Details of New Combined Marriott and SPG Loyalty Program

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It’s been a long time coming, but Marriott has finally announced the key features of the combined Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs that will launch in August 2018.

Marriott broadcast full details of the combined rewards program on Monday afternoon in an online webcast. The changes, which come into effect sometime after August 1, 2018, include significant changes to elite status levels, benefits, qualification requirements, and details of how the loyalty program merger will affect those folks shooting for, or who already hold, lifetime elite status.

Marriott also unveiled a new award chart that will apply to all hotels across the combined portfolio of hotels. New co-brand credit cards from Chase and Amex, increased points earning opportunities, and Marriott also confirmed SPG’s stellar airline transfer program isn't just here to stay, it's receiving new airline partnerships!

Marriott-Rewards-SPG-Combined

Marriott dropped a ton of information, including all the big updates in its Marriott Members website. We’ll be covering each new aspect of the combined program in more detail over the coming weeks, but we’ve provided an overview of all the changes below.

What We've Covered Here

A Summary of Marriott’s New Loyalty Program

The details of Marriott’s new, as yet unnamed loyalty program should mollify even the most outspoken critics of the SPG/Marriott merger, as the new program is a top result for members of both programs. Marriott looks to have done an excellent job retaining the best features of both programs, albeit with a few minor devaluations thrown into the mix. Some of the more significant announcements include:

  • No changes come into effect until August 1, 2018, at which time your SPG, Ritz-Carlton, and Marriott accounts will merge into a single account on Marriott’s website/platform. At this time, Starpoints will convert automatically to Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio, joining your current balance of Marriott/Ritz-Carlton points in a single integrated loyalty account.
  • Members can earn and redeem one rewards currency across the entire SPG, Ritz, and Marriott portfolio of hotels.
  • The new program will feature five elite tiers:
    • Silver – 10 nights
    • Gold – 25 nights
    • Platinum – 50 nights
    • Platinum Premier – 75 nights
    • Platinum Premier w/ Ambassador – 100 nights + $20,000 annual hotel spend
  • Platinum status and above receive complimentary suite upgrades when available, plus Platinum 50 members get five confirmed suite upgrades per year. Platinum Premier (75 night) members will earn a further five confirmed suite nights per year.
  • Gold Elite members lose breakfast and executive lounge access, but Marriott Gold currently requires 50 nights which will earn Platinum in the new program (Platinum receives breakfast). So the only elite members the change effects are those that achieve Gold status via other means, i.e., as a credit card benefit. Platinum breakfast is also being extended to more brands to cover almost the entire portfolio
  • Lifetime status requirements have been updated, and current members will be converted to new elite status tiers reflecting total nights accumulated towards lifetime status.
  • A new 8-category award chart featuring off-peak, standard, and peak season award pricing.
  • Airline transfers are here to stay at the same rate of exchange but using the new rewards currency points transfer at 3 Marriott points to 1 airline mile. New airline partners will be added, and members still receive bonus miles when transferring, i.e., transfer 60,000 points, receive 15,000 bonus points @ 3:1 = 25,000 miles in the destination airline program.
  • New co-brand credit cards to launch this year from Chase and Amex, including premium cards from both providers.

Yes, a considerable number of changes affecting almost every aspect of the loyalty program, but on the whole a positive result for members of both SPG and Marriott.

Merged Loyalty Accounts & Point Balances, and New Earning Rates

On August 1, SPG, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton members can merge accounts into a single account that will apply across the entire combined portfolio of hotels and resorts. Marriott has yet to name the new program, so for now, we’ll refer to the combined rewards currency as Marriott Rewards points. Points from all three accounts will merge into a single account, with SPG points converting at a 3:1 ratio, continuing the generous conversion ratio awarded when the merger was finalized last year.

