Navigating Marriott’s Byzantine Credit Card Rules


Starting August 26th, Marriott and SPG credit cards will have new rules regarding who is eligible to receive a welcome bonus.  View from the Wing revealed these charts from Marriott:

a close-up of a card a screenshot of a card

Complicated? Indeed. Thankfully, the above charts aren’t quite as complicated as Marriott’s free breakfast rules, but still…

I created a new matrix to try to simplify things.  Just pick out the card you want to get (across the top), and then look down to see if you encounter any roadblocks:

a table with numbers and symbols

Matrix Key:

a screenshot of a card

Offers Available On/Around August 26th

Sometime around August 26th, we expect the SPG Luxury card to appear on the scene with a 125K welcome bonus.  We also expect the four other cards to have 75K bonuses.  Here are the anticipated welcome bonuses (click each card link to view current card details):

Are you eligible before August 26?

The above rules become effective August 26.  Until then, the usual old Chase and Amex rules still apply.  In other words, with Amex, you can’t get the bonus if you’ve ever had the same exact card before (unless you find a targeted offer that doesn’t have this lifetime language).  And with Chase, you must no longer have the card and 24 months must have passed since you last received a welcome bonus. Plus you need to keep in mind Chase’s 5/24 rule which applies to the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card, but not to the Marriott Rewards Premier Business card.

Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.

To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. The easiest option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.

Is it a good idea to apply before August 26th?

The SPG cards don’t currently have useful welcome bonuses, and the SPG Luxury card isn’t yet available, so don’t bother with those.  The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus and Marriott Rewards Premier Business cards, though, are both available with 75K bonuses.  Are they worth getting now?

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus: If you get this card now, it would make you ineligible for the SPG Business or SPG Luxury card for the next 24 months after receiving the bonus.  Both SPG cards are arguably better options if you can qualify for them after August 26th.  Unlike the Marriott card, neither SPG card will increase your chance of a Chase shutdown, and the SPG Business card will not add to your 5/24 count.  And the SPG Luxury card is expected to have a 125K welcome bonus (but it will add to your 5/24 count).  Bottom line: Only apply for the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card if you’re under 5/24 and you would already be ineligible for the SPG Business and SPG Luxury cards due to other considerations.

Marriott Rewards Premier Business: If you get this card now, it would make you ineligible for the SPG Business card until you cancel this one and wait 30 days.  It would also make you ineligible for the SPG Luxury card for the next 24 months after receiving the bonus on this one.  Bottom line: This is a good choice if you won’t be eligible for the SPG Luxury card due to other considerations.  And, as a business card, this one will not add to your 5/24 count.  If you apply before August 26th, you’ll not only get the welcome bonus but also 15 elite nights towards status.  This year only, those 15 nights will stack with elite night credits from other cards.

Post 8/26 Workarounds

In response to Nick’s post about the new Marriott / SPG card restrictions, several readers proposed workarounds.  Let’s look at each:

Use a new rewards account

View from the Wing’s post stated that Amex and Chase won’t share data directly, but rather Marriott itself will be the gatekeeper to determine if a person has met the rules.  Playerx therefore suggested that it might be possible to circumvent some of the rules by creating a new rewards number for your application.  For example, if you want the SPG Luxury Card, but you have recently received a welcome bonus or upgrade bonus for the Chase Marriott Premier Plus card, you might be able to get the SPG Luxury Card by applying with a new SPG account which is not tied to your Marriott account.

This approach would work if Marriott only uses your rewards number to decide if you’re eligible.  If they match you with other criteria, then it won’t work.  My guess is that it won’t work.

Estimated chance of success: 25%

Multiple concurrent applications

Stannis asks “What if you haven’t had any of these disqualifying cards, could you … get all the cards simultaneously?”

I don’t think this will work.  My guess is that Marriott’s determination of whether you are eligible for a bonus will not be in real time during the application process.  Therefore, by the time they check to see if you have certain other cards open, the answer will be yes.

