I’m sure by now you’ve heard the big news: the sign-up bonus on Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express (personal and business versions) has been increased to 35,000 points.
Why is it a big deal? Three reasons:
- It’s been a year since we saw this bonus, so this particular offer is relatively rare, not to mention, highest ever.
- SPG is going to be absorbed into Marriott brand eventually, so presumably, the credit card will be discontinued. Nobody knows for sure, but that’s the assumption at the moment.
- SPG points can now be freely transferred to Marriott via 1:3 ratio, which opens up more opportunities to utilize them. Marriott hotels are everywhere, so it makes it easier for normal family to leverage the sign-up bonus during road trips.
Obviously, the latter requires a bigger commitment when it comes to minimum spending threshold. But there is one compelling advantage compared to personal version: Sheraton Club access. This can be invaluable when you travel with family, though be aware that it’s limited to primary cardholder and a second guest.
Still, the kids don’t usually eat that much and even if you decide to bring them with you, I doubt anyone will care. I’m not telling you to do it, just making an observation. This benefit is valid on points reservations, not just paid ones. Here are the details, click on the screenshot if it’s hard to read:
I definitely consider both offers to be excellent, and last year I wrote about just few ways you can leverage the bonus. For the most part, all the info there still applies, but do take note of upcoming category changes on SPG as well as Marriott.
Both cards pay us commission if you apply through the blog. You can only apply for either card if you have’t had it in the past. So, in all likelihood, this news item is only relevant to new hobby recruits. If you already have Amex SPG credit card, you can use this page to refer friends If you’ve recently applied for lower offer, contact Amex and see if they can match it.
Is this your last opportunity to pick up 35K points offer on both cards?
I have no idea. I’m fairly confident that it will not go higher than 35K points, but I could be wrong. I’m also pretty certain that it will go down to 25K points after April 5th. It’s very possible that Amex will decide to increase the offer to 35K points again if the card will indeed end up on the chopping block due to Marriott takeover.
I can say this. If I were in the market for Amex SPG card, I would absolutely consider pulling the trigger before April 5th. Business version is especially lucrative for those who have upcoming stays in Sheraton properties with Club lounge. Getting breakfast, snacks and dinner for free is a wonderful thing for families on a budget.
One beachfront property that offers this perk is Sheraton Sand Key in Clearwater, Fl. It costs 10,000 SPG points per night, but you get the fifth one free. It hasn’t been affected by recent category changes, so this could be a great choice for your Spring Break vacation in 2018.
Sure, you would have to commit a good chunk of your spending, so it’s something to consider. You can read my post on ways you can prepay your expenses. Do not buy Visa gift cards because Amex will probably claw back your points! But other methods should be fine.
Other lucrative offers to consider instead
While I consider Amex SPG offer extremely compelling, it’s not a no-brainer. For one, there is still 100K points Chase Sapphire Reserve offer available in branch. If you can apply for it before March 12th, do it! See my post on Chase Sapphire Reserve and I think you’ll agree. The bonus on CSR will drop from 100K to 50K points on March 12th. Be aware, in-branch pre-approvals for this card have been removed, so this will only work if you are under 5/24.
If you are over 5/24 or don’t live near Chase branch, I recommend you consider applying for Merrill +Visa Signature right now. I recently wrote a post on it and consider it a hot offer, second only to CSR. It could literally disappear any day or it could be alive for several months. Hard to say. Neither offer pays us commission, so there is zero incentive to recommend them. Update: the link for Merrill card appears to be dead.
But overall, if I had to rate current non-targeted offers for those who are not 100% sure on what they will do with sign-up bonus, they would rank like this:
1) Chase Sapphire Reserve
2) Merril+Visa Signature
3) Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express (personal or business)
One compelling reason to go for business version of Amex SPG is if you want to stick to business cards which don’t show up on your personal credit report. I’m talking about folks who want to be under 5/24 limit so they can apply for lucrative Chase offers down the road. Sheraton Club access is a second reason to consider business version of Amex SPG. Of course, I only recommend it if you have a legitimate business.
One possible strategy for those who are over 5/24 limit and don’t want to wait it out. You can apply for Merrill offer right now and then pull the trigger on SPG card right before April 5th. Obviously, do the math and decide if you can handle the requirements. But if you have money in savings, it could make sense to prepay some expenses and buy gift cards to places where you frequently shop. I have no problem dropping $600 at Walmart every month, so that would be a good candidate.
I very rarely use hyperboles on this blog, but I have no problem saying that the offer on Amex SPG card is an excellent one. Whether you should apply for personal or business version will depend on your plans and ability to get the other two cards I’ve mentioned.
There is also a good chance that the offer may come back later this year, but it’s impossible to say for sure. So, if you’ve been thinking about getting Amex SPG card in a near future, you should probably consider doing so before April 5th.
Readers, who is planning to apply?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.