Marriott SPG Ritz Transition Guide

Marriott is planning to merge the Marriott, SPG, and Ritz loyalty programs into one program on August 18th 2018.  This guide is intended to answer all of your questions about how best to prepare for the transition.

Table of Contents

Also see:

Transition overview

Starting August 18th 2018, SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) and Marriott Rewards will operate as a single rewards program, but with different names just as Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards do today.

Prior to August 18th, the programs will continue to operate separately, but with the ability to link accounts in order to match status across programs and to move points back and forth at a 1 to 3 ratio (1 SPG Starpoint = 3 Marriott Rewards points).

Starting in August, the programs will work as one:

  • SPG Starpoints will be automatically converted 1 to 3 to the new point system
  • Points in both programs will be added together
  • Points and free night certificates that currently work only within brands will be redeemable for free nights across both SPG, Marriott, and Ritz properties
  • A member’s highest current elite status will be mapped to the new program
  • Elite nights in both programs will be added together
  • We will see changes to existing Marriott & SPG credit cards and the introduction of new cards

Unified Award Chart

A full list of the new standard award prices, by hotel, can be found here: points-redemption.marriott.com/category-change.

In August, Marriott, SPG, & Ritz properties will be bookable through a single unified award chart:

And this Pointsavers chart:

And this Points + Cash chart:

See this post for our thoughts about the Cash + Points rates: New Marriott Cash + Points Awards. Good deal? (Short Answer: No)

Here are the Marriott, Ritz, and SPG award charts effective prior to the merger:

Marriott:

Ritz:

SPG:

Elite status transition

The chart above shows how your current elite status will map to the new status beginning in August 2018.

Additional info:

  • In August, elite nights earned in both programs will add together, so you may have a higher level of status at that time.
  • This year through December 31 2018, you can qualify under the old rules or the new rules for 2019 status.  For example, you can still qualify for SPG Platinum with 25 SPG stays (Marriott stays won’t count for qualifying “the old way”).  If you do this by December 31 2018, you’ll get Platinum Elite status which will be valid throughout 2019 and through February 2020.
  • If you currently have status, but you do not qualify in 2018 for 2019 status, then your status will be valid only through February 2019.

Status from Linked Accounts:

  • If you earned status through SPG and linked accounts then Gold status stays as Gold status in the new program, and Platinum status stays Platinum.
  • If you earned status through Marriott or Ritz and linked accounts then Gold status becomes Platinum status in the new program, and Platinum status becomes Platinum Premier.

Based on this logic, the following applies (and has been confirmed):

  • If you have SPG Gold status via the Amex Platinum card or $30K spend on the SPG card, then you will have Gold status in August. This is true even if you have linked accounts to give yourself Marriott Gold status.
  • If you get Ritz/Marriott Gold status from the Ritz-Carlton credit card before August, then you’ll have Platinum status in August.  If you get Ritz/Marriott Platinum status from the Ritz-Carlton credit card before August, then you’ll have Platinum Premier status in August.
  • If you spend $75K on your Ritz-Carlton credit card before August, then you’ll have Platinum Premier status in August (even if you complete spend on the last day of July).
  • If you have Marriott Gold status through the United RewardsPlus program, you’ll have Platinum status in August.

Lifetime elite status transition

The chart above shows how your current lifetime elite status will map to the new status beginning in August 2018.

Additional info:

  • NEW 5/9/2018: There is a new option to qualify for Platinum Premier Lifetime status: “members can earn Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite in 2018 if they achieve 750 Lifetime nights and 10 years at Platinum Elite status. This requirement is only for 2018 and will not be continued in future years. Members will receive notice of this Lifetime achievement in January 2019.”  I interpret this to mean that by the end of 2018 you would need 750 nights (added across programs) and 10 years Platinum (added across programs) to get Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite.
    • New info about this 6/22/2018: For 2018 only, Marriott members with 2 million lifetime eligible Marriott points and with 750 combined lifetime Marriott nights and lifetime Starwood nights qualify for Lifetime Platinum Premier.  This requires that points are earned entirely on the Marriott side, but elite nights are added together between Marriott and SPG through December 31 2018.
  • In August, elite nights and years of status earned in both programs will add together, so you may qualify for higher lifetime status at that time.
  • This year through December 31 2018, you can qualify for lifetime status under the old rules.  For example, If you are close to earning Marriott Lifetime Gold status, you can still qualify under the old rules if you meet the requirements by December 31.
  • Those needing Marriott points to achieve lifetime status can do the following (this will work this year only):
    • Convert Marriott Rewards points to SPG points
    • Transfer SPG points to a household member’s SPG account
    • The household member then converts those points to their Marriott Rewards account
    • The household member then calls Marriott Rewards to transfer their points to you for the purpose of booking a very large award (this is a way to circumvent the 50K point transfer limit, but it only works once per year).
    • Points transferred from the household member’s account to your account will be added to your lifetime total points and subtracted from their lifetime total points.

