You all likely remember that Marriott bought Starwood in 2016. They’ve left each program largely untouched, adding the benefits of transferring points from one to the other and reciprocal status for those who have achieved it in either program.
Starwood had a relationship with Amex. Marriott had a relationship with Chase. Many were speculating about who would win the business when they consolidated. Answer? Both. In a surprise twist, both American Express and Marriott will issue cards for the consolidated rewards program sometime next year.
Four New Rewards Cards
From a press release yesterday:
Marriott expects to introduce new, co-brand products starting in 2018 with enhanced member benefits – super-premium consumer and small business co-branded products from American Express and mass consumer and premium consumer co-branded products from JPMorgan Chase.
Translation (with a lot of guesstimating)
American Express will issue a new rewards card with a super high annual fee and tons of perks. Most cards in this range have something like a $450 annual fee. They will also issue a small business card. We would speculate this might have something like a $95 annual fee.
A new “mass consumer” card from Chase we believe would have no annual fee. A premium consumer card might likely be something in $95 a year range.
All in all, this would give a low (Chase), medium (Chase), and high (Amex) option, plus a business card (Amex) across the two banks.
Why This Matters for Disney
Starwood and Marriott currently have the best hotel options for Disney vacations on points along with Hyatt. You’ve got the Swan and Dolphin at Disney World, which are both Starwood hotels. You’ve also got the Sheraton Park Anaheim and Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance at Disneyland. With some of the new hotels they’re developing (Disneyland & Disney World), they’ll surpass Hyatt in the next few years. All that to say, investing in Starwood/Marriott points will continue to be a useful rewards currency in the future.
What Should You Do
Banks have rules that keep people from getting a sign up bonus on a card over and over again. Amex has a once per lifetime rule. Chase requires a wait of 24 months before you can get the same card bonus again. Plus, Chase also has a rule that limits you at a total of 5 new credit cards in a 24-month period.
Take Advantage of the Sign Up Bonuses Now
The press release says, “In the meantime, both companies will… continue to offer their current products,” suggesting the existing Marriott and Starwood credit cards will be going away at some point. We recommend taking advantage of one of these sign up bonuses while they last. Since they are likely to be discontinued, the sign up bonus restrictions are less likely to affect you. If you sign up for one of these cards, you could either cancel it before the first annual fee, or it might be discontinued sometime before then.
Starwood Personal Card – Earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The annual fee is waived the first year. (referral link) Value: $600
Starwood Business Card – Earn 25,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. The annual fee is waived the first year. (referral link) Value: $600
Marriott Personal Card – Earn 80,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. There is an additional 7,500 for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase. The $85 annual fee is NOT waived. (application link) Value: $700
We’re excited to see what this new program looks like once they consolidate and what each of these credit cards will offer. So far, the news seems good for those of us who love using points on Disney vacations.