Last minute checklist for the Marriott SPG transition

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prepaid card manufactured spend

It’s coming soon… In August, Marriott, SPG, and Ritz will combine their separate rewards programs into a single unified program. We don’t yet know when exactly in August this will happen, but if there are things you want to get done before the programs merge, now is the time. Take a look at the following checklist items to decide which you should do before it’s too late:

Table of Contents

Buy SPG Starpoints for 35% off (ends today)

Today is the last day to buy Marriott Rewards points cheaply via SPG. Starwood is offering 35% off the purchase of Starpoints, but the sale ends today.

  • Direct link to this promotion (this is our affiliate link, though keep in mind that you can shop through a portal to go to Points.com to save a bit more)

Via this sale, you can buy Starpoints for 2.275 cents each. And, since Starpoints convert to Marriott Rewards 1 to 3, this is equivalent to buying Marriott Rewards points for only 0.75 cents each. That’s 40% off the usual purchase price for Marriott Rewards of 1.25 cents per point.

But… Is it really worth buying these points? In the post “Should you invest in Starpoints now?” I argued that the answer depends on how you’ll use the points. For some purposes, it makes sense. For others, not so much. The best deal, in my opinion, is to buy enough points to be able to purchase a Marriott Travel Package. See: “Greg’s Travel Package Advice” for complete coverage of this option.

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 when the new program is introduced sometime in August. 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.  To-date, we still don’t know what will happen to unused stay certificates after the merger.  Marriott has been secretive about what will happen.  My guess is that the certificates will become more valuable either because they’ll be converted to enough points to book the same stay, or because Marriott will be generous in how they map the old certificates to the new award chart.

Complete coverage can be found here: Greg’s Travel Package Advice.

See also: Potential huge win with Marriott Travel Packages before August.

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 as I write this, that page isn’t working. Instead, 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

Book awards which will be going down in price (Hold award availability. Call in August to re-price)

When the programs merge, many top tier SPG properties will suddenly plunge in price.  If you have your heart set on booking one of these properties, one strategy is to book now to hold the award space, then call to get a points refund when the programs merge.

St Regis Bora Bora Resort

SPG hotels dropping 25K points or more per night:

Austria
Schloss Fuschl, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Fuschlsee-Salzburg
Brazil
Kenoa Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort, Barra de Sao Miguel, a Member of Design Hotels
Costa Rica
The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal
Cyprus
Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Limassol
France
Hôtel de Berri, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris
Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris
French Polynesia
Le Meridien Bora Bora
The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort
Greece
Mystique, A Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini
Santa Marina, a Luxury Collection Resort, Mykonos
Indonesia
The St. Regis Bali Resort
W Bali – Seminyak
Italy
Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Cortina d’Ampezzo
G-Rough, Rome, a Member of Design Hotels
Hotel Cala di Volpe, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda
Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice
Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda
Hotel Romazzino, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda
PalazzinaG, Venice, a Member of Design Hotels
The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice
The St. Regis Florence
Japan
Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto
The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel
The St. Regis Osaka
Kazakhstan
The St. Regis Astana
Maldives
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
W Maldives
Mexico
The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort
Puerto Rico
The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
Spain
Sir Joan Hotel, Ibiza City, a Member of Design Hotels
The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort
Switzerland
Giardino Ascona, A Member Of Design Hotels
Giardino Mountain, a Member of Design Hotels
Hotel President Wilson, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Geneva
W Verbier
Thailand
Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui
W Koh Samui
United Arab Emirates
Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai
United Kingdom
The Wellesley Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel, London
USA
11 Howard, New York, a Member of Design Hotels
Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Napa Valley
Phoenician Residences, a Luxury Collection Residence Club, Scottsdale
The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale
The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New York City
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
The St. Regis Deer Valley
The St. Regis New York
The St. Regis Princeville Resort
The St. Regis San Francisco
W South Beach

Sign up for the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card

The Ritz card is unavailable for new signups as of July 26 2018

The Ritz Carlton credit card offers a sign-up bonus of two Tier 1-4 free nights. Plus, it automatically grants Ritz/Marriott Gold elite status for the first year. If you sign up now, both of these will be more valuable than if you sign up once the new program kicks in.

Full details here: Consider getting the Ritz-Carlton card right now.

Complete $75K spend on Ritz card

If you already have the Ritz card and if you’ve been working towards Platinum status through $75K spend, it would be great to complete the spend before August. This way you’ll get Platinum Premier 75 night status in the new program. If you complete the spend after July 31, you’ll only be granted Platinum 50 night status which you would have gotten anyway.

Spend with SPG cards to earn 3X rewards points

Currently, SPG cards earn 1 Starpoint per dollar, which is equivalent to 3 rewards points per dollar. Beginning August 1, the same cards will earn only 2 rewards points per dollar. Note that it does not matter when your statement close date is. Purchases that show a transaction date of July 31 or earlier will earn at the current rate, and August 1 and later purchases will earn at the new lesser rate.

If you put a lot of spend on a consumer SPG card rather than a business SPG card, there may be an opportunity to upgrade the card to the new SPG Luxury card. This way, the 3X spend you do now will count towards the $75K spend required for Platinum status.

Earn 50 SPG nights by July 27th

If you are close to earning 50 elite nights with Starwood, there’s a benefit to completing the 50th night by July 27th (that’s the odd date told to us by Marriott). This way, you’ll earn 10 Suite Night Awards at 50 nights (or other benefits such as a free night award). If you wait until after that date, you’ll earn only 5 Suite Night Awards with 50 elite nights. Either way, you will get a chance to get 5 more Suite Night Awards if you reach 75 elite nights combined between Marriott and SPG by the end of the year.

Details here: Earn up to 15 Suite Night Awards with Marriott SPG this year only.

Book multiple SPG rooms per stay

Currently, SPG offers elite credit for up to 3 rooms at once. For example, if you book 3 rooms for 2 nights, you’ll earn 6 elite nights from that stay. Once the programs merge, you’ll earn elite credits for only one room.

Join RewardsPlus if you have United Gold status or better

If you have United Premier Gold Elite status, or higher, it’s a good idea to join the RewardsPlus program before the programs merge. This way you’ll be temporarily matched to a higher level of elite status with Marriott.

Details here: United Premier Elites — Sign up for RewardsPlus before August.

Book multiple Marriott meetings

It’s possible to earn 10 elite nights credit for each meeting booked with Marriott. People have found that it is often possible to negotiate a very low rate to book a meeting at a local hotel. This can be much cheaper than booking stays just to earn elite nights.

The ability to earn 10 elite nights from meetings will continue in the new program, but some have speculated that we will only be able to do this once per year going forward. I doubt that’s true, but if it’s all the same to you, do it now.

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.  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.  My bet is that the new program will 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).
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