Point earnings now vs. August

The chart above shows how point earnings for stays will change as of August 2018.  In most cases elite members will earn more points in the new program than the old.

Point Transfers To Airline Miles

  • Point transfers to airlines (a popular feature of today’s SPG program) will continue as-is. Today, the transfer ratio is 20K SPG Starpoints to 25K airline miles.  In August, since SPG starpoints will be converted 1 to 3 to new points, the transfer ratio will be technically the same: 60K points to 25K airline miles.
  • Minimum Transfer Amount: 3,000 points –> 1,000 airline miles.
  • Incremental transfers above 3,000 points will be available 1 mile at a time.  E.g. it should be possible to transfer 3,003 points to 1,001 airline miles.
  • The new program will gain additional transfer partners not available today through SPG (Qantas, JetBlue, Turkish and more).
  • What about Amtrak?
    • We have previously been told that point transfers to Amtrak will continue, but the SPG website says that transfers will end July 31, and Amtrak has sent out emails stating the same.

Free Night Certificates

Free Night Certificates earned before August will continue to be valid in the new program as follows:

  • The certificate will be mapped to a point value.  For example, current Marriott category 1-5 certificates will be usable at any properties costing 25,000 points or less per night in the new program.
  • When the programs merge in August, free night certificates can be used across both Marriott and SPG brands.
  • Once peak and off-peak pricing kicks in (in early 2019), that pricing will influence the ability to use your certificates.  For example, a 25K certificate will no longer be usable at new Category 4 properties during Peak dates since peak pricing will be 30K.

Travel Packages

Marriott’s new travel packages will be way more expensive than before the merger.  This image shows the new pricing:

United & Delta Partnerships

  • The United partnership will continue as-is, including:
    • Free United Silver status for those with Marriott Platinum Premier Elite status.
    • Free Marriott Gold Elite status for those with United Gold Premier Elite status or higher.
      • If you join RewardsPlus before August, this Marriott Gold status will become Platinum Elite status which will last through Feb 2019.  If you join RewardsPlus later, you’ll simply get Gold status.
  • It is possible that Marriott Platinum Premier 100 will result in United Gold status (not yet verified).
  • The current partnership with Delta is scheduled to end July 15, but Marriott & Delta may negotiate a new partnership going forward.

Free Breakfast / Lounge Access

The following chart shows our current understanding of who gets free breakfast and at which properties:

Free Breakfast? Participating Hotels
No free breakfast Design Hotels, EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club
Free breakfast for all* Element, Fairfield, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites
Platinum Elite Welcome Gift Option: Daily $10 Food & Beverage Credit for Member plus 1 Guest (e.g. $20 per day) AC, Courtyard without a lounge, Moxy

Platinum Elite Benefit:

Hotels: Free daily breakfast for 2 in lounge. Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant when lounge is closed or doesn’t exist.

Starwood Resorts: Free daily breakfast for 2 in lounge. Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant when lounge is closed or doesn’t exist.

Marriott Resorts: Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant. No lounge access.

Aloft, Autograph Collection, Courtyard with lounge, Delta, Four Points, JW Marriott, Le Méridien, Marriott, Protea, Renaissance, Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, W, Westin

* Via a personal conversation with Sam Chui, I learned that a few of these properties don’t offer free breakfast despite the fact that their brand advertises free breakfast for all.  What?!

