As mentioned previously, the Marriott International, Inc. acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc was finalized today, September 23, 2016, and we’re seeing changes in effect immediately.
The merge of the two hotel companies means a portfolio of 30 hotel brands with more than 5,700 hotels in 110 countries across the globe.
Since the announcement of the purchase, there had been much speculation on what effect the acquisition would have on the loyalty programs, and today, Marriott announced some updates to the two programs.
Link SPG and Marriott Accounts: Effective immediately, members of Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Loyalty Rewards, and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program can link their accounts across and receive reciprocal benefits through members.marriott.com.
Transfer Points and Redemption: Once accounts are linked, members of SPG and Rewards will be able to transfer points across the programs at a rate of 1 Starpoint to 3 Rewards Points and the same conversely. Points must be transferred in 1,000 point increments with no limit to the number of points transferred. On caveat – points earned through Vistana Signature Experiences or Marriott Vacation Club cannot be transferred between SPG and Rewards.
Status Match: Your highest non-promotional status level (Marriott’s description, not mine) will be matched between SPG and Rewards, giving you full benefits across
both Marriott and SPG properties all 30 brands. This can mean late check out, bonus points, and free internet when staying at any of the 5,700 hotels.
See below for how the elite status rankings and requirements stack up to see where you based on any status you may currently have.
|Loyalty Rewards||Loyalty Rewards Nights||SPG||SPG Nights||SPG Stays|
|Platinum Including (all tiers)||75||Platinum Including (all tiers)||50+||25|
What Hasn’t Changed
According to Marriott, the programs are not expected to be fully merged until 2018, so some things won’t change right away:
Earning Elite-Qualifying Nights: SPG members looking to earn elite-qualifying nights can only do so at SPG properties – and the same thing goes for Marriott Loyalty Rewards guests. That means that if you stay 10 nights at Marriott properties and 40 nights at Starwood properties, this does not equate to 50 nights across the board – you still have to earn status separately among the two programs as though they are independent. (But that being said, once you hit status with one membership program, you’ll get those benefits reciprocated in the other.)
Program Points: The earning structure of both programs remain the same. Base Rewards members will continue to receive 5-10 points per dollar spent (based on hotel brand), while SPG members will earn at least 2 points per dollar.
Credit Cards and Airline Partners: As of today, no changes have been announced regarding credit card and airline partnerships, so that means Rewards members can continue to receive benefits on United, while SPG members can continue to earn points when traveling on Delta. Similarly, no update to credit card relationships, so the Marriott Visa and SPG American Express cards remain separate.
So it’s official – the two companies have merged into the largest hotel portfolio globally. The website branding has already been updated on both SPG and Marriott pages – you’ll see the full portfolio decked out at the bottom of either website. Earlier this year, Marriott implemented some SPG-eque benefits to the Loyalty Rewards program, allowing a check out time as late as 4pm, though early reports from Marriott members found that the practice of this was limited across properties, so hopefully as of today we’ll see fully integrated participation in the perks associated with both programs.
It’s crazy to see how quickly the changes have been implemented, though as an SPG loyalist, I’ll be keen to see how platinum benefits stack up when I stay at a Marriott property vs when staying at a Starwood one. Right now I don’t have any reservations at Marriott properties through the end of the year, but it might be worth staying at one to see how seamlessly my platinum benefits transfer. Anyone else planning on attempting a cross-program hotel stay? Drop your responses in the comments!