Marriott SPG Complete Guide to Sweet Opportunities

Marriott SPG

Thanks to the Marriott Starwood merger, it is now possible to link your Marriott Rewards and SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) accounts.  By linking accounts you can now do the following:

  • Match Status: Marriott Gold matches to SPG Gold; Marriott Platinum matches to SPG Platinum
  • Transfer Points: Points transfer in either direction. 3 Marriott Rewards points = 1 SPG Starpoint

Marriott Rewards and SPG each have unique program sweet spots and partnerships.  As a result, this merger has opened up some really sweet opportunities.  This post serves as a complete overview to these opportunities.  I’ll add to the post as more sweet spots are discovered.  I’ll also follow up with in-depth coverage of some of these sweet spots (and I’ll update this post to link out to those).

To learn pretty much everything you need to know about the merger and how it affects the two loyalty programs, Marriott has put together an excellent FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) site, found here:

Sweet Opportunities: Point Earnings on Stays

  • Earn more SPG points per dollar at Marriott properties.  With the exception of Residence Inns and Towneplace Suites, stays at Marriott properties earn 10 points per dollar for general members, 12.5 points per dollar for Gold elites, and 15 points per dollar for Platinum elites.  If you then convert those points 3 to 1, it translates to the following earning rates:
    • General Members: 3.33 SPG Starpoints per dollar (vs. 2 Starpoints per dollar at Starwood properties)
    • Gold Members: 4.17 SPG Starpoints per dollar (vs. 3 Starpoints per dollar at Starwood properties)
    • Platinum Members: 5 SPG Starpoints per dollar (vs. 3 to 4 Starpoints per dollar depending on your Platinum status level)
  • Pay with your SPG card.  The SPG Amex card offers 2 points per dollar at Starwood and Marriott properties.  This is equivalent to 6 Marriott Rewards points per dollar.  The Marriott Rewards Premier card, meanwhile earns 5 points per dollar at Starwood and Marriott properties.  The SPG card, therefore, is a better bet for hotel spend.
  • Promotions change the math.   Marriott and SPG frequently run promotions in which it is possible to earn extra points or free nights.  A good promotion can easily alter the math shown above.

Sweet Opportunities: Point Earnings Elsewhere

  • Earn more Marriott points per dollar with the SPG credit card. The Amex SPG credit card offers 1 point per dollar for most spend and 2 points per dollar at Starwood and Marriott properties.  This translates to 3 Marriott points per dollar for most spend and 6 Marriott points per dollar at Starwood and Marriott properties.  This is much better than Marriott branded cards that earn 5X at Marriott & SPG, 2X for airline, car rental, & restaurants, and 1X elsewhere.
  • Convert the Amex SPG signup bonus into 75,000 Marriott Rewards points.  Skip the stinky new 2 free night offer and go for the good old 25K signup bonus offer instead.
  • Earn 3X Marriott points with SPG partners. Delta, Emirates, Caesars Entertainment, Design Hotels, Uber, and Audience Rewards all offer opportunities to earn Starpoints.  Now, you can indirectly earn 3X Marriott points.  You can find details of these partnerships here.
  • Earn 1/3X SPG points with Marriott partners.  Obviously this is less compelling than going the other way around, but there may be some opportunities worth pursuing.  Find Marriott point earning partnerships here.

Additional options for earning SPG points which now convert 1 to 3 to Marriott Rewards, can be found here: Top 10 shortcuts to earning SPG points.