Suite Night Awards

  • Upon earning 50 elite nights within a year, and again at 75 nights, members will be given an Annual Choice Benefit. One Choice Benefit option is 5 Suite Night Awards.
  • Those who achieve status through means other than earning 50, 75 nights will not be offered the Choice Benefit. Examples of elites who won’t get this benefit are those who have status through lifetime status, status challenge, credit card spend, etc.
  • A Suite Night Award is a one-night confirmable upgrade to a standard suite or select premium room, depending on the hotel’s availability of those rooms.
  • The number of Suite Night Awards used must match the entire length of stay; it cannot be used for part of a stay (e.g., the first two nights of a five-night stay).
  • Once Suite Night Awards are requested to be applied to a stay, Marriott will begin checking upgrade availability 5 days in advance of your stay, up until 2pm on the day of your arrival.
  • If your Suite Night Award request doesn’t clear, you’ll get the awards back to be used later.

Credit card changes

Below you’ll find info about each current Marriott / SPG / Ritz credit card, along with expected changes:

  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier:
    • Unavailable for new signups as of May 4th 2018.
    • Beginning 2019: 15 night elite credit will no longer be stackable with elite credits from other credit cards
    • We don’t know if the ability to earn an elite night with each $3K spend will continue.
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business:
    • This card will continue to be offered by Chase.
    • Beginning 2019: 15 night elite credit will no longer be stackable with elite credits from other credit cards
    • Beginning August 26, 2018, this card will earn: 6X Marriott/Ritz/SPG; 4X restaurants, gas stations, and on shipping, Internet, cable, and phone services purchases; 2X everywhere else
    • Anniversary free night will be valid for a stay up to 35K points beginning with your next anniversary after August 26, 2018.
    • This card will no longer come with the ability to earn an elite night with each $3K spend effective August 26, 2018.
  • Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa Infinite:
    • Unavailable for new signups as of July 26 2018.
    • This card will carry a $450 annual fee and will come with: a free night award worth up to 50K points; Up to $300 statement credit for airline incidental spend; Airport Lounge access via Priority Pass Select; $100 Global Entry credit every 4 years. Starting 2019: 15 nights elite credit (not stackable with other cards).
    • Other current benefits will carry over ($100 Visa Infinite Discount Air benefit, 3 annual club level upgrades on paid stays up to 7 nights, $100 property credit when booking a qualified rate)
    • The Ritz card will earn: 6X Marriott / SPG; 3X restaurants, airfare purchased directly from airline, and car rental agencies; and 2X everywhere else.  The Ritz card will also lose it’s annual 10% bonus on points earned, but that’s a small loss considering that it goes from earning just 1X on most purchases (or 1.1X with the 10% bonus) to 2X.
    • Starting in August, the card will come with automatic Gold status and $75K spend will only get you Platinum Elite status (which is equivalent to today’s Gold status) vs. spending $75K before August which will get you Platinum status which will convert to Platinum Premier Elite Status.
  • Amex SPG:
    • Prior to August 1 this card earns 3X points on all spend (1X Starpoints) and 6X (2X Starpoints) at Marriott/Starwood hotels.
    • Beginning August 1, the card will earn only 2X points (and 6X at Marriott/SPG hotels).
    • Also beginning August 1, this card adds annual free night certificates good for nights costing up to 35K points.
    • In 2019, spend required for Gold status will increase from $30K per year to $35K per year.
    • Starting in 2019, cardholders will receive 15 nights toward elite status, but this will not be stackable with other credit card elite nights.
  • Amex SPG Business:
    • Prior to August 1 this card earns 3X points on all spend (1X Starpoints).
    • Beginning August 1, the card will earn only 2X points (and 6X at Marriott/SPG hotels; and 4X at US restaurants & gas stations & telephone services & shipping).
    • Beginning August 1, this card loses free Sheraton lounge access, but adds annual free night certificates good for nights costing up to 35K points.
    • In 2019, spend required for Gold status will increase from $30K per year to $35K per year.
    • Starting in 2019, cardholders will receive 15 nights toward elite status, but this will not be stackable with other credit card elite nights.

