Ultimate Guide To The New Marriott & SPG Program

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Arguably the biggest news of the year in the loyalty program world is the integration of Marriott and Starwood’s loyalty programs. We’re talking about two popular loyalty programs being combined, with over 100 million members.

What makes this especially challenging is that the programs are merging mid-year, creating even more confusion for members.

While we’ve seen quite a few loyalty program mergers over the years, this is easily the most complex we’ve seen, and I get more questions about this than anything else. So I wanted to create a thorough guide that answers virtually any question you could have about the new program. My intent is to keep this post up to date as time goes on, so that it can be a useful resource going forward.

Obviously this post is really long, so bookmark this page, then feel free to skip around to the sections that matter most to you using the table of contents below.


Table of Contents

Marriott & SPG program overview

As I mentioned above, the combined program is complicated.  The nuances of elite recognition, earning and redeeming points, and outside partnerships all have to be addressed, with most being a change for either former SPG or Marriott members (and sometimes both).

Here’s everything you need to know about the Marriott merger, including how best to prepare and maximize your points ahead of time.

Hotel brands under the combined umbrella

Now that Marriott’s takeover of Starwood is complete, the “new” Marriott has 30(ish) brands. As consumers we still have two different experiences, as we have the choice of being loyal to Starwood’s roughly dozen brands, or otherwise being loyal to Marriott’s brands, which represent the balance. At least that’s the case until the loyalty programs are formally integrated.

marriott-brands

These ~30 brands will eventually have to function in harmony, even though in reality they’re all competing with one another.

When airlines merge, all planes are eventually used interchangeably. The planes go from competing with one another to complementing one another. Meanwhile hotels are individually owned, and continue to remain competitors with one another, often unhappy when mergers happen, since it means they have more direct competitors and less that makes them unique.

With that in mind, Marriott is really having to grasp at straws to market individual hotels differently. That’s why I was interested to find Marriott’s current “brands” page, which shows all 31 brands of the combined Marriott and Starwood.

The brands are broken up into the categories of “Luxury,” “Premium,” “Select,” and “Longer Stays,” and within each category they’re further broken up into “Classic” and “Distinctive.”

marriott-brands

CategorizationBrands
Classic LuxuryThe Ritz-Carlton
St. Regis
JW Marriott
Distinctive Luxury Ritz-Carlton Reserve
The Luxury Collection
BULGARI
W Hotels
EDITION
Classic Premium Marriott Hotels
Sheraton
Marriott Vacation Club
Delta
Distinctive Premium Le Meridien
Westin
Autograph Collection
Design Hotels
Renaissance Hotels
Tribute Portfolio
Gaylord Hotels
Classic SelectCourtyard Hotels
Four Points
SpringHill Suites
Protea Hotels
Fairfield Inn & Suites
Distinctive Select AC Hotels
Aloft Hotels
Moxy Hotels
Classic Longer Stays Marriott Executive Apartments
Residence Inn
TownPlace Suites
Distinctive Longer Stays element

There’s nothing terribly surprising here, though I guess what I find interesting is that they break down each category by “classic” and “distinctive.” In many cases it seems that by “classic” they mean “brands without an identity,” though that’s not true across the board.

Still, when you really look at all of these brands side-by-side, you realize how much overlap there is between the two groups…

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Merger details

Marriott will be forming a unified loyalty program as of Saturday, August 18, 2018. The Saturday transition makes sense, as it will minimize the impact it has on members.

As you might expect, migrating systems for a program with over 100 million members will be no small project. As they explained to me, this will be a technically challenging day, which is probably an understatement.

We can expect that starting in the morning on, August 18 Marriott websites will be down for several hours. Then we can expect that for most of the day the loyalty systems will be down, so it won’t be possible to redeem points, attach numbers to reservations, etc. So they ask for everyone’s patience, which is fair enough.

Phone agents won’t be able to book awards during that period either, so don’t expect to be able to redeem points at the new rates until late in the day on the 18th, at the earliest.

When this happens, members should see that all of their points automatically transfer from Starwood Preferred Guest to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio. Furthermore, those who haven’t yet linked accounts or signed up for a Marriott account will receive a new nine digit account number. This account number should be emailed to members, and will also appear when trying to log into your account with your old member number.

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Linking accounts

While all accounts will be combined on August 18th, you can link and move points between accounts already.

To do so, first you’ll  need to visit the Marriott Member page and click “Link Account” at the top right of the page.

linking-marriott-starwood-accounts-1

Once there, you’ll be prompted to choose the program from which you want to start (presumably the program with which you have the highest status and are looking to match). In my case, that would be SPG.

linking-marriott-starwood-accounts-2

Since I selected SPG as my program, on the next page I was prompted to enter my SPG username and password.

linking-marriott-starwood-accounts-3

On the next page I was given the option of linking to either Marriott Rewards or Ritz-Carlton Rewards. Keep in mind that you can only be a member of one program or the other, so you can’t match to both Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Rewards.

linking-marriott-starwood-accounts-4

I chose to link to Marriott Rewards. Amazingly enough the next page already had my Marriott Rewards information pre-populated, even though I didn’t do anything to link it. I guess they matched the name, email address, mailing address, etc. Impressive! I then clicked “Finish Linking.”

linking-marriott-starwood-accounts-5

The next page confirmed that I had been upgraded to Marriott Platinum on account of my SPG Platinum status.

linking-marriott-starwood-accounts-6

Sure enough, when I logged into my Marriott Rewards account it confirmed that I’m already a Platinum member. Dang, that was fast!

You don’t have to have elite status in either program to link your accounts, and once you’ve done so you’ll be able to transfer points freely, as I’ll get into below.

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Status matching

One major point of confusion has been regarding who gets Marriott Platinum status this August.

For example, Marriott has stated that Marriott Gold members receive Marriott Platinum status, while Starwood Gold members receive Marriott Gold status.

However, since Starwood Gold converts into Marriott Gold, how exactly does that work?

There’s an update there. Nights earned will determine status in the new program, but not linking SPG  and Marriott accounts.

This means that SPG Gold members who earned Marriott Gold from linking accounts will not receive Marriott Platinum status come August. However, United RewardsPlus members would earn Marriott Platinum status, since they didn’t earn the status by linking their SPG account.

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Transferring points between programs

You first need to link your accounts, which can be done as explained above. Once you’ve done that, you can transfer points either through the same site as above, or you can use the Marriott or Starwood websites directly.

Using the SPG site as an example, you can click on “Redeem Points” and will then see “More Options,” which specifically mentions the possibility of transferring points to Marriott Rewards.

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On the next page you’ll see “Access More Possibilities Worldwide,” which is what you’d want to click.

starwood-marriott-points-transfers-3

The next page gives you the option to transfer points between programs, and as you can see, the 1:3 transfer ratio automatically auto-populates. Since your accounts are linked, you just need to click “Transfer Starpoints Now.”

starwood-marriott-points-transfers-2

It’s worth noting that points transfers aren’t instant, but rather take a few hours.

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How points will be combined

If you don’t transfer points manually, they will be automatically combined at some point on August 18th.

Either way, one SPG Starpoint will become three Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Rewards points.

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Elite program

Like other hotel chains, the new Marriott Rewards incentivizes hotel guests based on how frequently they stay with affiliated properties. Brand loyalty is rewarded with enhanced points earning, and increasingly valuable perks based on the number of nights you stay each year.

Elite night credits accumulate during the calendar year, so you have until December 31st to earn a given status. You then receive the benefits for the year you earn the status, and the entire following year. If you don’t re-qualify during that year, your status expires on January 31st of the next year.

Now, let’s get into the various elite tiers.

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Elite tiers

The combined Marriott Rewards program will have five elite tiers, with credits being awarded based on nights, not stays. All elites receive access to a dedicated reservation line, though my experiences with Marriott’s call center have not been great in the past, so I wouldn’t get too excited there.

Silver Elite

Qualification: 10 nights

Benefits: 

  • 10% Bonus Points on Stays
  • Priority Late Checkout (though not with a guaranteed time)

Gold Elite

Qualification: 25 nights

Benefits:

  • 25% Bonus Points on Stays
  • 2 p.m. Late Checkout (Based on Availability)
  • Complimentary Enhanced In-Room Internet Access
  • Gold Welcome Gift of Points (250/500 Points, Varies by Brand)
  • Enhanced Room Upgrade (Based on Availability)

Platinum Elite

Qualification: 50 nights

Benefits:

  • 50% Bonus Points on Stays
  • Enhanced Room Upgrade, Including Select Suites (Based on Availability)
  • Lounge Access (with Breakfast — at JW Marriott®, Marriott Hotels, Delta Hotels by MarriottTM, Autograph Collection® Hotels, Renaissance®Hotels, Sheraton®, Westin®, Le Meridien®); Excludes Resorts
  • 4 p.m. Late Checkout
  • Annual Gift Choice (5 Suite Night Awards or Gift Option)
  • Platinum Welcome Gift (Choice of 500/1,000 Points, Breakfast Offering or Amenity, Varies by Brand)

Platinum Premier Elite

Qualification: 75 nights

Benefits:

  • 75% Bonus Points on Stays
  • Enhanced Room Upgrade, Including Select Suites (Based on Availability)
  • Lounge Access (with Breakfast — at JW Marriott®, Marriott Hotels, Delta Hotels by MarriottTM, Autograph Collection® Hotels, Renaissance®Hotels, Sheraton®, Westin®, Le Meridien®); Excludes Resorts
  • 4 p.m. Late Checkout
  • 48-Hour Guarantee
  • An additional Annual Gift Choice (5 Suite Night Awards or Gift Option)
  • Platinum Welcome Gift (Choice of 500/1,000 Points, Breakfast Offering or Amenity, Varies by Brand)

Platinum Premier Elite with ambassador

Qualification: 100 nights and $20,000 of spend at Marriott/SPG properties

Benefits: If you meet the ambassador qualifications, you’ll receive all the Platinum Premier Elite benefits, along with the following:

  • Ambassador service — Your point person every time you stay. Your ambassador has the knowledge and resources to make your stays as personal and enjoyable as possible.
  • Your24TM — have the flexibility to choose your check-in and checkout time

Marriott’s new Platinum welcome amenities

All things considered the new Platinum amenities seem fair to me, though it sure is complicated, which is my biggest complaint about the new Marriott program.

