As of September 24, 2016, the much anticipated Marriott-Starwood acquisition was officially closed! And with that transaction comes the tall task of integrating the various rewards programs of the Starwood, Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotel groups.
Well, at least I thought it would be a tall task.
But much to my surprise, Marriott and Starwood (on the top of their game, I might add) have already begun the loyalty integration, providing members of both programs the ability to link rewards accounts, match status, and transfer points (back-and-forth) between the two programs!
WOW! WOW! WOW!
To be honest, I cannot believe that both companies were prepared for the acquisition, and then were able to execute the transition so efficiently! I know it is just a simple loyalty account linking, and it may seem like a straight-forward task, but having worked with mergers and acquisitions in my day job, I really am impressed with how simple and easy of a process it was to link my personal loyalty accounts.
Ok, so rather than keep buttering them up, let’s get down to business and dig into the new details that we became privy to this past Friday, and determine the most important thing to do and other things to consider!
Your #1 To-Do…
Link Your Accounts!
Note: Sign up for an account at Marriott or SPG if you do not have one already
Sign in to Marriott…
Sign in again – this time to SPG…
And BAM! You’re linked!
Now that the linking is complete, here are some things to consider…
Linking your Accounts = Automatic Status Match
As soon as you complete the linking process, your status in both the Marriott and Starwood programs is recognized and you are automatically matched to the higher status!
Here is how the status for each lines up:
I love hotel status, and I especially love it when it is given to me without meeting the stay requirements! Personally, there is no way that I will actual earn a hotel loyalty status, so I depend on credit cards and status matches like this to provide me with perks like executive lounge access, early/late checkout, upgraded rooms, and bonus points for every stay!
No status at either group to match? No problem!
Consider signing up for either the Ritz Carlton Visa Infinite for Marriott Gold Status (which can be matched to SPG Gold), or the American Express Platinum card for SPG Gold Status (which can be matched to Marriott Gold)!
These are two great cards that are consistently in my AYP Top Cards and provide great overall value, even outside of this status match benefit!
In addition to the hotel status match, Starwood Platinum’s matched to Marriott Platinum will receive United Silver status, while Marriott Platinum’s matched to SPG Platinum will have access to SPG & Delta Crossover Rewards!
Rewards Transfer Ratio (1:3 Starwood to Marriott):
I am pretty impressed at the strength of this transfer ratio, and am very pleased that the value of the SPG points was recognized, as this would seem like an easy opportunity for Marriott and SPG to devalue the currency from day 1.
The Transfer Ratio is 1:3 SPG to Marriott, or 3:1 Marriott to SPG
SPG to Marriott:
Marriott to SPG:
Credit Card Impact:
According to the Points Guy’s sit down interview with Thom Kozik, VP of Global Loyalty at Marriott, and David Flueck, the new head of SPG…
“The good news is that for the foreseeable future we’re going to still have our existing portfolio of co-brand cards.”
That seriously is some great news! That means that you can still take advantage of offers on any of the 5 co-branded credit cards between the two programs, and leverage their bonuses with either SPG or Marriott!
Here is the full co-branded list:
Chase Marriott Rewards (Personal) – 80,000 Marriott Rewards Points (equal to 26,667 Starpoints) upon spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus 7,500 points for adding an authorized user (equal to 2,500 Starpoints), plus an annual free night at a Category 1-5 Marriott Property – $85 annual fee, NOT waived!
Chase Marriott Rewards (Business) – 80,000 Marriott Rewards Points (equal to 26,667 Starpoints) upon spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus an annual free night at a Category 1-5 Marriott Property – $85 annual fee, NOT waived!
Ritz Carlton Rewards (Personal) from JP Morgan – 3 free nights at a Tier 1-4 Ritz Carlton Property after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, $300 airline fee credit, Club Upgrades, Visa Infinite $100 airfare discount, Marriott Gold Status the first year, and much more – $450 annual fee, NOT waived!
Note: American Express just announced a new bonus of 2 free nights for each of the SPG credit cards. In my opinion, these offers are no good – if you are considering a sign-up, go for the older offer of 25,000 Starpoints (which can be worth 75,000 Marriott Rewards)!
SPG (Personal) from American Express – 25,000 Starpoints (equal to 75,000 Marriott Rewards) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months – $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
SPG (Business) from American Express – 25,000 Starpoints (equal to 75,000 Marriott Rewards) after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months – $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
Which of these cards am I considering?
I’m glad you asked! I have my eyes on both the Ritz Carlton Rewards card, as well as the Business version of the SPG card (since I already hold the personal credit card).
Aspirational Redemptions – Coming Soon!
Programs linked? Check!
Points to be transferred? Check!
Aspirational redemption booked? Hmm not quite yet – but there is some amazing value to be had!
I love the status match!
I love the transfer value – 1:3 Starpoints to Marriott Rewards!
The possibilities are overwhelming me at the moment, so I definitely plan to take some time to digest the options prior to making redemption decisions!
Overall, I am pleased with the merger so far! While I am happy, I am sure there are some people out there that feel crossed or slighted in some way, but that is just the way these mergers seem to go!
How about you – what are your thoughts on the merger, the reward program linkage, and the new possibilities!?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any and all Marriott – SPG Merger questions and comments!