The Marriott-Starwood merger rightfully made dedicated Starwood Preferred Guest loyalists nervous; after all, SPG has ranked as one of the best hotel loyalty programs in the world for a long while. But here’s one great offshoot of the merger: The brand new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card, which comes with a juicy new signup bonus that can score you free nights at luxury hotels right off the bat: Now available, the Luxury card earns a 100,000 after spending $5,000 in the first three months after account opening.
You can spend those points anywhere in the huge Marriott-Starwood portfolio, including luxury brands like St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton. To give just two examples, 100,000 points is a hefty enough bonus to book two nights at the Ritz-Carlton, Bali or the Renaissance Paris Vendome. Not too shabby!
In terms of earning, the Luxury card racks up points quickest at Marriott properties. Overall, you’ll earn:
- Six points per dollar at participating hotels.
- Three points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights bookeddirectly with airlines (as opposed to with online agencies likeExpedia).
- Two points per dollar on most other purchases.
Obviously, you’ll earn the most if you spend a lot at Marriott hotels. But this card’s earning potential compares favorably to the best travel credit cards out there, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum Card. The big difference is that with the Luxury Card, you’re earning Marriott Rewards points; the Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum both credit you with more flexible points that can be transferred to a bunch of airline and hotel partners—Marriott included.
The Luxury Card also comes with a whole host of travel benefits that put it on par with the big boys in travel credit cards. Those include:
- Up to $300 in statement credits each year for eligible purchases atparticipating Marriott Rewards hotels.
- An annual free night award every card anniversary year at hotels thatcost 50,000 points.
- Complimentary Gold Elite Status.
- Platinum Elite Status after spending $75,000 on the Card in acalendar year.
- Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you into tons of airport lounges for free.
- A credit for the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Look at it this way: With 100,000 points, a $300 annual statement credit, and an annual free night, you’re looking at about four free nights from the jump. Marriott also offers a free fifth night when you book four consecutive nights on points, so you could cash in your 100,000 points to stay for five nights at, say, Sthala, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Ubud Bali, and you’d still have a $300 statement credit and anniversary night to play with.
The sticker price on the Luxury Card will definitely scare some people off: It has a $450 annual fee, and that isn’t waived the first year. That’s the same annual fee as the Sapphire Reserve, and $100 less than the Amex Platinum.
So, is the Luxury Card worth it? That depends on your spending habits. Marriott has one of the world’s best hotel rewards programs, since you can transfer points to several dozen airline partners. That makes them more flexible than most. But you can earn Marriott points at the same rate with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, which has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year. That card doesn’t earn bonus points on U.S. restaurant or airline purchases, and lacks all those other travel perks—but it’s also considerably cheaper.
Overall, the Luxury Card stacks up well with the heavy hitters in travel credit cards. It has a hefty annual fee, but if you stay in Marriott hotels a lot, or plan to in the future, the Luxury Card is worth picking up.
Source: Read Full Article