My take on Marriott’s big announcement

Well, it certainly was a big deal after all.  And, thankfully, none of our worst fears were realized. No, they won’t go revenue based.  No, they won’t take away free breakfast from those who earn elite status at the 50 night per year level.  No, they won’t take away the favorable points to miles transfer rate offered by SPG.  No, they won’t add a spend requirement to any elite tiers except the very top, top tier.  In fact, in many of these areas things will be better.  I don’t know about you, but I’m both relieved and cautiously optimistic about the opportunities ahead of us.

On Monday afternoon Marriott announced the details of how they plan to bring together the three rewards programs they own: Marriott Rewards, SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest), and Ritz-Carlton Rewards.  Marriott and Ritz already had one program with two names, so why not add a third?  And that’s what they did.  Starting August 1, there will be a single rewards program with three separate names.

Details of the new combined program can be found on Marriott’s website, here: members.marriott.com.  Nick and I will publish posts over the next days and months going into details about the new program, and how best to take advantage of the transition.

The basic details that you need to know are that elite status levels will be similar to SPG’s levels today (if you have Marriott Gold status today, you’ll have Platinum status in the new program. If you have Marriott Platinum today, you’ll have Platinum Premier 75K in the new program), and point values will be similar to Marriott’s point values today (so, all of your SPG points will automatically triple when they get converted to the new program).

My take overall?

Overall, things look good.  The hardest thing for many people will be the confusion over the elite status names, especially for Marriott elites (Marriott Gold status today will map to Platinum status in August).  And SPG members will have point confusion.  All of their points will map 1 to 3 to the new program and so it will seem like hotels will cost many more points, but that’s only because SPG points will have mapped to this new 1 to 3 scale.

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 much cheaper in the new program.  If you can wait until August 1 to book that St Regis property you have your eye on, do so.

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.

Answers from the VP

At an event in New York City for the big Marriott announcement Nick and I managed to corner the VP of Marriott Rewards, Bob Behrens.  Here’s what I learned from that conversation:

Using points

  • Q: Today, both Marriott & SPG allow booking upgraded rooms with points under certain circumstances. Will that continue in the new program?
    A: Yes
  • Q: Will the new program continue to offer 5th night free awards?
    A: Yes
  • Q: Today a select list of SPG properties cost substantially more points than top tier 35K properties. They’re literally off the charts.  How much will they cost in the new program?
    A: All properties, including those, will map to the category 1-8 chart (1-7 chart for 2018).  They will no longer be off the chart.

Elite status

  • Q: Will a member’s Marriott Rewards nights and SPG nights combine to determine their elite level?
    A: Yes
  • Q: Will a member’s historic Marriott Rewards nights and SPG nights combine to determine their lifetime elite level?
    A: Yes
  • Q: In the new program, lifetime elite status will require a certain number of years of status. Will those years be additive across Marriott & SPG?
    A: Yes. To determine the number of years you’ve been Platinum, you would add up the number of years you were Gold or higher with Marriot plus the number of years you were Platinum with SPG.  They even count both when you had elite status with both programs in the same year.
  • Q: What level status will my Amex Platinum card give me in the new program?
    A: Gold status.  However, if a member has Marriott Gold status before August 1, they will have Platinum status on August 1.  [So, if Bob was right about this, Amex Platinum cardholders will continue to get free breakfast until the elite year resets in 2019 as long as they use the card to get SPG Gold status AND link their Marriott & SPG accounts before August 1]
  • Q: What status level will people get with Ritz card $10K spend or $75K spend?
    A: The status will map based on nights required to get that status.  So, $10K spend today gets you old Marriott Gold and in August it will get you new Marriott Platinum status since both are 50 night elite levels.  And $75K spend gets you old Marriott Platinum and in August it will get you new Marriott Platinum Premier 75K.

