A 125K Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX Luxury Card targeted offer arrived today for my son, which he won't be applying for, since he's 10 years old, without a steady income (not counting his weekly allowance). But even if my husband or I had been targeted for it, would we apply? Maybe–and that ambivalence has something to do with the SPG-Marriott Rewards Integration Chaos we've seen, as well as the hefty $450 annual fee. Ultimately we were able to transfer the necessary SPG-Marriott points out to Lufthansa to book Lufthansa First Class, but it took over a week until that transfer worked correctly.
Here are the card benefits, followed by my analysis:
- Earn 125,000 bonus points (=41,000 old SPG Starpoints) after spending $5000 on the card in the first three months of card membership
- Annual fee of $450 is NOT waived the first year
- $300 statement credit for eligible purchases in SPG or Marriott Rewards hotels
- Gold Elite status (earn 25% more points per eligible paid stay)
- Platinum Elite status after you spend $75,000 or more on the card in a calendar year
- Free night award each year after the card anniversary date (only for hotels that require 50,000 points or fewer for an award night)
- Starting in 2019: 15 nights towards elite status
- Earn 6X points (=2X old SPG Starpoints) per dollar spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels
- Earn 3X points (=1 old SPG Starpoints) per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
- Earn 2X points (= 2/3 an old SPG Starpoint) per dollar spent on all other purchases
- Priority Pass lounge access for you and up to two accompanying guests
- Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every 4 years
- No foreign transaction fees
Is the SPG AMEX Luxury Card Worth It?
Great for the Signup Bonus, If You Can Use the $300 SPG/Marriott Statement Credit
If you know for sure you'll have a stay at an SPG or Marriott hotel that enables you to get the $300 statement credit, bringing the actual cost of the card down to $150 in the first year, the 125K SPG AMEX Luxury Card offer is a decent one, since it's enabling you to earn the equivalent of 41,666 old SPG Starpoints for $150, equating to 0.4 cents per point. If you transferred those 120,000 points (~40,000 old SPG Starpoint) out to airlines 1:1, with a 25% transfer bonus for transfers in increments of 60,000 points (20,000 old SPG Starpoints) that would yield 50,000 miles, bringing the cost down to 0.3 cents per airline mile. Either way, it's an incredible bargain, assuming you can successfully transfer out the points and there aren't more points transfer snafus with Marriott.
If you're uncertain if you'll be spending any nights at all in an SPG or Marriott hotel over the next year, however, the card's value proposition worsens. Currently we have no SPG or Marriott stays booked, and if that didn't change, we'd be paying $450 for 50,000 miles. That's still 0.9 cents per mile, which is very good when buying miles, but if you're able to earn signup bonus miles for just minimum spend, with annual fees waived the first year, it's not compelling unless you really need SPG points to transfer out to a particular airline that you otherwise couldn't earn miles for.
The SPG AMEX Luxury Card hobbles itself with poor earning rates. Recall that each current point is only one third of an old SPG Starpoint, so everyday nonbonused spend, which earns 2X, effectively only earns 2/3 of an old SPG Starpoint, unlike the 1 Starpoint earned per dollar before the Marriott integration.
In a similar vein, 6X on SPG and Marriott hotels is only 2X in old Starpoint terms, and 3X on U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines is just 1 old Starpoint. Starpoints are worth more than Chase Ultimate Rewards, but the 3X on all travel and dining makes the Chase Sapphire Reserve a far more valuable credit card than the SPG AMEX Luxury card.
Questionable Ongoing Value
For road warriors that haven't been deterred by the many SPG-Marriott integration challenges, the SPG AMEX Luxury card may be worth keeping, as it provides 15 elite night credits that can help when chasing or working to maintain elite status.
For most others, however, this is a “one and done” card, meaning you'd get it for one year only, for the bonus, and then close it or attempt to product change it to a low or no annual fee card.
Did you receive a targeted offer for the 125K SPG AMEX Luxury, and do you plan to apply for it?
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