Should You Sign Up for the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier and Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards Now?

Marriott and SPG recently announced the details of their merger. There are a lot of changes regarding new cards, status, airline partners, and hotel categories. This post will focus on the existing cards that might disappear soon.

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Chase Marriott Rewards Premier (Old) and the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus (New)

On May 3, 2018, Chase will replace the Marriott Rewards Premier with the new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card. If you at the terms on the website, you can have either the Marriott Premier or the Marriott Premier Plus, but not both.

It's expected that current cardholders of the old Marriott Rewards Premier card will receive upgrade offers for the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus. 

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card (Old)

  • Annual fee: $85, waived the first year
  • Signup bonus: 75,000 bonus points, after $3,000 in spend within the first three months
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott and SPG hotels
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants, car rental agencies, and on airline tickets purchased directly for the airline
  • If you add an authorized user, earn 7,500 bonus points when they make a purchase within the first months of opening.

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus (New)

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Signup bonus: 100,000 points after $5,000 in spend within the first three months
  • Earn 6 points for $1 spent at Marriott and SPG hotels
  • Earn 2 points on all other purchases
  • Free night award (valued at up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary
  • Guaranteed Silver Elite Status
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year (coming in 2019)
  • Free in-room wi-fi (coming in August)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus (New) vs. Marriott Rewards Premier Signup Bonus (Old)

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus (New)

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus has a 100,000 point signup bonus after $5,000 of minimum spend within the first three months of account opening. Most people value Marriott points at 0.8-1.0 cents per point (CPP).

Signup bonus = 100k Marriott

  • at 0.8 CPP = $800
  • at 1.0 CPP = $1,000

Minimum spend = $5,000

  • at 0.8 CPP = 16% return on spend
  • at 1.0 CPP = 20% return on spend

Annual fee = $95 (likely not waived in Year 1)

Marriott Rewards Premier (Old)

The Marriott Rewards Premier has a 75,000 point signup bonus after $3,000 of minimum spend within the first three months of account opening. The $85 annual fee is waived the first year.

Signup bonus = 75k Marriott

  • at 0.8 CPP = $600
  • at 1.0 CPP = $750

Min spend = $3,000

  • at 0.8 CPP = 20% return on spend
  • at 1.0 CPP = 25% return on spend

Annual fee = $85 (waived in Year 1)

Whether it makes sense if you should apply for the (old) Marriott Premier Rewards depends on the upgrade offer and if you value you the current sign-up bonus. 

For people who want to have a lower minimum spend requirement, I think the current offer makes sense, as opposed to the new card which requires $5,000 in spending.

  • Bonus: 75k ==> 100k (25k increase)
  • Minimum spend: $3,000 ==> $5,000 ($2,000 increase)
  • 25k / 75k = 33% increase in bonus for $2,000 / $3,000 = 66% increase in min spend

The new minimum spend is 66% higher, but the sign-up bonus is only 25% more with the new offer.

If you're under 5/24, I recommend going for the Marriott Premier card because it has a lower minimum spend, and the annual fee is waived the first year.

After having the card for a year, you're likely to get an upgrade offer to the Marriott Premier Plus card. View from the Wing speculates that the targeted upgrade incentives will range between 10,000 and 50,000 points. 

Chase Marriott Rewards Business and Chase Ritz-Carlton

Changes to the Chase Marriott Rewards Business and the Chase Ritz-Carlton cards will be announced in June/July. These cards are not affected by 5/24. 

A lot of people are speculating that the Chase Marriott Business card will be discontinued soon.

The Chase Ritz-Carlton card will most likely remain unchanged and compete with the new Amex SPG Luxury card. 

American Express SPG (Old) vs. American Express SPG Luxury (New)

American Express will launch a new Amex SPG Luxury card with a $450 annual fee in August 2018. The current Amex SPG and SPG Business cards might disappear soon.

Amex SPG Luxury (New)

  • Annual fee = $450
  • Marriott credit = $300
  • Signup bonus = ???
  • Anniversary night up to 50k Marriott *
    • Off-peak = Category 7 (of 8)
    • Standard = Category 6 (of 8)
    • Peak = Category 5 (of 8)

* new tier/category system can substantially change values

The signup bonus for the new SPG Luxury card is yet to be announced, and since the hotel categories will change, we're not sure which properties you can use the anniversary night. We'll dive into the card details once it's announced. 

Amex SPG (Old)

  • Annual fee $95, waived the first year
  • Signup bonus: 25,000 Starpoints after $3,000 in spend within the first three months
  • Earn 5 Starpoints per $1 spent at SPG hotels
  • Earn 2 Starpoints per $1 spent at Marriott Rewards hotels
  • Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases

Important note: Since Chase gets exclusivity of the basic personal cards in August 2018, the earning rates on the Amex SPG card will most likely change. Although not confirmed, the $95 annual fee cards will move to 6 points $1 spent at Marriott and SPG properties and 2 points everywhere else. (h/t View from the Wing)

Doctor of Credit mentioned that a really good source noted that the Amex SPG card signup bonus will drop from 25,000 points to a $200 statement credit. The change is likely to happen within the next two weeks, possibly sooner. 

I think it's worth keeping the Amex SPG (old) card because starting in August 2018, all cardholders will start to receive a free anniversary night upon card membership renewal. Again, it's still unclear which hotel properties you can use the free anniversary night on. 

If your annual fee is coming up for the Amex SPG, it might be worth calling the number on the back of your card and asking for a retention offer. Learn more about retention offers in this post.