When defining Platinum amenities they break the world into two regions, and break hotels down into 38 different groups. That means there are 76 different Platinum welcome amenity policies. Is that really necessary?!

 

This just reinforces my main frustration with the new program — could this be any more complicated?! Even if I spend 100+ nights per year with Marriott family properties, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to remember this system.

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Platinum breakfast benefits

The breakfast situation is one of the biggest disappointments of Marriott’s new program. Rather than taking the opportunity to streamline the program and include a competitive breakfast benefit, Marriott has stuck with a complex and limited breakfast program. It’s telling that we need a separate section for this, especially when compared to the old SPG Platinum breakfast policy.

High-level, the approach Marriott seems to be taking is that Platinum elites and upget lounge access, where there should be breakfast. But two-thirds of Marriott’s brands don’t offer lounge access, including resort properties, so that’s hardly a comprehensive approach.

Instead, each brand will have slightly different rules (and each of those rules will have exceptions).

Here’s a more detailed overview of the new elite breakfast policies, and then we’ll go through the exceptions.

CategorizationBreakfast benefit by brand
Classic LuxuryThe Ritz-Carlton
No elite breakfast benefit

St. Regis
Platinum members can choose daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

JW Marriott Hotels
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*

JW Marriott Resorts
Platinum members receive daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as their welcome gift

Distinctive Luxury Ritz-Carlton Reserve
No elite breakfast benefit

The Luxury Collection
Platinum members can choose daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

W Hotels
Platinum members can choose daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

EDITION No elite breakfast benefit

Classic Premium Marriott Hotels
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*

Marriott Resorts
Platinum members receive daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as their welcome gift

Sheraton Hotels
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*, or Platinum members can choose daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

Sheraton Resorts
Platinum members receive daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as their welcome gift

Marriott Vacation Club
No elite breakfast benefit

Delta Hotels
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*, or Platinum members may be able to choose either a Food & Beverage credit or amenity based on geographic region

Delta Resorts
Platinum members receive daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as their welcome gift

Distinctive Premium Le Meridien Hotels
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*, or Platinum members can choose daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

Le Meridien Resorts
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*, or Platinum members will receive daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

Westin Hotels
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*, or Platinum members can choose daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

Westin Resorts
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*, or Platinum members will receive daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

Autograph Collection Hotels
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*, or Platinum members may be able to choose either a Food & Beverage credit or amenity based on geographic region

Autograph Collection Resorts
Platinum members receive daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as their welcome gift

Design Hotels
No elite breakfast benefit

Renaissance Hotels
Platinum members enjoy free continental breakfast for two in the concierge lounge*, or Platinum members may be able to choose either a Food & Beverage credit or amenity based on geographic region

Renaissance Resorts
Platinum members receive daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as their welcome gift

Tribute Portfolio
Platinum members can choose daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

Gaylord Hotels
No elite breakfast benefit, though Platinum members may be able to choose either a Food & Beverage credit or amenity based on geographic region

Classic SelectCourtyard Hotels
No elite breakfast benefit for non-lounge properties, though Platinum members may be able to choose either a Food & Beverage credit or amenity based on geographic region

Four Points
Platinum members can choose daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

SpringHill Suites
All guests receive complimentary breakfast

Protea Hotels
Platinum members receive daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as their welcome gift

Fairfield Inn & Suites
All guests receive complimentary breakfast

Distinctive Select AC Hotels
No elite breakfast benefit, though Platinum members may be able to choose either a Food & Beverage credit or amenity based on geographic region

Aloft Hotels
Platinum members can choose daily breakfast for themselves and one guest as a welcome gift

Moxy Hotels
No elite breakfast benefit, though Platinum members may be able to choose either a Food & Beverage credit or amenity based on geographic region

Classic Longer Stays Residence Inn
All guests receive complimentary breakfast

TownPlace Suites
No elite breakfast benefit, though Platinum members may be able to choose either a Food & Beverage item or amenity based on geographic region

Distinctive Longer Stays element
All guests receive complimentary breakfast

As if this wasn’t confusing enough, there are some important caveats.

Closed or non-existent lounges in the US & Canada

At brands that are supposed to provide lounges, but where the lounge is closed, Platinum elites will receive a choice of continental breakfast for two in the hotel restaurant or 750 Rewards points.

This excludes resorts, along with the following properties:

The Algonquin Hotel Times Square, Autograph CollectionJW Marriott New Orleans New York Marriott Marquis Renaissance New York Hotel 57
Boston Marriott Copley PlaceJW San Francisco Union Square Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel
Boston Marriott Long WharfJW Marriott Washington, DC Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel Renaissance New York Times Square
Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent MileThe Lexington New York City, Autograph Collection Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel
JW Marriott Essex House, New York CityMonterey MarriottRenaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina

At the above properties you will at least get 1,000 points if the lounge is closed, if that’s any consolation.

Marriott’s documentation is unclear as to what happens if a given property doesn’t have a lounge at all — we’ll update if that’s clarified.

Closed or non-existent lounges in Europe

For brands in Europe that are supposed to provide lounges, but don’t have lounges at all, Platinum elites will receive a choice of continental breakfast for two in the hotel restaurant or 750 Rewards points.

Marriott’s documentation is unclear as to what happens if a given property has a lounge that is closed for whatever reason — we’ll update if that’s clarified.

Closed or non-existent lounges Worldwide

Marriott hasn’t provided guidance as to what will happen breakfast-wise at hotels outside these two regions. We have limited data points, and it will likely vary by property, but my guess is that worst-case, Platinum’s will be able to use their welcome amenity as a breakfast credit of some sort. When Tiffany stayed at the Marriott in Jordan, as an example, the hotel offered the full breakfast buffet to all Platinum guests.

Once again, if Marriott provides more details we’ll update this section.

Courtyard hotels

Courtyard is Marriott’s largest brand, with over 1,000 hotels around the world. When the details of Marriott’s new loyalty program were first announced in April, one of the positive developments was that Marriott was expanding free elite breakfast to more brands. Specifically, breakfast was supposed to be expanded to Courtyards and to resorts, meaning that the only brands that wouldn’t offer free breakfast are EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, and Marriott Vacation Club.

The breakfast chart, however, tells a different story:

I reached out to Marriott to ask if the chart listing Courtyards as not receiving complimentary breakfast was an oversight, and here’s the response I received:

The amenity can be used for breakfast at the Courtyard Bistro, however, we wanted to make it more flexible for members. If they choose, they may use it for any F&B offered at Courtyard hotels. For example, members may opt to use it for the evening happy hour.

I followed up again to ask if the credit at US, Canada, and Europe properties was really only once per stay, and they indicated that the chart was incorrect, and that they’re working on updating it. That means that at all Courtyard properties around the world you should have the option of selecting a $10 food & beverage credit per person per day.

The issue is still that a $10 per person credit won’t cover breakfast at most properties. For example, the Courtyard Los Angeles Westside charges $18.95 per person for breakfast. This is ultimately an improvement over their old policy, but still not good.

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Late checkout

Marriott Platinum members in the new program will receive guaranteed 4 p.m. check-out, except at resorts, where it’s subject to availability. This is great news, and follows the precedent set by Starwood.

Gold members will receive 2 p.m. late check-out, but it will be subject to availability, so that can be denied by the hotel. Then Silver members will receive preferential late check-out, and the interpretation of that is up to the individual hotel.

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Your24

Your24 is a benefit that Starwood has offered to those who earned at least 75 elite nights per year. With the new program, Your24 will be limited to those who earn Ambassador status, which requires 100 nights plus $20,000 in eligible spend per year to earn.

For those members, Your24 will continue to be available. With this, eligible members can choose any 24 hour period in which they want to check-in and check-out. The catch is that this is subject to availability, and the hotel will confirm this at most a couple of days in advance.

Personally I’ve found this feature to be of limited use, given the lack of confirmability in advance, which is valuable for these kinds of stays.

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Lifetime status

Under the new program, Marriott lifetime status can be earned at the following thresholds:

Here’s how existing Starwood Preferred Guest lifetime status converts over:

Here’s how existing Marriott Rewards lifetime status converts over:

In 2018 there’s also an opportunity to earn lifetime Platinum Premier status, which won’t be available in the future. Members who have reached 750 nights and ten years of Platinum status by the end of this year will qualify for Platinum Premier, and there will be no opportunities to earn lifetime Platinum Premier in the future.

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Other loyalty perks

While most of the best perks kick in if you have status with Marriott, there are some benefits that you get just for being a member. For example, all members who directly through Marriott receive free wifi for their stay.

Furthermore, being a member of the loyalty program gives you access to Member Exclusive rates, which can offer savings of 5-10%, depending on the type of rate you book.

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Upgrades

Complimentary & Elite upgrades

One of the biggest questions that both Marriott and Starwood loyalists had was whether the new program would offer suite upgrades as a benefit:

  • At Starwood Preferred Guest, Platinum members are entitled to be upgraded to the best available room, including standard suites
  • At Marriott Rewards, Platinum members are entitled to be upgraded, and that upgrade may include standard suites

That’s a subtle but important distinction. At Starwood you’re “entitled” to a suite upgrade subject to availability, while with Marriott you can be upgraded to a suite at the hotel’s discretion.

In other words, with Marriott a hotel can upgrade you to a suite if they want to, but they can also upgrade you to another type of room if they want to.

Marriott’s new policy will mirror Starwood’s

While the terms & conditions haven’t yet been published, the head of Marriott Rewards, David Flueck, told me that the new policy is intended to mirror Starwood’s policy rather than Marriott’s policy. That was in response to me asking whether suite upgrades were at the hotel’s discretion (like Marriott), or whether they were guaranteed subject to availability (like Starwood). That’s good news.

There will be a lot of Platinum members

How likely are suite upgrades to actually happen? The first thing to understand is that the new Marriott program will have tons of Platinum members. I imagine the percentage of elite members in the new Marriott program will be higher than in the old Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest program.

That’s because Marriott will have more properties than any other hotel group, and it takes less effort than ever before to be loyal to them. Platinum status will require just 50 elite qualifying nights per year, and for having a co-branded credit card you’ll get 15 elite nights, so really you’ll only need 35 nights per year to earn Platinum status.

So yes, you’ll be entitled to complimentary suite upgrades, but you’ll be competing with a lot of people.