New Cards

The following new cards have been announced and/or released:

  • Amex SPG Luxury Card: $450 annual fee; 50K free night award; Up to $300 statement credit for Marriott / SPG spend; Free Gold status; Platinum status with $75K calendar year spend; Airport Lounge access via Priority Pass Select; $100 Global Entry credit every 4 years. Starting 2019: 15 nights elite credit (not stackable with other cards).
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card: $95 annual fee; Earn 2 points per dollar (6X at Marriott/SPG hotels); 35K free night award; Gold status with $35K spend. Starting 2019: 15 nights elite credit (not stackable with other cards).  More here.

New program pros & cons

Pros:

  • Free breakfast for elites will extend to Marriott resorts and Courtyard properties, and will remain in place with all SPG properties
  • Top tier SPG properties will be cheaper in the new program (much cheaper from August through early 2019).  If you can wait until August 1 to book that St Regis property you have your eye on, do so.
  • SPG’s favorable point transfer ratio to airline miles is preserved and new airlines are being added.
  • Most elites will earn more points for stays under the new program.

Cons:

  • Currently, SPG cards earn 1 SPG point per dollar which is equivalent to 3 Marriott points per dollar for all spend.  Starting August 1, they will earn only 2 points per dollar in the new program.  This has big implications for those who do SPG spend primarily to transfer points to airline programs.  If that’s you, the SPG card is being devalued.
  • Most Top tier Marriott properties will probably be a bit more expensive, and some will likely be much more expensive
  • Ritz Carlton is still not on board with free breakfast or lounge access for elites. This is kind of weird since top tier Starwood properties, some of which are much higher end than most Ritz properties, do offer free breakfast.

Cons (specific to current SPG elites):

  • It will no longer be possible to earn Platinum status through 25 stays as is possible with SPG today.
  • Can no longer earn elite nights with multiple rooms booked during same stay
  • Platinum upgrade to standard suite no longer guaranteed when available
  • 50 night elites will get 5 Suite Night Awards instead of 10
  • 75 night elites will no longer get Your24 benefit
  • 100 night elite status will now require $20K spend

Short Term Opportunities

Before May 3rd:

  • Sign up for the personal Marriott card as it might not be available after May 2. Too late.

Before August:

  • Earn 3X now, get Platinum Elite status in August: Spend $75K on consumer SPG card (in order to earn 3X points per dollar), then upgrade to the SPG luxury card in August. Spend will carry over and will give you Platinum Elite status.  Note that all spend that posts through July 31 will earn 1X Starpoints (3X points) even if your statement close date is in August.
  • Earn status by booking multiple rooms:  SPG currently offers elite night credits for up to 3 rooms at a time, but as of August we’ll only earn credit for 1 room at a time.
  • Get 15 Suite Night Awards: Earn 50 SPG elite nights by August in order to get Platinum status and 10 Suite Night Awards.  You can then get 5 more Suite Night Awards if you earn 75 elite nights across SPG and Marriott by the end of the year.
  • Platinum status & 2 free nights anywhere: Sign up for the Ritz-Carlton card before August in order to get Marriott Gold status which will then translate to Platinum status in August.  Also, meet spend requirements to get 2 free Tier 1-4 nights.  Before August, those free nights can only be used at Ritz Carlton hotels.  In and after August, they can be used at any Marriott / SPG / Ritz property.  Even better, between August and early 2019, those free nights should be valid for booking even the most expensive properties in the world.  More here: Earn up to 15 Suite Night Awards with Marriott SPG this year onlyThe Ritz card is unavailable for new signups as of July 26 2018.
  • Platinum Premier Elite (75 night) status with Ritz card and $75K spend:  Spend $75K on your Ritz-Carlton card by the end of July in order to get Marriott Platinum status which will map to Marriott Premier Elite status in August.
  • Book top tier Marriott properties with points since they are likely to jump from 45K points per night to 60K points per night.
  • Specific bookings to make before August for travel before or after August (this list will be updated as more info becomes known):
  • Platinum Elite status thanks to United status: If you have United Premier Gold elite status or higher, join RewardsPlus before August.  This way you’ll get Marriott Gold status which will become Platinum Elite Status in August (but only through Jan 2019). More here: United Premier Elites: Sign up for RewardsPlus before August.