Free night certificates & travel packages

  • Q: Will you be able to use Marriott free night certs at SPG properties and SPG free nights at Marriott properties?
    A: Yes
  • Q: If we have a 7 night category 7 stay certificate, will that map to category 7 in the new program?
    A: Yes.  They haven’t established the exact mappings yet, but they will try to map it based on the number of points required.  For example, category 7 hotels in the current program require 35,000 points per night.  In August, category 5 hotels will cost 35,000 points.  So the category 7 certificate should become a category 5 certificate in August.  Note: Even though we asked a lot of questions about category 1-5 certificates, we somehow failed to ask what category they will become in August.  By the logic above, they should become category 4, but I don’t have confirmation of that.
  • Q: When will we know which hotels will be in which categories?
    A: They will be releasing some examples in a few days and expect to have a list of most properties released within about 4 weeks.
  • Q: Will travel packages still be available to purchase with points?
    A: Yes.  Marriott knows that guests get a lot of value from them and they do not want to take away any of the things that guest like.
  • Q: Will travel packages still offer the same value for those who are primarily interested in point transfers to airline miles?
    A: It will be similar, but not the same.  Today Marriott has many different travel package charts depending upon which airline miles you want.  In the new program they hope to standardize across most if not all airlines.

Other stuff

  • Q: What will happen w/ Delta & United partnerships?
    A: The United partnership will remain in place pretty much as it is today.  Just as it is today, those with 75 night elite status with Marriott will get United Silver status. The Delta partnership is still being worked out.
  • Q: Will Marriott’s refer-a-friend program continue?
    A: Yes

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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Steve
Guest
Steve

“Top tier SPG properties will be much cheaper in the new program. If you can wait until August 1 to book that St Regis property you have your eye on, do so.”

How? A currently 25k per night room can now be 80k. With 1:3 that’s still more expensive?

Kate
Guest
Kate

We don’t have that many paid nights. My HIlton Aspire card is looking better after this. Will be losing any meaningful benefits with United gold matched to Marriott gold, which doesn’t seem worth much. Also expecting as the award prices are announced and sorted through, that there will be some really bad realizations.

Sam
Guest
Sam

I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand your comment about the Ritz-Carlton card. Are you saying that the Ritz-Carlton card will get you Platinum status after $10,000 spend in 2019 and beyond or just in 2018?

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

Curious about this too……

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Another question would be if the 5 Suite Night Awards are awarded for those attaining Platinum status via $75k spend on their SPG Luxury (or Ritz) card. It didn’t before.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Hi Greg – could you please clarify the lifetime status requirements when the programs consolidate in August? Specifically: will my SPG nights and points add to my Marriott nights and points to qualify me under the OLD Marriott program? Or does this combined points/nights deal only count towards the new lifetime requirements? Thanks!

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Dan – I have the same question. If they convert everything then assess new program lifetime based on the legacy MR 750 night/2 million point rule, I will be grandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite. However I’ve not earned Marriott PLT or SPG PLT for a sum of 10 years and only have ~1.6M lifetime MR points, so converting my SPG balance to MR and then applying the old rules is my best hope for reaching Lifetime PPE (in a timely fashion).

Dan
Guest
Dan

This is probably the most frustrating part of this announcement. I stopped staying at Marriott earlier last year as I was so far from any lifetime status (besides Silver) that I didn’t want to commit. But if they’re including SPG … well, I might take a run at earning something 😉 Good luck, I hope you get the Lifetime Plat Premier – that would be a major coup with lifetime status in that program only available this one time!

Ben
Guest
Ben

Greg, Dan, and Kevin,
I have a similar question and a new one. I would also like to know how spg activity impacts my current MR lifetime progress, if at all. In addition, what is the deadline for achieving LT plat in the old program to obtain LT premier plat going forward…august 1 or December 31?

Greg the Frequent Miler
Guest
Greg the Frequent Miler

The deadline for acheiving the old way is December 31. I’m not sure whether nights at SPG hotels post August will contribute to your old status requirements or not

Tom
Guest
Tom

@Kevin, make sure you do some more research before making any decisions, because unless something has changed recently, converting your SPG points to MR points absolutely does NOT count towards your MR lifetime point totals. Your best options to hit 2 million before the end of 2018 are probably either transferring Chase UR points to MR points, which definitely counts towards lifetime status but it’s a horrendous value… or alternatively, if you are able to play in two player mode, transfer your SPG points into your partner’s SPG account, have THEM convert their SPG points into MR points, and then transfer the MR points from their MR account into your MR account. MR point transfers DO count towards lifetime totals, but be aware that they will also DEDUCT the transferred amount from your partner’s lifetime totals. The transfer limit is 50k per year, but you can transfer more if you call over the phone and say you need to book a specific award… so call and ask to book like a cat 9 hotel for 7 nights or something insane like that, and they’ll most likely let you exceed the 50k limit. I’ve been successful in getting as much as 250k transferred using this method, haven’t tried more than that. You can also buy up to 50k MR points per year which DO count towards your lifetime totals, but again, it’s a bad value. But hopefully between a combination of these methods you might be able to hit the 2 million point threshold before the end of the year. Good luck!