I don’t think Marriott will enforce the policy that rigidly

Historically my perception is that Starwood is much stricter than Marriott when it comes to making sure that hotels are compliant. This is true in several ways.

For one, I suspect that there will be a learning curve here for hotels. Given that Marriott has thousands of hotels, there will probably be a lot of hotels that are slow to learn the new policy. Starwood has historically been good at implementing policies across their various hotels, and it’s my understanding that they also charge hotels the most when corporate customer relations has to get involved in a dispute between a hotel and a guest.

I wouldn’t count on all Marriott hotels being onboard with these new suite upgrades overnight, and that’s because of the number of hotels we’re talking about, and also because Marriott isn’t historically as strict as Starwood when it comes to compliance.

How will Platinum vs. Platinum Premier upgrades be prioritized?

Technically both Platinum and Platinum Premier members will be entitled to complimentary suite upgrades subject to availability. With that in mind, how will hotels prioritize these upgrades? Based on my conversation with David Flueck, it seems like hotels will be given guidance as to what these tiers mean, and then based on that they can make their decisions as to how they want to prioritize upgrades.

Let me give an example. Let’s say a hotel has 10 suites available, and has 10 Platinum Premier members and 10 Platinum members checking in on a given day. All those members are entitled to suites, so who should get them?

  • Should the hotel block Platinum Premier members into the suites before arrival, since they’ve demonstrated more loyalty?
  • Should the hotel not block suite upgrades, and just upgrade all Platinum guests on a first come first served basis?

There’s not a right or wrong answer here, and it will be up to each individual hotel to decide what method they want to use. My guess is that guests may often find themselves in a situation where they’re not proactively offered suite upgrades due to how hotels have blocked rooms. However, I imagine if you want to “pick a fight” with a hotel (which I don’t necessarily recommend doing), you’ll often find that a suite miraculously opens up.

It all comes down to the individual hotel’s management. I know from being an SPG Platinum Ambassador that at some hotels I get a “thank you for being an SPG member” at check-in (so I spend 100+ nights per year with the brand and only get thanked for having signed up for their loyalty program?), while at other hotels I get specifically recognized as being a Platinum Ambassador member.

General suite expectations

Even for us long-time Starwood loyalists, I think we’ve adjusted our expectations of suite upgrades over the years based on where we’re staying. In very general terms:

  • I don’t expect to be upgraded to suites at most US properties, since there are so many Platinum members
  • In Southeast Asia, the Middle East, India, etc., Platinum members are typically treated extremely well, and upgrades are readily available
  • I find that Europe is a mixed bag — at major hotels in London or Paris you often won’t be upgraded, while in secondary markets it’s much easier to get upgraded

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Using points for better rooms

Coming soon!

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Upgrade certificates & instruments

In addition to complimentary upgrades at check-in, there will also be opportunities for Elite members to earn Suite Night Awards as part of the Choice Benefit:

  • You can select five Suite Night Awards for reaching 50 elite qualifying nights
  • You can select five additional Suite Night Awards for reaching 75 elite qualifying nights

Note that this is independent of earning status, so if you qualify based on lifetime status or credit card spend, you won’t receive those.

I do think it’s important to manage expectations with Suite Night Awards, though. They clear at most five days before arrival, and they clear at the hotel’s discretion, so they don’t even have to clear these if there are suites available.

While I appreciate the benefit as such, I wouldn’t get your hopes up too high. My general experience has been that when these clear, I feel like I would have gotten a suite upgrade at check-in anyway. Don’t expect to get these to clear on Maui over Christmas, or in Aspen during ski season, or in London during summer, for example.

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Earning Points

Base Members

Under the new program, members will earn 10 points per dollar spent. The exceptions are stays at Element, Residence Inn, and TownPlace Suites, where members will earn just five points per dollar spent.

Overall this represents improved points earning rates compared to Starwood, since SPG awarded just two points per dollar spent at all properties. Even when you factor in the 1:3 transfer ratio, that means most members will be earning a lot more points.

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Elite Members

On top of the 5-10 points per dollar spent that members automatically earn, there will also be opportunities to earn additional points for having elite status:

  • Silver members receive a 10% points bonus
  • Gold members receive a 25% points bonus
  • Platinum members receive a 50% points bonus
  • Platinum Premier members receive a 75% points bonus

So on the high-end, members will be earning 17.5 point per dollar spent, which is quite a good return on spend. That’s the equivalent of nearly six Starpoints per dollar spent, which is more than I’ve ever earned as a Starwood loyalist.

Earning points for multiple rooms

One of the most frequent questions I’ve received is whether or not members will be able to earn points and elite credits for multiple rooms. Starwood Preferred Guest previously awarded points and credit on up to three rooms per night.

Unfortunately, Marriott will only award points and elite nights for one room per night per member.

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Buying points

Historically Starwood has been aggressive about selling points to members, and in many cases it has represented an excellent deal. Marriott Rewards, on the other hand, hasn’t historically sold points very often. Only time will tell whether lucrative points sales will be available with the new program, though I’d guess that they will be.

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Promotions

Global Promos

Marriott’s global promotions are typically called “MegaBonus.” During Marriott’s MegaBonus promotion last fall, they offered a Category 1-5 free night certificate after making just two stays at any Marriott family property.

The next global promotion has yet to be announced, but we’ll update this post when it is.

New Member Promos

Marriott Rewards is one of the few hotel loyalty programs that occasionally offers bonuses for new members who join and complete qualifying activity. In April I wrote about how they had an offer for a free night after making two stays, and it looks like this promotion has been renewed, as there’s now a new booking window for the offer.

New Marriott Rewards members can earn a free night certificate after making two stays between July 9 and November 28, 2018. Stays at all participating Marriott Rewards properties count towards this promotion, and the free night certificate will be valid at Category 1-5 hotels.

The free night certificate will be deposited in the Marriott Rewards account after successful completion of the second stay, and will be valid for one year from the date of issue.

Let me once again emphasize that this promotion is only for new members, and only those who sign up through this link. If you’re an existing member I wouldn’t recommend signing up for a new account, as there’s a good chance they’ll catch you and cancel both of your accounts. However, if you have a family member or friend who doesn’t have a Marriott Rewards account, this could make a lot of sense for them.

Prior to August 18th, only stays at Marriott Rewards properties will qualify. As of that point, stays at Starwood hotels would qualify as well, since they’ll all be considered the same for the purposes of the loyalty program.

The free night certificate offered with this promotion is valid at Marriott Rewards properties, though since a single program is being formed, it should also be redeemable at Starwood hotels as of August. I would expect that a Category 1-5 certificate will be valid at a hotel retailing for up 35,000 points per night, though that’s just speculation on my part, and I could be wrong.

Anyway, I consider this to be an excellent promotion for those who aren’t Marriott Rewards members, but have plans to stay at some of their hotels this fall. This promotion should also be stackable with whatever global promotion Marriott is offering at a given point. Marriott has a global promotion valid through July 20, 2018, though I imagine they’ll offer another one in the fall.

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Marriott & SPG Credit cards

Both American Express and Chase will be issuing credit cards for Marriott’s new loyalty program. For now existing cardmembers of all products will continue to be able to maintain their cards, but eventually American Express and Chase will have “rights” to different parts of the market.

So let’s talk about what you need to know about these new cards.

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Card options/benefits overview & eligibility

As of August 26, 2018, American Express and Chase will be introducing strict new eligibility requirements with their co-branded Marriott and Starwood cards. Here are the restrictions on each card:

Welcome bonus eligibility restrictions
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
You won’t be eligible for a bonus if you currently have or have had any of the following cards in the last 30 days:

• The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
• The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
• Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase
• The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from JP Morgan
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
You won’t be eligible for a bonus if you currently have or have had any of the following cards in the last 30 days:

• The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase
• The Marriott Rewards Business Credit Card from Chase

OR have acquired any of the following cards from Chase in the last 90 days:

• The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
• The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase

OR have received a welcome or upgrade offer for any of the following cards from Chase in the last 24 months:

• The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
• The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card
You won’t be eligible for a bonus if you currently have or have had any of the following cards in the last 30 days:

• Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

OR have acquired any of the following cards from American Express in the last 90 days:

• Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
• Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

OR have received a welcome or upgrade offer for any of the following cards from American Express in the last 24 months:

• Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
• Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Marriott Rewards® Premier and/or Premier Plus Business Credit Card
You won’t be eligible for a bonus if you currently have or have had any of the following cards in the last 30 days:

• Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

OR have acquired any of the following cards from American Express in the last 90 days:

• Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
• Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

OR have received a welcome or upgrade offer for any of the following cards from American Express in the last 24 months:

• Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
• Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
You won’t be eligible for a bonus if you currently have or have had any of the following cards in the last 30 days:

• The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from JP Morgan

OR have acquired any of the following cards from Chase in the last 90 days:

• The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
• The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
• The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase

OR have received a welcome or upgrade offer for any of the following cards from Chase in the last 24 months:

• The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
• The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
• The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase

As you can see, eligibility for a business card welcome bonus will be based on whether or not you have a personal card, and vice versa, which is a new precedent. It’s also interesting that eligibility for a Chase card will be based on whether or not you have an American Express card, which we haven’t typically seen from issuers in the past.

As far as the sharing of information goes, it’s my understanding that American Express and Chase aren’t sharing information directly (for obvious reasons), but rather Marriott is communicating with the two, and sharing whether or not a member has a card that would make them ineligible.

