How To Redeem The SPG Amex Anniversary Free Night Award

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With the loyalty programs of Marriott and Starwood having recently been merged, we’ve also seen some changes made to Starwood’s co-branded American Express cards, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

While the points earning structures of these cards have been worsened, there’s one great new benefit. Both of these cards now offer a free night award on your account anniversary every year, valid at a property retailing for up to 35,000 points.

This new benefit kicked in as of August 2018, so the way it works is that you get your first free night certificate on your next account anniversary that falls in August 2018 or later (so if your account anniversary date was July 2018, you only get your first free night award in July 2019).

The terms state that you receive your free night award within 8-12 weeks of your account anniversary date, and it will be electronically deposited into your account.

I have both of these cards, and just received two free night awards, so wanted to share my observations.

How to find your SPG Amex free night awards

To find these certificates, log into your account, and on the account activity page, you should see an area with “Rewards Certificates.” This should list any outstanding certificates you have.

I have both the SPG Personal Amex and SPG Business Amex, and I’ve already had both of these post.

How to redeem your SPG Amex free night awards

Like many things in this merger, it’s not necessarily all that straightforward. First it’s worth noting that this certificate can be redeemed for a single night at any hotel that retails for up to 35,000 points. The availability using this certificate should be the same as the availability when redeeming points for a standard room.

If you’re redeeming for a stay at a “legacy” Marriott property (in other words, not a Starwood brand), you can redeem your certificate online. Search the hotel you want, and select the “Use Points” option.

Once you do that, just select the standard room you want that has availability. For example, take the below room for 25,000 points per night at the JW Marriott Bangkok.

When you select that and then go to the next page, you’ll see an option asking if you want to redeem points or a certificate (assuming you have a certificate). So if you want to redeem a certificate, select that option.

Unfortunately this isn’t quite as simple with Starwood hotels. While Marriott is now technically using one platform, bookings at Starwood hotels are still redirecting to the old SPG website, and that has no option for redeeming these certificates (at least as far as I can tell). As a result, you’ll have to call if you want to redeem your free night award at an SPG property. The good news is that it’s a pretty painless process, at least based on the award I just tried to book.

How to find your account anniversary date

The easiest way to roughly tell your account anniversary date is to see when you were last billed an annual fee on the card. I got really lucky. As I mentioned above, August 1 was the cutoff date, and both of my accounts had the annual fees post within a few weeks of that date. Can’t get much luckier than that, eh?

Both certificates posted today (October 2), meaning that it took around six weeks for these certificates to post. So while that’s not quite 8-12 weeks, that’s still a while to wait.

Bottom line

The way I see it, the anniversary free night awards on the SPG Personal Amex and SPG Business Amex more than cover the annual fees on the cards, which are $95 each. You could easily redeem these at hotels that cost much more than that. For example, I just redeemed one at the St. Regis Bangkok on a night that would have cost $250, so I consider that to be a great deal.

Has anyone else had their SPG Amex free night awards post? Have you redeemed the certificate yet?

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Comments

  1. Love this example of your name Mr. Lucky!

    Ps. Hope your marriage is everything you hope it would be! And it’s just starting. Best wishes! <3

  2. @Lucky – a bit off topic but did your SPG ambassador status correctly transfer over to the new Marriott status (Platinum Premier with Ambassador) post-IT integration? I was SPG 75 from last year so had SPG 75 up until August. Once the IT integration happened, they briefly put me at Platinum Premier but then demoted me to Platinum.

    Ever since then every CSR has been telling me I can only earn Platinum Premier as a former SPG member by earning this year and nights last year don’t count. Infuriating to say the least as it seems I have no recourse.

  3. @ naroowal — I haven’t stayed yet, but you absolutely do get elite credits for these stays. 🙂

  4. Hmm given the 6 week time between annual fee posting and cert being received, seems like there is no way to get the cert in your account and cancel the card before having to pay the annual fee, right?

  5. can you redeem travel package certificates on starwood properties? I thought you could not but if you can redeem a ceritificate from cc, then maybe now you can?

  6. Is it literally just on the Overview page? When I go to mine all I see is a bunch of upsells to refer friends to the amex, experiences, etc.

  7. Your anniversary date isn’t your annual fee posting date. Your annual fee is posted at the end of the statement month of the anniversary date. I recently found out from Amex that my anniversary date is in July despite having the annual fee post in August, which is very annoying.

    Also the cutover to earning the free night was August 1 (it’s an Amex thing, isn’t tied to the August 18 cutover of the programs).

