Production Problems: American Express Sending Out Temporary Starwood Luxury Cards

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American Express launched their Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card last week and apparently they’ve been unable to keep up producing and shipping the cards. They say the problem is high demand.

This is a separate issue from challenges American Express and Marriott have had in matching the new Marriott IT system account numbers of legacy Starwood Preferred Guest accounts.

American Express will be delaying shipping of the proper card design and doesn’t expect to be caught up for two months. So they’re sending out interim cards with the wrong design. That affects only the physical card and not benefits. This will be an expensive proposition for them.

So what’s all the fuss about? The initial offer on the card is 100,000 points after $5,000 in spend within 3 months of account opening. However we’ve seen bigger targeted offers. Some cardmembers have offers to upgrade to their existing Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express to the Luxury card, while others do not.

If you don’t currently have a Priority Pass membership this card packs a ton of value. For the $450 annual fee you get,

  • $300 annual Marriott credit
  • Priority Pass including unlimited visits and 2 guests
  • An annual free night at renewal good for hotels that would cost up to 50,000 points (category 6).
  • Automatic Gold status
  • $75,000 spend in a calendar year earns Platinum status
  • 15 elite night credits each year
  • Unlimited Boingo internet
  • Premium in-room wifi on your Marriott stays
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.


Credit: American Express

Earning is be 6 points per dollar at Marriott and Starwood properties, 3 points on US dining and on air travel, and 2 points on all other spend.

I put this card in the category of great to have, but not great for spend, since earning was been reduced by a one-third compared to what the personal Starwood card offered prior to this month. If a Marriott point is worth 3/4ths of a cent, you’re getting 1.5 cents per dollar return on unbonused spend.

According to American Express they’re shipping out temporary cards and will replace those with the proper Luxury Card design within two months:

Due to high demand for the new Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, we are currently experiencing delays in delivering the new Luxury Card design to upgraded Card Members and some new Card Members. These Card Members can expect to receive their new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card in the mail by the end of October.

In the meantime,
• Impacted new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card Members can expect to receive an interim Card design in the mail within 10 days of being approved for the Card. These interim Card designs will provide access to all of the great benefits and rewards of the new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card. Card Members can use these cards immediately online or at point of sale. If eligible for a Welcome Bonus, any eligible purchases made on this Card will count toward the Welcome Bonus spend threshold.

• Current Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card Members who upgraded to the new Luxury Card can continue to use their current Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Cards, which will provide access to all of the great benefits and rewards of the new Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card. Card Members can use these cards immediately online or at point of sale. If eligible for an upgrade bonus offer, any eligible purchases made on the current Card from the time of upgrade will count toward the bonus spend threshold.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. Mine has the proper design. What does this ‘temporary card’ look like? I’m assuming it has machine-punched numbers instead of the cleaner printed look?

  2. Gary,

    The problem with a lot of these new cards is that the benefits overlap. Marriott Gold Status, Priority Pass membership, Global Entry / TSA Precheck credits are already provided by the Amex Platinum. The regular SPG card provides 15 elite nights, a 35K free night, 6x earnings on Marriott stays and a 75,000 point signup bonus (fee waived during the first year) for those that didn’t have the card already. And the $75,000 spending requirement for Platinum seems very high. I will apply for the card for the 125,000 targeted sign-up bonuses, but it doesn’t provide a lot of additional ongoing value.

  3. Got the email to upgrade my current personal SPG card…with an offer of 15,000 points. I’m assuming I’d be better off just applying for the luxury card as opposed to going the upgrade route?

  4. @mikeD: Absolutely Do not take the upgrade but instead apply for the Luxury. It is a completely different card. I have the Starwood biz and was immediately accepted for the Luxury. Now to come up with that 5K spend three months…

  5. This card is only worthwhile if you can get the free night and second $300 credit before the 2nd AF. I am not convinced that this will be possible, since the T&C say these will be credited 8-12 weeks after anniversary. Without that it’s getting 100k of devalued Marriott points in exchange for $150 and a prepayment of $300 on your next stay. No other benefits are interesting at all. Hard pass for me unless they up the bonus, or I run out of Amex cards to apply for.

    It’s disappointing that people are so excited about this card. I think they have been duped by bloggers into thinking they will get the free night the first year.

  6. Prior to the merger I used the AE card to get 3x the amount of points. Just before the August deadline I transfer those SPG points to Marriott of which I am Lifetime Platinum Elite. Once the merger was done and the 3x points disappeared I switched back to my Marriott card. Don’t really need the AE SPG card if you have a Marriott Visa card, unless you have the AE SPG for $450. No difference in the “standard” cards. Plus even though you don’t get 3x points, all SPG properties have their costs and points reduced the same.

  7. @gary – have you been able to get a definitive answer on when $300 credit starts for upgraded cards – upon upgrading / after prorated annual fee is charged / when first full annual fee is charged?

    FWIW, upgraded immediately but no card yet.

  8. I have the temp card in hand. It is flimsier than any $90 credit card. It has the look and feel of a zero AF card. It is a piece of junk…will just do it for the initial bonus, no need to keep it long term.

  9. @UA-NYC, I guess I was one of the lucky ones who got the real deal before they ran out. The card is lovely.

  10. Meanwhile…that $5K / 3 month spend window is ticking away…while we await for the cards!
    $5K spend is about the upper limit of what I can spend in 3 months without having to resort to extreme measures such as manufactured spend or other drastic measures…

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