Non-elite Marriott Rewards members are set to earn 10x points per dollar spent at hotels in the new program, up from 6x points pre-merger for Marriott members and 2x Starpoints for SPG members (equivalent to 6x points at the 1:3 conversion ratio). The exceptions are extended stay properties that include: TownePlace Suites, Residence Inn, and Element properties which will award a base rate of 5x points per dollar. Points will also now be awarded for food, beverage and other ancillary spending across the entire portfolio of brands, rather than only select brands.

  • Non-elite members will earn 10x points per $1
  • Silver Elite will earn 11x points per $1
  • Gold Elite will earn 12.5x points per $1
  • Platinum Elite will earn 15x points per $1
  • Platinum Premier Elite will earn 17.5x points per $1
  • Platinum Premier Elite w/ Ambassador will earn 17.5x points per $1

New Marriott Elite Status Tiers and Benefits

When the programs merge in August, we’ll see elite members from both programs transitioned into a new 5-tier program featuring Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Elite, and Platinum Elite w/ Ambassador statuses.

Marriott-Elite-Earn-Rates

The table above breaks down how existing elite tiers will convert to the new levels, in addition to how many bonus points members will earn at each new status level. Note that there are no options to qualify via stays, only nights. The other point missing off this table is that top-tier Platinum Elite w/ Ambassador also requires $20,000 in eligible spend to qualify.

SPG members can still earn elite status under the current program rules for 2018, with the new requirements not kicking in until 2019. Marriott has also confirmed that elite night credits will be combined across both Marriott and SPG chains to determine elite status moving forward.

You can see a summary of the benefits for each new elite tier in the chart below:

Marriott-Elite-Tiers-Benefits

The loss of breakfast and executive lounge access for Marriott Rewards Gold members is offset somewhat by the reduced nights required to achieve Gold Elite status. What would have taken 50 nights in a calendar year now takes just 25 nights, and members that stay 50 nights will now earn Platinum Elite status, which does receive breakfast at the vast majority of the combined portfolio. The exceptions are Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club, EDITION, and Gaylord Palms; so you’ll receive breakfast at 24 out of 29 brands as Platinum Elite if you choose it as the welcome amenity.

New Lifetime Elite Status Requirements

One of the greatest sources of anxiety for longtime members was how Marriott would approach lifetime status. For members close to achieving lifetime status, would existing nights be recognized? How would Marriott convert the different tiers? The good news is, it appears no one has really lost out in this process.

There is no pathway to earning lifetime Platinum Premier outside of being grandfathered from the current Marriott Platinum lifetime status.

Lifetime-Marriott- SPG-Status-Conversion

Current lifetime status holders will have their elite status converted as follows:

  • Lifetime SPG Gold Preferred converts to lifetime Marriott Gold Elite
  • Lifetime SPG Platinum Preferred converts to lifetime Marriott Platinum Elite
  • Lifetime Marriott Gold Elite converts to lifetime Marriott Platinum Elite
  • Lifetime Marriott Platinum Elite converts to lifetime Marriott Platinum Premier Elite – This is a one-time conversion and Lifetime Platinum Premier cannot be earned moving forward

One Marriott Award Chart for All Properties

Starting August 1, 2018, Marriott will introduce a single award chart covering all 29 brands previously separated into Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, and Starwood chains. The chart features 8 categories, and although there are no blackout dates for award stays, they have introduced seasonal pricing to the new award chart. Each property will now feature peak, standard, and off-peak seasonal award pricing.

For the time being, Marriott won’t introduce the 8th category or the fluctuating award pricing, focusing instead on categories 1-7 with all awards priced as standard awards until the introduction of category 8 redemptions in 2019. Marriott didn’t reveal a points & cash chart to go with the new free night award chart, but the points & cash option is mentioned on members.marriott.com. Marriott will also retain the much loved 5th night free on award stays.

New-Marriott-Award-Chart

With such a giant reshuffle of award categories and prices, plus the addition of another category charging 15K more points than the current highest level, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see a slew of properties recategorized into higher or lower award tiers over the next 12 months.

