Wow! That didn’t take long. Apparently, Marriott and SPG have been very busy while waiting for regulatory approval. It was highly likely that would happen, so the money was well spent. But, about that big news from Marriott….
Now we know that the two loyalty programs will be immediately linked, to include status matches, ability to earn and burn at both chains and……the transfer ratio for points.
Here’s what we know so far:
- Starting today, you’ll be able to link your Marriott Rewards account to your Starwood Preferred Guest account. Navigate to members.marriott.com for all the details on how to do it.
- Status Match! SPG Platinum matches to Marriott Platinum. SPG Gold matches to Marriott Gold.
- Ability to transfer points between programs. Every SPG member with a balance is curious about this one. The ratio is 3:1 from SPG to Marriott.
View From The Wing had the scoop this morning on these items, and boy what a scoop it is!
So, Is This Good?
I’ll be honest, I couldn’t imagine a better outcome. I was a bit nervous that Marriott would decide that SPG Platinum should match to Marriott Gold. It only takes 25 stays or 50 nights to achieve SPG Platinum, whereas Platinum status with Marriott requires 75 nights (they don’t currently have a path o earn status via stays). While we don’t have 100% clarity yet, I would expect that going forward, Marriott Platinum status requirements will remain at 75 nights with no path to earn status via stays.
SPG needed to have a bit of a lower hurdle for elite status since they had less properties. Marriott has no such issue and is likely to be the surviving program, hence the likelihood that 75 nights is the requirement going forward.
A 3:1 transfer ratio (where 1 Starpoint equals 3 Marriott Rewards points) is just about right, maybe even a bit generous. I just said a few days ago that I thought my SPG points were worth about 2.5 times more than a Marriott Rewards point. I don’t carry a big balance with Marriott Rewards, nor redeem with them frequently, so I may be off a bit on my calculations. I think it’s fair to say that not too many SPG members will be complaining about the transfer ratio. Maybe a couple of Marriott folks when they see the SPG Category 7 properties!
As an aside, anyone who thought the Marriott Rewards program was on the same level as SPG before the merger was announced has implicit proof even Marriott didn’t feel that way. Marriott Rewards members did not earn more than 3 times as many points per stay as SPG members did (I’m sure there were some scenarios where they did). And, SPG gives away better benefits at the 25 stay/50 night level than Marriott gives at the 75 level. That value prop is reinforced with the way status matches will work
Marriott has also rolled out a 4pm guaranteed late check-out benefit to match SPG, so they absolutely have taken some of the best parts of SPG. SPG properties were never perfect on honoring this benefit, and I expect there to be teething issue here with Marriott as well for a while.
What Should You Do Now?
You should go ahead and link your accounts right away. Some folks might want to wait to see if there will be a bonus offered for linking accounts. I really doubt that’s going to happen. The status match and access to members only rates on both sides are likely to be motivation enough for most folks. And, just in case there are issues linking accounts, you want to do this now so you can sort out issues before you have a need to transfer points.
It Really Is BIG News From Marriott
Things really could have been worse. Much worse. I felt like I sufficiently lowered expectations so as not to be disappointed. Instead, Marriott surprised me a bit. I’m still a Hyatt HomerTM at heart, but Marriott has me considering my run for the hills (or Hiltons, as it were).
There are still details to work out (is my lifetime SPG Platinum status still good with Marriott? Highly likely). For now, though, SPG members can rest a bit easier and maybe even pick up a bit of a plus with United Airlines status matches via Marriott. Marriott Rewards members get access to some great new properties.
It’s a good day.
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