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We’ve been wondering for a while now how the future of Marriott/Starwood Preferred Guest/Ritz Carlton merger would play out in the credit card sphere. The three loyalty programs all have co-branded credit cards, Marriott and Ritz Carlton with Chase and SPG with Amex. I thought one bank would win out over the other, and eventually either Chase or Amex would issue all of the Marriott cards. I was wrong. Turns out Marriott is planning to introduce lots of new cards (YAY!), issued by both Chase and Amex.

Here’s what we can expect at some point in 2018…

  • Super premium and small business credit cards issued by American Express
  • Mass consumer and premium consumer credit cards issued by Chase

You can read all the nitty gritty details in the press release that came out today.

New products are good news for those of you that bulk up your rewards stashes with credit card bonuses as with Amex you’re limited to one bonus per product per lifetime, and with Chase you’re limited to one bonus on the same card every 24 months (although most get choked out by the 5/24 rule before the 24 month rule becomes relevant).

I’ve been keeping you abreast to any developments with the Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest merger. Most recently we learned about changes coming to Marriott and SPG elite status benefits and qualification standards. But this news is far more exciting, and also is a louder call to action in my opinion.By the way, I typically leave out Ritz Carlton when speaking of the merger because so few of us utilize their rewards program, but to be 100% clear I’m including it here.

What this News Means for Credit Card Applications

If you are a points omnivore (meaning you don’t discriminate and go after as many points as possible), it would be wise to open all of the SPG and Marriott cards you don’t already have. With new products being introduced from both Chase and Amex in 2018, all four current products could disappear at some point, and perhaps without any notice. When I say disappear, I mean they would become unavailable to new applicants. I say this because it’s happened in the past in similar circumstances.

Already existing cardholders will continue to be able to use their cards for the forseeable future and would of course be notified if they were to be product changed.

Current Marriott, SPG, and Ritz Carlton Products

  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card from Chase (I won’t go over this card as it’s highly specialized to Ritz Carlton customers with a $450 annual fee)

SPG Amex Cards

Both of the current bonuses for the SPG cards are 25,000 SPG points. You’ll get 25k for spending $3,000 within three months on the personal card, and 25k for spending $5,000 within three months on the business card. 25k is not the known high for the SPG bonuses, 35k is. With the distinct possibility of losing the ability to apply for these cards (and therefore earn their bonuses) impending, I would apply sooner rather than later for at least one if not both. If you really want 35k, we’re more likely to see it return for the personal card sooner than the business card as the business card was offering 35k not too long ago.

Not sure if you qualify for a small business credit card? Check out How to Get Approved for Business Cards to learn more.

Familiarize yourself with Amex’s rules for approvals and new bonuses before applying.

Marriott Chase Cards

The public offer for the personal card is 80,000 Marriott points for spending $3,000 on the card within three months, as well as an additional 7,500 point bonus for adding an authorized user. The public offer for the business card is the same but does not include an authorized user bonus.

The Marriott Business card is much easier to get than the personal card as the Chase 5/24 rule is known not to apply. The 5/24 rule does apply to the personal card.

Both of these public offers typically fluctuate between 80k and 100k bonuses. With what we know now, I’d say it’s not worth waiting on a 100k offer.

Familiarize yourself with all of Chase’s rules for approvals and new bonuses before applying.

Loyalty Programs Remaining Separate

We know the programs will remain separate through 2018, so you can expect both new SPG and new Marriott cards (and perhaps a new Ritz card). The following statement is from the press release…

“In late 2018, Marriott expects to launch a single technology platform for Marriott Rewards, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG. This should enable the company to synch the technology-dependent components of each program, further reducing costs. The new technology platform will also take Marriott one step closer to the goal of having a single loyalty program for the company’s 100+ million members in the current Rewards and SPG loyalty programs.”

So while this planned singular platform is one step closer, it’s not the total merger of the programs. We shouldn’t see that until 2019 or even later. I consider this fantastic news. The longer the programs are separate, the better it is for the consumer.

Bottom Line

Now that we know both issuers will be involved in the future of Marriott in 2018, and expect at least four new credit cards, we also know there’s potential for all four existing products to drop off the map.

If you haven’t had a personal or business SPG Amex ever, I would seriously consider leaving room in your application strategy for both of these cards. SPG points are without a doubt the most valuable transferrable point type (2.5 cents each roughly).

If you haven’t collected a bonus from either of the Chase Marriott cards in the last 24 months, and don’t have either one open currently, I would also seriously consider leaving room in your application strategy for both Chase Marriott Cards.The 5/24 rule applies to the personal card but not the business card. Marriott Rewards are very valuable for booking Marriott Hotel + Air Packages as well as for transferring 3:1 to SPG.

I already have a personal SPG Amex. I plan on opening a business SPG card very soon. The personal Marriott card is a no-go for me for obvious reasons, and I already have the business Marriott card.

What’s your plan?

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