Posted by William Charles on June 2, 2015
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Published on June 2nd, 2015 | by William Charles

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Changes To American Express SPG Card August 11th: No FTF, Boingo Access, Premium In Room Internet + $95 Annual Fee

Update: These changes have now been confirmed for August 11th, in addition business cardholders will also get access to Sheraton Club lounges.

Before I start I’d just like to state that I haven’t been able to confirm this with American Express (they haven’t responded to my repeated inquiries) but a number of readers have now e-mailed me about these changes. Most people were told about these changes when speaking to retention about closing their card so I’m fairly confident they are real. As always, the representatives might be wrong and there might be more or less changes also coming.

Starting August 11th, American Express will be making a number of changes to their Starwoods Preferred Guest credit card:

  • No foreign transaction fees (currently 2.7%)
  • Premium in room internet at all SPG hotels
  • Boingo internet access for up to four devices
  • Annual fee of $95 (currently $65)

I’m unsure if these changes will be solely to the Personal card, but I suspect that they will be made to the Business card as well.

Our Verdict

Having no foreign transaction fees is useful, as SPG has many international properties and the card earns at a higher rate of 2x points per $1 spent on these purchases.

It’s already possible to get free standard in room internet as long as you’re a member of the SPG loyalty program, but this new benefit is for their premium offering. Not all hotels have the different tiers of in room internet access, so this would only be useful for those that do. The Boingo benefit is basically complimentary access to the Global plan, which normally costs $39 per month with any discounts.

Do these new benefits justify the increase of $30 in annual fee charges? Personally I don’t think they do, but I didn’t think the card was worth keeping long term before the changes either and I rarely if ever have paid stays at any SPG properties.

American Express also recently reduced the minimum spend requirement from $5,000 to $3,000 on the personal card. Usually at this time of year they also offer an increased sign up bonus of 30,000 points, it’ll be interesting to see if this is offered this year and if it is offered if it happens before or after the changes to the card come into effect. The annual fee is waived the first year, so these changes shouldn’t influence your decision on whether you wait to apply or not.

 

 



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Jon
Jon

Personally, when my SPG cards come up for renewal I factor in all the AMEX offers I’ve been able to cash in on across multiple authorized users. SBS alone has usually paid back 4-5x the annual fee, so I continue to keep it even though I have no love for SPG per se.

Nick H
Nick H

Not a great way to analyze the annual fee. You can get those same offers on any number of no-fee amex cards.

Jon
Jon

Who says I don’t already have a couple of those cards as well? 😉

But the point I was making was in response to the author’s comment that this card isn’t worth keeping long-term. With multiple AUs, pretty much any AMEX annual fee becomes negligible. So instead of thinking, “Hm, do I want to pay $65 (or $95) this year,” I’m thinking, “Gee, I made $300 from SBS with this card last year, I think I’ll take a risk that AMEX will offer some more deals this coming year.” Of course, you could say I’d have another $65/$95 on hand if I got the same offers with a no-fee card, and you’d be right. But my SPG history would be capped, I’d add a new account, and have a new pull – all dings to credit score. If the right sign-up bonus came along, maybe.

Ken
Ken

$300 with a single card? Did you have 9 AUs? It was only 3x$10 per Amex card last SBS.

Jon
Jon

Yep. You can have up to 99 on SPG cards.

Ken
Ken

Wow, I’m surprised a ton of AUs on an account wouldn’t raise any flags. How many do you have? Ballpark is fine, just trying to see what is safe.

Presley
Presley

The earnings rate of this credit card is still horrible.

FTB
FTB

I wonder if you would still get the free wifi if you book through a 3rd party site. Right now you only get free wifi as a SPG member if you book through their site.

rob t
rob t

$95 will become a deal breaker for me. I use the card exclusively for MS and sync offers. I have many other rewarding cards with no FTF.

Looks like amex just wants to increase fees on their cards along with the on paper benefits. Charge more and claim to give more. The more stuff isn’t useful to us..

Glenn
Glenn

$95 is a bit stiff. Even though you can’t get the sign up bonus on a new application every year can’t you still cancel and re-apply? Might be the breaking point for me.

Paul
Paul

I will never close another Amex card while sync offers continue. Boingo alone is worth the extra $30 if you travel internationally. Amex continues to be my favorite issuer, by a country mile. No FTF was long overdue.

Raising AF will likely be good for better retention offers methinks.

ForWhatItsWorth
ForWhatItsWorth

Amex isn’t as accepted as Visa overseas. I found it to be almost useless in southern and eastern Europe this year.

Lantean
Lantean

$95 for this card is obscene… not worth keeping after year 1. the earning power is too low.

Patrick
Patrick

Wow… Are you guys serious?

This is one of the best cards (if not best) for domestic spend that doesn’t earn bonuses elsewhere if you use SPG properties.

And now it’s worth using on any international spend that doesn’t have bonuses elsewhere.

escot
escot

Instead of the faux hyperbole, “are you guys insane?” how ’bout explaining from your vaunted perch just WHY you find this to be one of the best cards for domestic spend? Pray do tell — with specifics, not hand-waving blather.

rob t
rob t

he is probably not aware of the citi double cash 2% no fee card. I’m sure all of us have other cards that could be used for no FTF.

Best course is just to product change this card into a no AF card everyday card. You will have all the sync offers.

But if you do put 10k or more in sync offers annually then I think this card may be worth keeping.

SPG points are good for 5 night stays in peak season (xmas, nye, 4th of july etc.).

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[…] latest changes to the American Express SPG cards (as reported here, by Doctor of Credit) have me thinking about the way Amex handles the differences between their personal and business […]

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