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Comparing Canadian and U.S. SPG American Express

The U.S. based Starwood Preferred Guest American Express personal and business cards have increased their sign up bonus from 25,000 to 35,000. The last time was about a year ago. My question is, when is it going to be Canada’s turn? Also, what about waiving the first year fee? Let’s take a quick look at the highlights of the four cards in question.

U.S. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

  • $95 annual fee (first year fee waived)
  • Earn 35,000 sign up bonus Starpoints (earn 25,000 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and an extra 10,000 after spending an additional $2,000 in the first 6 months) (if you sign up before April 5, 2017)
  • Earn 2 Starpoints for every $1 spent at participating Marriot and SPG hotels
  • Earn 1 Starpoint on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

U.S. Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express

  • $95 annual fee (first year fee waived)
  • Earn 35,000 sign up bonus Starpoints (earn 25,000 after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months and an extra 10,000 after spending an additional $3,000 in the first 6 months) (if you sign up before April 5, 2017)
  • Earn 2 Starpoints for every $1 spent at participating Marriott and SPG hotels
  • Earn 1 Starpoint on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Canadian American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

  • $120 annual fee
  • $50 annual fee for a supplementary cardholder (first year fee waived)
  • Earn 20,000 Starpoints when you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 Starpoints for every $1 spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels (between November 15, 2016 and November 15, 2017)
  • Earn 1 Starpoint for every $1 spent on all purchases
  • Spend $30,000 a year (anniversary year of having the credit card) to receive an automatic upgrade to Starwood Gold Preferred Guest membership
  • Spend $40,000 a year (anniversary year of having the credit card) to receive a Free Weekend Night Award

Canadian American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card

  • $150 annual fee
  • Earn 20,000 sign up bonus Starpoints after you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 Starpoints for every $1 spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels (between November 15, 2016 and November 15, 2017)
  • Earn 1 Starpoint for every $1 spent on all purchases
  • Receive a Free Weekend Night Award at hotels and resorts worldwide when you spend $40,000 a year
  • Receive Starwood Gold Preferred Guest status when you spend $30,000 a year

Even though it may seem obvious that the U.S. version is better, you may be interested to know that the Canadian version is not far off. The most annoying difference to me is the first year annual fee waiver.

Annual Fee

Not only is the annual fee lower in the U.S., yes, even with the weak Canadian dollar conversion, but the fee is waived the first year! Are we ever going to see Canada waive the annual fee for the SPG card. It was waived many years ago (5+ years), and we have yet to see it again.

Winner: U.S.

Sign Up Bonus

It is obvious that the U.S. one currently has a much better sign up bonus. But, the normal sign up bonus is actually 25,000, which is not far off from the Canadian standard of 20,000. Relatively speaking, I think the Canadian one is a decent sign up bonus offer. Furthermore, the U.S. versions have a much steeper spending bonus to fulfil. But I still prefer having the ability to earn a higher sign up bonus overall, even with the higher minimum spending requirement.

Winner: U.S.

Earning Ratios

You can even argue that with the current currency conversion rates, the Canadian one may seem even more competitive. However, the US version offers a 2x multiplier bonus at Marriott and SPG hotels that is not a temporary offer.

Winner: U.S.

Spending Bonus

I love having the ability to qualify for spending bonuses. This is exactly the type of perk that I always recommend credit card companies to offer. The reason is because if they offer a strong enough spending bonus, it would help justify the annual fee so that people would be more willing to pay for it year over year. Sure enough, only the Canadian versions offer such a benefit.

Winner: Canada

Foreign Transaction Fees

This is probably too much to ask for the Canadian version. I much prefer having the annual fee waived. Props to the U.S. for waiving their foreign transaction fees. It makes the U.S. version as close to perfect a card as possible.

Winner: U.S.

Conclusion

So there you have it! To be fair, I actually think that the Canadian version is fairly competitive, relatively speaking. The most significant difference to me is the first year annual fee. I really hope to see the fee waived already, even if it is just for a promotional period. They already implemented the once in a life time sign up bonus anyway…

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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