Recently, my wife applied for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card and is currently in the process of completing the $3,000 minimum spend required to receive her sign-up bonus. Per this Deals We Like post, the offer has just been raised from the usual 25,000 SPG points to a whopping 35,000 points. This is an analysis of my interaction with AMEX on her behalf in an attempt to get matched to the better offer.
Sorry "Sam"...you walked right into that one!
First off, in four years of tracking this card, I have never seen the bonus offer dip below 25,000 points, so the rep's argument is based on a false premise. Further, the line Sam takes does not, in any appreciable way, address my point, namely: "I'm feeling regret about signing up for this card now because there is a much better deal."
I'm not totally surprised that AMEX didn't match the best offer, since I had read elsewhere that they no longer do this, but it really is a poor business decision. Clearly, AMEX is willing to offer 35,000 points to entice new customers, so it seems they should be willing to part with that amount to keep a new customer happy. While AMEX is certainly under no obligation to address my regret over poor timing, this was an opportunity missed.
The experience a customer has in the first few months of being a card-member will usually determine their interest in continuing to be one for the long-term. Since AMEX is already losing money by offering points and waiving the annual fee for the first year, they have to be hoping that they will make this loss up in future years. Why do I keep paying the annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card? I know that when I dial the number on my card, someone who speaks unbroken English will answer immediately and help solve my problem; that's how long-term customers (even from the miles and points community) are acquired!
American Express isn't accepted as widely as Visa or Mastercard in the United States, meaning it really can't be the only card in your wallet. In bill-fold real estate, AMEX earns its spot with the public perception that it is a premium brand that puts an emphasis on customer experience. If they fail to even keep pace with the customer experience provided by other credit card companies, as the representative mentioned to me, what is their selling point?
UPDATE: People are reporting getting "courtesy points" for calling in and escalating to a manager. If you are like my wife and just missed this great deal, call and you might just get those points after all.