In the ongoing saga of the recent Marriott and Starwood merger, there has been much speculation regarding the combination of the loyalty programs. Additionally, there was the yet unanswered question. Which bank would win their co-brand credit card battle–American Express or Chase? In the past week, some of those questions have been answered.
Since the merger, Marriott has been working to combine the resulting three loyalty programs–Marriott Rewards, Ritz Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest–into one. The first step was to link all three programs. This was done so points could be freely transferred and elite status would be matched. Those initial steps were taken last year.
Last week, Marriott provided an update that all 3 loyalty programs would remain separate through 2018. They also announced that for members with SPG Lifetime status, their Starpoints will never expire. This slightly incremental change aligns the SPG policy with Marriott Lifetime members. All of this is good news and indicates that they are taking great care in getting the combination right. So far, so good.
Yesterday, Marriott issued a press release regarding its co-brand credit card agreements. Both American Express AND Chase have won the Marriott battle. From the press release:
Marriott International announced it reached new agreements with JPMorgan Chase and American Express for its U.S.-issued, co-brand credit cards associated with its loyalty programs. These multi-year agreements will extend Marriott’s relationship with both card issuers and cover the Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa credit cards from JPMorgan Chase, and the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit cards from American Express.
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. Additional details on the future products will be shared in 2018. In the meantime, both companies will retain their existing portfolio of accounts and continue to offer their current products.
All of this appears to be good news for now. There will be no immediate change to existing cards from Amex and Chase and new cards are coming next year.
New Credit Cards
The press release categorized future co-brand credit card products in the following manner:
- American Express: Super-Premium consumer and small business products.
- Chase: Mass consumer and premium products.
These credit card categories would likely break down as follows:
- Super Premium – Amex = $450 and up cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum.
- Premium – Chase = $85 and up cards like the current Chase Marriott Rewards and SPG Amex.
- Mass Consumer – Chase = No-Annual-Fee cards like the Hilton Honors card from American Express.
- Small Business – Amex = Cards like the Chase Marriott Rewards Business and SPG Amex Business.
The above points imply that the current super-premium Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards credit card (or something similar) would ultimately morph into an American Express product. The personal Amex SPG card would move to Chase but not the business version. Vice-versa with the current Chase Marriott Rewards personal and business cards.
I suspect that we’ll see 4 new Marriott co-brand credit cards issued next year: a new Amex super-premium card offering substantially all the benefits of the Ritz Carlton Card; a new Chase Marriott premium card combining the benefits of both the existing Marriott Rewards and SPG Amex cards; an Amex Marriott business card combining the benefits of the Chase Marriott Business and SPG Amex Business cards; and a new no-annual-fee Marriott card from Chase.
The ultimate fate of the existing credit cards and how the portfolios of current customers are swapped between Amex and Chase remains to be seen. Stay tuned.