Keeping an SPG card after all…

Last week, I wrote about plans to dump all of my Marriot and SPG credit cards (See: Sending the Marriott and SPG cards off into the sunset). This morning, in my post about why I think there is no hurry to sign up for the Marriott Premier Plus before the 100K offer ends tomorrow (See: Is there a hurry for the Marriott card? (Answer: No.), I noted that one group of people who might want to consider applying for that card are those who can maximize the free night award benefit. After saying last week that I would dump these cards despite that benefit, it turns out I’m going to keep one for the free night benefit after all.

I said last week that the free night benefit doesn’t excite me because Marriott tacks on resort / destination fees to free night awards. That annoys me to no end. It’s like a tax for choosing Marriott over Hilton or Hyatt, and it’s insulting to the consumer to pretend that the room rate is the price of the room only to add an additional mandatory hotel fee that goes into the same pot of profit for the hotel as the rest of your money. I say either itemize the entire bill — with a fee of three cents for laundry soap to clean the bedsheets, two bucks for electricity, eighteen cents for water usage, two hundred dollars for shareholder profits, and so on — or just charge one price that earns you the profit you need without trying to convince me that I should have to pay separately for the convenience of having a towel available next to the pool that you used pictures of to lure me into paying for your resort over someone else’s. /rant.

I did also note that I’m sure there are times when it is possible to get better-than-$95 in value out of a free night certificate, but it would require more time and focus to make sure you’re getting a deal. Further, as Greg has shown (See: Manufacturing free nights (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott), it’s possible to manufacture nights at average Hyatt and Hilton properties for reasonable spend — using manufactured spending techniques, it is possible in many cases to manufacture free nights at comparable Hyatt and Hilton hotels for less than $95.

Of course, almost immediately after taking that stance, I ran into an exception. Early next year, I have a trip booked with an overnight stopover in San Jose on the way, and rooms are expensive right now for our date. While there are some motels in the area in the $150-$200 per night range, I recently noted in another post that even the La Quinta Inn near the airport is pretty spendy the night we need.

As you move up to the Hilton and Marriott properties, prices get kind of ridiculous. More than $400 after tax for a night at a Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, or Fairfield Inn near an airport seems ludicrous.

The nearby SPG options don’t look much more reasonable for a quick overnight before an early morning flight out.

But wouldn’t you know it….all of the above properties will be 35,000 points or less under the new chart. In fact, the Fairfield, Four Points, and Residence Inn will all cost just 25,000 points — meaning those are even bookable with the old Cat 1-5 cert that comes with the old (and no longer available) Marriott Rewards Premier card (not “Plus”).

As fate would have it, I have an available Cat 1-5 certificate, but we need 2 rooms. Fate further pushing things along: my SPG personal anniversary date is in August, and Amex has said that the free 35K award night will post with your next anniversary date after August 1st. Considering the fact that Hyatt doesn’t have a hotel with a shuttle and Hilton is charging enough points as to make it less desirable to MS a free night at one of the Hilton properties, paying that $95 annual fee is looking like a good idea after all. I’ll end up using my “up to 35K” certificate at a property that only charges 25K in order to keep both rooms together at the same hotel, but between two annual fees, I’ll have spent less than the cash cost of one room.

And so it looks like I’m already going back on my promise to cancel as soon as the fees hit. This is exactly the type of situation where this type of free night benefit comes in handy — I’m just surprised it came around so fast as to make me retract my threat to cancel almost instantly. That’s better that than realizing I needed the stay right after I had cancelled….

Anyone have a recommendation between the Fairfield, Four Points, and Residence Inn? 🙂

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Nun
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Nun

I’d like to know your decision if your annual fee had posted in July or June. There’s no outrage from any blogger about the unfairness of this because apparently none have been hit by this gotcha where no free night is awarded for 13 months. It’s completely ridiculous to ask us to renew at $95 this month and get nothing. MR is doing a great job destroying loyalty.

Nate Nate
Guest
Nate Nate

With Amex you can always cancel at any time and get a pro rata refund of your annual fee.