With that out of the way, let’s dig into the details of the individual cards.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months
  • Return on spend: 6x points per dollar spent with Marriott, 2x points on all other purchases
  • Other perks: an anniversary free night certificate valid at any property retailing for up to 35,000 points per year, Silver status for as long as you have the card, Gold status when you spend $35,000 on the card in an account year, 15 elite night credits per year (starting in 2019), and more

Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

This card is currently not available to new cardmembers, but here’s what you can expect as of August 26, 2018:

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Welcome bonus: unknown
  • Return on spend: 6x points per dollar spent with Marriott, 4x points at restaurants, gas stations, wireless telephone services, and purchases for shipping, and 2x points on all other purchases
  • Other perks: an anniversary free night certificate valid at any property retailing for up to 35,000 points per year, Silver status for as long as you have the card, Gold status when you spend $35,000 on the card in an account year, 15 elite night credits per year (starting in 2019), and more

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

  • Annual fee: $95, waived for the first year
  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within three months
  • Return on spend: 6x points per dollar spent with Marriott, 4x points at US restaurants, US gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers, and US purchases for shipping, and 2x points on all other purchases
  • Other perks: an anniversary free night certificate valid at any property retailing for up to 35,000 points per year, Silver status for as long as you have the card, Gold status when you spend $35,000 on the card in an account year, 15 elite night credits per year (starting in 2019), and more

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • Annual fee: $95, waived for the first year
  • Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months
  • Return on spend: 6x points per dollar spent with Marriott, 2x points on all other purchases
  • Other perks: an anniversary free night certificate valid at any property retailing for up to 35,000 points per year, Silver status for as long as you have the card, Gold status when you spend $35,000 on the card in an account year, 15 elite night credits per year (starting in 2019), and more

It’s worth noting that one of the unique features of the SPG Business Amex is that it has previously offered Sheraton lounge access in conjunction with a stay. That was a really lucrative benefit, though it’s been discontinued as of August 1, 2018.

Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card

This card is expected to be introduced later in August. Here’s what we know about it so far:

  • Annual fee: $450
  • Welcome bonus: unknown
  • Return on spend: 6x points per dollar spent with Marriott, 3x points at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x points on all other purchases
  • Other perks: a $300 annual statement credit for purchases at Marriott hotels, an anniversary free night certificate valid at any property retailing for up to 50,000 points per year, Gold status for as long as you have the card, Platinum status when you spend $75,000 on the card in an account year, a Priority Pass membership, a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit, 15 elite night credits per year (starting in 2019), and more

Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

This card is currently not available to new cardmembers, but here’s what you can expect as of August 26, 2018:

  • Annual fee: $450
  • Welcome bonus: unknown
  • Return on spend: 6x points per dollar spent with Marriott, 3x points at restaurants, rental car agencies, and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x points on all other purchases
  • Other perks: a $300 annual travel credit, an anniversary free night certificate valid at any property retailing for up to 50,000 points per year, Gold status for as long as you have the card, Platinum status when you spend $75,000 on the card in an account year, a Priority Pass membership, a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit, 15 elite night credits per year (starting in 2019), and more

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Anniversary nights

Going forward, several Marriott and Starwood credit cards will offer an anniversary free night certificate. This is something that some Marriott cards have offered in the past, though it’s being expanded to Starwood cards as well. Specifically:

  • The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express will offer an anniversary free night certificate valid at a hotel costing up to 35,000 points per night, beginning with the first account anniversary after August 1, 2018
  • The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express will offer an anniversary free night certificate valid at a hotel costing up to 35,000 points per night, beginning with the first account anniversary after August 1, 2018
  • The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card also offers an anniversary free night certificate valid at a hotel costing up to 35,000 points per night
  • The SPG Luxury Card will offer an anniversary free night certificate valid at a hotel costing up to 50,000 points per night
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card offers an anniversary free night certificate valid at a hotel costing up to 50,000 points per night, beginning with the first account anniversary after August 26, 2018

Can you earn an anniversary free night certificate on multiple Marriott & Starwood credit cards?

This has been a point of confusion, but the answer is yes. If you have multiple cards earning free night certificates, then those certificates are stackable, meaning you can get multiple free nights per year.

How can you tell when your account anniversary date is?

This is something that’s rather annoying. I went to Amex’s website and looked at a summary of all my transactions over the past year, figuring that would easily tell me when my account anniversary is (based on when I was last billed an annual fee). That’s not the case, apparently, as fees aren’t listed in that summary (someone correct me if I’m wrong please).

So the only way I could see when I was last billed the annual fee was to go to the “Billing Statements” section and download my individual statements.

After going through a few of them, I saw that I was last billed the annual fee for one of my cards on August 18, 2017. That’s fantastic, since it means I should get my first anniversary free night certificate just a couple of weeks after this benefit kicks in.

Do you get to keep your anniversary free night certificate if you cancel your card?

Once your anniversary free night certificate posts it won’t be taken away.

So if you pay your annual fee and then the anniversary free night certificate posts, you can cancel the card and keep the certificate, as it’s linked to your loyalty program account rather than your credit card account at that point.

How many hotels will be eligible for these certificates?

Apparently 6,300 hotels will cost 35,000 points per night or less, so you can redeem these certificates at a vast majority of Marriott and Starwood properties.

Can you pay the difference in points to stay at a hotel costing more than 35,000 points per night?

Nope. You need to stay at a hotel that would cost no more than 35,000 points for a standard room for your one night stay. You can’t pay the difference for a more expensive hotel, and you can’t get any points back if your hotel costs less than 35,000 points.

Is the anniversary free night certificate worth the $95 annual fee?

There are a lot of redundant benefits across the Marriott and Starwood cards, so a lot of people are in a position where they’re trying to decide whether it’s worth paying the $95 annual fee to get an incremental anniversary free night certificate.

Everyone has to decide for themselves, though personally I think the answer is yes. Marriott claims that this free night certificate will be valid at about 6,300 of Marriott’s 6,500+ hotels around the world, and a majority of those hotels would probably retail for over $95 per night.

Personally I’d pick up as many of these free night certificates as I could for $95 per night, so I think it’s a great deal.

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Comparison of points earning for various cards

To be honest, these cards aren’t terribly compelling for everyday spend. Personally I value Marriott points at ~0.8 cents each, and all of these cards earn 2x points in non-bonused categories. A return that’s valued at 1.6% isn’t very good for your spend.

The one circumstance under which I think it makes sense to put everyday purchases on these cards is if you’re going for Platinum status with $75,000 of spend, which can be quite a good deal.

Comparison of elite credit potential

As you can see, starting in 2019 all of these cards offer 15 elite nights per year towards status. That’s a fantastic benefit, as it lowers the real requirement for Platinum status from 50 nights per year to 35 nights per year, which is achievable for many.

Do be aware that these 15 elite night credits don’t stack, so if you have multiple of these cards, you’ll still earn at most 15 nights towards status annually.

Other things to consider in choosing a card

On the most basic level, I think the cards can be worthwhile for the anniversary free night certificates alone, given that they can be redeemed at properties that cost significantly more than you’d pay in annual fees.

The other major thing to consider is the restrictions for applying for new cards. Having Amex cards can make you ineligible for Chase cards, and vice versa, so generally you’re going to want to stick to all Amex cards or all Chase cards within the portfolio, if possible.

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Meetings & Groups

In addition to earning points for business and leisure hotel stays, Marriott and SPG have had separate programs for those planning meetings and group events and their properties.

New Rewarding Events program

Marriott’s Rewarding Events program offers bonus points for meetings and events planned at any of Marriott’s brands. With this, you can earn two points per dollar spent, up to 60,000 points. Platinum Premier members can earn up to 105,000 points per qualifying event.

On top of that, you can earn 10 elite qualifying nights when you book your first meeting, plus earn another 20 elite qualifying nights for every additional meeting.

SPG Pro

SPG Pro will end in August, though reservations and contracts made beforehand will be honored. Like with other points earned through the SPG program, SPG Pro points will be converted to the Marriott system at a 1:3 ratio.

Going forward, you can earn benefits under the new Rewarding Events scheme, including bonus points based on elite level (if applicable).

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Redeeming points

2018 Award categories

On Augus 18th Marriott will introduce a new award chart valid for members of all three programs. At that point Starwood Preferred Guest points will be converted into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio, so all stays will follow this pricing. Here’s the chart:

This compares very favorably to Starwood Preferred Guest’s award chart, though in some cases pricing may be higher than what Marriott Rewards used to charge.

However, there are a couple of things that are potentially especially interesting here:

  • Marriott won’t introduce Category 8 hotels until 2019, meaning that stays booked between August and December of 2018 (even if stays are on subsequent dates) will cap at Category 7
  • Marriott will only use “standard” award pricing for 2018, and then in 2019 “peak” and “off-peak” pricing will be introduced

That means for awards booked between August and December, the most expensive redemption will be 60,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, which is the equivalent of 20,000 Starpoints per night in today’s currency. You also get a fifth night free on redemptions, so that brings down the average cost for a five night stay to 16,000 Starpoints per night (in today’s currency).

Currently Starwood’s top hotels cost 35,000 Starpoints per night, so that’s the same as getting over 40% off!

Previously in peak season a redemption at the St. Regis Aspen or St. Regis Deer Valley cost 140,000 Starpoints for five nights (with the fifth night free). Starting in August that redemption would cost just 240,000 Marriott Rewards points, which is the equivalent of 80,000 Starpoints.

That’s a huge discount. If you want to redeem for one of the top Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, or Starwood properties in the world, then between August and December of this year is the time to book.

Here’s a list of Starwood’s current Category 7 hotels (the most expensive in the system), where you’d get the biggest savings during this period, since those hotels currently cost the most points. Note that this only applies for hotels with standard rooms — for Starwood’s “all-suite” properties they’re still evaluating what a “standard room” looks like.

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2019 Award categories

Marriott should be using the same award chart for bookings made in 2019, except there will be two changes:

  • Marriott will introduce Category 8 hotels in 2019, meaning that stays at Marriott’s most expensive properties will be more expensive
  • Marriott will introduce peak and off-peak pricing in 2019, so pricing will vary based on the season

On top of that, Marriott may change which hotels are in which categories, as they tend to adjust this on an annual basis.

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5th night free

The new Marriott program will continue to offer fifth night free on award redemptions. This applies on all free night redemptions, but doesn’t apply on cash reservations, Points & Cash bookings, etc.

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Sweet spots / great redemptions / best ways to use points

Between August 18 and the end of the year, the best way to redeem points will be for Category 8 properties, and for properties where you would otherwise stay during peak season. That’s because while Marriott is already introducing a new chart, they aren’t introducing Category 8 of peak season pricing until 2019.

So for the remainder of 2018 you can book all of the world’s best Marriott properties for just 60,000 points per night, and you can even get a fifth night free. That’s a great deal.

Furthermore, historically “all suite” Starwood properties have been outrageously priced. This includes hotels like the St. Regis Maldives, St. Regis Bora Bora, Al Maha Dubai, and more. Starting on August 18, these properties will be priced according to the standard award chart, so it will be possible to book these for significantly less than before.