Sweet Opportunities: Free Nights

  • Convert SPG points to Marriott to book free nights for 24% more value: Hotel Hustle shows median point redemption values for most hotel chains.  At the time of this writing, the median point value (in cents per point) for SPG is 1.849 and Marriott is 0.763.  This means that, on average, you can get more value per SPG point by converting to Marriott 1 to 3.  By doing so, each SPG point, on average, should yield 0.763 x 3 = 2.289 cents per point value.  That’s a 24% increase in value over using SPG points to book SPG hotels!  Of course, this is just based on median results — your specific results will vary.
  • Book Marriott hotels for 2000 to 15,000 SPG points per night.  Marriott’s free night award chart ranges from 6,000 to 45,000 points per night.  With the SPG to Marriott 1 to 3 conversion ratio, that means that SPG points go really far when booking Marriott stays.
  • Book Ritz Carlton hotels for 10,00 to 23,333 SPG points per night.  Again, SPG points represent a great value for booking Ritz properties.
  • Book low category SPG properties for 6,000 to 12,000 Marriott points per night: SPG category 1 and 2 properties range in award price from 2,000 to 4,000 SPG points per night.  That translates to only 6,000 to 12,000 Marriott points per night.
  • Get 5th Night Free on low category hotels. SPG’s 5th Night Free benefit is limited to category 3-7 hotels.  Marriott has no such restriction.  You can use Marriott’s 5th Night free benefit at low category Marriott hotels.  More here.
  • Book SPG Points & Cash nights, up to Category 5 for 18,000 (or fewer) Marriott points per night (plus cash)
  • Book SPG Points & Cash upgraded rooms, up to Category 5 for 21,750 (or fewer) Marriott points per night (plus cash)
  • Book SPG Points & Cash suites, up to Category 5 for 36,000 (or fewer) Marriott points per night (plus cash)


Sweet Opportunities: Nights & Flights

Both Marriott and SPG offer travel packages in which you can redeem hotel points for 5 or 7 night hotel stays plus get airline miles as well.  The airline miles go to your airline loyalty account and do not have to be used for the same trip in which you book your stay.

For background, please see:

These travel packages lead to the following sweet opportunities:

  • Get 5 nights at a category 5 Marriott property plus 132,000 United MileagePlus miles for 79,000 SPG points*
  • Get 5 nights at a category 5 Marriott property plus 120,000 air miles for 79,000 SPG points*
  • Get 7 nights at a category 5 Marriott property plus 132,000 United MileagePlus miles for 90,000 SPG points
  • Get 7 nights at a category 5 Marriott property plus 120,000 air miles for 90,000 SPG points
  • Get 5 nights at an SPG category 3 property plus 50,000 air miles for 180,000 Marriott points
  • Get 5 nights at an SPG category 4 property plus 50,000 air miles for 210,000 Marriott points

* Note that Marriott 5 Night travel packages exist, but they’re intended to be only available to Marriott Vacation Club (timeshare) owners.  In rare cases, Marriott elite members have been able to book these packages without being Vacation Club owners.  More details can be found here: Marriott 5 Night Travel Packages exist, but they’re secret.

Sweet Opportunities: Transfer to Miles

SPG has a huge list of transfer partners (found here) and most transfer at a very favorable rate: 20,000 SPG Starpoints = 25,000 air miles.  But, SPG does not transfer to Southwest Airlines, and the transfer ratio to United is poor (2 to 1).

When SPG to Marriott to Miles is a good idea…

Marriott points transfer to many airlines as well, but transfer ratios vary by the number of points transferred, whether or not you use a travel package to transfer, and the specific airline you transfer to.  I’ll cover these intricacies in a future post.  For now, consider converting SPG points to Marriott and then to miles as follows (note that you can often do better than SPG’s usual 1 to 1.25 ratio!):

  • Convert SPG to United at a great ratio!
    • 5 Night Category 1-5 Travel Package: 79,000 SPG =  more than 235,000 Marriott = 132,000 United miles (1 to 1.67)
    • 7 Night Category 1-5 Travel Package: 90,000 SPG = 270,000 Marriott = 132,000 miles (1 to 1.47)
    • Direct conversion: 19,000 SPG = more than 56,000 Marriott points = 25,000 miles (1 to 1.31)
  • Convert to many other airlines* at a ratio of 1 to 1.33 or better:
    • 5 Night Category 1-5 Travel Package: 79,000 SPG =  more than 235,000 Marriott = 120,000 miles (1 to 1.52)
    • 7 Night Category 1-5 Travel Package: 90,000 SPG = 270,000 Marriott = 120,000 miles (1 to 1.33)
    • Direct conversion: 24,000 SPG = more than 70,000 Marriott points = 25,000 miles (1 to 1.04)
      Direct conversion is not recommended here except where SPG does not directly support the same partner such as with Southwest.

