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The SPG and Marriott merger has been the buzz of the hotel rewards space for the last two years. Now that Marriott has released more details of the Starwood Preferred Guest acquisition, there are still plenty of questions. Five of the most common questions are listed below.
Will the Starwood Preferred Guest Program Disappear?
Starwood Preferred Guest members are probably more fearful of the Marriott merger than Marriott Rewards members. This is mostly because rewards nights start at 2,000 Starpoints and 6,000 points for a Category 1 Marriott property. SPG points have been one of the most valuable point currencies since their inception.
The Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest programs will all merge together into a brand new program in 2019. We will see the first lunge towards the Marriott merger in August 2018 when:
- All three accounts merge into a single account
- Starpoints will receive a 3x bonus and convert to Marriott Rewards points
- Earn 10 Marriott Rewards points per $1 on most Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG stays
- Earn 5 points per $1 at Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Element
All of these changes start in August 2018. Until then, you can still transfer your Starpoints on a 1:3 basis to the Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Rewards programs.
If you currently belong in the Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs, you already get matching membership status with either program. So if you have Platinum Elite status with Marriott but basic status with SPG, linking the two counts together gives you the equivalent status (Platinum Preferred Guest) even though you haven’t logged 25 stays or 50 nights this year.
In August, the process is streamlined and you no longer have to worry about Marriott points and Starpoints, your entire points balance will be Marriott Rewards points.
Will There Be Changes to the Marriott Award Chart?
You won’t see any noticeable changes to the Marriott award chart until 2019 when the new rewards program launches. The largest change you will probably see in August 2018 is adjusting the Starwood Preferred Guest rewards nights to the Marriott Rewards conversion when Starpoints receive a 3x boost and convert into Marriott points.
Marriott will release more details about redeeming points for rewards nights for the second half of 2018 in future press releases, but you need to focus on the larger changes in 2019.
Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG already charge different rates for the same properties. SPG has weekend and weekday rates at select properties. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton offer PointSaver discounts on select dates.
Like an airline loyalty program, the new Marriott-SPG program will have Peak and Off-Peak rates beginning in 2019. This is in addition to the current standard pricing where you can get a reduced rate on select nights.
Can Marriott Rewards Members Earn Elite Status Sooner?
Starwood Preferred Guest is continually one of the most popular hotel loyalty programs for the generous benefits and point values. Marriott Rewards members will appreciate the opportunity to earn Elite status sooner.
For example, SPG members only need to stay 50 nights to earn the highest membership status (Platinum Preferred Guest) but Marriott members must stay at least 75 nights to earn the equivalent Platinum Elite status.
Starting in August, the Marriott Rewards membership tiers adopt the more lenient SPG stay requirements:
- Silver elite status: 10 nights
- Gold elite status: 25 nights (Currently 50 nights for Marriott Rewards members)
- Platinum elite status: 50 nights (Currently 75 nights for Marriott Rewards members)
- Platinum Premier elite status: 100 nights and $20,000 of spending
The Platinum Premier elite status is a new addition and more details will be released about the updated membership tiers in the near future as the August merger date arrives.
Free Breakfast Benefits Extended
Starting in August, Platinum and Platinum Premier will enjoy free breakfast benefits at more 23 brands including:
- AC Hotels by Marriott
- Marriott Resorts
Will Lifetime Members Lose Their Status?
No. All Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest lifetime members will retain their current status with the Marriott merger. If you’re a lifetime member, Marriott will send more information about the transition in the coming months. For now, you will never see an interruption in your benefits.
Will the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Go Away?
Despite merging into a single loyalty account, the current Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Amex SPG credit cards will continue to exist in the Marriott merger. There will be a few changes, but Chase and American Express are both launching new credit cards in 2018 for the Marriott and Starwood brands.
Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
Chase is launching a new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card that boasts the following benefits:
- 75,000 point bonus offer
- 6 points per $1 at participating Marriott and SPG hotels
- 2 points per $1 on all remaining purchases
- Premium wi-fi access (beginning summer 2018)
This new credit card has a $95 annual fee, which is very reasonable given the benefits.
Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
The new American Express addition is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card that is a premium travel credit card that caters to SPG guests. It has a $450 annual fee but comes with these benefits:
- Automatic Gold Elite status
- Earn 6 points per $1 on all Marriott and SPG stays
- Earn 3 points per $1 on airfare booked directly from airline and U.S. restaurants
- All remaining purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent
- $300 on-property credit for Marriott International resorts
- Free hotel night certificate each card anniversary
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
You might already own the $95-a-year Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card. After all, it’s been the SPG credit card for some time now.
Due to the Marriott merger, starting August 1, 2018, you will see the following changes:
- Earn 6 points per $1 on all Marriott, SPG, and Ritz-Carlton purchases
- Earn 2 points per $1 on all remaining purchases
- Complimentary Silver elite status
- Opportunity to earn one free night each card anniversary
Before the August 1 changes, you will only earn 2 Starpoints at SPG and Marriott hotels plus 1 Starpoint for all remaining purchases.
In the past, you could receive Starpoints or free nights as a welcome offer. If you apply for the Starwood Amex now, the current sign-up bonus is receiving a $100 statement credit after spending $1,000 in the first three months and an additional $100 statement credit after your first SPG or Marriott purchase within the first six months.
Summary of the SPG and Marriott Merger
We still don’t know all the details of what the new loyalty program will look like after the Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest merger finalizes in 2019. However, I hope this information has helped quell your doubts and uncertainties as for the August 1 “soft merger” approaches.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.