Marriott publishes the new rules re: point transfers, suite upgrades, etc.. (finally!)

The Marriott SPG merger continues to be a disaster.  Many promised capabilities of the new program simply don’t work.  Want to apply a travel certificate to a Starwood property?  Good luck.  Want to book an all-suites property at the promised 60K per night rate for standard rooms?  You might want to wait another month or two.  Want correct information about your elite membership? …. You get the idea.

Yes, merging two giant programs is a huge technical task.  I’m not surprised that they’re still dealing with technical issues two and half weeks later.  The thing that has surprised me is how long it has taken for them to fix the simple stuff: online documentation.  Since merger day, it’s been all wrong.  I found at least four completely wrong sections in the terms & conditions, and several completely wrong displays on the website. This has led to no end of confusion for everyone.  Want to clear things up by calling Marriott and asking?  I promise you’ll get a different answer from every person you talk to.  No one, anywhere, seems to know what’s supposed to happen.  If they simply fixed the online documentation (and made it consistent), then a lot of problems would be alleviated.  Members could point to the terms and say “See? This is how it’s supposed to work…”

Finally, finally, finally, the online Terms & Conditions have been updated.  And, now the online terms & conditions might just be somewhat correct.  At least, I haven’t found any obvious mistakes yet.  Assuming the T&Cs are correct, here’s what I’ve gleaned from the new T&Cs so far…

Link to Marriott’s Terms & Conditions

Summary

  • No elite benefits for non-qualifying stays (e.g. stays booked via online travel agencies)
  • Point transfers now with 100K limit
  • Blackout dates mostly gone!
  • Elite Benefits Guarantee is not watered down as we previously thought
  • Platinum elites are entitled to suite upgrades when available

See below for details about each…

No elite benefits for non-qualifying stays

It has long been the case that you wouldn’t earn points or elite night credits for non-qualifying stays (these are usually stays booked through an online travel agency like Expedia, or booked with points through your credit card’s travel portal). But, previously, we could call the Marriott hotel to add our rewards number to the stay and the hotel would provide elite benefits.  Now, the terms explicitly exclude elite benefits on non-qualifying stays:

A “Non-Qualifying Rate” is a rate a Member pays for a Stay in a guest room at a Participating Property which does not qualify to earn Points or Miles, as well as membership tier benefits.

And:

Benefits of Elite membership apply to stays on Qualifying Rates (as described in Section 2.1.e.) and are reserved for Members only and apply solely to the one guest room in which the Elite Member stays.

Point transfers now with 100K limit

Previously, Marriott allowed transferring up to 50K points per year to another member for $10 per transfer (free for Gold elites and higher).  Now they allow transferring up to 100K points per year:

Members can transfer up to a maximum of 100,000 Points per calendar year between any two accounts in good standing that have each been open for at least sixty (60) days, whether sending or receiving Points.

The terms don’t mention a transfer fee, but the Marriott website does:

Transfer 1,000 points or more—up to a maximum of 100,000 points per year—for a transaction fee of just US$10. Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Platinum Premier Elite members transfer for free.

It used to be possible to get around the 50K transfer limit by booking an award with another person.  Marriott Rewards would achieve that by moving the points from one person’s account to the other so as to book the award from one account.  As far as I can tell, both the Terms & Conditions and the website are silent about this, so I don’t know if it will still work or not.

Blackout dates mostly gone (but good luck with timeshare properties)

Marriott used to say that they had no blackout dates for awards, but they allowed hotels to weasel out of it with this clause:

Hotels may limit the number of standard rooms available for redemption on a limited number of days.

The new terms do not include the weasel out clause.  Instead, they list 6 specific weasel out properties that are excluded and two timeshare brands that are excluded: Marriott Vacation Club & Vistana

Here are the new terms regarding blackout dates:

Blackout dates refer to a limited number of dates when a Participating Property could choose not to permit Members to redeem Points for Awards, but the Company has a “No Blackout Dates” benefit so that if there is a standard room available for booking by any means, whether by cash, credit or Points, then a Member can reserve the room using Points.  The following properties either do not participate in or do not fully participate in the No Blackout Dates benefit at this time:

  • Boscolo Exedra Nice, Autograph Collection
  • The Dedica Anthology, Autograph Collection
  • JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn® Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Marriott Vacation Club and Marriott Grand Residence Club – all properties
  • Participating Vistana properties
  • Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora, Rome, Italy
  • Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Hawaii
  • Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott – Maui, Hawaii

