"It will be worth watching the developments on this issue"
Absolutely. The 2009 Freddie Awards provide insight*. In the Best Affinity Credit Card category, Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card came in a very close second to Starwood Preferred Guest American Express in the Americas.
Loyal Starwood Preferred Guests voted overwhelmingly in favor of Amex so that Starwood dominates the Affinity Credit Card category in the Americas for the third consecutive year. Clearly, Marriott is trying to gain some ground. It will be interesting to see if the Marriott promotion is successful in converting Visa card holders.
Marriott's card is also a bank card, for which Marriott's Brand is carried. Visa's merchant fees are lower than Amex, yet the Amex card was voted best--wonder why?
It would be interesting to see which brand has the most stayers using the card as a percentage. I would guess that the Starwood Card is one that is used at a higher percentage than the Marriott card, based on the unscientific Freddie results. Thus, we can't read much into the results without understanding all teh variables and the underpinnings of the cards: is there an annual fee for Starwood, what is it, do you get more than five points per dollar spent at a Starwood property, etc.?
Knowing that we can then evaluate these results objectively.
"Marriott's card is also a bank card, for which Marriott's Brand is carried. Visa's merchant fees are lower than Amex, yet the Amex card was voted best--wonder why?"
Here's InsiderFlyer.com's Randy Petersen's comments:
"For the third year in a row, Starwood Preferred Guest American Express takes home the Freddie for Best Affinity Credit Card. The card wins with its favorable conversions to miles in over 30 frequent flyer programs, double points for Starwood spends, fee-free the first year and $45 thereafter and the no-capacity controls award redemption."
"It would be interesting to see which brand has the most stayers using the card as a percentage."
There were 252,396 votes cast in the Best Affinity Card category. Of these Starwood Amex holders accounted for 4% of the votes cast compared to 17% cast by Marriott Visa holders. If the Freddie's were a popularity contest Marriott Visa would have won. The reason Starwood Amex won with 4% is because most of those who voted gave the card a value of "10". While Marriott Visa voters also gave "10"s, the overall value score was diminished by voters who gave "8" or "9" scores. I have seen comments at Insiders disparaging Chase customer service, the vendor partner for Marriott Visa. Although we can be certain that Amex customer service is comparable to Chase, those who voted for Starwood really like the service and the value Amex provides.
Those finishing in the top seven in this category had scores above "9". That means that overall both Visa and Amex cardholders are reasonably satisfied with the value and service the respective programs provide. Starwood Amex holders found that extra plus that compelled them to vote Starwood to a first place finish. This is not to say that Marriott got it wrong - not at all - Marriott did get it right which is why voters carried Marriott to 2nd place in this category. If you're interested in the scoring, you can find the details here. Do an "Edit" "Find" on the phrase "Best Affinity Card".
I also heard that for every dollar spent on an American Express Blue Sky Preferred credit card, the cardholder earns 1.33 cents per dollar. Is that true mates? That applies to all purchases att U.S. restaurants, hotels and for vehicle rentals, the return goes up to 2.66 percent per dollar. Here are just some of the ways in which American Express Blue Sky outdistances standard frequent flier cards. After the first $1,000 spent within three months of account opening, new cardholders earn 15,000 points. Each point is what is worth 1.33 or 2.66 cents on the dollar, depending upon the type of purchase. The sign-up bonus is effectively worth around $200. Once 7,500 additional points are amassed, American Express Blue Sky cardholders can redeem points for a $100 statement credit toward travel expenses ranging form airfare to lodging and vehicle rental.