* “Many other airlines” = Aeromexico, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Alaska, American Airlines, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic

As you can see above, you can now indirectly convert SPG points to United miles at a terrific ratio. Plus, you get a free Marriott stay as well! This indirect technique also makes Southwest available at a very good transfer ratio.  Even airlines that are usually good options for SPG transfers are better with Marriott Travel Packages.  These include: Aeroplan, Alaska, American Airlines, British Airways, and Delta.

Quick Tips Regarding Marriott Travel Packages:

  1. If you really don’t want that free stay, you can return the certificate and they may (at their discretion) give you some of your points back.  That makes the conversion to miles ratios even better!  For 7-Night Category 1-5 packages offering 120,000 miles, the math works out as follows:
    • Returned 7 night cat 1-5 cert = 45,000 Marriott points = 15,000 SPG points that you get back
    • SPG final cost for 120,000 mile travel package = 90,000 – 15,000 = 75,000 SPG Starpoints
    • New calculated transfer ratios:
      • United: 75,000 SPG = 132,000 miles = 1 to 1.76 transfer ratio!
      • Many other airlines*: 75,000 SPG = 120,000 miles = 1 to 1.6 transfer ratio!
        * Aeromexico, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Alaska, American Airlines, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic
      • Other airlines #2**: 75,000 SPG = 85,000 miles = 1 to 1.13
        [i.e. not as good as transferring directly from SPG where possible]
        ** Aeroflot, airberlin, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA LifeMiles, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Korean Air SKYPASS, LAN, Lufthansa Miles & More, Multiplus, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways Voyager, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines
  2. If you’re not sure which exact hotel you will stay in, always buy the Cat 1-5 package because it is the cheapest, and always go for the most miles possible within that category.  You can always pay additional Marriott points when it’s time to actually book your stay, if you want to stay in a higher category hotel.
  3. Marriott will generally let you extend the life of a certificate another year if you call to ask.

When Marriott to SPG to miles is a good idea…

With select airlines, Marriott conversions to miles are much worse than shown above.  So, if you need miles with these airlines, you’d be better off transferring from SPG.  60,000 Marriott points = 20,000 SPG = 25,000 air miles.  In other words, you’ll get a 2.4 to 1 Marriott to miles conversion ratio with these airlines:

Virgin America, Airberlin, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates,  Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, LAN, Lufthansa Miles & More, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines

Sweet Opportunities: Hotel Elite Status

  • Amex Platinum card = SPG Gold = Marriott Gold = Free breakfast or lounge access at most Marriott properties
  • SPG card spend $30K = SPG Gold = Marriott Gold = Free breakfast or lounge access at most Marriott properties
  • United MileagePlus Gold status or higher = Marriott Gold (via RewardsPlus) = SPG Gold
  • Ritz card = Marriott Gold = SPG Gold
  • Ritz card spend $75K = Marriott Platinum = SPG Platinum
  • SPG Gold = Marriott Gold = Marriott Taste of Platinum Challenge = SPG Platinum

More details about earning Platinum elite status quickly can be found here: Marriott SPG 4 New Shortcuts to Platinum Elite Status.

Sweet Opportunities: Airline Elite Status (and Companion Pass)

Sweet Opportunities: Weird Point Conversion Options

  • Convert Amex Membership Rewards to Marriott 1 to 1, or better
    • Usual: 3000 Membership Rewards = 1000 SPG = 3000
    • With occasional 50% transfer bonus: 3000 Membership Rewards = 1500 SPG = 4500 Marriott
  • Convert Ultimate Rewards to SPG
    • 1000 Ultimate Rewards = 1000 Marriott = 333 SPG
  • Convert Diners Club to Marriott at better than usual rate
    • Usual: 1250 Diners Club = 1500 Marriott
    • Via SPG: 1250 Diners Club = 750 SPG = 2,250 Marriott

Sweet Opportunities: Buy Points for Less

I don’t usually recommend buying points directly from any loyalty program, but at times it can make sense.  Standard prices are:

  • Marriott: $12.50 per 1000 (1.25 cents per point)
  • SPG: $17.50 per 500 (3.5 cents per point)

You can now indirectly buy Marriott points via SPG:

  • $17.50 = 500 SPG = 1500 Marriott = 1.17 cents per point

Even with the standard price for SPG points, it is a little bit cheaper to buy Marriott points this way.  However, SPG frequently runs deals where points are 25% to 35% off.  In those cases it will be much cheaper to buy Marriott points indirectly through SPG.