Elite Benefits Guarantee is Alive

This is a bit of a hidden gem in the Marriott Rewards program and one of the few places where Platinum SPG elites can come out way ahead in the combined program.  The earlier version of the terms & conditions showed that the elite benefits guarantees were far lower than before.  The new terms show rates similar to before:

Available to all elites (Silver and up):

  • Ultimate Reservation Guarantee: If you get walked from your hotel, they will pay for alternate lodging and you are eligible to get:
    • $200 + 90K points at EDITION, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels, Sheraton, Delta Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, Gaylord Hotels
    • $100 (Platinum Elites also get 90,000 points) at Courtyard, Four Points, SpringHill Suites, Protea Hotels, Fairfield, AC Hotels, Aloft, Moxy, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Element
    • $200 + 140K points for Platinum elites only at Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis

Platinum elite guarantees:

  • Platinum Elite Welcome Gift.  If you are not offered a welcome gift, you are eligible for $0, $25, $50, or $100, depending upon the hotel brand.
  • Breakfast or Lounge Access: If no breakfast or breakfast alternative is offered, you are eligible for $100 at JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels, Delta Hotels, Autograph Collection, and Renaissance Hotels
  • Guaranteed Room Type: If the hotel is unable to fulfill this Guaranteed Room Type benefit, you are eligible for $25, $50, or $100 depending upon the brand.

You can read more about elite benefit guarantees (under the old program, but very similar to today) here: Marriott pays up when they fail to deliver elite benefits.

Suite Upgrades for Platinum elites

The terms & conditions were previously pretty wishy-washy about whether or not you should get upgraded to a suite.  One Mile at a Time says that the old terms were as follows:

Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members.  Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member’s personal guest room at no additional charge.  Enhanced rooms may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites.

The previous terms left a lot of wiggle room for the hotels.  The new terms are more forceful:

Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members.  Platinum Elite Members receive a complimentary upgrade to the best available room subject to availability for the entire length of stay at the time of check-in.   Complimentary upgrade includes suites, rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors.

Of course, Ritz-Carlton is special:

At The Ritz-Carlton, suites are only included for Platinum Premier Members and rooms with direct Club access are excluded.

In other words, if you have Platinum status (or Platinum Premier at Ritz properties), the hotel is supposed to upgrade you to the best available room (including suites) that is available for the entire length of your stay.  Surprisingly the terms do not state that this is limited to “standard suites” the way the SPG terms used to.  But, since Suite Night Awards are specifically limited to “standard suites” I’m sure that’s how Marriott intends this benefit.  And they do provide wiggle room with the following:

Enhanced Room Upgrades are subject to availability and are identified by each Participating Property.

And, of course, there are brands that get out of this entirely:

The Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members is available at all Participating Brands except at Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, Aloft, Element and participating Vistana properties.

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.

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Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

well that’s all nice – thanks for the write-up. With that being said, any progress on being able to use certs for SPG properties. For me, that’s the biggest hiccup I have encountered.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I was able to apply one about an hour ago.

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

Excellent. I’ll try now.

Edit: I was informed they still can’t do it. Any tips other than the main Marriott number Alex?

Alex
Guest
Alex

Just to clarify, I had to call in to SPG to do it. Still can’t do it online

Wendy
Guest
Wendy

Do reward stay qualifies for upgrade for platinum or only paid nights are eligible for room upgrades? Thx

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

Absolutely they do!

Blue
Guest
Blue

Definitely worth a quick check on the day of arrival for best available room, I’d say.

I wonder if SNAs are worth it, really.

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

I think they definitely are worth it to get a confirmed suite sometimes. Depends on the trip.

This is always funny to me: https://youtu.be/WCqm4H3m3Ew and is related to expecting upgrades.

Ivan Y
Guest
Ivan Y

With regards to transferring points between household accounts, I really wish they would have adopted Starwood rules (no limits, no fees).

Still, would be interested to know people’s experience — meaning, is the system that does the transfers actually up & running or not.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Can you say “Small Luxury Hotels” without a big fat snicker at Marriott and their Ritz properties that have never intended to give you ANYTHING and their frumpy mainline properties…………….God can just everyone get over that Marriott is a POS and move on to a true luxury brand…….try HYATT………or Just use the CITI PRESTIGE and do 4 nights for 3………who in their right mind wants to do business with these morons from Utah?