al K
Guest
al K

Greg, do you think it’s the best time (now until year end 2017) to get the old version Marriott Chase Visa for its 15 nights credit for THIS year? I’m not subjected to 5/24 and I’ve already possess both AMEX SPG.

Greg the Frequent Miler
Guest
Greg the Frequent Miler

I hope to publish a post soon with credit card recommendations

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

United Premier Gold members currently get matched to Gold Elite status with Marriott — I’m guessing that will remain the same? (Seems reasonable, though I’d still be a bit sad about losing breakfast and lounge privileges)

BigMac
Guest
BigMac

I thought it was said that if you currently had Marriott Gold status that it would convert to Platinum automatically in August. So wouldn’t my Marriott Gold status (achieved by being United Gold) convert in August to Platinum? A question would be what happens next year – but surely they would not take away Platinum status once they have already given it.

adam
Guest
adam

Does Marriott soft land to the next lowest tier if you don’t requalify?

leo
Guest
leo

[So, if Bob was right about this, Amex Platinum cardholders will continue to get free breakfast until the elite year resets in 2019 as long as they use the card to get SPG Gold status AND link their Marriott & SPG accounts before August 1] is this confirmed?

ZChen
Guest
ZChen

SPG Elites seemed to be getting the short end of the stick. Currently SPG gold maps to Marriott gold. Come August, SPG gold maps to the new program gold. This is the same for lifetime elites…

Dave
Guest
Dave

This new lifetime program is a major blow to Marriott rewards members that have not yet reached lifetime platinum. Under the new program SPG member that had 25 stays or 50 nights the past 10 years will receive lifetime platinum. While Marriott members needed 75 nights, and higher brands didn’t matter since points are no longer a factor.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I see airline partners remain, any word on if Amtrak is still a transfer partner? Not seen anyone mention it anywhere yet and I’m curious.

Probably
Guest
Probably

If current 40-45k Marriott properties don’t go into standard 35k and go instead into the 50k then it’s a devaluation. Doesn’t matter what this guy says.

Larry
Guest
Larry

Greg — do you get a sense whether the Ritz $10k spend for platinum will continue on in future years or just this year only?

Damian
Guest
Damian

How about United status holders will UA gold and above get Gold or Plat with the new program?

Rob
Guest
Rob

Hold on! Are you telling me that I could book a room at the St. Regis Maldives in 2018 for ONLY 20k SPG points?!?! Thats INCREDIBLE compared to the current 90k SPG.

James
Guest
James

They just kill daily SPG user and SPG biz user with this. I hope that they would upgrade Ritz to at least earn 3 MR per regular spend.

Adir
Guest
Adir

I use my spg biz for $$ every month, then use that for travel. This definitely kills it. Greg: do u know if spg biz card still gets auto sheraton lounge access? And what about spending thresholds for status? Whats the best card for that now? Thanks!

UnitedEF
Guest
UnitedEF

No lounge access on the AMEX business card. Only way is to spend $75k on the premium business card coming out in August.

Greg the Frequent Miler
Guest
Greg the Frequent Miler

Sheraton lounge access dead as of August

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Agreed, this takes my SPG Amex from daily workhorse to only occasional use at best, maybe cancel.

Teo
Guest
Teo

Is the current Chase Marriott Business card going away as of August based on available info? I guess it would be a good idea to get it now for the bonus points and to grandfather another annual free night card.

Greg the Frequent Miler
Guest
Greg the Frequent Miler

It looks like they’ll keep it around for a while

Steve
Guest
Steve

Related question: Are the 15 elite night credits from the personal and business credit cards stackable for earning status this year, or did that change take effect immediately?

