Bonvoy Opportunities

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Yesterday, Amex and Chase unveiled details about the new branding and other changes soon to come to their Marriott and SPG credit cards.  I covered the details here: Marriott Bonvoy credit card changes announced.  As changes often do, these changes create opportunities which I’ll discuss below.  But first, here’s a summary of the changes:

Current Card New Name, New Features
SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card (as of Feb 13 2019)
  • No longer available to new applicants after February 12, 2019
  • New spend bonus starting Feb 24 2019: For those who opened their accounts before Jan 23 2019 –> Earn up to 100K bonus points. Earn 25K bonus points for each $25K of spend through the end of 2019.
SPG Business (Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card)

Update: This offer has expired as of 4/24/19.

 Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (as of Feb 13 2019)

  • New Welcome Bonus: For those who apply Feb 13 through April 24 2019, earn 100K points after $5K spend in 3 months.
  • New Perks: Earn an additional 35K free night award with $60,000 or more spend per year
  • New Annual Fee: $125 starting March 28 2019 (was $95)
    • Card Members who apply before 3/28/19 will receive the first year free, then pay an annual fee of $95 at the following Card anniversary date, and then pay the new annual fee of $125 at their next Card anniversary date and on all Card anniversary dates thereafter.
    • For current Card Members, the fee increase will take effect on the Card Member’s next Card anniversary date on or after 3/28/2019
SPG Lux (Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card from American Express)

Update: This offer has expired as of 4/24/19.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (as of Feb 13 2019)

  • New Welcome Bonus: For those who apply Feb 13 through April 24 2019, earn 100K points after $5K spend in 3 months.
  • New Perks:  Starting March 28 2019, $100 in property credit per stay when cardholders use their Card and a special rate code to book stays of two or more nights at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® properties
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (as of Feb 28 2019)
  • New Welcome Bonus: Starting Feb 28 for a limited time, earn 100K points after $5K spend in 3 months.
  • New Perks: Contactless (the Amex cards already have this feature)
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Plus  Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business (as of Feb 28 2019)
  • Last Day to Apply: February 12, 2019  (Chase will no longer accept new applications for this card beginning February 13th)
  • New Perks: Earn an additional 35K free night award with $60,000 or more spend per year
  • Same Annual Fee: $99 (pointing this out because the Amex business card will increase its fee to $125)
Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa Infinite The Ritz-Carlton Card
  • New Perks:  Starting April 2019, $100 in property credit per stay when cardholders use their Card and a special rate code to book stays of two or more nights at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® properties.
  • Card is no longer available to new applicants
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier New name has not yet been announced

Opportunities

The announced changes present opportunities that may appeal to some:

  • Last chance to sign up for the Amex SPG card by Feb 12th.  The card’s annual free night certificate for a room costing up to 35K points is arguably worth far more than the card’s $95 annual fee.  Even if you can’t qualify for the current 75K welcome bonus with this card (because you’ve had it before, for example), it may be worth getting for the annual free night.
    • UPDATE: I have since learned that even after Feb 12, it should be possible to product change from the high-end Brilliant card (né SPG Lux) to the regular Bonvoy Amex (né SPG).  This means that it will still be possible to get the $95 Bonvoy card well into the future by first signing up for the Brilliant card and then downgrading a year later.
  • Last chance to sign up for the Chase Marriott Business Plus card by Feb 12th.  Same argument as above:  the card’s annual free night certificate for a room costing up to 35K points is arguably worth far more than the card’s $99 annual fee.  Even if you can’t qualify for the current 75K welcome bonus with this card (because you’ve received a welcome bonus for the SPG business or luxury card within 24 months, for example), it may be worth getting for the annual free night alone.
  • Wait until Feb 13th to sign up for the Amex Bonvoy Business card or the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant card in order to secure a 100K offer rather than the current 75K offers.
  • Wait until Feb 28th to sign up for the Chase Bonvoy Boundless card in order to secure a 100K offer rather than the current 75K offer.

