Smart Moves to Make With the Newly Merged Marriott Rewards Program

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The merger to create the behemoth loyalty program that is Marriott Rewards is complete now that Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Ritz-Carlton Rewards were successfully integrated into the fold. Travelers now have 29 brands and more than 6,700 properties across the globe where they can redeem points.

Marriott Momi Bay

Marriott Momi Bay

This includes everything from luxury-focused brands like Ritz-Carlton, Edition, and St. Regis to the sizeable Classic Select portfolio (Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton, etc.). These brands are already growing rapidly, especially in places like Asia (where 140 are already open and 160 in the pipeline).

The new Marriott Rewards program has boosted many of its elite benefits to now include free breakfast at properties where it was not always an elite perk option. These brands can bring huge value, especially when redeeming points overseas.

Over the weekend, the hotel company shut down its system to complete the technical aspects of what was surely a massive undertaking to merge. We will now walk you through some of the questions you may have about the integration of points, personal & business credit cards, and how you can earn them in the newly merged Marriott Rewards Program.

Q: Am I eligible for bonus points in the newly merged Marriott Rewards Program?

If you made award reservations with points for hotels that dropped in a certain category level before the merger date, you can get a refund of the difference in those points.

Let’s say you booked a category 5 hotel on Aug. 1. But now that the new award categories are in place (post-Aug. 18), that hotel is a category 4. You can cancel the reservation and rebook it at the new amount. However, make sure award space is still available for your dates before canceling. Also, double check the cancellation policy on your reservation to not incur any fees.

Some reservations will charge a fee for canceling at the last minute. Scroll through your upcoming trips paid for with points to see if you are owed any points back. If any of your hotel reservations went up in points, don’t worry. Marriott won’t ask for more unless you have to change the dates on it. This handy chart details all the category changes around the world.

Q: What happened to my Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points?

SPG points will be converted to Marriott Rewards points at a ratio of 1 to 3 in the newly emerged Marriott Rewards Program. Even if you had already linked your accounts, everyone must sign in again to link them once more.

If you did not have a Marriott Rewards account previously, be sure to check your email as you were assigned a new Marriott Rewards number. You must also actively combine your accounts with the new numbers. This can be done online or via a phone call to combine your points.

If you prefer to keep your old SPG profile and number, combine your accounts using this specific link. If you prefer to keep your Marriott number, combine your account using this link.

There may be some profile settings that you need to adjust, and reservation information previously listed may take as much as 48 hours to migrate over to your new account. Also, don’t forget to update your Marriott Rewards app with the new membership number.

Q: Will my Ritz-Carlton Rewards points combine as well?

If you had the accounts previously linked, yes. If not, they will issue a new Marriott Rewards number. You will need to combine these points online or by calling Marriott Rewards. It will not happen automatically in the newly merged Marriott Rewards Program.

Q: What happens to my elite status?

Status between programs are being updated and should show in your newly merged Marriott Rewards Program account. Give it at least 48 hours from when you combine your accounts to see benefits like suite night awards and free night certificates (if applicable).

If you have reservations coming up soon, do this immediately so there are no hiccups in maintaining any elite status perks.

St Regis Bali Lagoon Villa

Q: Are there any sweet spots in the newly merged Marriott Rewards Program?

There are lots of great award redemptions in the new program, but one of the best sweet spots are for some of the most expensive hotels including the St. Regis Bora Bora, St. Regis Maldives and W Maldives that are in category 7.

These will be going up to the new category 8 that will be out in 2019. For now, you can still book these hotels at the lower rates until late January (for stays any time next year).

Q: What is RewardsPlus and how will it help me?

If you are an SPG loyalist, you may be unaware of United’s partnership with Marriott known as RewardsPlus. Now that you have a Marriott Rewards number, be sure to link your account with United MileagePlus for some nice perks. United Premier Gold members and higher receive automatic Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status. All Marriott Rewards Premier Elite members and above receive complimentary United MileagePlus Premier Silver status.

This brings things like complimentary first class upgrades, priority boarding and security, and a free checked bag when traveling on United. The new Marriott benefits for top United elites offer lounge access, room upgrades, and bonus points for hotel stays. Note that this is a free program that everyone can take advantage of. Just be sure to link your new Marriott Rewards Plus number with your United MileagePlus account.

Q: Why do I still see Starwood Preferred Guest branding?

The names Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz-Carlton Rewards will continue through early 2019, even though points will now be earned under the Marriott Rewards brand. Early next year, a new brand name that encompasses everything will be announced. This should not affect merged points. Stay tuned to learn more.

Ramsey Qubein

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Smart Moves to Make With the Newly Merged Marriott Rewards Program
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About the Author

Ramsey Qubein
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist and correspondent for Northstar Travel Media covering the hotel and airline industry from every corner of the globe. He has traveled to 144 countries (many more than two dozen times) and lived in both Madrid and Paris. His work has appeared in numerous consumer and industry publications including Travel+Leisure, Premier Traveler, Islands, Business Traveller, Singapore Airlines' Silver Kris, and US Airways magazines. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and completed a Master’s Degree thesis researching various aspects of marketing/branding in the travel industry. Ramsey is highly recognized as an expert in travel loyalty programs, business travel and the luxury travel segment. He flies nearly 350,000 miles per year and estimates he has circumnavigated the globe more than 80 times. He is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio programs and contributor to USA Today, Fox News, BBC, Frommers, and AirfareWatchdog. Ramsey enjoys participating on travel panels or roundtables and is frequently quoted on travel-related subjects. Interested editors are welcome to contact him for any freelance writing needs related to business travel, aviation, or the hotel industry.

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