Changes Coming to The Canadian Amex SPG Cards

** The SPG Amex Canada changes are now live. Read my review of the SPG Amex and SPG Business Amex now.

Today, we got official confirmation of changes coming to the Canadian Amex SPG Card. These changes were totally anticipated since a few months back, Marriott announced that SPG and Marriott Rewards are merging in August. This change to the rewards program immediately affected the Amex SPG Card in a negative way when it came to the referral and signup bonuses, but the new changes announced today are positive in my opinion.

Changes Coming to The Canadian Amex SPG Cards

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card changes

  • 5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards properties
  • 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Free Night Award (redemption value of up to 35,000 points) with NO spend requirement
  • Complimentary upgrade to Silver Elite Status
  • Complimentary Gold Elite Status after spending $30,000 in eligible purchases on the Card each year
  • No annual fee on supplementary cards
  • $30 in cash back when you apply for the SPG Amex card via Great Canadian Rebates (see link below)

Apply Now for the SPG credit card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card changes

  • 5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards properties
  • 3 points per $1 spent on eligible gas, dining and travel purchases
  • 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Free Night Award (redemption value of up to 35,000 points) with NO spend requirement
  • Complimentary upgrade to Silver Elite Status
  • Complimentary Gold Elite Status after spending $30,000 in eligible purchases on the Card each year

How do these changes affect you?

Technically speaking, the card has been devalued. Currently, you earn 1 SPG point per $1 spent which you can convert to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio. In other words, $1 spent was equal to 3 Marriott Reward points. Under the new system, you’re earning 2 Marriott Rewards points per $1 spent so your earnings potential has gone down by a third.

That being said, you actually come out ahead in August since the annual free night award no longer has a minimum spend requirement and it has a redemption value of up 35,000 points and can be used any night of the week. This free award night is similar to what was offered before by the Chase Marriott Card, but SPG the SPG version has a higher redemption value. To be clear, the free award night could potentially be worth a few hundred dollars which put the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card back into my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada.

Getting Silver Status is nice since the SPG Amex currently doesn’t include it for Marriott Rewards members, but the old Chase Marriott Card did, so you’re really just getting a perk back.

I should that although the changes are happening in August, there is no exact date announced yet.

Additional changes coming in August?

What I listed above was released officially by American Express, but I did confirm a few additional things from them.

There will be a new signup bonus when the new loyalty program is launched that will be engaging and relevant. Until that new program is official, the statement credit for new applicants remains. In other words, you’re probably better off waiting until August before you sign up for the SPG card if sign up bonuses is your top priority.

Amex also told me that they plan to evaluate the best way to engage cardmembers when it comes to any potential change to the referral bonus. I should note that I specifically asked about the new apply before July 18th referral bonus date, and they gave me the same corporate line. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

The new transfer ratio of American Express Membership Rewards to Marriott Rewards points has now been announced which will become effective as of August 4, 2018.

  • 1,000 Amex Membership Rewards = 1,200 Marriott Rewards

This is a slight devaluation as it used to be 2:3 but now it’s 2:2.4.

Finally, American Express will continue to offer the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card as the Canadian Card for the new loyalty program. The card’s name won’t change until 2019 when the new program name is in place. Effective August 2018, Marriott Rewards members and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards members will be able to apply for the SPG Credit Card from American Express for Canada using their loyalty account number.

Don’t forget to check out my list of the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada.

By |2018-09-15T21:02:20+00:00June 28th, 2018|Credit cards, Travel, Travel news|

43 Comments

  1. Joe June 28, 2018 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Any word on the 15 elite night credits, which was offered by the chase Canada Marriott card, and has been and will be offered by all of the chase and American Express offerings in the United States?

    • Barry Choi June 28, 2018 at 9:51 pm - Reply

      Hi Joe,

      There was no mention of this to me. I’ll probably wait until August before I ask them about it.

    • Jonathan August 28, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Hi, wanted to see if the 15 night credit boost was brought back, since this goes further than simply guaranteeing silver status.

      Also, any word of Marriott bringing back their card in Canada with no FX fees?

      Thanks.

      • Barry Choi August 28, 2018 at 9:26 am - Reply

        Hi Jonathan,

        I can see them bringing back elite nights in the future. As for the no FX fees, that was something offered by Chase, not Amex so I wouldn’t hold my breath about it.

