American Express, Chase, Marriott, Starwood

Marriott inks deals with both Chase and Amex for co-branded SPG/Marriott cards

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Up in the Marriott Newsroom today is a release letting us know that Marriott has signed agreements with both Chase and American Express for their new lineup of co-branded credit cards next year.

Here is the most important part of the release:

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Marriott expects to introduce new, co-brand products starting in 2018 with enhanced member benefits – super-premium consumer and small business co-branded products from American Express and mass consumer and premium consumer co-branded products from JPMorgan Chase. Additional details on the future products will be shared in 2018. In the meantime, both companies will retain their existing portfolio of accounts and continue to offer their current products.

This is excellent news on a number of fronts.

First and foremost, while all existing products subject to possible sunset or conversion to new products, these new products mean up to 4 new signup bonuses on the table as they roll out. Given how big signup bonuses can be, that is likely to be a huge bump in the points you can rack up rather quickly. Note: We don’t know if one or even both Chase cards will be subject to 5/24.

It’s also a good reminder to get all four current cards if you don’t have them already to get those signup bonuses. I’m talking about the SPG Personal and SPG Business American Express cards and the Marriott Business and Marriott Personal cards. Keep in mind that the Chase Marriott personal card is subject to the 5/24 rule.

I’ve had both SPG cards, but I just applied for the Marriott Business card and will also get the Marriott personal card. Between them, that is 160,000 Marriott points – enough for a 5-night stay at a Category 8 hotel. Actually, you can also get 7,500 bonus points for adding an authorized user to the business card, making it 167,500.

It’s very much worth noting that general spend on both the SPG Amex and the Chase Marriott cards earn 1 point per dollar. But 1 SPG Starpoint is worth 3 Marriott points!  So bonuses aside, you should be putting general spend on the SPG Amex products, not the current Marriott products.  Maybe the new cards will present new earning schemes. I hope they do.

Coincidentally, I just redeemed for two five-night stays at Category 8 hotels for 160,000 points each. One stay, in Sydney, would have run about $4,000. The other, in Austin during SXSW, would run about $5,000. Excellent value for points!

But you could also convert that into over 55,000 Starpoints (you can freely transfer between the two programs for now at a ratio of one Starpoint = 3 Marriott.  And transferring to SPG transfer partners can be super valuable.

Here are two examples:

Asiana Airlines (you can only transfer SPG here – not Chase, not Citi, not Amex), a Star Alliance airline, so you can use the miles for travel on airlines like Lufthansa, SWISS, LOT, Air New Zealand, ANA, United… you get the idea).

Sweet spots:

  • 60,000 one way in business class to Korea from the US (on Star Alliance airlines)
  • 5,000-mile economy domestic flights in Korea
  • 40,000 miles each way in business to Europe (50,000 in First – For example, you could fly Lufthansa First Class one way US-Europe, which United would charge 110,000 miles for, for 50,000 miles!)
  • 27,500 miles each way for business class to northern South America
  • 35,000 miles each way in business to southern South America
  • 22,500 each way for US domestic business class on United Airlines – even including transcontinental like NYC-LAX/SFO

Alaska Airlines

Sweet spots:

  • US to New Zealand or Australia in business class (one way) for 55,000 Alaska miles on Fiji Airways (stopover permitted in Fiji). You can also fly Qantas direct (if there’s space!) for the same price. Or take Cathay Pacific for 60,000 miles in Business / 80,000 miles in First.
  • US transcontinental (NYC-LAX/SFO or vice versa) in First Class on Virgin America for 25,000 miles.

Get it?  SPG. Starpoints. Super valuable.

Back on topic: what will the new cards look like? And does this signal that SPG and Marriott may not merge into one program after all?  We don’t know yet. It does look like the odds just went up that they may not fully integrate in 2018 – or at all.

I’m really hopeful that there will be a super premium version here that offers top tier status. As compared with the upcoming Hilton co-brand that will offer that, I’m far more loyal to SPG (and now Marriott by extension) and would happily pay that fee for nice on-property benefits.

Questions? Ask here, or on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

As a reminder, I keep a variety of current credit card offers on the travel rewards credit card page (and earn a commission if you apply through those links, which I greatly appreciate).