Crunch time! Final pre-Marriott/SPG merger checklist

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It’s crunch time… This coming Saturday, August 18th, Marriott, SPG, and Ritz will combine their separate rewards programs into a single unified program. Now is the time to take advantage of opportunities that will soon be gone. Take a look at the following checklist items to decide which you should do before it’s too late:

Table of Contents

Merger Overview

  • There will be just one program: SPG = Marriott Rewards = Ritz Carlton Rewards
  • SPG Starpoints will convert to 3X rewards points
  • Most members will earn more points for paid hotel stays
  • SPG cardholders already (as of 8/1) earn fewer points for credit card spend
  • Free night certificates will convert from category based to point based.  Examples:
    • Existing Category 1-5 certificate will likely become a certificate worth up to 25,000 points
    • Existing Ritz Tier 1-4 certificate will likely become a certificate worth up to 60,000 points
  • Free night certificates will be usable across all brands: Marriott, SPG, and Ritz
  • Marriott and SPG credit cards priced at $95 or $99 per year will offer 35K free night certificates each year upon renewal
  • 5th Night Free Awards will be available to all categories of hotels (currently SPG categories 1 and 2 do not permit 5th night free awards)
  • All three programs will be handled by a single technology platform (Marriott’s)

Much more can be found here: Marriott SPG Ritz Transition Guide

Marriott & SPGs new combined award chart is shown above. Until early 2019, award prices will range from 7,500 to 60,000 points per night. Afterwards, prices will range from 5,000 to 100,000 points.

Screen grab your point balances, lifetime status, and certificates (Chaos will Reign)

When the programs merge this coming weekend, I’m predicting mass chaos.  We might see points balances randomly go up or down (maybe even negative).  We might see certificates disappear and/or appear with wrong information.  We might see elite status trackers go haywire. We might even see blogs incorrectly announcing changes based on this mayhem.

If/when this happens, please:

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

Most likely this will all be cleared up by Monday afternoon, but just in case, it makes sense to log into your Marriott and SPG accounts and screen capture all of your account information.

Transfer all household points to one account

Today, Marriott lets you move points to anyone’s account, but there’s an annual cap of 50K points. Once per year, you can get around that cap by booking an award together with the person who wants to share points with you, but Marriott phone agents might not know how to do that. Meanwhile, via SPG, you can freely move points from one member of the household to another with no cap. I’m expecting the new program to adopt Marriott’s model and abandon SPG’s.

If I’m right about the future of point sharing, then now is the time to consolidate points across your household. This does require that household members have previously established SPG accounts and that everyone has had the same address on their account in the past 30 days.

You can combine household points as follows:

  1. Each household member should move all of their Marriott points to their SPG account
  2. Each household member should initiate a transfer of SPG points from their account to one person’s account (ideally to whoever will most likely have elite status in the new program). This step can be initiated online at SPG.com, but may take up to 7 days to complete (it’s usually faster than that).

Buy Marriott travel packages (Last chance at current prices)

Marriott travel packages currently offer a way to convert Marriott points to airline miles at an attractive conversion rate. This will change on Saturday when the new prices make travel packages unattractive except in very specific situations. If you have lots of Marriott and/or SPG points and you can make good use of airline miles, you should jump on this now.

When you purchase a travel package, you get airline miles plus a 7 night stay certificate that can be used at a later date.

If you want to book a Marriott property and award space is available for 7 nights in a row during the dates you want, then I recommend buying a travel package that matches that property’s current category and attach the certificate to the award stay when you call Marriott to buy the package.  Otherwise, buy the package and wait until after September 18th to attach the stay certificate to a particular stay.

We do not yet know how the current categories will map to the new categories, but my best guess is here:

Above is my best guess of how old travel package categories will map to new. Keep in mind that it’s just a guess. We won’t know for certain before August 18th.  See: Mapping old to new Marriott Travel Packages

Keep in mind, though, that there is yet another theory: Marriott may convert all travel package certificates that are not attached to a reservation into new category 1-4 certificates and refund the difference in price between what you paid and the old category 1-5 pricing.  Details here.

