Posted by William Charles on April 20, 2018
Credit Card Offers

Published on April 20th, 2018 | by William Charles


What Will The Sign Up Bonus On The American Express SPG Luxury Card Be? My Educated Guesses

Yesterday we did a review of the American Express SPG luxury card. The only thing we don’t know about the card is the sign up bonus. I thought I’d provide some thoughts on what the sign up bonus could be. There are a few different ways we can try and work this out, but they all rely on looking at the sign up bonuses on other cards. Let’s get started:

Other ‘Premium’ Hotel Cards


The easiest direct comparison we can do is against the Chase Ritz-Carlton, that is also another premium card in the Marriott/SPG brand. Both cards come with a $450 annual fee and $300 in credits (Ritz-Carlton is airline and the new luxury card will be SPG/Marriott credit). The current sign up bonus on that card is two free nights at a tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton property.

Tier 4 properties cost 60,000 Marriott points per night so an equivalent point bonus would be 120,000 points. Under the new combined program 60,000 points per night is enough for a category 7 property (highest until the start of 2019). The Ritz-Carlton has also offered a sign up bonus of three free nights in the past and 140,000 points as well. The SPG Luxury card is slightly better than the Ritz-Carlton card as it includes an annual free night certificate, but Chase has said they still haven’t unveiled planned upgrades for the Ritz-Carlton card so I’d expect that to be added.

Verdict: Anything from two free nights at up to 60,000 point properties to three free nights/140,000 points.

Hilton Aspire

This is a nice card to compare to because it’s issued by American Express and the cards are very similar. This card comes with a 100,000 point bonus, but it also comes with a weekend free night certificate that can be used at any Hilton property worldwide in the first year and on account anniversary. The only problem with this comparison is that obviously Hilton & Marriott points aren’t the same. I’d say most people would value Marriott points more highly, but I suspect American Express’ cost basis on both set of points is comparable.

Verdict: If comparing against this card you’d expect 100,000+ points and a nice cherry on top.

Other SPG/Marriott Cards

SPG Cards

The standard bonus on both the SPG personal and business cards has always been 25,000 SPG points (75,000 Marriott under the new program). But we’ve seen bonuses of up to 35,000 points (105,00 Mariott under the new program).

Verdict: Anything under 100,000 points on the luxury card would be lower than these lower annual fee products have offered in the past.

Marriott Cards

Bonus is usually at around 80,000 points with the annual fee waived or up to 100,000 points without it waived.

Verdict: Same as the SPG cards, anything under 100,000 points would be less than we’ve seen on these cards.

Our Verdict

American Express will need to decide between offering free night certificates and points. Free night certificates have the advantage of breakage (e.g people not redeeming them and expiring, or redeeming them for low category properties). I personally think we will see a sign up bonus of three free night certificates that can be used on properties that cost up to 60,000 points. That way SPG positions this as three free nights anywhere! (as long as you book before the end of 2018) but they are able to effectively downgrade the bonus after a few months just due to the higher point categories coming into play in 2019. If they don’t offer free night certificates then something around 140,000 points sounds right.

On the lower end of the scale anything at 100,000 points/two free nights (with restrictions) or lower will be a terrible bonus based on what has been offered before. Anything above 140,000 points/three free night certificates would be a major win in my opinion.


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Great write-up DOC as always.
The reason that points have such an incredible advantage over an equivalent free-night certificate is that you can also transfer them to airline miles. So, at least for me, I’d rather them give a points bonus, even if it’s “lower” than the alternative cost of the free-night certificate- e.g., I’d prefer 120,000 points over 3 nights at up to 60,000 point properties. Here’s to hoping that’s what they do, but this should be a great card to sign up for either way, at least in the first year.

I’d probably take the free nights. 100,000 points would basically be 55,000 airline miles right? Not too high for a once in a lifetime slot, especially with AF. If I did my math wrong feel free to point out / ridicule haha.

A 100k bonus would equate to 38,333 airline miles (60k Marriott = 25k airline + 40k Marriott / 3 = 13,333 miles).

JB from San Diego
JB from San Diego

Great post DOC!! Ever since the announcement, i have been looking for some insights on what the sign up bonus maybe.

I’m personally hoping for something like 120k after 5k spend. 120k points are equal to 2 free nights anywhere (at least from 8/1 – 12/31) or are also worth 50k in airline miles. I could see most bloggers foaming at the mouth with excitement to pump that kind of a bonus.

After reading your article though, I feel like the more likely offering is free nights. Two nights for sure, but possibly 3 with the 60k/night restriction so redemptions in 2019 are automatically devalued. The sense I get from Marriott is they want you to be a loyal HOTEL customer, not someone who uses their loyalty program as a pass-through entity for banking more airline miles like SPG was.

Very good point regarding loyal hotel customers. Well thought out points made here.

Excellent points! I believe the pass-through points exchange techniques are going to become more restrictive, especially with hotel partners. Hotel loyalty programs are going to offer their best rewards to those who actually stay at their properties. And I’d have to think that the expansion of AirBNB plays no small part in that decision.

As far as the sign-up bonus, I’d guess 150K after a $4K spend.

Thanks for the analytical comparison. Now leaked: the new loyalty program will be called “World O F MarrRitzWood” in 2019! Have a fun weekend.

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