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Transfering points between accounts

Historically Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest have different policies when it comes to transferring points between accounts:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest allows unlimited transfers for free within the same household, assuming accounts have been registered at the same address for at least 30 days
  • Marriott Rewards limits each member to transferring 50,000 points per year to just about anyone; the fee to do is $10, or Gold and Platinum members have the fee waived

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Transfer points to airline partners

With the combined program, members will still be able to transfer points to a variety of airline partners. You can do this by booking a travel package, or by transferring points directly to the airline.

Marriott Travel Packages

Marriott is devaluing their Travel Packages redemption option as of August 18, and the new pricing will be as follows:

Here are the eligible Hotel + Air Package frequent flyer programs (with United you’ll continue to receive a 10% bonus for transfers):

If you are considering a Travel Package under the new program, redeeming for the package that includes 100,000 miles is definitely the better deal. Ordinarily you’d need 240,000 Marriott points for 100,000 airline miles, which means you’re really paying the following number of points for seven nights at a hotel:

  • 90,000 points for a Category 1-4 (ordinarily up to 25,000 points per night for standard pricing)
  • 150,000 points for a Category 5 (ordinarily up to 35,000 points per night for standard pricing)
  • 270,000 points for a Category 6 (ordinarily up to 50,000 points per night for standard pricing)
  • 330,000 points for a Category 7 (ordinarily up to 60,000 points per night for standard pricing)
  • 510,000 points for a Category 8 (ordinarily up to 85,000 points per night for standard pricing)

Let’s take a Category 7 as an example. That would ordinarily require 60,000 points per night, though you get a fifth night free. So seven nights would cost you 360,000 points, compared to 330,000 points with a Hotel + Air Package. So the savings are mild but not huge.

How will Marriott handle existing travel packages?

Marriott hasn’t yet revealed how they’ll handle existing Travel Packages, given that hotel categories are changing as of August 18, 2018. This refers to instances where people booked a Travel Package before August 18, where a seven night stay certificate isn’t yet attached to a reservation.

While it hasn’t officially been announced one way or another, my inclination is that Marriott will do a direct category conversion, which is to say that a Category 1-5 certificate will continue to be valid at Categories 1-5. That would be very generous.

I also don’t think it would be unreasonable for them to downgrade each certificate by one category, meaning a Category 1-5 certificate would be valid at Categories 1-4 going forward. But personally I think anything less than that would be stingy and unfair.

I’ll update this section once we know more. In the meantime, the clock is ticking, and if you want to book a Travel Package at the current (and more generous) rates, you have just a few days remaining to do so.

Transfer directly to airlines

One of the strong points of the Starwood Preferred Guest program has long been that you can efficiently convert Starpoints into airline miles. They converted into dozens of currencies at a 1:1 ratio, and you even received a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. In other words, each Starpoint was worth up to 1.25 airline miles, which is why the Starwood Amex Card has been so valuable for many. It was a card that basically earned you 1.25 flexible airline miles per dollar spent.

The good news is that with the new program, it will continue to be possible to efficiently convert Marriott points into airline miles. Specifically, Marriott points will convert into airline miles at a 3:1 ratio, with a 15,000 point (or 5,000 mile) bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. In other words, 60,000 Marriott points will convert into 25,000 airline miles.

This means that it’s more or less business as usual for SPG members, since 60,000 Marriott points is the equivalent of 20,000 Starpoints.

What airline programs you can transfer Marriott points to

Marriott’s website about the new program is surprisingly unhelpful when it comes to laying out the new airline transfer partners, so Tiffany put together a chart that shows the transfer partners and ratios under the new program, as well as the old partners for each program:

Combined Program Partners (date TBD)Combined Program
Transfer Ratios
Current Marriott Transfer PartnersCurrent SPG
Transfer Partners
Aegean Airlines

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferred1 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Aeroflot Bonus Program

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 1
AeroMexico Club Premier

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Air Canada Aeroplan

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Air China Companion

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Air France/KLM FlyingBlue

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Air New Zealand Air Points

TBD transfer ratio65 : 1 transfer ratio, ~77 bonus airpoints for every 20k points transferred
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Alitalia MilleMiglia

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
ANA Mileage Club

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
American Airlines AAdvantage

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Avianca LifeMiles

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
British Airways Executive Club

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
China Eastern Airlines Eastern Club

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferred
COPA Milesconnect

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 1
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
El Al Matmid

TBD transfer ratio
Emirates Skywards

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Etihad Airways Guest

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Frontier Airlines

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 1
Gol Smiles

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 12 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Hainan Airlines

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferred1 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Iberia Plus

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Jet Airways

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
JetBlue TrueBlue

TBD transfer ratiotransfer ratio ranges from 5.6 : 1 to 10 : 1
Korean Air Skypass

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
LATAM Airlines LATAM PASS

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Lufthansa Miles & More

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Qantas Frequent Flyer

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 1
Qatar Airways Privileges Club

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
South African Airways Voyager

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 1
Southwest Rapid Rewards

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 1
TAP Portugal

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 1
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferred1 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 4 : 1 to 6.66 : 1
United Mileage Plus

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.24 : 1 to 4 : 12 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferredtransfer ratio ranges from 2.8 : 1 to 5 : 11 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred
Virgin Australia Velocity

3 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 60k points transferred1 : 1 transfer ratio, 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred

We’re actually going to see more airline transfer partners than ever before, which is good news, though for certain partners (including United), the transfer ratio is worse for Marriott Rewards members than it was previously.

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SPG Moments

Historically one unique way you can redeem Starpoints is through SPG Moments, which lets you redeem points for sold out concerts and other unique experiences. Fortunately Marriott adopted this concept shortly after taking over Starwood, and this will continue to be available going forward.

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How to redeem Marriott award certificates

I redeemed my first Marriott free night certificate earlier this year (in the past I’ve only outright redeemed points). These are similar to the ones they offer through their co-branded credit card, so the redemption process should be identical in theory. In practice, the transition may make things complicated, so it may be more efficient to call Marriott Rewards at 1-801-468-4000 to redeem your free night award.

Anyway, to find your Marriott Rewards free night certificate, simply log into your Marriott Rewards account and click on the “Activity” tab, where you’ll see a section with “Unused Certificates,” assuming you have any to redeem.

That part is straightforward enough, though what tricked me was that there was nothing there to click on to go through the booking process, and I couldn’t get the website to display an option to redeem the certificate, at least not initially.

It took me a while to figure out the correct process, and then it was obvious. To redeem a Marriott free night certificate you just click “Use Points,” as you’d do if you were redeeming points for a stay.

On the next page you’ll see all the options for redeeming points. In this case I didn’t even have enough points for a free night, so interestingly it only showed me hotels that were within the category range of my certificate. This page lists the category of each property, so you can easily verify that a property is in an eligible category.

On the next page you’ll see the price in points, so you’ll want to select the base room. It let me select this even though I didn’t even have enough points in my account for the room I wanted.

Finally the last page before you confirm the reservation shows your e-certificates as a payment method option. Since I didn’t have enough points, I had the option of paying $62.50 to buy 5,000 points, or the option of redeeming a certificate.

So just go through the process of making a points booking (even if you don’t have enough points), and then the last page before confirming the booking, select the eligible e-certificate that you want to use for the booking.

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Other partnerships

Marriott and Starwood both offer some unique partnerships, and in many cases these are incompatible, so we are seeing some partnership changes.

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RewardsPlus (United)

The RewardsPlus partnership between Marriott and United is sticking around. If you are a Marriott Platinum Premier member you’ll receive United MileagePlus Premier Silver status, and United MileagePlus Gold members and above will continue to receive Marriott Gold status. Furthermore, when booking a Hotel + Air Package, members will continue to receive a 10% United bonus.

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Crossover Rewards (Delta)

The Crossover Rewards program, which launched in 2013 as a way for Delta and SPG members to earn reciprocal benefits, has been terminated as of July 15th, 2018. I’m guessing this is due to Marriott’s close relationship with United.

It hasn’t been announced whether Marriott or Delta will have any sort of a partnership going forward.

Your World Rewards (Emirates)

Starwood has partnerships with both Emirates and China Eastern to offer reciprocal benefits and points earning opportunities for elite members. These partnerships continue to be available as of now, though it hasn’t been announced what will happen with them in the future.

Eastern Explorer Rewards (China Eastern)

If you’ve already registered for the Eastern Explorer Rewards program, you’ll continue to receive your benefits for now, though the program isn’t currently open to new registrations.

SPG/Uber

Unfortunately, the partnership between SPG and Uber was discontinued as of late 2017, so it’s no longer possible to earn Starpoints for Uber rides.

If you want to earn points for ridesharing, Delta’s partnership with Lyft is worth considering, as you can earn one SkyMile per dollar spent.

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Marriott/Hertz

Last November, some minor changes were announced to the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs for 2018. Among these changes was that Starwood and Hertz would be introducing a new partnership, and the existing partnership between Marriott and Hertz would be expanded.

As part of this expanded partnership:

  • All SPG members can now access discounted rates and earn 200 Starpoints for their Hertz rentals; to earn Starpoints, SPG members must add their SPG account number to their car rental reservations for rentals picked up at any airport or off-airport location
  • Members are also eligible for status matches — Marriott Rewards and SPG Platinum members receive Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star status, and Marriott Platinum Premier and SPG Platinum Ambassador members receive President’s Circle status

In order to take advantage of this you’ll need to register on this page. Here’s what you can expect in terms of Five Star and President’s Circle elite benefits:

Caesar’s/Total Rewards partnership

Starwood had a unique partnership with Caesar’s a few years back, though that ended as of December 31, 2016. Wyndham Rewards has since announced a partnership with Caesar’s, so don’t expect anything from Marriott on this front.

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Other program details

Luxury Privileges

Luxury Privileges is Starwood’s own preferred partner program, similar to Virtuoso and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, both of which offer great perks like resort credits, room upgrades, and complimentary daily breakfast. The difference is Luxury Privileges is Starwood’s proprietary, in-house program designed to reward and increase loyalty among travelers.

Below Ford has put together a list of frequently asked questions he’s received from clients, in hopes of clarifying and explaining the program so you can best take advantage of it.

Which Starwood properties take part in Luxury Privileges?