Sweet Opportunities: Transferring Points to Others

Both SPG and Marriott allow points to be transferred to others.  SPG allows free point transfers to anyone in the same household.  Marriott, though, allows transfers to anyone for a fixed $10 fee which is waived for Gold and Platinum members.  They do enforce a 50K point share limit except when points are used for a specific reservation:

A limit of 50,000 points per year may be transferred into or out of a member’s account. Members who are transferring points in order to satisfy a specific award may exceed the 50,000 limit up to the amount needed to satisfy the reservation.

Theoretically, Marriott’s more generous terms make it possible to transfer SPG points to anyone:

  • Person 1: Convert 17K SPG points to 51K Marriott Rewards
  • Person 1: Transfer 50K Marriott Rewards to Person 2.
  • Person 2: Convert 50K Marriott Rewards to 16,666 SPG points (2 Marriott Rewards points stay in Person 2’s account)
  • Person 1: Convert 1K remaining Marriott Rewards to 333 SPG (1 Marriott Rewards point stays in Person 1’s account)
  • Net Result: Person 1 transferred 16,667 SPG to Person 2 16,666 SPG (with a few orphaned Marriott points accounting for the difference)

You could also get around the Marriott 50K limit by transferring SPG points from one family member to another (within the same household). And then transfer as Marriott points from one person to another outside of the household.  I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out the details.

This may also provide a means to get around point purchase limits in place with each chain (30K per year SPG, 50K per year Marriott).

Sweet Opportunities: Miscellaneous Other

Keep SPG points alive:  SPG accounts become inactive and points are forfeit if you have no activity in your account in a 12 month period (although it is enforced only after 18 months).  Dan’s Deals reports that simply moving points from your Marriott account to your SPG account is enough to reset the clock.  Unfortunately, the reverse is not true: moving points into your Marriott account does not prevent your Marriott points from expiring after 2 years of inactivity (details here).

Reader Suggestions?

Which sweet opportunities did I miss?  I’d like to try to keep this post up to date.  Please comment below



About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »


  1. […] SPG is really a hotel loyalty program, but one that happens to offer the ability to transfer points to airline miles at a terrific ratio (20,000 SPG points = 25,000 miles).  Points can be earned from staying at Starwood properties (Sheraton, W, Westin, St. Regis, etc.) or from the SPG credit card.  There are no credit card category bonuses (other than 2X earnings at Starwood and Marriott properties), but points are quite valuable when used either directly for stays, or when converted 1 to 3 to Marriott points, or when transferred to airline miles.  For more great uses of points, please see: Marriott SPG Complete Guide to Sweet Opportunities. […]

  2. […] I’ve argued before that Marriott Travel Packages are the best options for transferring SPG and Marriott points to miles, even if you foolishly throw away the hotel portion of the package.  Astute readers may be wondering whether they should use those packages to get Virgin America miles.  The answer is no.  Marriott Travel Packages already offer Alaska miles at a very good rate, but they offer only half as many Virgin America miles for the same number of points. […]

  3. […] When Marriott bought Starwood and let loose 1 to 3 point conversions, all kinds of great things happened.  Suddenly, top tier Marriott properties (45K per night) became relatively cheap when measured in SPG points (15K per night).  And Marriott Rewards 270K travel packages became accessible to anyone with 90K SPG points.  For more, see Marriott SPG Complete Guide to Sweet Opportunities. […]

  4. […] I’ve long been a big fan of SPG points.  They’ve always been great for booking low to mid category Starwood hotels.  And they’ve been terrific for transferring to airline miles.  With most of their very large selection of transfer partners, 20,000 SPG points results in 25,000 miles.  And now, with the Marriott SPG merger, SPG points can be freely transferred to Marriott at an awesome 1 to 3 ratio.  This means that Marriott’s top tier hotels, which cost 45,000 Marriott points per night, cost only 15,000 SPG points per night.  Plus, Marriott’s valuable travel packages are now within reach for many at only 90,000 SPG points (which equals 270,000 Marriott points).  More here: Marriott SPG Complete Guide to Sweet Opportunities. […]


  1. Thanks for these details! Great post. I am MR Platinum and now matched to SPG Platinum. I went back and read your post from earlier this year on buying back status. I will lose Platinum this year since my business travel declined. Any thoughts on the cost/benefit with these new changes? I am assuming that if they allow you to buy-back MR Plat that you would still be matched as SPG Plat.

