Last weekend, my wife applied for the SPG Luxury Card. Her application was denied. The reason? She already had 5 Amex credit cards, and despite my own recent experience to the contrary, Amex is still enforcing that limit.
It turns out, that her application denial may have been a very good thing. Her regular SPG card account now displayed a 100K upgrade offer to the Luxury card:
We clicked the link and upgraded her card instantly.
In general, upgrading rather than applying new has a few advantages:
- There will be no new credit inquiry
- No new account will show up on one’s credit report (so, it won’t hurt your 5/24 status)
- Your average age of credit won’t be impacted
Usually, the main disadvantage of upgrading rather than applying new is that you’ll get a smaller welcome bonus, if any. In this case, my wife was offered the same bonus as the current public offer for signing up new: 100,000 points after $5K spend. Others have received worse offers, so keep that in mind if your upgrade offer isn’t as good.
Upgrading to the Lux card with the 100K upgrade offer has these additional advantages:
- You should be eligible to earn up to $300 in Marriott/SPG statement credits right away, and then again after your card’s anniversary date. Since the Lux card’s annual fee will be prorated, this may mean paying significantly less toward the annual fee for your first $300 in credits. Then, once you hit your anniversary date, if you keep the card, you’ll pay the usual $450 annual fee and will be eligible for another $300 in credits.The upgrade offer specifically lists the following details about the annual fee:
“Annual Membership Fee: Approximately 45 days after your account is upgraded, you will be charged a prorated Annual Membership Fee for your new Card based on the time remaining until your next account anniversary date. You will also receive a prorated refund for any annual fee paid on your previous Card.”
- You will get the 50K free night instead of the 35K free night on your card account anniversary. The upgrade offer page made this clear with the following: “The redemption level for the Free Night Award benefit you receive is based on the Card product you have at the time of your renewal.“
Depending upon when your account anniversary is, the above benefits could be huge. In my wife’s case, I think we hit upon the ideal scenario. Her most recent statement closed on August 19th. Within the statement, I found that her account renews next month.
And by logging into her account, we can easily see that the end date for her current account year is September 18th:
I believe this means the following:
- For this one month, my wife should be charged approximately 1/12th of the $450 SPG Lux annual fee and rebated 1/12th of the $95 SPG consumer card fee. Her total cost for the month should be just under $30.
- If my wife uses her card (or I use the authorized user card in my name) to spend $300 at Marriott or SPG properties by September 18th, she will get $300 back. Plus, she’ll get another $60 back thanks to a great new Amex Offer, if we complete that spend at Marriott properties specifically.
- Sometime after September 18th, my wife should receive a 50K free night certificate (good for any property that costs up to 50K points per night). If she hadn’t upgraded, she would get a 35K free night certificate. Amex says this about the timing of the certificate: “The Free Night Award will be automatically deposited into your loyalty member account within 8-12 weeks after your Card Account anniversary date in the form of an e-certificate.”
- Sometime after September 19th, my wife will be charged the full $450 for the next membership year.
- Beginning September 19th, my wife can qualify for another $300 in Marriott/SPG statement credits.
- Each year, upon renewal, she will get another 50K free night certificate.
In short, by upgrading instead of applying new, my wife will still get the same welcome offer, but should also get an extra $300 in statement credits and a much better free night certificate for only about $30 in extra fees!
After deciding that my wife’s upgrade made sense, I found that Doctor of Credit had already written up the same idea. In the comments of that post, though, people report that Amex customer service agents told them that they would not be eligible for the $300 statement credit until renewal. I believe that they are wrong. As Doctor of Credit points out, the terms & conditions support our view that we should be eligible for the statement credit immediately upon upgrading. He writes: “Multiple readers are reporting being told that you don’t receive the $300 credit in that first prorated year. The fine print doesn’t say this at all, so I think you should be able to get it and use it but YMMV.”
I think that the ideal time to upgrade from the SPG Consumer Card to the SPG Luxury Card is a month or two before your card’s anniversary date, especially if you have a Marriott or SPG stay planned for that time (so that you can get the $300 in credits right away).
Of course, you’d also want to make sure that you have a good upgrade offer. Our own Stephen Pepper found that the old Amex interface (which some of us use to load Amex Offers) did not show an upgrade offer at all. The regular interface (americanexpress.com), showed him an offer, but it wasn’t a good one: Only 15,000 points.