 airline miles to one of Chase’s partners
  • 10,000 hotel points for one of Chase’s partners
  • $125 (Preferred) or $150 (Reserve) in the booking portal

Amex Platinum or Gold Card: 10,000 Amex Membership Rewards points (1 point per dollar). 10,000 Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for:

  • 10,000 airline miles for one of Amex MR’s 1:1 airline partners
  • Amex’s hotel partners aren’t great so I’m not even going to list the options
What redemptions are possible with 60,000 Marriott/SPG points?

New program award chart

  • 1 free night at a category 7 property (60,000 points)
  • 25,000 airline miles
    • Bonus 15,000 when transferring 60,000=75,000
    • 75,000/3=25,000

To compare, this is what $15,000 in non-category bonus spend earns on other cards earns:

Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve: 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points (1 point per dollar) 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for:

  • 15,000 airline miles to one of Chase’s partners
  • 15,000 hotel points for one of Chase’s partners
  • $187.50 (Preferred) or $225 (Reserve) in the booking portal

Amex Platinum or Gold Card: 15,000 Amex Membership Rewards points (1 point per dollar). 15,000 Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for:

  • 15,000 airline miles for one of Amex MR’s 1:1 airline partners
  • Amex’s hotel partners aren’t great so I’m not even going to list the options

The verdict

If airline miles is your goal, this promotion is definitely the way to go.  If you can spend at least $10,000, you will earn 3,333 more miles than you would with cards that earn 1 point per dollar.  Spending another $5,000, would net 10,000 more miles than with cards that earn 1 point per dollar.

For hotels, it just depends on the value of a paid night.  Until early 2019, category 7 is the highest chart.  This means that if you meet the second tier spending requirement and earn 60,000 points, you can book a free night at ANY Marriott or SPG property.  Some of these rooms go for over $1000 per night.  I just used 60,000 points per night to book a stay at the Ritz Carlton Kyoto.  The cash price is over $1200 per night.

Not saying I would normally spend $1200 per night on a hotel, but to put a number to it, that’s a return of 8%.

  • $15,000=60,000 points
  • 60,000 points can book a room worth $1200
  • 1200/15,000=0.008
  • 0.008 X 100=8%

There is an even better offer out there

Just before publishing this, I signed into Ryan’s account.  He also had an offer but it’s even better.

The bonus total is less, but the amount of spending required is also less.

This is also a tiered spending bonus.  If he spends $6,000 prior to November 30, 2018, he earns 15,000 bonus points.  If he spends another $3,000, he receives an additional 5,000 bonus points.

For the first tier, he needs to spend $6,000.

Without this promo:

  • $6,000=12,000 Marriott/SPG points
  • He would earn 12,000 points for spending $6k

With this promo:

  • $6,000=12,000 Marriott/SPG points PLUS
  • 15,000 bonus points
  • His total would be 27,000 points

For the second tier, he needs to spend $9,000 total.  

Without this promo:

  • $9,000=18,000 Marriott/SPG points
  • I would earn 18,000 points for spending $9k

With this promo:

  • $9,000=18,000 Marriott/SPG points PLUS
  • 20,000 bonus points
  • His total would be 38,000 points

38,000 points for $9,000 spend is a little over 4 points per dollar.

Final thoughts

I need to figure out if I’ll be able to meet the spending requirement.  I mean, we do have a trip coming up.  It’s mostly paid for on points, though.  I could get an early start on Christmas shopping.  The girls’ school will put a dent in it, too.  Worst case scenario, I could pay some of our property taxes, although that has a fee so I’ll have to do more math.

Anyway, if you are targeted and can meeting the spending requirements before November 30, I recommend taking advantage of this promotion!

As promised, here is an overview of what happened with the SPG Amex as a result of the merger.

SPG Amex credit card changes

The Starwood, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton programs were combined into one program on August 1, 2018.  Prior to the merger, SPG points could be redeemed for free hotel stays, but it was a unique hotel program because it also had 1:1 airline transfer partners.  Plus, for every 20,000 transferred, a bonus 5,000 miles was awarded. Overall, the new program is still a decent hotel program.  In fact, the new Marriott/SPG program still has an airline transfer program.  But the ratio isn’t 1:1.  It’s 3:1.  The bonus also exists still.  But to match the new ratio, it’s for every 60,000 points transferred.

  • Old program:20,000 SPG points=25,000 miles
  • New program:60,000 points= 25,000 miles
    • 60,000 Marriott/SPG points + 15,000=75,000
    • 75,000/3=25,000

Any SPG points earned prior to the merger were multiplied by 3 when the new program went live.  In other words, 20,000 SPG points=60,000 new points.  Those 60,000 new points can be transferred to airlines at a 3:1 ratio (20,000).  So the net change is 0.  The issue is with points earned post-merger.

Prior to August 1, the SPG Amex earned 1 Starpoint per dollar on just about everything.  The only bonus category is spend at SPG and Marriott properties.  On August 1, the earning rated changed to 2 points per dollar on everything except SPG/Marriott properties which will earn 6 points per dollar.

This is where creative marketing comes into play

2 is not always better than 1

2 points per dollar sounds great, right? Remember that not all points are equal in value!

In the new program, SPG points were inflated to better match Marriott.  As a result, SPG points earned prior to August were converted to the new currency at a 1:3 ratio.  Basically, this means that the previous earn rate of 1 point per dollar was actually 3 points per dollar.

If 1 point per dollar means 3 points per dollar, isn’t 2 points per dollar actually 6?

No.  As soon as the new earn rate went live, SPG points and thus the 1:3 ratio were eliminated.  The 2 points per dollar earned with the credit card are ‘new’ points.

As result, instead of earning 3 New points per dollar, you earn 2 New points per dollar.  That’s 33% less!

Prior to August 2018

  • Spend $20,000 on SPG Amex
  • Earn 20,000 SPG points
  • Transfer 20,000 to airline miles 1:1, receive 5,000 bonus
  • This nets 25,000 air miles
  • This actually made your earn rate at 1.25 points per dollar rather than 1 point per dollar

After August 2018

  • Spend $20,000 on SPG Amex
  • Earn 40,000 points in new program (2 New points per dollar)
  • Transfer 40,000 to airline miles 3:1.  No bonus because you must have 60,000 to receive the bonus
  • Receive 13,333 miles (40,000/3=13,333) because instead of 1:1, it is 3:1.
  • This puts your earn rate at less than 1 point per dollar.  It’s more like .67 points per dollar.

With increments of 60,000 the earn rate is a little better due to the bonus:

  • Spend $30,000 on SPG Amex
  • Earn 60,000 points
  • Transfer 60,000 to airline miles, receive 15,000 bonus
  • This nets 25,000 air miles (75,000/3=25,000)
  • 25,000 miles for $30,000 spend is still less than 1 point per dollar.  It’s about .83 points per dollar.

The same amount of spend nets significantly less airline miles than before. 

The newly branded Westin Hapuna Beach on the Big Island has a beautiful beach!

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