DaninMCI
Guest
DaninMCI

Four Points don’t typically have free breakfast. Fairfield Inn’s vary A LOT so pick new ones. Residence Inn’s are usually decent and some offer evening food but try to pick a new one if possible. I am keeping my Marriott and SPG cards for now. I’m in wait and see mode and going to take advantage of free night benefits for now. I’m actually more of an IHG fan even after 40+ nights at Marriott/SPG this year which has reinforced my appreciation of IHG.

Vet&Banker
Guest
Vet&Banker

This is pretty much the situation that has me temporarily holding on to our 3 SPGs, even though they are already sock drawered. We often position to larger cities for international flights, and that $95/nt is definitely at least a mild discount and sometimes a 50% one.

Depending on if that 35K takes into account “peak” times, it can also make sense for certain expensive times of the year (say, cherry blossom season in Japan, or tulip season in Amsterdam), but we’ll have to see if that pans out.

RDF2
Guest
RDF2

Quick question: I’m keeping my SPG AMEX and received the email about a “free night” at 35k points or under. Can the 35k be applied toward a hotel with a higher redemption value or does it have to simply be a “free night” at 35k or under? Aprologies in advance if you addressed this previously and I missed it. Thanks!

Vet&Banker
Guest
Vet&Banker

Marriott has intimated that certs will be usable in “points & cash” options or as part of total points needed next year, but they have not given specifics for how it will work, I don’t think.

Platini
Guest
Platini

Well, welcome to the Bay Area. Based on your posting, both SPG property are not well located, meaning not close to SJC. As far as the four Marriott properties, the Residence Inn is better. All those Marriott properties are quite close to SJC. Only problem, you might encounter is the airplane noise.

Nicholas
Guest
Nicholas

I’m pretty stoked on the 1-night certificates provided with the cards and my wife and I will likely keep all of our SPG cards for that reason alone. When we position for international paid flights from home, I like to come in the day before to make absolutely certain we’re not missing our separate itinerary. These mid-tier certificates will work really well for those purposes.

Furthermore, the Renaissance Republique in Paris will be a 35,000 point redemption and I’d be happy to use all four of our nights there for our next stay in Paris, even if nothing else comes up.

Lrdx
Guest
Lrdx

Well, those “near the airport” hotels are actually near the city center too, the most expensive part of the valley…

David
Guest
David

Fairfield Inn/Springhill Suites .. same new property, one side is FI, the other side is SS. Same dedicated shuttle to SJC, which is very close. I’ve stayed at the 4p, which is not as nice and not as close to the airport.

Good value on points midweek. Better value on the cat certs. I don’t think they will stay at 25k due to the midweek pricing advantage they have in that area. I had to use points to stay, since it was cat 6 back then. Still better than paying 400+ for a what is supposed to be a value priced property.

On weekends/holidays the prices plummet, so don’t waste points in that area.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Your mistake was flying through San Jose where Silicon Valley is on fire and can charge ridiculous prices because the employees are paid ridiculous sums. Note to self: Never stopover at San Jose. Just saying.

Sam
Guest
Sam

I have the same situation in October as Nick and found that the SpringHill Suites near SJC is only $115/night when I need it. Obviously different season/demand, but these hotels aren’t always ridiculously expensive.

Cactus
Guest
Cactus

Avoid the FI on N First. The RI/SS (same address) are newest of the M properties but haven’t stayed there. The CY is fine. These prices are typical for weekdays around SJC and are the reason I keep cards with free nights. There is a Country Inn that is ok.

Holly
Guest
Holly

We’ve stayed at the Four Points San Jose Airport, and it’s not bad at all. Free shuttle to SJC, and it’s about a mile away, I think. As for Hyatt, I’m pretty certain Hyatt House in Santa Clara has a free airport shuttle, as does HH San Jose.

Ron R.
Guest
Ron R.

I just ran in to a similar situation. I had to spend last night in Brookfield, WI, a suburb of Milwaukee. I assumed the rates would be cheap. The Courtyard by Marriott, a Category 3, was $234 plus tax! This is not California, folks! I had a free night certificate that expires in September, so I put it to good use.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Any idea if keeping an SPG card will cause you to miss out on sign-up bonus for the new Amex Marriott card due to Amex once per lifetime language ?