  • St. Regis properties
  • W properties
  • Luxury Collection properties
  • Select Westin properties

The above properties that aren’t a part of Virtuoso or Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts still participate in Luxury Privileges, and participation with Virtuoso or Amex doesn’t preclude membership in Luxury Privileges. You can find a list of Luxury Privileges hotels and their amenities here.

Many W Hotels in particular aren’t a part of Virtuoso, which is an added perk since W properties are a popular choice for travelers looking for a trendy, high-end experience without an absurd nightly rate (at least in most cases). For example, the W Seattle is a part of Luxury Privileges, but not part of any other major program. By booking through Luxury Privileges you get free breakfast, a $100 food & beverage credit, etc.

W-Seattle-Hotel-14
The W Seattle participates in Starwood Luxury Privileges

What are the typical perks available through Luxury Privileges?

  • Upgrade on arrival, early check-in, late checkout, all subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Complimentary in-room internet access (though all SPG & Marriott members now receive free internet)
  • A hotel specific perk, once per stay (typically ~100 USD food and beverage, property, or spa credit, though it varies)
  • 4th night free at select properties

St-Regis-Doha - 46
Breakfast is included when booking through Starwood Luxury Privileges

Do Luxury Privileges rates cost more?

The Luxury Privileges rate is almost always the same as the best available rate, known as the “flexible rate” at Starwood properties. It is not available with discounted prepaid rates and is not combinable with other promotions and rates offered by Starwood.

There are even cases where the Luxury Privileges rate is significantly better than the flexible rate. For example, at The Chatwal, an SPG Category 7 hotel and Luxury Collection property in NYC, the Luxury Privileges rate is in many cases significantly less than the flexible rate, and in some cases even less than the pre-paid rate.

Starwood-Luxury-Privileges

Do Luxury Privileges rates earn points?

Absolutely. Luxury Privileges rates count the same as any other stay booked directly with Starwood. You’ll earn Starpoints, along with elite qualifying stay and night credits.

Can I combine Luxury Privileges with other programs and promotions?

Nope. Luxury Privileges isn’t combinable with Virtuoso or Amex FHR, nor is it bookable through the Citi Prestige fourth night free benefit. When a property participates in both Virtuoso and Luxury Privileges, for example, you have to compare the perks and rates and decide which is a better value.

It’s also important to note you cannot book a Luxury Privileges rate with points or any combination of cash and points. It’s only available on revenue bookings.

Westin-Madrid
The Westin Palace Madrid is a part of Starwood Luxury Privileges

How do I book Luxury Privileges?

Luxury Privileges has to be booked through a Travel Advisor with access to the program, and rates for the program aren’t publicly available to those outside the travel industry.

If you are interested in booking a Luxury Privileges rate at a Starwood property, Ford is always happy to help and can be reached via email at fordb@travelsociety.com (if you’re also a Travel Advisor who has access to the program, feel free to leave your contact info below as well, so others can contact you). As I said, in a vast majority of instances, rates tend to be the same as the flexible rate.

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Cancelation policy

Most of the major hotel chains adjusted their cancelation policy for flexible rates in 2017. Marriott’s current cancelation policy will continue to apply across all brands.

Flexible rates need to be canceled at least 48-hours prior to arrival to avoid a fee. However, the policy does vary at properties, including resorts, so you’ll want to check the policy for the specific hotel you’re booking.


Best Rate Guarantee

In an effort to get consumers to book direct, most of the major hotel chains offer some sort of a “best rate guarantee.” Both Marriott and Starwood offer these, and going forward Marriott’s best rate guarantee will continue to apply.

In the event that you find a lower rate through a third party than what Marriott is charging directly, they’ll match the rate and give you 25% off. Terms and conditions apply.

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What other questions can I answer about the new Marriott Rewards program?

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. SPG Choice benefits 50 for 10 suite nights is no longer an option.

    “Coming soon
    MEMBERS WITH AT LEAST 50 ELIGIBLE NIGHTS CAN CHOOSE THEIR BENEFIT.

    We’ll unveil our Annual Choice Benefits and invite eligible members to select the new benefit that suits them best.

    We’ll send eligible members all the details as soon as the new options are available. In the meantime, keep booking and staying.”

    Any idea why they stopped the offer of suite nights prior to July 31?

    J

  2. Does this mean platinum elite members can access ritz carlton lounge under the new program? I know this is not possible with the previous program.

  3. Already linked my Marriott and SPG accounts. Was Platinum Elite last year so it carried over to SPG after linking the accounts. Do I need to do that linking of accounts again and move points (eg all of SPG points to Marriott) so Marriott can figure out on August 18 which of the 2 accounts I wan to retain?

  4. Great job lucky this is what makes OMAAT so special. This took an immense amount of work and is incredibly detailed. Keep up the good work this is what keeps readers coming back and makes you the best travel blogger there is.

  5. I linked accounts last year and am Marriott Gold due to being SPG Gold. I earned SPG Platinum in 2018 by completing 18 nights through a promo. Will I be a Marriott Patinum once the conversion is done?

  6. I have the Marriott Chase card, got it in May. So does this mean that if I apply for the SPG BEFORE Aug 26, I can get the bonus?

  7. Totally agree you almost need a math degree to decipher the breakfast amenity issue. If you don’t know this program inside out, you’ll get caught out! And finding the link on the Marriott site to the chart linked here is not easy, do definitely recommend bookmarking this page!

    Two Qs:
    – Given the significant amount of new points earned per $, and much in excess of what used to be the case, my concern is that redemption rates will start to increase in fairly short order (otherwise going to have hundreds of millions more unredeemed points in circulation) and I need to adopt a more aggressive earn and burn approach. What are your thoughts on this?
    – What happens if I cross the SPG 75 nights threshold between now and Aug 18th? I assume I get the SPG 75 night benefits which would apply thru 2019… but do I also get the additional 5 SNA’s come the end of the year?

  8. Should we book a refundable rate for a room at one of the SPG Cat 7+ properties and switch to points after the dust settles?

  9. Thanks for this guide!

    Your Rewarding Events summary is off. You get 10 EQNs for the first meeting, but 0 for future meetings. The 20 EQNs you’re referring to are for booking a group room block – you earn 1 EQN for every 20 room nights consumed as part of a room block, up to a total of 20 EQNs per year.

  10. Extremely comprehensive, with no fluff or BS. This is why OMAAT remains my favorite travel blog. Thanks, Lucky and team!

  11. I’m a Marriott (RC) Gold by virtue of Spend on my RC Visa, but I have also linked accounts (SPG Gold via Amex Platinum)

    Because I am a Marriott Gold based on spend, not matching, will I be Marriott Platinum on transition?

  12. I don;t think this is correct:

    The combined Marriott Rewards program will have five elite tiers, with credits being awarded based on stays, not nights.

    It should be the other way around, shouldn’t it be?

  13. Lucky,

    As best I can tell, transferring points to United got much better under the Marriott program.

    Previous, 20,000 SPG Points (now equal to 60,000 Marriott Points) at the 2:1 ratio would transfer into 15,000 United Miles (20,000/2 = 10,000 plus 5,000 bonus)

    It appears that the 60,000 Marriott Points will transfer at a 3:1 ration with a 5,000 bonus, thus equaling 25,000 United Miles. You are basically getting 66% more miles than before, yet you implied that the transfer ration was worse? Am I missing something?

    Love your blog.

  14. This is a fantastic resource – thanks to the team for the investment of time.

    That said, I’m unlikely to refer to it very often as I was getting my Marriott Gold membership via United RewardsPlus. Now that it’s falling back to a status that isn’t even as good as my SPG Gold status, I’m back to being a complete free agent for my 40 or so hotel nights a year. Marriott will probably lose the 10-15 nights I was giving them.

  15. Great summary. One error: you reversed the credit card benefits for SPG and SPG Business. Biz card gets the higher bonus and 4x category.

  16. Is there any insight into whether the 3x per year Club Floor Upgrade certificates (good for up to 7 days) will continued to be offered. I have used these in the past and found them one of the best benefits of the ritz card.

    There has been no mention of this from anything I received from Chase or have read online.

    thanks!

  17. This is extremely helpful!

    Do you know when the new Hertz status match will take place? I asked Hertz and was told I needed to be invited by Marriott for the President’s Circle match.

  18. For Ambassador status, does anyone know if there will be a simple way for members to track their spend progress towards the required $20,000?

    I will likely reach 100+ nights between SPG and Marriott this year but I have no idea if I will hit the $20,000 requirement.

  19. @Jules – Yes, there will be a tracker on the combined status page once you hit Platinum I believe.

  20. Wow, this is awesome and much easier than reading anything from Marriott’s website.
    SPG and Marriott nights will be combined together, correct? i have 16 with SPG, and 36 with marriott so needing to get to Platinum.

  21. I’m about 510 nights and 1,520,000. If I reach the 1.6 Marriott lifetime miles by Dec 31 2018, I will be Lifetime Platinum in the new program correct? Wish it was delayed another year

    All in all program will be solid but. Feel they should have a total revenue number to distinguish suite upgrades and the like. So many platinum

    Great write up OMAT Keep up the great work

  22. A very nice and thorough job, except for the now tired attempt to perpetuate the debunked and unsubstantiated claim that SPG upgrade policy was a ‘differentiating’ feature of the program.

    “- At Starwood Preferred Guest, Platinum members are **entitled** to be upgraded to the best available room, including standard suites

    – At Marriott Rewards, Platinum members are **entitled** to be upgraded, and that upgrade may include standard suites
    ….
    While the terms & conditions haven’t yet been published, the head of Marriott Rewards, David Flueck, told me that the new policy is intended to mirror Starwood’s policy rather than Marriott’s policy. That was in response to me asking whether suite upgrades were at the hotel’s **discretion** (like Marriott), or whether they were **guaranteed** subject to availability (like Starwood). That’s good news.” [** indicated emphasis]

    That bogus claim about how SPG upgrade policy stands apart from those of the other programs, which I thoroughly debunked, simply needs to stop. The bogus notion that SPG upgrades were not at each hotel’s discretion was hatched by simply cherry-picking what was desired out the full SPG policy.

