In case anybody else is in the same boat and ended up getting a Marriott credit card primarily because it waives the 2.5% foreign currency exchange fee: my business also started using primarily Marriott hotels for business travel.
Now that Marriott and SPG have merged, and you can transfer points at a 3:1 (Marriott to SPG) ratio, the SPG Amex credit card might be interesting to you because:
* It has a sign-up bonus of 20,000 SPG points, which equals 60,000 Marriott points
* It earns 1 SPG point for each $1 in purchases, which works out to 3 Marriott points instead of 2 for airline, car rental, or restaurant purchases, or 1 for anything else with the Marriott card
December 12, 2009
Thanks, Peter. I'd never met anyone who had a Marriott Visa issued by Chase, or even a Starwood Preferred Guest American Express for that matter, until now as the cards were quite "niche"-ey. That said, great to hear about this preferred conversion offer and, if Starwood is using American Express globally and not just in Canada, could potentially mean Marriott's likely looking at standardizing their affinity credit card relationships under the American Express banner. They may also be considering adding the Marriott brand names under the Starwood preferred member brands and consolidating Marriott Rewards under Starwood as they only said they'd "evaluate" keeping two loyalty programs, this could make sense as a way to build the Starwood brand while maintaining the Marriott International corporate name.
The only two downsides I see to the SPG American Express credit card, aside from the annual fee, which Marriott's Visa also has, are: (1) the foreign currency charge of 2.5% that Marriott Visa customers currently avoid, which might be neutralized if the rewards ratio is 2-2.5% greater than SPG's and (2) American Express accepted by a vastly diminished number of merchants worldwide and their global market share (in terms of points of acceptance) is at its lowest in decades with the loss of the global Costco credit card partnership.
That could explain why Amex is now launching new standalone credit cards at a rapid rate, its latest "no annual fee" credit card in Canada being a line of credit-type card with really low interest rates (i.e., 6-9% or so), its Essential branded card:
This will compete with the line of credit cards from the "Big 5" with bigger "perks" and also the TrueLine MBNA card.