Bon Voyage, Marriott. Last-minute checklist before Bonvoy

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Bon Voyage, Marriott Rewards. Hello, Bonvoy.

Marriott Rewards as we know it will cease to exist on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. In its place, we’ll get Marriott Bonvoy, the new loyalty program covering the combined Marriott, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards programs. Here’s how you can prepare.

Screen shot everything

A great ongoing piece of advice for your life is to screen shot everything. By that, I mean to take pictures of key web pages. In this case, I’d recommend taking a screen shot of your Marriott account showing your points balance, elite status, elite nights earned, and any key account details (like available free night certificates, 7-night certificates, reservations, etc). While things may go smoothly in the transition to Marriott Bonvoy (and even the pessimist in me knows they probably will for most people), it’s probably worth the 48 seconds it will take to screen shot key stuff in advance.

Pro tip: Windows users can just press the Windows key + Prt Sc to take a screen shot. You can alternatively hit Ctrl + Alt + Prt Sc and then open something like Microsoft Paint and paste the screen shot before cropping / editing. For stuff like this, I prefer to save myself a few steps and use the Windows button method. Screen shots taken with that method go to a folder called “Screenshots”, which is in the “Pictures” folder on my computer. YMMV.

Apply for cards

If you have in mind to apply for the Chase Marriott Rewards Business card or the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, now is your last chance to apply new and earn a new welcome bonus on these cards (if you’re eligible). I don’t think there will be a product change path to pick up the Chase business card in the future, so this may be your last chance to get that card’s annual free night certificate. Keep in mind the rules governing welcome bonuses on these cards and how applying now will affect your future welcome bonus eligibility. See this post for more: Last Chance Cards: Marriott/SPG cards being pulled, Southwest offer ending. Here is the offer information on the two cards being pulled for new applicants (click the card names to go to our dedicated card pages, where you can find more information and application links):

Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business

Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Base
Gas
Phone
Biz
Brand

Earning rate: 6X Marriott ⚬ 4X dining, internet, cable and phone service ⚬ 4X gas stations and shipping ⚬ 2X everywhere else.

Big spend bonus: Gold status with $35K account year spend

Noteworthy perks: As of 8/26/18: 35K free night award each year upon renewal ⚬ Silver status ⚬ 15 elite night credits each calendar year ⚬ Free in-room premium internet

See also: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide

Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

Card Type: Amex Credit Card

Base
Brand

Earning rate: 6X Starwood and Marriott Properties ⚬ 2X on all other eligible purchases

Big spend bonus: Marriott Gold Elite with $30K annual spend (note this threshold will increase to $35K on January 1, 2019)

Noteworthy perks: 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary up to 35K points (subject to resort fees) ⚬ Receive free premium internet at Marriott properties.

See also: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide

Combine your accounts

If you want your accounts combined, you should do so before Wednesday. Once Bonvoy launches, you’ll no longer be able to combine accounts with self-service, but will rather need to fill out an online form and cross your fingers that it gets done in a reasonable timeframe and without breaking anything. I personally didn’t merge my accounts until recently under the fear that my SPG Gold status would somehow infect my Marriott account and wipe out the Platinum status I got from the Ritz-Carlton credit card. I finally needed the points that were still in my SPG account and so I recently combined. So far so good.

If you haven’t yet combined accounts, you should be prompted to do so upon login at Marriott / SPG / Ritz:

If you do not see that pop up or exit it by mistake, you should also be able to go to the “profile” section of your account and link/combine there.

Or here are direct links that should work depending on which account you’d like to keep as your primary:

Maybe interestingly, Your Mileage May Vary reports that you can alternatively maintain separate accounts after the merger, though you’ll need different email addresses associated with them in order to receive email (which I imagine will be necessary for future password resets / account verification, etc). Is there a play there in terms of the ability to open credit cards attached to different Marriott account numbers? I would expect that the cross-bank rules regarding eligibility for welcome bonuses on the various Marriott credit cards are tied to your SSN rather than Marriott account number. I’m not sure there is an immediate benefit to maintaining multiple Marriott accounts, but I find it interesting that Marriott has (maybe) confirmed that it is possible to do so.

That said, the Marriott Loyalty Program FAQ page has seemingly contradictory information about the ability to hold multiple accounts. Here are two question/answer combos from that page:

What happens if I never combine my Rewards and SPG account?
If you do not combine your accounts before our new loyalty program name is launched, you will continue to have two separate accounts. To receive email for both accounts, you must have different email addresses on each account’s profile.

I have multiple accounts for the same loyalty brand (e.g. two SPG Program accounts, or two Marriott Rewards Program accounts). Can I combine them?
Yes. In fact, each Member is only permitted to have one account for the same loyalty brand and we routinely combine multiple accounts. If you have two or more accounts, contact Member Support to have them combined.

It is not possible to create a joint account for multiple individuals, nor is it possible to combine two accounts if they are registered in different names. However, it is possible to transfer Points (up to 50,000 Points per account per year) between two accounts which belong to separate individuals. Contact Member Support for more information.

So there you have it: If you don’t combine your accounts, you will continue to have two separate accounts. However, you are only permitted to have one account and they routinely combine multiple accounts. Long story short: I’m not sure what will happen if you don’t combine. Personally, I combined mine. Maybe my wife will keep hers separate for science.

Consider making reservations now for upcoming travel…

This isn’t imperative, but if the silky smooth utterly chaotic August IT merger is any indication, I wouldn’t be shocked if some stuff goes offline / gets messed up for a day or two this week. Marriott hasn’t given us any indication to expect any problems, but the prepper in me says to make any important upcoming reservations before things potentially get broken.

To take a quote from Greg’s post in advance of the August IT merger:

If/when this happens, please:

  • Don’t panic
  • Don’t call Marriott or Starwood
  • Don’t assume anything you see online is correct

…But don’t expect to nab a deal

Marriott recently announced the annual list of properties changing in category. As Stephen noted yesterday, making a reservation at one of those properties now only locks in the current pricing if you have the points in your account to cover the points cost today. If you use the Marriott points advance feature, that will not lock in the current points price. See Stephen’s post from yesterday for more on that.

Bottom line

I expect that the majority of the IT meltdown is behind us, though with ongoing issues persisting for some (especially regarding elite status), I recommend getting ahead of this one as best you can. Taking screen shots, combining your accounts, and making reservations likely won’t absolve you from whatever potential glitches might occur, but they at least prep you to deal with the aftermath if further issues pop up. Finally, don’t panic if there is some initial chaos. I’d give it at least a few days / weeks into Marriott Bonvoy before you call to get anything fixed.

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