Estimated chance of success: 5%

Don’t complete upgrade spend requirement

Via Frequent Miler Insiders, a reader said that they had upgraded from the Marriott Rewards Premier to the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus, but hadn’t spent any money on the card yet in order to receive an upgrade bonus.  They wondered if they could get the SPG Luxury card bonus by applying for that card before getting the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus upgrade bonus.

If we assume that this reader had received the bonus on the Marriott Rewards Premier more than 24 months ago, then there’s a chance that they can qualify for the SPG Luxury card bonus.  It all hinges on whether or not the upgrade date is considered the date of acquisition for their card.  If so, they would have to make sure to wait 91 days from the upgrade date before applying for the SPG Luxury card.

Estimated chance of success: 30%

Don’t complete welcome bonus spend requirement

This is a variation of the upgrade scenario above.  Suppose you want to get both the Marriott Rewards Premier Business card and the SPG Luxury Card.  The question is whether you can sign up now for the business card, but wait until after getting the SPG Luxury card to meet minimum spend on either.

This one would be extremely tricky to pull off.  Once you open the business card, you have 3 months to complete the spend, but you also have to wait 91 days to be eligible to open the SPG Luxury card.  This seems to make this approach impossible. In practice, according to Doctor of Credit, Chase is known to give people up to 115 days to complete spend requirements, so it is theoretically possible to get this done.  I think the trick would be to wait until the Luxury card is available, then sign up for the Chase business card, and then secure message Chase to ask when is the last day you can complete the spend requirements for the welcome bonus.  If the last day is more than 90 days away, you could theoretically go ahead and sign up for the SPG Luxury card on the 91st day after opening the Chase business card and before completing minimum spend.

Estimated chance of success: 5%

Upgrade instead

If you don’t qualify for the SPG Luxury card due to other cards you have, you could get rid of those other cards and wait out the 1 month, 90 days, and 24 month restrictions.  Alternatively, if you have the SPG consumer card, you could wait to receive an upgrade offer from Amex.  My guess is that an upgrade offer would be something like 50K points.  That’s a far cry from the expected 125K welcome bonus, but some bonus is better than none.

My card situation

I’d like to get the SPG Luxury Card, but I can’t qualify for the bonus without getting rid of my Ritz card and then waiting 31 days.  I’m not ready to do that yet.  It’s been well over 24 months since I’ve received welcome bonuses on any Marriott or SPG cards, so I’d be good to go on that front.  The main issue for me is that I want to upgrade my Marriott Premier to the Premier Plus.  If I accept the 20K upgrade offer, though, the 24 month clock would reset to make me ineligible for the SPG Luxury Card bonus.  That’s not good.

My wife is in a better position to get the SPG Luxury Card.  She doesn’t have the Ritz card, and it has been over 24 months since she received welcome bonuses for her Marriott and SPG cards.  She just need to avoid accepting the Marriott Premier Plus upgrade offer until after she gets the SPG Luxury Card.

Next, I’ll have to decide whether I want to keep the Ritz card long term (or at least until the card is sunset).  A good option for me may be to cancel the card at some point in the future, wait 31 days, and then apply for the SPG Luxury card.  This, though, is still contingent on me not accepting the Marriott Premier Plus upgrade beforehand.  And that upgrade offer expires at the end of this year.  Should I give up an easy 20K points for the upgrade in order to qualify for the likely 125K SPG Lux offer?  Yeah, probably.

Another option would be for me to wait to see if a SPG consumer refer-a-friend offers return.  If so, even though I can’t get a signup bonus for the card (since I’ve had it before), my wife could refer me to the SPG consumer card (she still has the card open) in order to pull down maybe 20K or so referral points.  Then I’d wait for an upgrade offer to the SPG Luxury card.  This option requires several pieces to fall into place, though, so I’m not betting on this approach.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll end up cancelling my Ritz card and getting the SPG Luxury card 31 days later.

What will you do?

Please comment below.

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