    Here’s what the bogus claim about the SPG policy is based on:

    “Platinum members receive upgrades to the best available rooms, including Standard Suites, subject to availability for the entire length of stay at time of check-in…”

    Here’s what is usually left out:

    “…subject to availability at check-in for the length of the stay, provided the room was not booked through a pre-paid third-party channel. Specialty Suites such as, but not limited to, premium view, Presidential, Honeymoon, and multiple bedroom suites are excluded. This benefit does not apply to all-suite hotels. ***BEST ROOMS ARE IDENTIFIED BY EACH PROPERTY*** and may not include upgraded Towers level accommodations unless Towers level accommodations are booked originally. The upgrade benefit is available for one room for the personal use of the Member only, regardless of the number of additional rooms purchased by the Member. This benefit is not offered at Aloft and Element properties.”

    See it right there? ***BEST ROOMS ARE IDENTIFIED BY EACH PROPERTY***. In very simple English, that means “at the discretion of each property.”

    The result of making up a bogus upgrade policy for SPG was not been pretty, as self-entitled top SPG elites, many of them self-anointed ‘travel gurus’, took to the airwaves to denounce SPG’s duplicity…for correctly interpreting their own policy!

    Here are some of my very favorite examples of a policy misinterpretation gone awry, likely because the program wanted to have their cake and eat it too, and did not bother setting the record straight:

    2012 — I am Sick of Arguing for Starwood Upgrades.

    2013 — Platinum SPG, best room upgrade: please change the language.

    2014 — Starwood Platinum Suite Upgrades: Why Does It Have To Be A Fight?

    2015 — Destroying Loyalty: Starwood’s Lies & Expectation Management.

    Soon, SPG will be replaced with Marriott in similar complaints about the merged programs, when the expectation that MR Plats will be “entitled to” or be “guaranteed” upgrades (especially to suites) is not met…as it won’t be because a hotel loyalty program perk that is (a) contingent on AVAILABILITY and (b) at the DISCRETION of each hotel cannot possibly be “guaranteed” or or claimed to be an “entitlement.” A “guarantee” that depends on or subject to a contingency is an oxymoron!

    You heard it here first. Just you wait…

    G’day.

  23. Great job!! Thank you! I do have one question and one comment.

    -I didnt see any mention of the lifetime status that were for this year only. My understanding was lifetime nights for both SPG and marriott were being combined and you had to the end of the year to qualify at the original levels (ie SPG 500 nights).

    -I have SPG bookings for after 18 Aug under my SPG number. Will they automatically be converted to my Marriott number or will I have to do something?

    Thanks!!

  24. Thx for the overview.

    I am missing the details about the extension of the Marriott perk to the spg brands of giving out status benefits (of course except stays/night credits and points) on 3rd party and group bookings.

  25. Thank you Lucky and team for such a comprehensive guide.

    Does anyone know if AmEx platinum will continue to give me Marriott Gold status? It used to do so through SPG Gold.

  26. Lucky, this is a great write-up. Thank you!

    So I went to link my accounts, and the Marriott site says they’re already linked. How do I figure how which is the program being status-matches? I hav SPG gold, but also have a higher Marriott gold elite (platinum in August). I really want the Marriott status to survive.

  27. This is great, thank you for all the detail. One more question: Do we know how Marriott will handle redeeming points for non-standard or base rooms? For example a suite or club floor room? Historically SPG just required additional points, but to my knowledge Marriott only offered this for Points + Cash, if at all.

  28. Nice job by DCS again bringing his Fake News to a good & rational discussion…as usual, because no one is talking about endlessly mediocre Hilton, he goes on another falsified anti-SPG rant.

  29. @Drake
    Thanks for the reply. Has Marriott released any additional information about the Ambassador $20k spend requirement and the tracker function itself (e.g. website link, announcement)?
    I’m curious to know if the $20k spend is restricted to the room rate only before taxes and if incidental spend such as room service and restaurant meals charged to a room will count.

  30. @UA-NYC — It is stupid to accuse anyone of going on a “falsified anti-SPG rant”, when the program is dead and, as of this week, buried. You seem to have a thing for necrophilia. I don’t.

    G’day.

  31. Great job for writing this up Lucky. The only benefit I care about is breakfast benefit and this new breakfast benefit is way too complicate. I am sticking to my Hilton Aspire card with instant Diamond status, and have breakfast at restaurant as well as at the lounge too if I want to.

  32. Do we know what the points transfer policy between two household accounts will be once the new program kicks in?

  33. Random tangentially related idea. Amex Canada has a Cobalt Card which gives 5x points for food and drink. Canadian Amex points transfer 1000:1200 to the new Marriott points (for a brief period of time it was 1000:1500 with transfer to SPG and conversion to Marriott points). End result, get 7.5 Marriott points for every USD spent on food and drinks (minus the foreign transaction charge).

  34. Seems that the ability to convert points directly to airline miles has devalued use of the Starwood Amex cards for regular spend.

    Under the old system, I earned 1 Starwood point per dollar spent (regular spend). So I spend $20,000, get 20,000 Starwood points, and convert that into 25,000 miles (so 1.25 miles per dollar spent).

    But under the new system, I earn 2 Marriott points per dollar spent (regular spend). I now need 60,000 Marriott points to convert into 25,000 miles. So I now need to spend $30,000, get 60,000 Marriott points, and convert that into 25,000 miles (so 0.83 miles per dollar spent).

    I think I got the math right, or is there something I’m missing?

  35. Wow! That was crazy! Great job!

    Also want to know about the ritz club level certs.

    And what will happen to my current ritz tier 1-4 certs mapping to what pointage?

    And re the point mapping…these 35k credit card certs….after 2019, they will only be good for the hotels category 1-4? Because you cant use them for the 40k peak time of the category 5.

    Thanks

  36. You have the “Transfer Directly to Airlines” section posted twice, one right after the other.

  37. Some notes:

    Not all Residence Inn provided breakfast (Anaheim)
    Not all Elements provided breakfast (KL)

    The fact that breakfast is a brand standard and that they din’t even think it necessary to list it in the exceptions needs to be noted. They advertise it as a brand standard so that a guest may book these brands with the guarantee of breakfast without the hassle of reviewing/researching. So this is just scammy,

    Not providing a brand standard benefit isn’t the function of an errant property (unlike upgrades, they can’t claim there was no food….on any day).

    Also whilst the full T&C may not have been released, they’ve released plenty of details comprehensively (breakfast, points redemptions etc etc) and amongst those, the full legalese sounding verbiage of the upgrade benefit in the FAQ section. This makes it VERY clear the new policy is same as old MARRIOTT policy and NOT new Marriott policy. It is in writing vs a vague verbal comment by the head of the program, I cannot fathom why we are following the spoken word.

    Lounge access isn’t being devalued as a function of T&C but in reality there will be significant changes. Thus far only Westin, Sheraton and Le Meridiens were required to offer lounge access, however these represented high 90 percentage of SPG system lounges, as a consequence there was incredible pressure on the remaining lounges to offer access (Luxury Collection mainly, but also the odd W, St Regis or Four Points lounge). However when this peer pressure no longer exists since the bulk of the system no longer conforms so monolithically, I wonder how long the LC/W/StR/4P lounges will be available. This isn’t a written devaluation, but it will be in effect just the same.

    To summarise, relative to SPG:

    Upgrades are now weaker.
    Breakfast isn’t what they advertised it to be and you are no longer assured breakfast as a top tier benefit at all hotels.
    Lounge access will be undergoing a devaluation in effect.

  38. Ugh! Can they make this merger, program integration, and new program more complicated? Of course they can, and they will. With so many exceptions among the brands and categories, what’s the point? Who wants or has time to consult a spread sheet or look up the Ts & Cs for every stay to see what benefits you are entitled to.

    Great job of trying to clarify the zillions of issues and questions, but perhaps the most important statement was that terms and conditions have not been published. That means anything could be changed. Of course even after Ts & Cs are published that is always the case with loyalty programs. Even if this is in fact the program that rolls out, I have issues.

    First, the program should have an upgrade policy that is published and followed. Platinum Premiers should have priority on upgrades. Marriott has established Platinum Premier (75 and 100) as the highest member category. It deserves the highest upgrade priority. People would raise hell if airlines upgraded silvers over golds or golds over top tier. Having no priority for upgrades invites all kinds of shenanigans band mistrust. There is already a lack of trust in the front desk clerks. This makes it worse and opens the door to discrimination for any reason or no reason at all. Status is supposed to mean something. For upgrades, status means nothing. The upgrade depends on the whim of the clerk.

    Second, lifetime status is not equivalent to the benefits of entry level annual status. As a Lifetime Platinum Premier (LPP) I must still stay 75 nights to get the same benefits any other member gets with annual Platinum Premier status. But if I stay 75 nights, there is no point in having lifetime status. And actually the LPP benefits are less than annual Platinum status. Starwood had four levels of Platinum. Lifetime platinums got all of the benefits of annual entry level platinum. LPP has two levels, but LPPs do not get the benefits of entry level Platinum Premier. Some accept this “decoupling” but that’s just a huge devaluation of status. LPP is a status that is lower than annual Platinum except for a few more points and 48-hour guarantee.

    As a general matter I’ve valued the Your24 greatly. More than an ambassador. Suite night awards are not much of a benefit. Platinums are already entitled to suite upgrades. Letting us know three days in advance is not much help because the availability of a suite cannot be guaranteed when booking. If a SNA moved one higher on the upgrade list, then the SNA would have great value. Of course there is no upgrade list with definite rules of priority. Also the 20,000 dollars in spend seems high compared to airline spend requirements and the fact that so-called resort fees, which are really room rates, are excluded.

    I believe a Hyatt – Starwood merger would have been less complicated and better for members. This merger is a mess.

  39. Pretty encyclopedic but…..

    If I acquire the SPG Luxury Card, will the automatic Gold Status extend to Platinum through 2019?

    After that, it’s necessary to spend $75K per credit card account year rather than every Marriott membership year?

  40. @ Explore — Nope, it will get you Gold from the beginning and it will stay that way, so you won’t get SPG Platinum out of it unless you put the spend on the card.

  41. BTW on the Marriott site it updated today that UA Gold & up flyers will only get Gold starting next year (so no more lounge access & 4pm check-out)

  42. Excellent write-up…..better than what I git e-mailed to me from SPG!

    Curious about the “Green Choice 500 star points/night” option….
    Any info on this ?

