SPG Amex May Be Considering New Benefits

Similar to a post I wrote last week referring to a potential loss of the Ink Bold/Plus 5X bonus at office supply stores, another unnamed reader sent me a survey he completed regarding the SPG American Express card. Fortunately, this one has some good news. It also seems far more vague about the exact package of changes being considered. I can’t imagine they would institute all of these because it’s far too generous, and in fact you can see that some of these are being presented as and/or scenarios.

SPG Amex survey

I was going to pick out my favorites, but I can’t. Instead there are really only two offers that are less impressive to me: no foreign transaction fees (I have plenty of cards that offer this) and free WiFi and lounge access at Starwood hotels (I have elite status). It’s possible that offering more benefits at SPG properties would come at the expensive of providing some bonus elite qualifying nights and stays, which I currently use to boost my way to Platinum status.

SPG Amex survey proposals

Those benefits that do excite me? Here’s the list if you can’t read the screenshot:

  • 2 Starpoints per dollar at any hotel — even Marriott, Hyatt or Hilton — when purchased directly from the hotel
  • 2 Starpoints per dollar at restaurants
  • 2 Starpoints per dollar at restaurants and at any hotel
  • 2 Starpoints per dollar at select online retailers such as Amazon and Zappos
  • 5,000 bonus Starpoints when you spend $10,000 in a calendar year
  • 25% off one Starpoints redemption once per year
  • 2 Starpoints per dollar spent on business expenses in one of four categories: computer hardware/software; shipping and computer hardware/software; office supplies and shipping; office supplies, shipping, and computer hardware/software

Any of those would be pretty cool to have and could easily double the number of Starpoints someone like me earns, who travels a fair amount but is not greatly involved in manufactured spend. Someone like Amol, however, might have quite a bit of fun.

These new benefits come at a cost. My confidential informant tells me American Express is considering raising the annual fee from $65 to between $95 and $125. This is similar to the current $95 cost of the Sapphire Preferred card from Chase, which is also reported to be subject to a possible fee increase in the near future based on some recent A/B offers to new applicants.

I might be willing to pay $125 for the SPG Amex if one or more of these new benefits are implemented, though I probably wouldn’t keep both my personal and business cards unless I continue to earn the bonus elite qualifying nights. As with all things, we’ll have to wait and see what actually happens, if anything, but it’s interesting to see that Amex is talking about rolling out new benefits while Chase is talking about taking them away.

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  • Ven

    Please no to the Club Lounge. They are crowded enough without every idiot with a credit card getting in. I do feel like the Gold status for $30K spend is wasted since your best customers are the ones most likely to put 30K on that card and would have been at least gold anyways. I do like expanding starpoints earning and bonus at the 10K mark though. Those are nice.

    • Richard Belanger

      Have you guys ever stayed in a Sheraton Hotel? There is a Club Lounge on a particular floor of the hotel. Access to this lounge is limited to guests staying in a Club Lounge Room/Floor & not every idiot with a credit card. No credit card gets you into the lounge only your room key does. They are not talking about hotel lounges. The lounge would be crowded if you added this option to every SPG card member staying at the hotel though.

      • Ven

        Yeah, thats what I am saying. Do not add the benefit to the credit card since it would mess stuff up if they did. It’s fine as is today.

  • Geoff

    A spend bogey with bonus would be nice. Encourage use. Agree about Club Lounges. They’re awful AND crowded. Visited the one at LAS in terminal D. What a joke. Maybe the size of a hotel room. Now if they add the Centurion Lounges that might be a great perk with enough spend:)

    • Scottrick

      I think the benefit would be access to Sheraton Club lounges, not the airport lounge network operated by The Club.

  • Joe

    Some of these seem to be a direct hit to Chase Sapphire Preferred.

  • Jon

    Throw my hat in the ring for those *against* lounge access to the card. Right now, not even Golds get that benefit. They’re not the greatest thing in the world, but the lounges are already pretty packed as it is. I’d look at Credit Card lounge access as a slap in the face for Golds.

    I also could care less about earning 2pts/dollar at competing hotels. I think that’s a terrible idea for Starwood as it only increases free night redemptions while reducing the desire for SPG loyalty.

    Otherwise, the 25% redemption discount, Amazon/Zappos points, or restaurant points increases would all be useful and valuable for me. The 5000pt bonus at $10k spent would be ok, but most of my SPG card spending is at restaurants, SPG hotels, or Amazon, so frankly I’d rather just have the double points.

