Is SPG Still Worth it for Hotel Rewards?

Old Sep 9, 18, 4:23 pm
  #1  
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Is SPG Still Worth it for Hotel Rewards?

I remember there being 2,000 - 4,000 point rewards for Starwood hotels I would stay at, now they are 12,500 points per night.

I know we earn double points now but... for my $2,000 monthly spend on my business SPG, I used to more or less earn enough for 1 night... now that same $2,000 / mo spend it takes me 3-4 months to earn a night?

Is SPG still worth it for hotels? Seems like the rates have gotten way higher for redemptions.
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Old Sep 9, 18, 6:15 pm
  #2  
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Marriott operates on a different points scale than SPG did - thatís why they converted at a 1:3 ratio. But thereís little question that the prospects for earning free nights through credit card spend are worse now than they were pre-merger.

2000 points could have gotten you a weekend night at a Category 1 property under the SPG program; with the new Marriott program a Category 1 hotel is 7500 points (equivalent of 2500 SPG points), which requires $3750 in credit card spend to accrue. In 2019 they will introduce off-peak pricing, so it will be possible to get a Category 1 hotel for as little as 5000 points ($2500 in spend).
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Old Sep 9, 18, 8:05 pm
  #3  
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If you had 4,000 points to stay at a 2-4,000/night property, you now have 12,000 points.

Of those 115 SPG Cat 1 properties (presumably), 61 are now 9,000 points and 54 are now 12,500 points. So on average, 9,850 points.

Some places you save points, some places you lose points, but its basically a wash.

Going forward, you earn 10 points per dollar rather than 2, so the cost to earn that many points going forward is cheaper (for base members, no elite or other bonuses).

I don't have the details on the credit card - I have heard that it took a bigger hit than the program itself, you you may have lost out on future earnings if that's your sole source of points.
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Old Sep 9, 18, 10:05 pm
  #4  
 
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I assume you are talking about the AMEX SPG cards rather than the SPG program itself.

There are two parts to holding those cards. Each card will now give you an annual free night (up to 35,000 points) just for keeping the card. That offsets the annual fee for that card so the card is probably worth keeping for that reason.

However, the attraction of earning points from those AMEX cards is no longer there. It is not only that you now earn 1/3 less points from spend, it is also that each point is worth less since many hotels now cost more points for redemption. This may varies from individual to individual, depending on where you like to spend those points. For me, all my favorite SPG hotels have gone up, some by a significant percentage.

For example, I used to redeem at the Disney Swan during Christmas holidays. It used to take 12,000 SPG points a night, equivalent to 36,000 Marriott points. It now requires 50,000 points. So I used to need to spend $12,000 with my SPG AMEX to earn enough points to stay one night at the Swan, now I will need to spend $25,000. That is more than double ! And it will be worst when Marriott introduce Peak season pricing next year. I am pretty sure Christmas will be peak season in Florida and therefore the Swan will cost 60,000 points.
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Old Sep 10, 18, 3:02 pm
  #5  
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It's two questions:

(1) Is SPG (now Marriott) still worth it for hotel rewards? I'd generally say yes, the category conversion had winners and losers, but the program overall still retains similar total value in terms of rewards per dollar spent at the hotels. The nerfing of the Travel Package hurts me, but my total earn-per-dollar goes from 17.5 to 23.5 so on the net I'm probably getting similar value. It's just that now I'll get it in 5-night increments without airline miles instead of 7-night increments with miles.

(2) Is the SPG Amex still worth it as a general-spending card? My sense on this question is now no, as I'd rather have 2 cents cashback than 2 more Marriott points. I'll still keep all of my Marriott cards (I now have three) since the free nights are worth more than the annual fees. But only one of them will be in my wallet, and then only for Marriott stays. I'll use other cards for airline and restaurant charges - ones that yield 3% or more in some form (cash or UR points) that is not more Marriott points.

I'm also skeptical about finding many Category 1 Marriotts these days. I already see Fairfields in the 2-3 range. 10 years ago, I got a lot of value out of Category 2 Starwood. Decent hotels at great award rates. I never saw much of that at Marriott - my sweet spot for awards was in the middle to high categories.
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