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

I would like to figure our how to find value in the Marriott umbrella…i think i can….i think i can…

Probably
Guest
Probably

Do both points sender and receiver have to be gold elites and up to have free transfer or can it only be the sender? I like when SPG allowed you to transfer for free as long as you have the minimum allowed. I have four family members each with points and only one is elite. Transferring the points for a fee that high renders the points pretty much useless.

Nick Reyes
Editor

Only one party has to be Gold or higher to have a free transfer.

That said, I think a $10 fee to transfer up to 100K points only renders the points useless if you’re transferring very small amounts of points. It’s ten dollars total if neither person is an elite member.

Probably
Guest
Probably

Misread it. I thought it was $10 per 1000 points. I’m non elite and I have 150k+ points. But yeah all other non elite in the family only have a few thousand.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Nick, any idea how strict they are on the account being open 60 days. I am platinum with old account but my girlfriend just opened an account and got the SPG business 100k bonus and we’d like to combine points for an upcoming stay

Wendy
Guest
Wendy

I’m also having trouble with my elite status. I took the Platinum challenge and received Platinum under the old program in July. At the time, my understanding was that if you take the plat challenge with Marriott, you will get Platinum Premier after the merger. As of right now, it’s not the case. My account is only showing Platinum. I called several times and no one seems to be able to help me out on this. The only answer I get is to wait, they are still working out the post merger issues. Anyone here is in the same situation here?

Michael ZULIM
Guest
Michael ZULIM

I am in the same boat and cant get a straight answer. Several phone reps said I should be but they cant change it while one rep who can change it said I needed 75 nights. I said yeah but only to renew that status. It is ai frustrating. Another said wait.

Wing
Guest
Wing

Yes, I experienced the same issue. I stayed with SPG for exactly 80 nights 2017 and received a Marriott reward member card physically indicated as a platinum premier by the elite matching before 8/17/18..however we paid over 7940 for the

Wing
Guest
Wing

38 nights stay 7/18 at Marriott and unable to receive 75% bonus because the system only shows as platinum Elites, sadly stayed another 12 additional nights 8/18 both SPG and Marriott, now need the status to access your 24.. need book more nights for my 6 years old to visit sesame place

trackback

[…] night, Greg wrote about the updated program terms for Marriott Rewards (See: Marriott publishes the new rules re: point transfers, suite upgrades, etc.. (finally!)), and there were some positives for Platinum elites: from reservation guarantees to suite upgrades […]

phil
Guest
phil

@Greg,
As to:
“It used to be possible to get around the 50K transfer limit by booking an award with another person. Marriott Rewards would achieve that by moving the points from one person’s account to the other so as to book the award from one account. As far as I can tell, both the Terms & Conditions and the website are silent about this, so I don’t know if it will still work or not.”

My experience: Made 2 rez. using wife’s Platinum acct. but it only had ~700 pts in it. The rez. was for ~140K. This was done on the phone on 8/22/18. The CSR said he would xfer the 140K pts from my acct. Great. Well, it hasn’t happened yet. Worthless to call in.

Maybe I’ll try the new option to just xfer 100K from my acct. to hers. But not excited about paying $$ to do. Sux.

lsoingtrader
Guest
lsoingtrader

This is so complicated I just want to go to my hotel room and cry

tony M
Guest
tony M

In response to an email I sent to Marriott concerning point transfers, I received the following response.

“We are unable to allow combination of individual accounts, whether for spouses’ accounts, or for other members of your household. We do, however allow unlimited point transfers between accounts of members in the same household, for redemption purposes only, if the following requirements are met:

*Both accounts must have been enrolled and active for at least 30 days.
*Both members must have the same address on their Rewards Account for no less than the 30 days

*Members may not transfer points to/from an account that has a P.O. Box, APO or SPO as the address.
*The recipient is not an employee of Marriott Hotels & Resorts

We look forward to hosting you again soon.

Jamie B.
Marriott Customer Care”

Allows point transfers for redemption purposes only. Is this a new restriction?

Alan
Guest
Alan

Oh man, I missed out on $50 when my courtyard didn’t immediately offer my platinum gift this last weekend. Forgot about this benefit.

