Based on my reviews of credit cards, you may think I’m in love with American Express … and that’s because I am. While there are more flexible programs in the US, the Membership Rewards program provides the most flexible options for Canadians in terms of ease of earning and transfer to partners Canadians are interested in.
I’ll clarify to say that SPG has WAY more transfer partners than Membership Rewards but because there are only two cards in Canada that earn SPG points (AMEX SPG Personal and Business) and no category bonuses (like with the American Express Gold Personal Card), it’s harder to accumulate points.
You can of course use your SPG points for hotel stays but I personally find the points more valuable when transferred to airline partners.
With that being said, let’s look at how powerful these points can be.
SPG Transfer Partners
At the time of writing, SPG has transfer agreements with 36 airlines. The full list along with transfer ratios are below:
As you can see, the list is long and the transfer ratios are almost all 1:1 with a few exceptions. This gives you extreme flexibility to find award availability as you are not tied down to any one program. Instead of looking for availability in one program, you can now find your availability in any of the 36 programs listed above and then transfer the points to the program you find availability in.
The insurance coverages with the American Express SPG card are middle of the road. You do not get things like Emergency Medical Insurance, Trip Interruption or Trip Cancellation Insurance.
You are however covered for:
- Car Rental Theft and Damage
- Lost or Stolen Baggage
- Baggage Delay
- Flight Delay
- Hotel/Motel Burglary
- Travel Accident
- Extended Warranty
- Purchase Protection
For a full explanation of the coverage and limitations of this particular card, please refer back to my Comprehensive List of Credit Card Insurances by Card post.
As you may have heard, Marriott recently purchased SPG and as a result, your SPG points can now be easily transferred to Marriott points (and vice versa – Marriott points to SPG points). Once you link your accounts, the transfer is instant and seamless. There are no limitations to how many times you transfer your points back and forth. The benefit here is that the city that you are staying in may not have an SPG property but may have a Marriott property (and vice versa). Now you can easily use your points at either chain.
I personally used my SPG points to take advantage of the unique Arbitrage Opportunity that the merger allows for.
Until October 17, 2017, you can now receive 25,000 SPG points rather than the standard 20,000. Act fast as this is a time limited offer!
The standard offer for the SPG Personal Card is 20,000 SPG points. I have never seen anything else so I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a promotion. It should be noted that the minimum spend requirement to earn these bonus points is $500 in the first 3 months, which is very reasonable. Your bonus points are awarded on the first statement after you reach your minimum spend requirements.
SPG is generous with their transfers in that when you transfer 20,000 SPG points to an airline, they provide a 25% bonus (5,000 additional airline points). You can do this indefinitely. For example, if you had 100,000 SPG points, the would transfer as 125,000 airline points (assuming the transfer is with a 1:1 transfer partner). Just remember to transfer in 20,000 blocks. If you transferred 19,999 points, you would receive 19,999 airline points.
This is the part of the card that sucks. As far as I know, there has never been an occasion where the annual fee was waived for the first year. So if you want this card, don’t wait around expecting an annual fee waiver to come along because you’ll be waiting for a long time.
The SPG Personal card has a $120 annual fee.
If we take into account the transfer bonus (if you transfer 20,000 SPG points), we can examine the CPM for this card:
$120 Annual Fee / 25,000 Points x 100 = 0.48 CPM, which is well under the 1 CPM criteria I use to determine if the deal is worth pursuing.
If you would like to help out PointsNerd churn out more content like How to Find Award Availability and Negotiating Your Credit Card Annual Fee, kindly use my link to apply for your card. It really does help me out.
The SPG card from American Express is an excellent card to have in your wallet, especially if you are trying to redeem on partners that are not part of the Membership Rewards transfer partnership.
As an example, my dream flight is on Etihad Airline’s A380 but you can only book Etihad using Etihad points or points from their partners. American Express Membership rewards transfer at a 1 to 0.75 ratio but SPG transfers at 1:1. So if I want to fly Etihad and take a shower at 40,000 feet in the air, I’m going to get there faster with SPG points.
While the SPG card attracts an annual fee of $120, the sign-up bonus and the flexibility of the points make it very attractive.
Also published on Medium.