Silver Kung
Guest
Silver Kung

Hi, I am life time Marriott Platinum. so that will make me life time new platinum premier. My question is that old platinum premier get to match with UA Gold. Will this new platinum premier get to match with UA Gold as well? Do you have any clue on this?

trackback

[…] most other mergers in recent memory (See Greg’s post with highlights from the event here: My take on Marriott’s big announcement). But there was one change I didn’t see coming: Top tier SPG properties are about to get […]

Rajat Madan
Guest
Rajat Madan

Greg, what happens if someone qualifies for SPG Platinum on stays before August 2018? Would they be considered Marriott Platinum as well and map to the new Platinum premier 75k?

Greg the Frequent Miler
Guest
Greg the Frequent Miler

Yes as long as they link accounts before August

trackback

[…] Frequent Miler quotes a Marriott VP as saying the following: […]

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Any clue on the Lounge access Platinum Premier Elite? Say you spend 75K on the new SPG card, will you be able to access Ritz Carlton Lounges?

Richard
Guest
Richard

Not Ritz Lounge.

trackback

[…] My take on Marriott’s big announcement […]

Steve
Guest
Steve

You said “Q: Will a member’s Marriott Rewards nights and SPG nights combine to determine their elite level? A: Yes” Does that mean that marriott nights I stay in Jan will combine with my spg nights from Jan for 2018? Or is it only those that are booked AFTER aug 1?

Thanks!

Greg the Frequent Miler
Guest
Greg the Frequent Miler

Yes Jan 1. So if you earn let’s say 45 Marriott nights and 30 SPG nights you’ll suddenly have Platinum Prremier status

5150d
Guest
5150d

Greg: Can we book the SPG St Regis Points reservations now and then “pay” after August 1st to guarantee the space?

Brian
Guest
Brian

So we will get less than 1 airline mile per dollar maximum on the SPG card starting August 1?

Devaluation of 1/3 of value?

Same with points now transferring 1:2?

If true this is a huge devaluation.

trackback

[…] of the merging of Starwood with Marriott, and I’m still not thrilled by the prospect, the recent news really is the best case for what we could hope for from an SPG member perspective. There are […]

303traveler
Guest
303traveler

So I’m due to complete a MR platinum 9 stay challenge in May… I know I’ll get Plat Premier on Aug 1 for the rest of 2018, but what about 2019? My main goal of getting back to platinum was getting United Silver in 2019. If I drop to platinum in 2019, I just walked across the street to a new hotel 3 times for nothing.

I’ll likely be around 65 nights for the year (including CC nights), but not sure it’s worth the work to get to 75.

Not all bad for me though, MR dropping the points req for lifetime means I’ll be lifetime plat. And I’ve been using the new guaranteed 4pm checkout super frequently. MR benefits still on 3rd party bookings? With no lifetime tier above Plat as incentive for more nights, I’m going use a lot more of those!

trackback

[…] new Marriott SPG combined program due to start in August is better than expected in many ways.  But… there is one big […]

trackback

[…] who is correct SVP David or VP Bob?  At the big reveal event in New York, David introduced us to Bob as the person who could best answer all of our questions.  But what if […]

Paul
Guest
Paul

For 2019 and beyond, will the “15 nights credit” you receive from having a credit card count towards your lifetime total? I know they do on the Marriott visa today but they don’t on the SPG Amex, so am wondering what will happen for 2019. I’m not seeing this covered on any site. Thanks!

Tim Kozlow
Guest
Tim Kozlow

I’m done. I redeemed my SPG points to airline miles getting the 5000 bonus. I was never interested in hotel points. I’ll go back and keep building my chase points. I’m close to 400000. The only reason I got the SPG card was because of the high value of the star points. Now I don’t care anymore.

Christopher Tamayo
Guest
Christopher Tamayo

So if I just got the Ritz card which comes with Gold the first year, after Aug the status would be Platinum Elite?

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[…] Quelle: Frequentmiler.boardingarea.com […]

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[…] Quelle: Frequentmiler.boardingarea.com […]

Patty Stoner
Guest
Patty Stoner

How do I find out my lifetime points and nights with SPG & Marriott

trackback

[…] in April when Greg and I attended the “new” Marriott launch event in New York, we reported that we were told that all properties would define a standard room under the new award […]