Which Marriott and SPG Credit Cards Are Right For You?

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With the merger of the Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott loyalty programs, where does that leave the Marriott and SPG credit cards in your wallet? What choices do you have if you’re planning to get a new card soon? Today, we’re going to compare all of the Marriott and SPG credit card options to help you decide the best way to earn Marriott Rewards points towards your next vacation.

Capital One Spark vs. Chase Ink Business Preferred

How does the merger affect Marriott and SPG credit cards?

Before the merger, these hotel brands were partnered with different banks. Chase is a partner of Marriott, and American Express is a partner of SPG, but which one is the best travel credit card?

When brands merge, often the bank that partnered with the brand being acquired is the big loser. They lose access to those customers and they miss out on a large source of revenue from the interchange fee income (the percent of the transaction charged to the merchant).

With this merger, Marriott’s management was strategic in divvying up the business. Chase would keep the mass consumer business, while American Express would focus on the business clients and luxury clients. This is as perfect as it could get for these banks because Chase has the branch distribution network for consumers, while American Express has traditionally been focused on the affluent and business owners.

What about the Marriott and SPG credit cards I already have?

Again, this is a situation that was handled perfectly by Chase, American Express, Starwood Preferred Group, and Marriott.

Rather than selling the portfolio of credit cards from one bank to the other and making millions of cardholders receive new credit cards and new card numbers, all existing cards will stay with their respective banks and all card numbers will stay the same. It’s a pretty smart move.

However, some benefits and earning power has changed. Read on to see what has changed so you can determine if it makes sense to keep your cards going forward.

Last Chance To Apply For These Marriott and SPG Credit Cards?

Sadly, the Chase Ritz Carlton Visa applications have already been pulled. New rules kicked in and limited the bonuses you could earn on August 26, 2018. There is talk that you will no longer be able to apply for these credit cards by the end of this year.

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (aka Amex SPG)

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express currently has a 75,000 Marriott Rewards welcome offer when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months upon account opening. These 75,000 points are equivalent to the old offer of 25,000 SPG points using the 3:1 conversion ratio between the two loyalty programs. As a rule, if you have received the Amex SPG bonus previously, you are not eligible per American Express’ “once per lifetime” bonus rules.

A nice upgrade is that this card now includes an annual free night when you renew at the card’s anniversary. However, it is no longer the preferred daily spend credit card for many since it now only earns 2 Marriott Rewards points per $1 spent instead of the 3 per $1 that it earned prior to August 1, 2018. That’s a 33% loss of earning power! The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Visa

The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Visa is also offering 75,000 Marriott Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months after approval. Per Chase, you are not eligible to receive the bonus if you’ve received a bonus from this credit card in the last 24 months. The clock starts ticking based on the day you received the bonus, not the date you applied or opened the account (an important distinction).

I like this card because of the annual free night, but you are better off paying for Marriott stays with the consumer version or the Amex SPG because they both earn 6x per $1 spent on select Marriott and SPG credit cards purchases, whereas this card only earns 5x.

Marriott and SPG Credit Cards Going Forward

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Visa

With Chase handling the mass consumer portfolio for Marriott, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card will be targeted towards the average person. This card offers an annual free night at a hotel valued up to 35,000 points. The annual fee of $95 is reasonable. It earns 6x points at Marriott / SPG hotels and 2x points on everyday spend.

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card

The Amex SPG Luxury card is a premium credit card with premium features. It earns the same 6x points at Marriott and SPG properties and 2x on everyday spend, but it also earns 3x at restaurants and flights. The annual free night that it comes with gets an upgrade over the mass consumer and business cards. Instead of being limited to properties up to 35,000 points, this free night can be used at resorts up to 50,000 points per night.

For it’s $450 annual fee, you’ll receive $300 in annual credits that can be used at Marriott and SPG properties for rooms, dining, and other hotel expenses. A statement credit up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck is also available. Complimentary Gold status comes with the card, but you can achieve Platinum status once you spend $75,000 in a calendar year.

Hitting status tiers will also be easier since you’ll receive 15-night credits towards the next level of status. Frequent travelers will enjoy unlimited Priority Pass Select lounge visits for you and up to 2 guests.

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers a 75,000 Marriott Rewards bonus after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. It earns 6 points per dollar at participating Marriott across 29 brands and 2x everywhere else. It does have bonus categories where you can earn 4x points when spending in the United States on restaurants, gas stations, wireless phones, and shipping.

The annual free night is good at hotels valued at or up to 35,000 points, plus you’ll enjoy complimentary Silver Elite status. You have the option to earn Gold status when you spend $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year. Note that effective January 1, 2019, the spend threshold will increase to $35,000. The first year’s annual fee is waived, then it is $95 per year after that.

Restrictions on Receiving Bonuses

For the first time, two banks are working together to restrict applicants from receiving the bonuses on related credit cards. American Express and Citibank didn’t coordinate efforts on the Hilton cards. Citibank and Barclays haven’t worked together to limit multiple bonuses with American Airlines. If this effort between American Express and Chase is successful, you can be sure that more banks will start working together.

The restrictions vary depending on which card you are applying for. The details are below, but the basics are that you won’t get the welcome bonus if you:

  • Have the equivalent card now or canceled within the last 30 days
  • Have acquired another card in the family (ie: business, luxury, consumer) within the last 90 days
  • Have received a welcome bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 2 years

Here are the exact rules which disqualify you from receiving the bonus.

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card

If you currently have or have had any of the following in the last 30 days:

  • The Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card from JP Morgan

Or have acquired any of the following cards from Chase in the last 90 days:

  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase

Or have received a welcome bonus or upgrade offer for any of the following cards from Chase in the last 24 months:

  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

If you currently have or have had any of the following in the last 30 days:

  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
  • The Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from JP Morgan Chase

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express

If you currently have or have had any of the following in the last 30 days:

  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase
  • The Marriott Rewards Business Credit Card from Chase

Or have acquired any of the following cards from Chase in the last 90 days:

  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase

Or have received a welcome bonus or upgrade offer for any of the following cards from Chase in the last 24 months:

  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card

If you currently have or have had any of the following in the last 30 days:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Or have acquired any of the following cards from Chase in the last 90 days:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express

Or have received a welcome bonus or upgrade offer for any of the following cards from American Express in the last 24 months:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express

Which Marriott and SPG Credit Cards Are Right for You?

With so many options, you have to be asking yourself which Marriott and SPG credit cards are right for your situation. Some credit cards are going away with the Chase focus on mass consumers and American Express focus on the affluent and business markets. Because of that, if you are eligible, I would apply for the cards that are going away.

The cards that remain will be available once you can bypass the rules and qualify. But once they eliminate those other cards, you’ll never be able to get those bonuses again. I have several of these Marriott and SPG credit cards but haven’t received a bonus in the last 24 months. I should be ok to apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card without any problems.

Because these rules are complex, you’ll hear people get an approval when they shouldn’t have been and vice versa. If you feel that you qualify, do not hesitate to call the reconsideration lines and state your case.

Lee Huffman

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Which Marriott and SPG Credit Cards Are Right For You?
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About the Author

Lee Huffman
Lee developed a passion for traveling as a boy, and now he explores the world with his wife & children using miles, points, & the latest travel hacks. He has been teaching others how to travel more, spend less, & live better since 2012.

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