Are you eligible for a Marriott card?

Unfortunately, Amex, Chase, and Marriott have conspired to make it very difficult to get a bonus on a Marriott card if you’ve had any sort of Marriott, SPG, or Ritz card in the past (or now).  The following chart shows the eligibility rules for earning a welcome bonus.  While I don’t know this for sure, I’m confident that the current rules will still apply after the new card names are introduced.

For those who prefer rules in writing, here’s the relevant text from each application:

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus / Bonvoy Boundless

Eligibility for this product: The product is not available to either:

  • current cardmembers of the Marriott Rewards® Premier or Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus credit card, or
  • previous cardmembers of the Marriott Rewards Premier or Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.

If you are an existing Marriott Rewards Premier customer and would like this product, please call the number on the back of your card to see if you are eligible for an upgrade bonus.

Eligibility for the new cardmember bonus: The bonus is not available to you if you:

  • are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express;
  • are a current or previous cardmember of either The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or
  • applied and were approved for The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest®American Express Luxury Card within the last 90 days.

Marriott Rewards Premier Business Plus / Bonvoy Premier Business Plus

Eligibility for the new cardmember bonus: The bonus is not available to you if you:

  • are a current cardmember of this business credit card;
  • were a previous cardmember of this business credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this business credit card within the last 24 months;
  • are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express;
  • are a current or previous cardmember of either The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or
  • applied and were approved for The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card within the last 90 days.

SPG / Bonvoy from American Express

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase, or The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card from JP Morgan in the last 30 days.

SPG Business / Bonvoy Business from American Express

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express® Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.

Welcome offer not available to applicants who (i) have or have had the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase or Marriott Rewards Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 30 days, (ii) have acquired the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a new Card Member bonus offer in the last 24 months on the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase.

SPG Luxury / Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.

Welcome offer not available to applicants who (i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card from JP Morgan in the last 30 days, (ii) have acquired The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, or The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a welcome or upgrade offer for The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, or The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.

What will I do?

I currently have quite a few Marriott cards:

  • SPG
  • SPG Business
  • Marriott Rewards Premier
  • Marriott Rewards Premier Business Plus
  • Ritz

The only card missing from my collection is the SPG Luxury (soon to be Bonvoy Brilliant) card.  And, even though it has been over 24 months since I received bonuses for the Chase Marriott cards, I still can’t get the Lux/Brilliant card since I have the Ritz card.  Technically I could close the Ritz card and wait 30 days before applying for the Brilliant card, but no — I don’t want to do that.  The Ritz card has the same annual fee, but better benefits than the Brilliant card.  Plus, both my wife and son have the Lux card, so I’m good.

The Inn at Bay Harbor is currently a Category 5 Marriott property.  Since the standard award price is 35,000 points for a night, you can use 35K credit card free night certificates to stay here.   And, it’s worth it!  But… Marriott will soon introduce peak pricing.  I’m worried that this hotel will be priced Peak (40K) all summer long and I won’t be able to use the certificates.

My tentative plan is to keep all five of these cards because I value the annual free night certificates considerably more than the annual fees (except for the $450 Ritz card where I value the combination of the 50K certificate, $300 airline fee reimbursement, and other benefits higher than the annual fee).  There are many excellent properties that currently charge 35K per night, so I’ll happily use the 35K certificates each year at those properties.  But… Marriott will soon introduce Peak award pricing which will mean that those same properties will cost 40K points per night during peak season.  If hotels like the Inn at Bay Harbor (pictured above) are frequently “peak” during times I’d like to go, then the certificates will become much less valuable than they are today.

If I find that Peak pricing or other changes cause the value of the free night certificates to plummet, then I’ll reduce the number of cards in my portfolio.  If that happens I’ll probably keep the Ritz, SPG consumer, and Marriott Business cards since they’ll no longer be available to new applicants.  I wouldn’t want to give up those cards only to risk regretting it later.

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