  43. @Justin sez: “Seems that the ability to convert points directly to airline miles has devalued use of the Starwood Amex cards for regular spend. […] I think I got the math right, or is there something I’m missing?”

    In commented on this yesterday and you got it about right.

    Marriott did not want to have anything to do with SPG’s feature that incentivized members to transfer most of their starpoints to airline miles instead of keeping the revenue in-house by redeeming the points for award stays. However, aware that points transfers to airlines were very popular with SPG loyalists, Marriott approached it cleverly: They left the structure of the transfer of points to airlines essentially unchanged, but disincentivize the practice – effectively crippling it – by limiting the number of points that can be EARNED THROUGH UN-BONUSED spend on their new co-branded CCs to the equivalent of earning 2/3 or 0.67x starpoints (from 1x.) That effectively changed the transfer of points to miles from 1:1 to 1 point for 0.67 mile.

    The end result is akin to transferring 10,000 (star)points to get only 6,700 miles. One can make up for it somewhat by transferring a large number of points, because the 5K bonus points for transferring points in multiples of 20K is still there. So, if you transfer the equivalent of 100,000K starpoints, you’d get back:

    100,000 * 0.67 + (100,000/20,000) * 5,000 = 92,000

    compared to

    100,000 + (100,000/20,000) * 5,000 = 125,000

    that one got with a 1:1 transfer of starpoints to miles + the 5K bonus for transferring starpoints in multiples of 20K

    The effective devaluation is: (125,000 – 92,000)/100,000 = 0.33

    i.e., a 33% devaluation.

    You can arrive at gthe 33% with simple subtraction. The SPG AMEX used to earn 1x on un-bonused spend. Under MR, one will be earning 2x in MR points, which is like earning 2/3 or 0.67x in starpoints:

    1x – 0.67x = 0.33x or a 33% devaluation.

    G’day.

  44. Lucky:

    You mention in the Earning Points for Multiple Rooms section that with SPG you got points for up to three rooms, but that Marriott is only for one room. I have always gotten points for up to three rooms under my name (that I pay for), but only Elite Nights for the room I was actually in.

    So, Marriott isn’t matching SPG, but also isn’t keeping their existing earning benefit?

  45. Lucky:

    I have always gotten points for up to three rooms that I have booked and paid for with Marriott. So, they aren’t matching SPGs program, and they are actually reducing their program?? Only ever got one Elite Night Credit, but always got points for up to three rooms.

  46. BTW, @Justin, you did get the math right. 😉

    When on takes into account the 5K bonus points earned for transfers in multiples of 20K points, one earns a factor of 1.25 more, so that rather than earning just 0.67x (2/3), one would earn 0.67x * 1.25 = 0.8375x, which is in line with you conclusion that…

    …”So I now need to spend $30,000, get 60,000 Marriott points, and convert that into 25,000 miles (so 0.83 miles per dollar spent). ”

    The size of the devaluation for spending $x and earning 0.8375x miles in the MR program remains the same relative to the more favorable scheme of spending $x and earning 1.25x under SPG:

    (1.25-0.8375)/1.25 = 0.33

    G’day,

  47. Brilliantly put together. I have a question as a Gold I booked to Marriott properties back in Feb in Dubai and Oman which would have given me apart from Upgrade, access to the Lounge……will I lose that now if so they’ll lose me and any future custom?!!! Many thanks.

  48. Hi Ben,

    Same question as a few other readers here. You have mentioned that going forward members will earn points and elite night credits for only 1 room per night. Where do you have this information from ? Previously Marriott awarded elite night credits only for 1 room but points for upto 3 rooms and I do not see a change to that anywhere. Could you kindly let us know if there’s any published update to this policy ?

    Thanks 🙂

  49. BTW for any newbies to the blog, there is zero factual basis to DCS’ claim that “Marriott did not want to have anything to do with SPG’s feature that incentivized members to transfer most of their starpoints to airline miles instead of keeping the revenue in-house by redeeming the points for award stays”.

    It has not been released publicly ever (proprietary info unnecessary to share), but it is the height of conspiracy (and stupidity) to think anything other than the vast majority of SPG points were earned for, yep, Starwood hotel stays. Most Starwood folks probably weren’t even aware you could do it, and not everyone who did know even took advantage of it.

  50. @UA-NYC warns “newbies”, who may already be aware of his fact-free claims: “…[t]here is zero factual basis to DCS’ claim that “Marriott did not want to have anything to do with SPG’s feature that incentivized members to transfer most of their starpoints to airline miles instead of keeping the revenue in-house by redeeming the points for award stays”

    The only problem? The reality: Marriott has, in fact, severely crippled the points transfer feature in the merged program, **just as I’d boldly predicted over and over for more than a year they would.**

    So, dear “newbies”, what do you believe? The reality that Marriott has done exactly as I’d repeatedly predicted they you would for more than a year, or a fact-free claim to the contrary that collides against that reality? The rationale for why Marriott would have nothing to do with SPG’s points transfer model was straightforward and could be arrived at through simple common sense: it was boneheaded business-wise, and I’d explained why long before Marriott’s bid to acquire Starwood. It was so logical that Marriott would not continue the practice that it was a certainty…

    G’day.

  51. @Lucky – This is awesome! Possibly your best, most thorough post to date. 🙂

    Lifetime status question – Is the years requirement for PLT status going to be without exception?
    I’ll have 700 nights between the two programs by EOY (6 yrs SPG + if Marriott counts SPG status match years). Currently SPG LT Gold.

  52. Apologies if you’ve covered this, and I’ve missed it, but any idea how Ritz Carlton tiers are going to be effected (if at all)? By that I mean the redemption rates for tiers 1-5.

  53. -I didnt see any mention of the lifetime status that were for this year only. My understanding was lifetime nights for both SPG and marriott were being combined and you had to the end of the year to qualify at the original levels (ie SPG 500 nights).

    -I have SPG bookings for after 18 Aug under my SPG number. Will they automatically be converted to my Marriott number or will I have to do something?

  54. Lucky, another question I haven‘t found an answer for, yet:

    Considering lifetime status, members will still be able to complete lifetime status according to the old program rules if sticking to hotels of one of the legacy programs until Dec.31st 2018 . E.g. 250 nights and 5 years of elite in SPG for lifetime gold (which will be 400 nights from next year on). YET: does that mean I can still accumulate nights for up to 3 rooms between Aug. 18 and Dec. 31 to qualify for spg lifetime gold or will it nights for 1 rooms only from Aug. 18th forward?

  55. Dear Point Gurus –
    I have 82000 SPG Points on my account that I was thinking of transferring to ANA for a discount on round trip flights to Japan (~about $1.5K a pop in economy, depending on season). I’ve seen conflicting anecdotes ( I think) on the merits of transferring before or after the merger? Are there better values to be had if I just bank the 3x multiplier and hold>

    Thank you

  56. Hey, where did you get the info for breakfast platinum gift of $10 f&b + 1 guest, daily for ac hotels in the U.S.? I’m platinum at an AC hotel in the US right now and she gave me 2 $10F&b vouchers for the whole 7 day stay and when I asked if we get these daily she said no 1per stay but I gave you a 2nd to apologize for the room taking so long to be ready.

  57. Very comprehensive – thanks!

    Minor editing note: it looks like the “Transfer directly to airlines” section is duplicated (appears twice).

  58. I don’t think I saw anything in the write-up but what is happening with the Executive Club level for having the SPG Business card? Is it going away? I’m heading to Australia at the end of the month and want to book my hotel and this may determine which brand I use.

  59. @ Rob — From Marriott, but I don’t believe the option to choose breakfast as a Platinum welcome amenity has kicked in yet for AC Hotels?

  60. @Marcia

    “It’s worth noting that one of the unique features of the SPG Business Amex is that it has previously offered Sheraton lounge access in conjunction with a stay. That was a really lucrative benefit, though it’s been discontinued as of August 1, 2018.”

  61. Lucky,

    Was hoping you could clarify something for me. Another blogger posted “We’ve received confirmation from Marriott that your activity for the rest of the year at both Marriott and SPG hotels will count toward both of the legacy programs’ qualification criteria.”
    ( https://thepointsguy.com/guide/lifetime-status-new-marriott-program/ )

    You don’t mention this, so is Marriott really going to take the nights from both SPG ad Marriott, combine them, and let them qualify for the legacy SPG lifetime status?

  62. Does anybody know if on August 19, you can book award stays at SPG hotel even before you have enough points? Like how Marriott does it now with their hotels?

  63. I have a question I wonder if anyone can help with. I am staying at a Springhill Suites (which is part of the Marriott chain) this weekend, August 9-12. I am trying to figure out which card to pay for it with – the Starwood Business Amex , Marriott Business Chase Visa Signature, or Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa Infinite. It looks like the Starwood (it earns 2x at Marriott hotels & will be converted x3 when the programs merge later in August, so a total of 6x) whereas the other two cards only earn 5x. But with all the recent changes I am not sure if this is true anymore. Can anyone help?

  64. Take your pick Laura, as of 8/1, they all earn the same. But are you going for status on any particular card? And Amex is most likely to waive the annual fee if you have enough spending on the card.

  65. @Lucky @Tiffany

    Has anyone figured out the answer to Yvonne’s question above about whether the Amex Platinum card benefit of SPG Gold Status will transfer to Marriott?

    Thank you!

  66. @Lucky
    – Any idea how they will treat the point reservations on SPG side that is later canceled – saying I`ve booked one for 700 Starpoints and after the merger it is 25000 marriott point property. so in case I need to align my dates Will I receive back 21000 points and then will need to book for 25k.
    – And also do you have any idea of how 1 night Cat 1-5 certs will be treated. as SPG category 5 can cost from 36-48k Marriott points when Marriot Cat 5 costs only 25k which can be almost 2x less. if they don`t transfer it to same Cat5 cert in new program it makes sense to redeem it before 18th. ( this of course brings up the question what happens with Cert if I cancel a reservation after 18th. )

  67. Is it possible that the 15 nights from the old Marriott personal card will stack on top of other card nights? In the upgrade offer I received from Chase, there was an asterisk indicating the existence of the stacking restriction for the old card, but not the new one. I’m considering NOT upgrading because of the 1 credit per $3,000, but this would seal the deal. I am wondering if there is some reason that Chase couldn’t easily pull this benefit from existing cardholders.

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