Marriott adds elite night credits, slashes earning rates as SPG Amex card rebrands as Bonvoy

Jan 15, 2020

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More than one year has passed since the former Starwood Preferred Guest programme was fully integrated to form the current Marriott Bonvoy programme. Now, Marriott has announced that it is finally rebranding its cobranded American Express credit card to reflect the new name — and some of the benefits are changing.

As of 26 February 2020, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express U.K. will officially become the Marriott Bonvoy American Express U.K. Card.

Related reading: Credit card review: The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express U.K.

In addition to the new name, the card is also introducing a few changes to its perks and earning structure. See the below table for changes on the current SPG-branded card versus the new Marriott-branded card, which will take effect 26 February:

SPG Credit Card Marriott Bonvoy Card
Elite night credits 0 15
Welcome bonus 30,000 bonus points after spending £1,000 in the first three months 20,000 bonus points after spending £3,000 in the first three months
Hotel spend earn rate 6 points per £1 spent at Marriott hotels 6 points per £1 spent at Marriott hotels
Non-hotel spend earn rate 3 points per £1 for non-property spend 2 points per £1 for non-property spend
Elite status Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver status. Upgrade to Gold when you spend £15,000 with the card Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver status. Upgrade to Gold when you spend £15,000 with the card
Free night certificate 1 free night award (up to 25,000 points) when you spend £25,000 1 free night award (up to 25,000 points) when you spend £25,000
Annual fee and APR £75 annual fee; 39.7% APR £75 annual fee; 39.7% APR

While quite a few perks of the card are staying the same, such as the free night certificate, annual fee, elite status and hotel spend earn rate, there are some distinct changes. Perhaps the biggest positive change of all is the addition of 15 nights of elite night credits. While the perk doesn’t necessarily have a monetary value, it can expedite your journey to organic, non-perk-related elite status with the Bonvoy programme. Elite night credits will be awarded by April 2020, and moving forward, they will post each January.

You’ll still get complimentary Marriott Silver status as a benefit of the card, however, you’ll be well on your way to earning the next level of status. In other words, because of the 15 elite night credits that come as a benefit of the card, you’ll only need to complete 10 nights in order to earn Gold status. As a reminder, you’ll need the following number of nights each year in order to earn elite status with Bonvoy:

  • Silver — 10 nights/year (complimentary as a card benefit)
  • Gold — 25 nights/year (10 nights after complimentary elite night credits)
  • Platinum — 50 nights/year (35 nights after complimentary elite night credits)
  • Titanium — 75 nights/year (60 nights after complimentary elite night credits)
  • Ambassador — 100 nights/year + $20,000 in annual qualifying spend (85 nights after complimentary elite night credits)

In addition to the added benefit, Marriott and Amex have also chosen to reduce benefits in other areas. Most notably, the welcome bonus that comes with the card is decreasing from 30,000 points to 20,000 points after meeting the minimum spending requirement. Based on TPG U.K.’s most recent valuations, 30,000 Bonvoy points are worth £210, while 20,000 are worth £140 — an approximate £70 devaluation. Plus, you’ll have to spend £3,000 in three months in order to earn the sum instead of the previous £1,000. Not only is the amount of points you’ll earn going down, but you’ll have to spend more than double in order to get it.

Potential new cardholders will want to keep in mind American Express’ welcome bonus restrictions, which can rule you ineligible for a welcome bonus at all.

Related reading: Understanding the American Express U.K. welcome bonus restrictions

That’s not the only devaluation to the card. It’s also reducing the number of points you’ll earn on non-hotel spend from 3 points per £1 spent to 2 points per £1 spent. The reduction will mean it’ll be harder to rack up Bonvoy points when you’re not staying at a property.

Thankfully, the annual fee and APR rates are staying the same. Current and new cardholders can still expect to pay £75 each year in order to keep the card in their wallet. That fee is not waived in the first or subsequent years. Other fees, such as the card’s unfortunate 2.99% foreign transaction fee, will remain the same.

Related reading: 5 amazing Marriott Bonvoy redemptions in Europe

According to Marriott, current cardholders can expect to receive communication from Amex within the next two weeks and all changes will happen automatically — there’s no need to take any action. Replacement Marriott Bonvoy cards will be sent upon the expiry of a cardmember’s existing SPG-branded product. Current cardmembers who wish to end their agreement can do so before 26 February by calling Amex U.K.

Bottom line

Overall, this news could be taken either way. If you value elite status, you’ll be happy with the added benefit of complimentary elite night credits, as it’ll jumpstart your path to higher status with Bonvoy each and every year. However, if you value earning points at a higher rate, you’ll be disappointed to know that both the welcome bonus and non-hotel spend earn rates are decreasing with the changes to the card.

That all being said, the changes were expected. It was only a matter of time before Marriott and Amex U.K. changed the card and potentially updated its benefits. There’s no doubt that if you frequently stay at Marriott properties, it’s a good card to have in your wallet.

If you want to get the card with the increased welcome bonus — if you’re eligible, that is — you’ll want to do so before the new welcome bonus kicks in as of 26 February.

You can apply for this credit card here.

Featured photo of JW Marriott Maldives by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.

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