Before 2019:

  • Get all four current Marriott & SPG cards in order to earn 40 nights elite credit.  Elite night credits will not stack after this year.
    • Elite nights earned from these credit cards after the August transition but before Jan 1 2019 will stack.
    • The Marriott Business card still offers 15 nights elite credit even though the application page doesn’t mention it.
  • Earn SPG Platinum status with 25 stays.
  • Earn SPG Platinum status with 50 nights in order to get 10 Suite Night Awards.
  • Earn SPG Platinum 100 status in order to get Platinum Premier 100 status without the $20K spend requirement.

Between August 18th and expected award chart changes in early 2019:

  • Award chart temporarily tops out at 60K points per night, so make all of your top-tier award bookings during this time.

Q & A (Questions and Answers)

Q: I currently have Marriott Rewards Gold status because I have SPG Gold status from my credit card (e.g. Amex Platinum, or SPG w/ $30K spend) and I linked my Marriott and SPG accounts.  What status will I have in August?

A: You will have Gold status.

5/9/2018: We had previously received conflicting information about this, but this interpretation has now been confirmed.

Q: Is there a way to ensure that my Marriott status matched from a credit card will remain intact in August and beyond?

A: Yes, sign up for and complete a Marriott Platinum challenge. This will require 9 stays or 18 nights to be completed in about 3 months.  If you complete it successfully, you’ll have Platinum Premier status in the new program which will be good for the rest of this year, all of the 2019, and through February 2020.

Q: What happens to status obtained through the Ritz Carlton card?

Background: the Ritz-Carlton card currently offers automatic Gold status first year, then you can keep Gold status with $10K spend or Platinum status with $75K spend per membership year.

If you obtain status before August with the Ritz card, then your new status will map as follows:

  • If you are Rewards Gold by August, you will be Platinum in the new program
  • If you are Rewards Platinum by August, you will be Platinum Premier in the new program

If you obtain status in or after August, then:

  • $10K spend gives you Gold status in the new program
  • $75K spend gives you Platinum Premier status in the new program

Q: I’m trying to spend $75K on my Ritz card to get Platinum status before August (so that I’ll end up with Platinum Premier status).  What happens if I complete spend before August, but the status isn’t granted until August or September?

A: You’ll still get Platinum Premier status as long as you complete the spend by July 31. That is, all charges should post to your credit card account by July 31. It is OK if your statement closes later.

Q: I’m trying to qualify for high level SPG status this year. Do I need to earn 25 stays (or 50 nights, 75 nights, 100 nights) before August 1?

A: No, you have until December 31st to earn status the old way.  Keep in mind that Marriott stays will count towards the combined program’s rules, but not towards SPG status rules.  So if you’re hoping to get Platinum Premier 100 status from 100 nights without the new program’s $20K spend requirement, for example, your Marriott nights won’t help.

Q: If I earn SPG-specific elite status after August 1, will the mapping to the new program be the same?

A: Yes. For example, if you complete your 25th SPG stay in December, that will give you the equivalent of SPG Platinum status which is new program Platinum Elite.

Q: When will we know for sure which categories each hotel will be in when the programs merge?

A: We have been told that a complete list will be made published about a month in advance (e.g. around the beginning of July).

Q: 5 Night Travel packages are currently available to Marriott Timeshare owners. Will they be available in the new program?

A: I expect so, but this hasn’t been confirmed.

Q: Can we still earn 10 elite nights per meeting in the new program?

A: Yes

Q: Platinum Premier (75 nights) doesn’t seem to offer much above Platinum. Is there any big benefit to Platinum Premier over Platinum?

A: Yes. With Platinum Premier you get free United Silver status just for signing up each year with RewardsPlus.

Q: I use my SPG card only for the ability to transfer to airline programs at a good ratio. What should I do when the card devalues in August?

A: See this post: Spending for miles. Best SPG alternatives.

Q: What will happen with Amex Membership Rewards transfers to SPG (currently 3 to 1)?

A: Membership Rewards will transfer 1 to 1 to SPG / Marriott Rewards in the new program.

Q: What will happen with Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers to Marriott (currently 1 to 1)?

A: Chase Ultimate Rewards will continue to transfer 1 to 1 to Marriott Rewards in the new program.

Related Posts by Frequent Miler

The following posts relate to the Marriott / SPG loyalty program merger.  Most recent posts are on top.

A complete list of related posts can be found here.

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