Book awards which will be going up in price (Lock in current award prices)

Many of the best hotels in the Marriott portfolio will be going way up in price with the new program. Fortunately award prices will be capped at 60K per night for the first 6 months or so, but that’s still a significant increase over Marriott’s current award chart that caps at 45K per night. Marriott’s website showing the new award pricing makes it easy to identify the hotels going up in price (found here), but for those who prefer to stay on this page, here are lists of hotels that will be increasing more than 10K per night

Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection

Marriott hotels increasing more than 10K per night:

Bahamas
The Cove Atlantis, Autograph Collection
France
Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel
Greece
Domes Noruz Chania, Autograph Collection
Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection
Ireland
The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel
Italy
Boscolo Exedra Roma, Autograph Collection
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Marriott’s St. Kitts Beach Club
Spain
Cotton House Hotel, Autograph Collection
Marriott’s Club Son Antem
Marriott’s Marbella Beach Resort
United Kingdom
Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel
London Marriott Hotel County Hall
London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
USA
Fairfield Inn & Suites Virgin Zion National Park
JW Marriott Essex House New York
JW Marriott Nashville
JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot
Marriott Vacation Club Pulse at Custom House, Boston
Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, San Diego
Marriott’s Crystal Shores
Marriott’s Cypress Harbour Villas
Marriott’s Fairway Villas
Marriott’s Imperial Palms Villas
Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons – Kalanipu’u
Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas
Marriott’s Royal Palms
Marriott’s Sabal Palms
Marriott’s Waikoloa Ocean Club
Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club
MVW Streamside Douglas at Vail
MVW Streamside Evergreen at Vail
SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park
Union Station Hotel Nashville, Autograph Collection
Vail Marriott Mountain Resort
Virgin Islands (British)
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection
Virgin Islands (US)
Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove

SPG hotels increasing more than 10K per night (after converting current prices 1 to 3):

Argentina
Park Tower, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buenos Aires
Austria
Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna
Canada
Le Westin Resort & Spa, Tremblant, Quebec
Sheraton on the Falls Hotel
The Westin Grand, Vancouver
The Westin Trillium House, Blue Mountain
Cayman Islands
The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
China
Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers
Twelve at Hengshan, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Shanghai
Czech Republic
Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Prague
France
Le Metropolitan, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Paris
Italy
Falisia, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Portopiccolo
Japan
Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo
Mexico
The Westin Resort & Spa, Cancun
Russia
The St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya
Seychelles
Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove
Spain
Le Meridien Ra Beach Hotel & Spa
United Arab Emirates
Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina
Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa
United Kingdom
Great Northern Hotel, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh
Sheraton Skyline Hotel London Heathrow
USA
Four Points by Sheraton Orlando International Drive
Le Meridien Cambridge-MIT
Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica
Royal Palm South Beach Miami, a Tribute Portfolio Resort
Sheraton Boston Hotel
Sheraton Broadway Plantation Resort Villas
Sheraton Commander Hotel
Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel
Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort
Sheraton Lakeside Terrace Villas at Mountain Vista, Avon, Vail Valley
Sheraton Louisville Riverside Hotel
Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel
Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas, Lake Buena Vista/Orlando
Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort Villas, I-Drive/Orlando
The Ballantyne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte
The Equinox, a Luxury Collection Golf Resort & Spa, Vermont
The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, a Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa
The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland
THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego
The Westin Boston Waterfront
The Westin Copley Place, Boston
The Westin Desert Willow Villas, Palm Desert
The Westin Kierland Villas
The Westin Mission Hills Resort Villas, Palm Springs
The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth
The Westin Nashville
The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas, Beaver Creek Mountain
The Westin San Diego
The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
The Westin Seattle
The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square
Vistana Beach Club
W Fort Lauderdale
W Seattle
Walt Disney World Dolphin
Walt Disney World Swan

 

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