  2. First of all, thanks for putting together such a huge compilation so quickly – nice work!

    A couple of things I’d add to the list:

    1) Marriott Premier Business credit card – currently has a signup bonus of 80k points on $3k spend, meaning you’d have a minimum of 83k points once you’ve met the signup bonus. This therefore means you’d end up with the equivalent of 27,667 SPG points, so virtually the same as what you’d get when meeting the minimum spend requirements on the SPG 25k point card. From what I’m aware, the Marriott business card isn’t affected by 5/24 with Chase.

    2) If getting the Marriott business card, you get silver status which gives you a 20% bonus on base points as well as 5x points spent at Marriott properties. This means someone with this card would earn 17 Marriott points per $ which equates to 5.67 SPG points, so even better than Platinum members who don’t have the card.

  3. Good write-up. In your points earning opportunities section, you might want to point out that there are a number of Marriott brands where you earn points on room rate only. For instance, if you dine at the hotel restaurant while staying at a Ritz-Carlton, you’re not going to get the points for the meal. That’s the case with nine Marriott brands.

  4. I won’t re-qualify for spg platinum this year, but I could (in theory) buy back my platinum in Marriott for only 13,334 spg points in the spring since I was matched to Marriott platinum today. That seems like a no-brainer. Marriott and SPG platinum plus United silver for only 13334 spg points.

  5. If you link now, when does the status expire? Would those of us with SPG Gold via Amex Plat card may be better off waiting until Mar 2017 to match so that the status is good until Feb 2018?

    • The FAQ suggests that the link will keep your matched status up to date forever. So even if you match while Gold and then increase your status in one chain to Platinum, the other chain should automatically match (probably overnight)

      • I know the answer for Stannis. Amex Plat status grant (SPG Gold) is “real-time” and 3 business days after you cancel your Amex Plat your upgraded status will return to the unmatched level. The SPG + Marriott match also seems to be real-time, so expect the domino effect. Cancel your Amex and you would lose gold at both SPG and then Marriott within days.

        • This isn’t true (at least for me). I canceled my Amex Plat months ago and still have SPG Gold status. In fact, I only got around to calling to get the status the same day I canceled the Plat, and the status update showed up 24 hours *after* I canceled the Plat.

    • Yep. The first post wasn’t really my guesses at all, but rather recommendations to Marriott to try to prevent SPG loyalists from leaving for Hyatt. The only suggestion they adopted was matching Gold to Gold and Platinum to Platinum.

      In the second post, I made guesses about the likelihood of various conversion rates and gave 1 to 3 only a 8% probability. I also made recommendations about what to do under various scenarios. It is interesting that the break-even point I identified for mileage conversions hovered around 1 to 3.

  6. What’s so great about this is that there’s value to be had in both directions. I commend Marriott management for doing right by both sides by making this 3-1, and not 2-1 as many spgers feared. The only gaping hole remaining is how to solve the credit caRd discrepancy of 3-1 on everyday spending. Marriott would want for their product to at leaSt be on par for everyday spend…

  7. Greg:

    how are they going to deal w/ lifetime? I’m about at LT Gold, and 500k from LT plat at Marriott. If I transferred spg to marriott, I’d have LT Plat immed…IF it works that way…

    Thoughts? Anyone?

  8. I have a question regarding this comment you made–
    “If you’re not sure which exact hotel you will stay in, always buy the Cat 1-5 package because it is the cheapest, and always go for the most miles possible within that category. You can always pay additional Marriott points when it’s time to actually book your stay, if you want to stay in a higher category hotel.”

    Are you saying that if I do the Cat 1-5 package but later decide I want to stay for 7 nights at a Cat 8 hotel, I can use Marriott points to “upgrade” the certificate? Any idea how much the difference will be?

