Understanding New SPG Amex Card Eligibility Rules

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As of August 1, 2018, American Express relaunched their two co-branded Starwood American Express Cards. These cards have great new welcome bonuses, as follows:

Each of these cards comes with some useful perks, including an anniversary free night certificate valid at a property retailing for up to 35,000 points per year.

On top of that, starting in 2019 you get 15 elite night credits towards status annually just for having either card (you can earn this benefit a maximum of once per year, even if you have multiple cards with this benefit). Since Platinum status in the new program requires 50 nights, that means you’ll need just 35 nights per year to achieve it.

There’s quite a bit of confusion regarding eligibility for these cards, given new restrictions that are soon being put in place, so I wanted to look at that in more detail in this post.

Are you eligible for the new SPG Amex Cards?

American Express is adding new restrictions when it comes to being approved for the Starwood Business Amex Card and Starwood Personal Amex Card.

Current rules (through August 25, 2018)

As before, the welcome bonuses on these cards are “once in a lifetime,” meaning you’re not eligible for the bonuses on these cards if you’ve had them before. That applies to each card individually, so you’re eligible for the bonus on the personal and business card.

These are considered the same products as before the refresh. Until that point, eligibility for these cards is independent of eligibility for Chase Marriott Cards.

New rules (as of August 26, 2018)

As of August 26, 2018, these cards will be subjected to new restrictions. As of then, you won’t be eligible for the welcome bonuses on these cards under more circumstances.

You won’t be eligible for the welcome bonus on the Starwood Business Amex Card if any of the following are true:

  • You have or have had the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase or Marriott Rewards Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 30 days
  • You have acquired The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase or The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days
  • You have received a welcome offer in the last 24 months on The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase or The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase

Meanwhile you won’t be eligible for the welcome bonus on the Starwood Personal Amex Card if:

  • You have or have had The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase, or The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from JP Morgan in the last 30 days

How the SPG Luxury Card plays into all of this

As of August 23, 2018, American Express will be launching the new SPG Luxury Card, which will be their $450 annual fee card. It will come with benefits like Marriott Gold status for as long as you have the card, Platinum status when you spend $75,000 on the card in a year, a $300 annual credit for Marriott hotels, an annual free night certificate valid at properties retailing for up to 50,000 points per night, and more.

Based on what we know as of now, starting August 26, 2018, you won’t be eligible for the welcome bonus on that card if any of the following are true:

  • You have or have had The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from JP Morgan in the last 30 days
  • You have acquired The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase or The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase or The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days
  • You have received a welcome offer in the last 24 months on The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase or The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase or The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase

What’s interesting here is that the card is being introduced on August 23, while the new restrictions kick in on August 26 (at least based on what we know), so there will be a three day window where you could get that card even if you have some Chase issued cards.

What’s the best strategy here?

As you can see, the major restriction with eligibility on American Express cards is whether or not you have the similar Chase cards, which is something we haven’t seen before. So as you consider your strategy, keep in mind a few things:

  • Some people will want to apply for one (or more) of the Starwood Amex Cards before August 26, 2018, when the new rules kick in
  • American Express will typically approve at most two credit card applications in a 90 day period, so you’ll want to be strategic about which cards you apply for
  • Eligibility for all three Starwood Amex Cards is considered separately, meaning that you could potentially have the Starwood Business Amex CardStarwood Personal Amex Card, and SPG Luxury Card
  • The Starwood Business Amex Card, has a limited time welcome bonus, though this card will continue to be issued long term; meanwhile at some point in the future Chase has the rights to Marriott’s mid-range personal credit cards, so it’s possible that the Starwood Personal Amex Card won’t be open to new cardmembers anymore (this hasn’t been confirmed with certainty, and if it does happen, we don’t know when)

So while everyone’s situation will vary, in general:

  • I’d consider applying for the Starwood Business Amex Card or Starwood Personal Amex Card before August 26, if that would benefit you, based on the new rules
  • If you’d get value out of the SPG Luxury Card, plan to apply for that between August 23 and August 25, when it will be easiest to get approved for the card

What’s your strategy with Marriott’s new credit card rules?

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Comments

  1. @ Evan — They carry on, at least for now. I suspect they’ll carry on indefinitely, but at some point next year the cards will be rebranded once the name of a new loyalty program is revealed.

  2. @ Rahul Balaggan — Have we actually seen confirmed anywhere that the Ritz Card will be open to new applicants in the future? The card is undergoing some changes in late August, but I’m not convinced it will be open to new applicants again, necessarily. Keep in mind Amex has the rights to the personal super premium segment going forward, and interestingly when Marriott shared the card regarding new eligibility requirements, the Ritz Card was nowhere to be seen. It could be that my read on this is completely wrong, though the more I think about it, the more I question whether the card will be open to new applicants again.

  3. I feel like it would be down right strange to add more benefits to card and not introduce it for new applicants, but who am I to question Chase, I guess at this point I am just gonna have to be hopeful that they re-introduce the card or else i will kick myself for not getting it before.

  4. Lucky,

    I currently have the Starwood Personal Amex and the Chase Sapphire Reserved card. I used the Chase for all dining, which I do a lot of, and I use the Starwood for everything else. Is there any benefit of me applying for the SPG Luxury card other than the automatic Gold Benefit?