Harry
Guest
Harry

Did I miss something?? What SPG card gives you a free night every year??

Bill
Guest
Bill

I stayed at that FFI a couple of weeks ago in transit to Maui. It was underwhelming. The free breakfast was the usual fruit/bagels/oatmeal/waffle maker. The breakfast area was way understaffed for the amount of guests, which means when we got there for a late breakfast, there was food all over all the tables and on the floor…and they couldn’t keep the food stocked. I didn’t go inside the RI, but I do remember thinking that it looked nicer (at least from the outside). The FFI wasn’t awful, and I’d stay there again…but if all the same, I’d choose RI.

Rick
Guest
Rick

Yep. More and more, finding a room for the free night will become tough unless you get lucky in Barstow, CA. A couple of days ago, many news outlets were running the story that earning $117,400 a year qualifies you as “low income” in some counties (San Francisco area). I have a Marriott card and two SPG cards. Most coastal areas north of L.A. are pretty much outrageously priced. But you nailed it with you said it would take “more time and focus to make sure you’re getting a deal”. While I travel mostly in Asia a couple of months a year, I have no problem finding great and reasonable independent hotels. I’m Hilton Gold for now, and I’ll see how far that takes me before I drop all chain loyalty. I’ll let Agoda or Expedia do the shopping for me. But I’ll be dumping my two SPG cards in a few weeks. Besides, I’m kinda getting tired of having to maintain a spreadsheet to play and chase miles and points.

P-nope
Guest
P-nope

If I get a retention bonus for my SPG card that is greater than or equal to $35, which is pretty much how much resort fees cost, then I will keep my card for another year.

When I have a paid stay at Hyatt or Hilton, the hotel has always awarded points for parking fees (not resort fees though). I was so surprised the first time I stayed at a Marriott when these fees didn’t earn points. It’s annoying that because resort fees are not part of the hotel rate, they don’t earn points with hotel programs.

Billy Bob
Guest
Billy Bob

I got stuck at SFO unexpectedly and yes, that 1-5 cert came in handy indeed and saved me a packet.

Truthiness
Guest
Truthiness

I just checked my AMEX account. My account fee hit last year on July 27, 2017. Do you think I could ask AMEX to have it post this year on August 1? I really don’t want to keep the SPG card because of the devalued earning. Should I cancel my card as soon as the fee hits? Ask for a retention bonus?

Gene
Guest
Gene

There is an Aloft hotel where I will need to stay for several upcoming events. I have the Chase Marriott Business Card. I had closed my Amex SPG cards a few years ago, no more bonus eligibility. Even without the bonus, would it be worthwhile to pick up an SPG card again just for earning purposes at Aloft? (I plan on staying at some Aloft properties in the next couple of years) . Thanks

Darv
Guest
Darv

I was going to cancel mine too until I saw their updated award chart. Between wife and I we have 2 SPG personals, one SPG biz, and two Marriott Biz cards that will each yield 35,000 free night awards. That might be too many but I think we’re going to keep them all for at least one year and see how often we need those nights. Based on what we’re looking to do the next couple years, I see us easily using those nights. Usually free night awards on other chains are not great properties, not even good most of the time. But 35,000 will go a long way with Marriott, at least for a couple years.

This is my first post here but this is a great blog and I’m a frequent reader. Thanks

Mark
Guest
Mark

And, by changing your mind, you got an extra post. 😉

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

My SPG American Express credit card anniversary date is 8/26/17. I plan to close my account after that date, but soon enough that I won’t have to pay the annual fee. But if I close it before my anniversary night posts to my account (ie, less than 8-12 weeks after 8/26/18), will I still get an anniversary night posted to my account? To be clear, my intention is to have the credit card open on the anniversary, but not 8-12 weeks after the anniversary.

Cem
Guest
Cem

Can you share with us what your experience was? When did you cancel and was the free nights certificates posted?

liz
Guest
liz

SPG vs Marriott anniversary free night reward.
I am new to the SPG free night……is it true that
SPG anniversary night posts 6-8 wk after anniversary date
vs Marriott anniversary night posts the day after the anniversary date