  8. Also, did you get an email notifying you that the certificate was coming or did it just appear in your account?

    I have an August 6th anniversary date, so I believe I should be getting a certificate, but haven’t seen it yet.

  9. FWIW my annual fee posted on 8/16/18. My free night showed up today 10/2/18. Maybe the cutoff Is incorrect?

  10. Safe to say that if I do not see the certificate on the overview page I have not earned one yet? I also did a mock booking as you demonstrated and still see nothing.

  11. What does it end up showing when you try to book a night at somewhere for more than 35,000 points? Can you pay the excess from your balance, or are you limited only to nights below that line?

  12. What if you already combined Marriott and SPG accounts and the Marriott Rewards account is your main one? Will the SPG free night certificate (and any points earned from the SPG Amex) automatically be deposited in the Marriott Rewards account?

  13. My husband has the Marriott card and the SPG card. I have the SPG card. Do you know if we can use the three free night certicates consecutively along with a paid stay to qualify for the fifth night free?

  14. @ Priscilla — While you could use them consecutively, they wouldn’t count towards a fifth night free stay. To get a fifth night free you need to book four consecutive nights with points on the same reservation. Sorry!

  15. @ Chris Marra — You’re limited to stays of 35,000 points or less, you can’t pay the difference, unfortunately.

  16. @ Steven — Very interesting. Sounds like they backdated it a bit to avoid frustration from members. Wonder just how far back they went.

  17. @ John — At the bottom of the overview page is a link to to rewards certificates, where it shows each certificate.

  18. Come on Lucky, the cut off has always been August 1st. That is in the email AMEX sent about the new earning structure and the annual FN – long before Marriott pushed its merger date to Aug 18.
    There is no backdate whatsoever. You just confuse the Merger date with the dates that only relate to AMEX SPG card.

    It is an AMEX thing, not Marriott thing.

    The earning of SPG card changed on August 1st, NOT August 18th. i.e. anything earned before Aug 1st is SPG pt., anything you earned from August 1st onward is Point. I am sure you know the earning has devalued 30% by that, despite you earn 2 “Points” now.

  19. I also received my SPG business Amex free night today after my annual fee posted on 8/22. Oddly enough, I see it on the activity page and not the overview page.

  20. Hi Lucky,I got mine posted today,but it s from my Chase Marriott business cc…my email said up to 35000 points, but in my account shows certificate for 25000 points per night. Any updates on this? Thanks

  21. I know that the subject of this article is the anniversary night certificate from Amex/SPG.

    I have both the personal and business Amex/SPG card with an October anniversary date. I will welcome the anniversary night certificates from Amex when they are posted to my account in a month or two.

    I want to comment that I also have Chase Bank – Marriott card with an October anniversary date. Already the Chase 35,000 point certificate posted to my Marriott account.

    Just curious why Chase is current with the anniversary certificate while Amex requires 6 – 8 weeks to post the same type certificate.

    Not a complaint – just curious –

  22. @ dmg9 — I’m guessing they’re just using different methods for posting these. With Amex this is also a new benefit, so I could see them posting them quicker at some point in the future.

  23. @ Andrei — I believe one of the old Marriott cards offered lower category certificates, and therefore they’re now only valid at properties retailing for up to 25,000 points.

  24. My anniversary date is August 25 (looked up by two Amex CSRs), but I have not yet received a free night certificate. Like John, all I have on my scrolled down Overview page is ads. It does not show my 15 SNAs either. I have called for attention, been put off A LOT, waited and waited for responses when cases were filed with a number and a promise for a call back with in 3-5 days (a month or more ago)… finally I have decided to just wait a while. But my blood pressure rises every time I think of the Marriott Mess and the hours I will still be wasting as I fight for what I’ve already earned.

    I miss SPG… I miss feeling like I was an appreciated client. I miss being excited to earn points with a company that actually awarded them in a prompt fashion and kept track of them with almost 100% reliability… and if they messed up they acknowledged it and apologized and even awarded appreciation points for my inconvenience…I miss SPG….

  25. If you have both the Chase Marriott card and the Amex Starwood card, do you get one anniversary free night for each one?

    Do the business versions of the card give anniversary nights as well?

  26. Daniel –

    Yes, and yes.

    I also have both SPG cards (personal and business) and the Chase Bank.

    I already received my Chase Bank anniversary night. I expect to receive two Amex certificates.

  27. My Anniversary date was in early September but I didn’t get billed the AF until a month later. Still waiting on the free night 🙁

  28. @Mark – i cancelled my Amex in November after my anniversary to avoid the annual fee and I just received the annual free night certificate on 12/2. I was shocked to see it since my card was cancelled!

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