    Thanks,

    Steve

  5. @ SteveL — Personally I value the $300 Marriott credit more or less at face value, so to me it’s essentially a $150 annual fee card (though of course you’re paying $450 and getting $300 reimbursed). I don’t think the card is that compelling for spend, so I think it comes down to whether you value a free night certificate valid at properties retailing for up to 50,000 points at $150 per year. The card could also be worthwhile if you want to earn SPG Platinum through credit card spend. Otherwise I don’t see many perks to the card that are valuable in your situation.

  6. @ Rahul Balaggan — I’m not sure that they’re really intending to improve benefits, as much as they’re trying to align benefits. As we’ve seen with the other cards in the portfolio, Amex and Chase are aligning benefits as much as possible. Looking at the Ritz page about the card, it talks about the new benefits, but doesn’t talk about the card being available at any point. I certainly could be wrong.

  7. I’m holding the old Ritz card for now. I wonder how fast the data points will hit for anyone applying for SPG Luxury that’s currently holding the Ritz card in that 3 day window.

    I also wonder if Chase would eventually move the Ritz card portfolio to AMEX as Citi did moving Hilton there. In that case I’d want to close the Ritz card since that transfer killed your chances at signup bonuses on the Ascend and No AF Honors cards when they converted last time.

  8. Hi Lucky – I have previously had the SPG personal and still have the SPG Biz card. Are these considered new products after Aug25th ?
    Trying to figure out if I am restricted by the Amex ‘once per lifetime’ rule for these cards?

  9. Are we sure that if I apply for a card before the August 26th date that I’ll actually be eligible for the bonus? All the articles about this topic seem to make it a certainty that even if I would be ineligible for a welcome bonus if I apply on or after August 26th, as long as I am approved before August 26th, then I am eligible for the bonus. How do we know that Marriott/AMEX/Chase won’t apply the signup bonus rules after August 26th just because I’ve been approved before August 26th? I haven’t seen anything official indicating that bonuses related to signups before August 26th are completely exempt from the new rules…

  10. @ Ken — Application rules are always based on when you apply (or potentially when you’re approved), and not based on when you complete the minimum spend. So if you apply before then you should be good.

  11. @ tom — These are not considered new products, so you wouldn’t be eligible. You will be eligible for the SPG Luxury Card, though.

  12. Lucky,

    Amex now has $95 and $450 fee cards for both Hilton and Marriott. Have you (or anyone else) done an analysis on whether these high end cards are better to hold on to than the mid range ones? The frustrating part about the high end cards is that they don’t offer significantly better earnings structures. In addition, the SPG Luxury card doesn’t give you any extra status if you already have an Amex Platinum.

  13. @Lucky —- To @Ken’s point, is there any way you could ask AmEx to confirm, for the benefit of all of your readers, that people who apply for the new AmEx Luxury card between August 23-25 will be eligible for a welcome bonus despite the new restrictions?

    I applied for the Marriot Premier Card a few months back, before Chase discontinued it, because I wanted to reserve the right to earn more than 15 night credits in a year under the new program. (If you don’t upgrade and have the old Marriott card you can get an extra night credit for each $3,000 of spend. While I normally won’t need it, that could come in handy some years if I’m little below where I’d need to be for platinum.)

    I also want the Luxury card because I think $150 is a good deal for a free night worth up to 50,000 points. But if there’s no welcome bonus I’ll just wait two years until I’m eligible.

    I understand normally the rules are based on when you apply but given that this is a new product, it seems like there’s a risk that AmEx just programs it’s system to deny welcome bonuses for this card as soon as it’s introduced. Otherwise they get the product loaded in their systems, and then change the whole application flow just three days later? That seems weird.

  14. What is the optimal strategy for getting the SPG Luxury card and the SPG Small Business card? I currently hold a SPG personal card and a Ritz Carlton card. My goal is to get both cards just for the initial offer and hold for one year. Is there a way to get both bonuses? Thank you

  15. I currently have the SPG personal and business as well as the Chase Ritz. Do I hurry up and apply for the chase business and possibly personal so I can have 4 35K certs…..or do I try to apply for the SPG lux in this window you are saying might be possible? I hate these new restrictions!

  16. @ tm — Theoretically all of those things should be possible. You could get two Chase Cards and the SPG Lux Card before August 26, potentially.

  17. @ Jordan — You can apply for the SPG Business Card now, and then could get the SPG Luxury Card on August 23. I think you’ll find there’s going to be a lot of value to holding onto those cards long term as well, though.

  18. I have the Ritz and SPG Personal card. I’m 5/24 until Oct/Nov and I haven’t had any of these cards before. What are my options to maximize points from these and future CC offers for Marriott?

    In the short term, I could apply for SPG Amex Biz and/or on the 23rd I can apply for SPG Luxury?
    In the medium term, what would be my options on the Marriott Chase side after my 5/24 is lifted?

  19. Could someone please clarify if the black Visa Signature card I have which only says “Marriott Rewards” on it (which I got in either 2013 or 2014) is the Premier card referenced above?

    It does have the $3,000 / extra night credit that John mentions above but the word “Premier” does not appear on the card or my statement.

  20. Hi Lucky,
    thanks for the info! Question. In the past I had Amex Delta Gold card, then got the Amex Delta Platinum card and closed the gold card. Amex decided not to give me the sign on bonus for the Platinum card since I closed the other one (which I was not happy with). I am wondering if the same will happen if I open the SPG Business card, having closed the SPG personal card about 4 months ago. Any insight on that?

    Thanks!

  21. Hey Lucky- I still am trying to wrap my head around this! I have no marriott or SPG card and am currently 3/24. What should my game plan be?! Thanks!

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