    • Scottrick

      One benefit of earning points at other hotels is that it means I only need to keep one card in my wallet. Right now I switch out cards depending on which hotel I’m staying at: SPG Business for domestic Starwood and most domestic Hyatt; Hyatt for all other Hyatt hotels; and Ink Bold for all other international hotels (not Hyatt). If they took away the foreign transaction fees and gave me a bonus at all hotels, I’d stick to one card.

  • SW

    I’d like to see them offer their very top tier status for high spenders (similar to Hilton) Gold is fine, but I’ve never gotten anything special out of it (oh yeah, those 2 free cocktails :)

    • Rusty Longwood

      Would be nice, but too many upper level elites dilutes the value of that status when you’re vying for upgrades. Way to simple for MSers like me to run 40k through a card in a month or two.

  • Darth Chocolate

    Could it be that AMEX might be looking to a second card with additional benefits and a higher annual fee (like the Amex Delta cards)?

  • disqust101

    Spend bonus at office supply/grocery/drug please. And threshold spend bonus that gives points (like PRG) would be a winner. My SPG is underutilized because only 1x. Also like to see instant point transfer like MRs.

    • Brian C. Lee

      Instant point transfer would be nice, but there’s not much (if anything) AmEx can do about that. Starwood would have to fix that, since they’re the ones who actually move the points.

  • CVG_Traveler

    Any extra bonus point multiplier in other categories would be a huge plus, I think, considering the value (and transferability) of SPG points. Amazon would be especially nice…I know there are a lot of people like me who do a ton of shopping with Team Bezos.

  • Rusty Longwood

    They should offer instant gold status the way they do with the Amex platinum. Kind of strange the SPG card doesn’t get you the status a card without an obvious tie-in to SPG does. That and no international transaction fees- it doesn’t make sense that another card should give me better rewards at an international SPG location than the SPG card itself because of fees.

    • Brian C. Lee

      AmEx probably just can’t give you gold status. That would almost certainly have to be negotiated with Starwood. All of the other things, they could just do on their own.

      As for your point about another card giving you better rewards, that depends on what you define as a better reward. There are probably plenty of people who value SPG points enough to be willing to pay the FTF if they’ll get the SPG points. If AmEx felt that having the FTF on the SPG card was costing them money, it would be gone.

  • Songer

    The easier SPG points will be to earn, the quicker Starwood will devalue their redemptions. See Chase UR and United/Hyatt

    • Brian C. Lee

      How did Chase devalue UR points? UA was the one that devalued their miles, Chase didn’t do anything to UR.

      • Bill Rubin

        Chase didn’t devalue anything, but its chief UR transfer partners UA and Hyatt both did. UA devalued their miles by making awards more expensive, and Hyatt devalued their points by making awards more expensive (with higher category shifts) and by making suite awards FAR more expensive (from 6k points to double room points per category). That’s the point that Songer is trying to make–you increase the points being earned by far more people and it’s a strong incentive for SPG to simply devalue the points in the future. ALL point/mile programs do this–when they see the number of outstanding points hit a various threshold, they devalue.

  • Fanfoot

    Well, the stay/nights credits are only worth so much to me. At some price I’d give up the personal card and keep the business one. With the OPEN savings the price on the business card would have to go up a LOT for me to abandon it.

    Yes they should have NFTF. But I don’t care about it that much. Happy to use my CSP when I’m traveling. My international stuff is almost all reward travel which means the room is on points anyway, so the spend is ~minimal.

    Amazon would be nice. That’s 12,000 extra points a year even if you don’t spend anything, worth $250. Certainly justify an increased fee.

    5,000 bonus points on $10K spend is okay, though not really much of a bump honestly. But hey, you’ll probably hit $10K spend by the time you hit 50 nights anyway…

    Beyond that gas & grocery stores would be the most obvious values. Office supplies? 2X? Not gonna stop me from using Ink. Phone or internet? Not gonna stop me from using Ink. Sure 2X SPG is worth more than 2X UR but its not worth more than 5X UR.

  • Glitter and Unicorns

    No F/X fee would be HUGE for me.

  • Alex

    2x travel sounds enticing but off-cobrand. Would really like to see 2x points on dining & entertainment (movies, sporting events, theme parks, Broadway shows, etc.) and to get rid of that foreign transaction fee!

  • Jhammett

    Where can you use the spg card

    • http://www.travelcodex.com/ Scott Mackenzie

      Any merchant that accepts American Express.