      • Greg,
        I used 280K points last year for the Southwest Flight Points and Marriott Travel Certificate for a Category 6 Hotel. I was hoping to use it to try and book a Cat 9 stay at the Marriott Resort in Grand Caymen this April. I called today to see if I could use the Cat 6 7 night stay Certificate as well as use added points that I have accumulated over the year in order to make up the difference to the Cat 9. I was told flat out that it does not work this way and that I could not use added points to increase the Cat level for my Hotel. Am I just not pushing hard enough or has this policy changed at Marriott and I am SOL?


        • This should still work. The problem is that some/many Marriott reps don’t understand it.

          1. Call Marriott Rewards (NOT Marriott Reservations) and ask to upgrade your 7 night stay certificate to a category 9 certificate. They should charge you the number of points difference between the package you bought and the Category 9 package.

          1a) If they say it can’t be done, ask to speak to a supervisor.
          1b) If necessary, hang up and call again.

          2) In same or separate call, ask to apply your new Cat 9 certificate to the stay you want

          Good luck!

  9. Excellent analysis!!!

    One question you called out that I would like to know more about is what the point return rates for the nights if not used (night and flights). The flight plus night option is great but I am not sure if I would really want to stay at a cat 1-5 for 7 nights…. Or even 5. And don’t have enough to upgrade to a better hotel. Might be worthwhile to do redemption and have them return the points.

    Keep me updated if you find the answer!

  10. Another new sweet idea: AMEX MR points to Marriott at ratio 1:1, even better, in the same household, now could combine AMEX MR points to have enough Marriott points (at Ratio 1:1) to get Marriott’s Hotel&Air Package.
    First, AMEX MR to SPG {3:1},
    then, combining SPG in the same household,
    then, SPG to Marriott (1:3),

    Voilà, get your Marriott package (better deal as it stated).

  11. If I transfer 90k SPG points to a Night & Flight to get the miles for a Southwest Companion Pass, how long would the process take to post? I’m aiming to get the Companion pass early next year so it is active through 2018 and I’m not sure if I should start now or just hold off until January.

    Do you think these exchange rates are going to stay in effect for awhile?

      • T&C’s for the Companion Pass – is there factual evidence the Marriott Travel Package qualifies? I am not doubting it does, but still worth confirming:

        *Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from your revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, your points earned by making purchases with a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card, and your base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners. Purchased points and points earned from Rapid Rewards program enrollment, tier bonuses, flight bonuses, and partner bonuses (excluding points bonuses earned on the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not count toward Companion Pass.

  12. thank you for writing also about the benefits to marriott elites … most of the other posts seem to focus on SPG. bookmarking this page …

  13. Greg. great blog man. couple of things i would change and add for clarity. there are a few, but I will just focus on one major one for now. will write more later.

    These two are incomplete statements and various externalities will change the math:
    Earn more SPG points per dollar at Marriott properties.
    Earn more Marriott points per dollar with the SPG credit card.

    1) SPG transfers round down. Thats very key. Fractions are lost.
    2) As you noted, CC tricks needs a huge section, but that must be always considered. You cant really look at this new landscape without including payment options. It changes the math too much.
    3) Nightly rate/location/promo between the two chains must be considered. You do not simply “Earn more SPG points per dollar at Marriott properties”. What if one was $100/night vs $200/night same location but different categories and different promo? Math is totally different.

    Great work.

  14. I see one small error here: “SPG Gold = Delta elite privileges” is not true. SPG Gold only gets points earning on Delta. You have to be SPG Plat to get any kind of elite privileges (check the link you provided).

  15. In addition to minor fixes, I’ve divided the point-earning section into two sections: Point Earnings on Stays; and Point Earnings Elsewhere. I expanded the point earnings on stays section a bit to include some info about using branded credit cards to pay for stays.

  16. Update regarding returning the Marriott Travel Package certificate:
    If you buy the Cat 1-5 certificate for 270,000 Marriott points (90K SPG) and return that certificate, you’ll get back 45,000 Marriott points which equals 15,000 SPG.