What’s the best way to tactfully bring up the compensation? I know Greg mentions coming back to the front desk after check-in. I can’t think of a way to word it without sounding like a dick.

Big J
Guest
Big J

Will they still extend the expiration date on 7 night certificates as before the merger? My wife has one that expires in November.

Trebol
Guest
Trebol

Is anyone having a hard time applying SNAs to existing reservations? I have one at a Luxury Collection and another at a W and both say that SNAs are not applicable.

Nick Reyes
Editor

I think anything that involves a legacy SPG property has been a challenge thus far.

trackback

[…] new rule clarifications from Marriott Rewards. And good luck to […]

Wendy
Guest
Wendy

Working with Marriott is just a complete nightmare… nothing is working, getting really frustrated.

– I’m seeing a reservation in my system that has a travel package reward certificate attached. Now it’s showing up as 3 people on the reservation with extra person charge. When I called, they say they only see it as a 2 people reservation and no extra person charge. Don’t know which to believe. I guess I will call the hotel directly to confirm the reservation and make sure I don’t have any surprises waiting for me.

– looking for DP, has anyone received Platinum premier status through the Platinum challenge under the old program. I requested Platinum challenge back in May and received the Platinum elite under the old program. After it gets converted, it still shows as Platinum, Platinum premier. Called several times and spoke to so many different incompetent reps and getting no where… anyone else in the same situation?

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

There are still some properties that “don’t participate” as well – Like RC Singapore “Kindly note that The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore does not participate in the Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programmes.” – Lame.

L2thedub
Guest
L2thedub

Was there any update on whether Marriott would refund points for those who purchased travel packages? For instance, I booked a category 6 before the merger then asked them to refund the 30k point difference after the blogs mentioned Marriott would refund the difference. However, the CSR denied my request for the 30k point refund.

Nick Reyes
Editor

I’d give it another month unless you have an imminent need to use the certificate. If you need to get the refund right now, just hang up and call back and see if you get someone who can do it. The IT is such a mess right now though that you’ll probably save yourself time and headache by waiting a bit.

David A
Guest
David A

Yep this Marriott / SPG merger has been a disaster for me so far…none of my SPG points (100K +/-) have been transferred over to my Marriott account as of Sept 12th. I have combined accounts as required. The weird part is that I can see all of my SPG point transactions on my Marriott account since 2015. I send my weekly eMail to Marriott and now get the response that “it may take several weeks to fix, upper management is aware, be assured it will be fixed”. Anybody else having this issue?

Randy Bachmeier
Guest
Randy Bachmeier

When the merged program was announced, I was informed I was Platinum Premier Ambassador. Then it was taken away. That was a kick in the head.

David
Guest
David

The SPG Marriott merger is a bummer for SPG members as far as points are concerned. Previously, SPG points were worth 3 times as much as Marriott points since SPG properties were 1/3rd the points compared to Marriott properties. The new system requires anywhere from 2 to 4+ times as many points as the old SPG system. The NEW 2 points a dollar spent makes the merger a plus for Marriott members but a significant loss for faithful SPG members.

Wing
Guest
Wing

Agreed, I have became a gold SPG at 2013, and Platinum SPG member since 2014, till 2017, I stayed exactly 80 nights with SPG and I became a lifetime gold with SPG at 2017. I could probably achieve a lifetime platinum with SPG if they did not change its role, now it is impossible for me. And to be worst.. the Sherton hotel that I stayed 6 times at Canada, I paid about

Wing
Guest
Wing

7 nights and redeemed 10,000 starpoints for one complimentary night twice at that property now require 50,000 Marriott point to redeem while I was in the middle of my trip 8/16/18, plan to stay there 8/24, cost 500 Canadian per night

Wing
Guest
Wing

I was actually staying at the Sheraton at that time.. I paid 55 cash and 3500 starpoints twice for 2 nights, did not want to leave that hotel yet…the extend night require 105 in cash and 12,000 Marriott points which also upset me with the Westin that I now have to pay 180us in cash plus I forgot how many points to be exact..21,000 points? Used to be only 6,000 starpoints plus 110usin cash.. plus earning a lot earn points from SPG American Express too.

Craig S
Guest
Craig S

Does this mean if I book a room at the Friends & Family rate that, in addition to receiving no points or credits for the stay, that I also get none of the benefits/perks of my Platinum Premier status? eg: lounge access, room upgrades, etc.