  2. YogiB June 28, 2018 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Still missing the 15 elite night credits and the No FX Fees as benefits compared to our old Chase Marriott visa card. Without No FX Fees benefit, this is not a good international travel card.

    Point rewards went to down compared to the current SPG AmEx offering and to the new US Marriott card offerings.

    The annual free night is worth something, but with all the upcoming category changes, this may actually even out more than most would expect at this moment.

    • Barry Choi June 28, 2018 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Hi Yogi,

      I personally think the annual free night alone makes keeping this card worthwhile. You can use it on any property up to 35K points, some hotels in NYC could easily cost $300-350 per night.

      • Ali June 29, 2018 at 4:41 pm - Reply

        Can you please elaborate on how to use the annual free night award? What do you mean by “you can use it up to 35K points”?
        Do we need minimum point balance or certain nights booked to redeem the free night?

        • Barry Choi June 29, 2018 at 4:44 pm - Reply

          Hi Ali,

          There’s no official word, but the odds are you would automatically get a free night certificate applied to your account. That certificate can be used to claim a free night as long as the redemption value is not more than 35K points.

          There is no minimum balance or nights booked required. If you’re a cardholder, you’ll get it.

        • Yogi June 30, 2018 at 12:12 pm - Reply

          We’ll probably receive a CAT5 certificate (which will be slightly more valuable than an old CAT5 cert, since they reduce the amount of categories).

  3. Naftali Sturm June 28, 2018 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    any word if cobalt transfer rate of 2:1 into SPG will be changing?

    • Barry Choi June 28, 2018 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Naftali,

      I asked them specifically about this but they weren’t ready to provide comment about it at this time.

      • James June 29, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

        That 2:1 MR conversion rate is my main concern. The SPG card “devaluation” is not as bad to me with that free night annually. At least it makes it justifiable to keep even if the earn rate is nerf. There aren’t many cards better for uncategorized spend still. But 1:1 MR to Marriott is a lot worse than 1;1.5. Especially for cards like the Cobalt.

        • Barry Choi June 29, 2018 at 4:50 am - Reply

          James,

          Any change to the conversion rate also concerns me. Obviously, it could go either way, let’s just hope for the best. I do agree that the free annual night totally makes worth keeping the SPG worth it. Heck, even the business card is worth it since the annual fee is only $150 can you can earn points on gas.

          • James June 29, 2018 at 4:14 pm

            I think it would affect the Cobalt (which I love) the most. Since it can’t transfer to airline miles, transferring to SPG is the prime redemption choice. If the rate gets nerfed, it’ll still be good. But definitely far from as great. (5 Marriott pts down from 7.5 Marriott pts per $).

          • Barry Choi June 29, 2018 at 4:46 pm

            The funny thing about the Cobalt is that the current ratio to SPG is hella good. Like you stated, you’re getting 7.5 Marriott points or 2.5 SPG per $1 spent on food purchases. I remember when the card launched, I asked AMEX why this ratio was so high as you would basically be getting more points than the actual SPG card. They basically said that they believed only a small portion of people would transfer their points to SPG. I just smiled.

          • James June 29, 2018 at 5:35 pm

            Yah maybe I’m just spoiled at the amazing rate right now on food and dining and don’t want to give it up. 5 Marriott is still an unmatched rate, for a large spend category for a lot of people.

            I find it funny they didn’t think many people would transfer to SPG. one of the most valuable loyalty points, and super flexible.

            Maybe there are many average customers that don’t look into great redemption options like we do. Maybe they’d just go for cashback.

          • Barry Choi June 29, 2018 at 8:26 pm

            James,

            I still can’t believe the current rate. I was absolutely shocked with it when the card was announced. It’s possible in the grand scheme of things that the amount of people transferring to SPG is minimal.

          • Yogi June 30, 2018 at 12:20 pm

            @James,

            5pt/$ is not bad. I loved it on my Marriott visa card. But with the US card holders now getting 6pt/$, I feel that Marriott is cheaping out on the Canadian market. AGAIN.

            I already have an amazing every-day-life credit card from my bank. I mainly got the SPG AmEx for the sign-up bonus and to bridge the gap to the new Marriott credit card that was hinted to come. The 3 Starpt/$ was very nice, but dropping back down to 5 and only being interesting in Canada (FX fees) makes it an expensive card to just sit around in the wallet.