    So, the final cost for that package is just 75,000 SPG points! And the transfer ratios work out to:
    United 75K SPG = 132K United = 1 to 1.76 ratio!
    Many others 75K SPG = 120K miles = 1 to 1.6 ratio!

    I’ve updated the post with this info.

    This is pretty amazing, but keep in mind that the certificates are pretty valuable themselves for actual stays so getting back 45,000 points might not be your best bet if there’s a chance that you’ll actually stay somewhere.

    • Nice! So do not ask for refund of points unless you will never stay at a Marriott. As long as you do at least 2/3 nights at a cat 5 the cert would be a better use.

      Thanks for following up!

  17. Hi,
    just a note. I transferred points from SPG to Marriott, but hadn’t had any activity in the Marriott account for the past 2 years. The points transferred in where instantaneously expired..
    When I called they were quickly reinstated..

  18. Where did you find information about Marriott allowing free transfer to a spouse? Their website says to anybody, but for a fee of $10, except for Gold an Platinum:
    “Feeling generous? Now you can share your points with any Rewards member you choose.
    You can transfer 1,000 points or more—up to a maximum of 50,000 points per year—for a transaction fee of just $10 USD. Gold and Platinum Elite members transfer for free.”

    • Thank you! I forgot that Marriott recently opened up point transfers to anyone! That’s awesome. I’ll update that section.

      I think that they still do allow transferring to a spouse without limit. Or maybe they just haven’t updated their FAQ yet. Here’s the URL:

      And here’s the text:
      How do I transfer Marriott Rewards Points to another person?
      Providing your spouse or domestic partner is a Rewards member, you can transfer your points to them. To transfer points, call Marriott Rewards Customer Support at 801-468-4000 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada), or contact a worldwide reservation center nearest you.

      In case that’s simply out of date its worth noting that you and your spouse can book an award together without having to move points first. That is, in the course of booking an award (a travel package, for example), you can ask them to redeem points from both accounts. That way there’s definitely no 50K limit. I’m not sure where this is written, but I know people who have done this.

  19. any expierence on MS-ing with the SPG Business card to achieve gold status?

    I know it’s less that 2 months away for the calendar year, but I’ve spent around $6k so far, I’m at least $6k closer to $30k 🙂

  20. Hey Greg, This post has a lot of valuable info, but Im still a bit lost. I’m currently Platinum with Marriott and SPG and I have the SPG Amex card and Chase Marriott card. Do you see staying at an SPG property, using the SPG Amex card, still the best route to earning the most valuable points?

    • This should help:
      1. Always pay with SPG card to get the most points (at SPG or Marriott properties)
      2. If all else is equal, stay at Marriott properties to earn the most points
      3. Residence Inns and Towneplace Suites are an exception to rule 2 since they offer fewer points. If SPG is an alternative, you’ll do better at an SPG property than Residence Inns or Towneplace Suites

  21. Hi Greg – How do SPG and marriott spring double points offers change the math above? I’m an SPG Platinum (50Night) and Marriott Platinum and am wondering what properties to stay at during the promotion period. I have about 30nights of planned stays during that period.

    Appreciate your advice.

    • Marriott properties (other than Residence Inn & TownePlace Suites) will still earn more points, but note that double points is only for 3 stays. You may be best off doing 3 Marriott stays and 3 SPG stays. Then, on your following stays, you may do well with SPG because they have an additional bonus:

      Starting on your fourth stay, you can earn up to 10,000 bonus Starpoints®:
      Achieve 10 nights and you’ll earn 5,000 Starpoints.
      After 10 nights earn 500 Starpoints for each additional night, up to 5,000 Starpoints.

    • The card gives you 2x. The “up to 5x” they market it with is based on SPG status. SPG Gold and Platinum members earn 3x on paid stays at SPG – so they earn 5x total between card and elite earnings (general members earn 2x on paid stay + 2x from the CC for 4x total).

      If you pay for a Ritz stay, you’ll earn 2x on the SPG card + Ritz points 10x per dollar as a general member, more for elites). Of course, you can convert those to SPG at 3:1, so you’re actually earning a bit better than 5x total.

  22. How do you get 6.67 Starpoints per dollar at Starwood properties using affiliated credit card with platinum status?

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