Why I’m Hopeful About the Future of the SPG Program With Marriott’s New Chase and Amex Agreements

Dec 5, 2017

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What We Know:

  1. Today, Marriott announced it has signed deals with both Chase and American Express.
  2. In 2018, Amex will get a new super-premium consumer credit card and a business credit card.
  3. Also in 2018, Chase will get new business card options.
  4. If you don’t yet have any of the SPG co-branded Amex cards, I highly recommend getting them now before it’s too late.

Like many Starwood Preferred Guest elites, I was nervous when Marriott first announced that it would be acquiring Starwood. What would the future hold for the valuable SPG program? What would happen to my lifetime SPG Platinum status? What would a combined Marriott Rewards-SPG program look like? While a number of questions are still unanswered, today we received much more clarity with regard to the co-brand credit card structure when Marriott announced it signed deals with both Chase and American Express.

Today’s announcement detailed Marriott’s new agreements to offer co-brand credit cards with both JPMorgan Chase and American Express in 2018. In addition to current cardholders of both Marriott and SPG co-branded cards being able to continue using their current cards through 2018, Marriott announced today that it plans to offer new co-branded options with both issuers. In 2018, Marriott will launch a super-premium consumer and small business co-branded cards with Amex, as well as premium co-branded consumer cards with Chase.

Details are minimal at this point, but the new co-brand options from both Chase and Amex have me feeling optimistic. I think that overall, the new agreements with both issuers means good news for the consumer. While I personally prefer the current SPG program and, more specifically, the co-branded Amex card, I know that a lot of people love Marriott and their co-branded Chase cards remain near the top of their wallet.

To me, today’s news signals that SPG is going to be around for a lot longer. While we already knew that the two programs would continue to be run independently in their current forms through the end of 2018, I think this announcement of new cards could mean that we could see the two programs run as we know them into 2019 — or for good. Even though that Marriott executives have said in the past that the two programs would eventually become one, I feel like Marriott may be rethinking that decision. Already, Marriott has two programs that are somewhat separate in Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards, so I think it could make sense to add a third quasi-independent program to that portfolio. There are certainly enough brands between the three for Marriott to offer three programs, and I don’t see a reason for Marriott to force people to change their loyalties completely if they don’t want to.

Marriott took a page out of American Airlines’ book to choose two partners for its cards instead of one. During the American-US Airways merger, AA had the option to keep Citi or Barclaycard, US Airways’ co-brand issuer. The newly appointed world’s largest airline decided to keep both, and in the end, I think it helped to strengthen AA’s offering. It’s no surprise to me either that Marriott opted to go with both. SPG is a huge part of American Express’ business, and Chase has been tapped with the Chase Sapphire Reserve launch, so I would have been surprised to see Chase selected as the sole issuer. Generally speaking, I’m of the mindset that more options for the consumer is the best route.

On a similar note, new cards will likely mean new welcome bonuses since they’ll be new products. Both Chase and Amex allow you to get co-brand products within the same family — like both the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express cards from Amex, or the United MileagePlus Club and MileagePlus Explorer cards from Chase. This same rule also applies for the business versions of these co-brand cards from both Chase and Amex. Also note that Chase’s pesky 5/24 rule doesn’t count for some co-brand credit cards — it does, however, count for the Marriott co-branded personal card. So, there will likely be new welcome bonuses for members to take advantage of in 2018.

While details remain scarce at this point, I’m hoping the new “super-premium” consumer option from Amex offers a better earn ratio. Currently, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express allows you to earn 2x points on Starwood purchases (5x points for me because I’m a 75+ night Platinum member) and 1x points on everything else. The earning structure as it currently stands is rough in my opinion. For this new premium option, I’d consider paying more to earn more points — dare I say some 3x categories?! And on the business side of things, I’d like for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express or its new equivalent to offer more bonus points for online advertising spend as well as higher upgrade priority for suites.

Today’s news has me feeling hopeful for the future of the combined — or individual — programs. I’m anxious to see how the news continues to develop throughout the rest of 2017 and 2018. If you don’t already have them, it might be a good idea to look at getting the current cards now — the SPG personal and business cards, as well as the Marriott personal and business cards. As the new cards come out, the current offering could be discontinued. The SPG card is pretty widely used on the mass market, so it could be a good idea to get grandfathered in to that Amex card now.

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