          • Barry Choi June 30, 2018 at 4:05 pm

            Although the $120 annual fee hurts, getting an anniversary stay does make it worthwhile to hold onto the card.

  4. Naftali Sturm June 28, 2018 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    your earnings potential is down by 1/3, not 1/2

  5. Michael June 28, 2018 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    The SPG Amex already gives automatic silver status (“preferred plus” on SPG side).

    • Barry Choi June 28, 2018 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks, I updated the post to make it more clear.

  6. Nellup June 29, 2018 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Any updates on the uk spg amex

    • Barry Choi June 29, 2018 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Nellup,

      My Amex contacts are based in Canada so I have no info on the UK card.

  7. Vincent June 29, 2018 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Spoke with Amex today and the Canadian program will increase from 1 point per dollar spent to 2 points per dollar but the American plan goes from 2 points per dollar spent to 6 points per dollar spent. We loose 1/3 and they get triple. My American friend confirmed those changes and he will be able to build points way faster than me.

    Time to consider bailing on Amex as SPG said it was Amex that decides how they will reward they cardmembers. Their exact words were “well you signed the cardholder agreement” and this is what we now offer”.

    • Vincent June 29, 2018 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      That was Amex’s exact words!!

  8. John July 4, 2018 at 6:28 am - Reply

    I just realized the refer bonus is now down to $25! It used to be 10k points (worth 30k Marriott) then 5k. Do I have this right?

    • Barry Choi July 4, 2018 at 7:38 am - Reply

      Hi John,

      Yes the referral bonus changed a few months back. That being said, Amex has told me that it’ll change again in August. What it’s changing to is anyone’s guess.

  9. Ben Sotelo July 7, 2018 at 12:36 am - Reply

    The letter I received does indicates the changes will include an annual credit nights towards elite status by the new year

  10. J.Burgess July 21, 2018 at 9:20 am - Reply

    I have been reading reports that the AMEX MR will be severely devalued. Currently with the Cobalt card you get 1.5 Marriott Points per MR point. I’m hearing this could drop to 0.667 Marriott Points per MR point. I hope I am completely wrong but I will definitely be transferring all my Cobalt points to SPG before August 1.

    • Barry Choi July 21, 2018 at 9:47 am - Reply

      J. Burgess

      The new transfer ratio has been announced. 1000 Amex MR = 1200 Marriott Points as of August 4th. It’s a devaluation, but it’s not terrible.

  11. JBurgess July 21, 2018 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Phew!!!…I am so glad I heard wrong. That rate is at least palatable. Thanks Barry.

  12. A Sky July 23, 2018 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    What do you value 1 Marriott point? Do you feel as of August 1 it is devalued based on their award chart?

    • Barry Choi July 23, 2018 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      A Sky,

      I don’t put a value on each individual point.

      With the program changes, travel packages will be devalued, but I think the redemption changes are fair. Some redemptions will cost more while others will cost less. Overall, it’s still an excellent loyalty program.

  13. Eric July 25, 2018 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Hey Barry,

    Does the new ratio for MR to Marriot also apply to the Cobalt MR Select tier points?

  14. […] I reported the changes coming to the Canadian SPG cards. I can confirm that you’ll start earning more points as of August […]

  15. Ky September 2, 2018 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Hi Barry, can you ask if Marriott and amex will be bringing out the SPG LUXURY Amex card with the same benefits as the american one? That is one that i would be really excited about as it gives automatic Platinum status after $75000 in purchases.
    thanks

    • Barry Choi September 2, 2018 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      Hi Ky,

      WHen I spoke to Amex a few weeks back, they told me that they had no new products coming down the pipeline. The SPG LUXURY card will likely be a US exclusive.

  16. Jeff Chu September 17, 2018 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Hi- do you know yet what the current referral bonus for the SPG Canadian Amex is?

    • Barry Choi September 17, 2018 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Jeff,

      There is currently no referral bonus, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one is introduced at a later date.

  17. Mark October 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Hi Barry- it seems difficult to verify online – is the SPG amex luxury card with the 100k signup bonus exclusively a US card? Thanks, Mark

    • Barry Choi October 15, 2018 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Mark,

      That is indeed an exclusive U.S. card. Note that you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott Rewards at a 1:1.2 ratio so there are ways to earn more SPG points fast if you need them.

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