Why Do Banks Make Everything So Difficult? (Part 2)

I previously wrote about my not-so-pleasant experiences with three different banks over the course of a single week. The lengths I was forced to go through to complete what were seemingly simple transactions led me to think that I was the problem and not the bank. However, the difficulty I experienced this week trying to figure out the answer to a single question has led me to believe the banks make things overwhelmingly difficult on purpose. What event led me to this conclusion? The combination of the Marriott Bonvoy credit card portfolio under the combined umbrella of American Express and Chase.

All the confusion started when Marriott announced they were acquiring Starwood, way back in November 2015 (can you believe it was that long ago?). The points world almost immediately started to wonder what would happen with the credit card portfolio of the two companies, since Starwood had an agreement with American Express and Marriott’s co-brand card portfolio was with Chase. There was much speculation of what would happen, with the odds leaning towards Chase keeping the combined cards.

In December of 2017, an announcement about an ongoing agreement between Marriott, American Express and Chase took almost everyone by surprise. American Express was keeping the right to issue some cards, Chase was going to issue other cards but both banks would be able to continue to offer competing products. That is, until now.

The combined Marriott Bonvoy card portfolio has been announced and boy, is it confusing.

One of the cards being eliminated during the consolidation is the Marriott Business card offered by Chase. Sharon has one of these cards and I used the free night we get from the card for my stay at Newark Airport during my quick class reunion trip last year. I wanted to see if it made sense to suggest applying for the card before it was no longer open to new cardmembers.

Marriott-Bonvoy-Premier-Plus-Business-Credit-Card-from-Chase

I have fourteen tabs open on my web browser with articles about the combined cards and the rules for getting each one. I’ll refer you to this article by Greg on Frequent Miler about whether you should apply for the Chase Marriott Business Premier card or not, since he wrote the article I wanted to write if I had the time to do so.

The most interesting thing was the requirements to get the sign-up bonus for the card:

Eligibility for the new cardmember bonus: The bonus is not available to you if you:

  • are a current cardmember of this business credit card;
  • were a previous cardmember of this business credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this business credit card within the last 24 months;
  • are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express;
  • are a current or previous cardmember of either The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or
  • applied and were approved for The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card within the last 90 days.

The first two make sense; not being able to currently have the card or have received the sign-up bonus for the card in the last 24 months are both pretty common restrictions. You also can’t have the Starwood PERSONAL card from American Express or have canceled it within the last thirty days. So having a personal card from a different bank will keep you from getting the bonus. You also can not have held or currently hold the SPG Business AMEX or the SPG Luxury AMEX card and received a sign-up bonus or upgrade bonus for either card within the last 24 months. Lastly, you must not have applied and been approved for the SPG Business card or the SPG Luxury card from AMEX within the last 90 days.

I give up. Can you figure out who is eligible besides anyone who hasn’t applied for any SPG card from American Express within the last two years or 90 days or whatever? I’m out from applying because I currently have the SPG personal AMEX card.

I totally understand why American Express and Chase want to collaborate and keep people from double-dipping on bonuses from the Marriott cards. I also don’t see the reason why one bank would want to keep you from applying for their card simply because you have or have had a similar but different card issued from a different bank. Even if you’re signing up mainly for the bonus, you still have to use the card for thousands of dollars of charges to get that bonus and you also may keep the card past the first year for the free night certificate the cards offer upon renewal. But until I run the banks (something I have no desire to do because I have a soul), these rules will continue to be in place and all we can do is try to follow them and maximize the benefits they allow us to have.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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