If you have the points now, our advice is to book as quickly as possible to secure your reservation and if the price drops, rebook! Worst case, book on July 31st, see the changes on August 1st and then decide what to do. Remember to keep the SPG 1:3 transfer number in mind when calculating!

Airline Transfers and Bonus Miles Are Here to Stay

Aside from fantastic redemption rates at SPG properties, the high-value of Starpoints is owed to the 30+ 1:1 airline transfer partners to which members can transfer points. One of the most talked about fears amongst SPG loyalists was that Marriott would do away with, or at the very least, water down the SPG airline transfer program. Instead, Marriott has kept the SPG transfer value identical, including the value of the bonus miles members currently receive when transferring 20K+ SPG points. Mirroring the 1:3 conversion ratio of Starpoints to Marriott Rewards points, members will now receive 15,000 bonus points for every 60,000 points transferred, and 3x points will be equal to 1 mile in the destination frequent flyer program.

  • 60,000 + 15,000 = 75,000 @ 3:1 = 25,000 miles

In addition to retaining the same airline transfer value for SPG members (effectively increasing the value of transfers for Marriott due to much more favorable transfer ratios), Marriott will increase the number of airline partners to more than 40, improving what was already the best airline transfer list available to points and miles fans. Marriott has also vowed to keep the coveted 7-night Marriott Hotel + Air packages, although there are whispers in the ranks that Marriott intends to bring the various packages into line, which is vague enough to be of concern.

New Co-Brand Credit Cards and Changes to Existing Cards

Marriott made announcements towards the end of last year about the launch of new co-brand credit cards, and the intention to retain agreements with both Chase and Amex. Now, we can confirm that both providers have new co-brand cards coming out in the near future and that existing cards will receive some adjustments.

Marriott & Chase

On May 3, 2018, Chase launched the new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card. Sporting a $95 fee, the card offers:

  • 6x points for every dollar spent at Marriott and SPG properties + 2x points per dollar on all other purchases
  • Anniversary Free Night Certificate valued at up to 35,000 points
  • Guaranteed Silver Elite Status, plus earn Gold Elite when you spend $35K on the card each year
  • 15x Elite Night Credits towards elite status annually (can’t be stacked across cards)

The Points Guy reports that the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card will be closed to applications when Marriott's new premium card drops. But, without official word from Chase, and the Marriott members site showing 5x co-brand cards, all we can do is speculate on whether the Marriott cards will go the same way as the Sapphire and Southwest cards, in that you can only hold one consumer card per family of cards.

In any case, Chase will continue to offer The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card and the Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, and we’ll update the post as more info comes to light regarding the future of the Marriott consumer cards.

SPG & American Express

August will see Amex making a bunch of updates to the existing SPG cards, in addition to launching the new Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card. The new card will sport a premium $450 fee, and include:

  • 6x points at SPG and Marriott properties, 3x points for airfare purchased directly with the airline and at U.S. restaurants, and 2x points on all other purchases
  • Anniversary Free Night Award valued at up to 50,000 points
  • Complimentary Gold status, plus earn Platinum Elite status when you spend $75,000 in a calendar year
  • $300 annual statement credit on purchases at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels
  • 15x Elite Night Credits towards elite status annually (can’t be stacked across cards)
  • Priority Pass Select membership (up to 2 complimentary guests per visit)
  • Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre✓® ($85) fee credit every four years
  • Free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi and premium in-room internet access

The SPG co-brand cards receive light updates, with both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express receiving an anniversary free night award, valued at up to 35,000 points, plus complimentary Silver Elite status, and will earn the same 15 elite night credits towards elite status as the Marriott cards. Again, not stackable with elite credits from other cards. Cardholders can upgrade from Silver to Gold Elite status by spending $30K in a calendar year (increasing to $35K from January 1, 2019). Furthermore, the SPG Business Amex loses its Sheraton lounge access, but the card gains extra points via 4x points on purchases at US restaurants, US gas stations, on wireless phone services from US providers and US shipping purchases.

Perhaps the most significant change comes from a drop in the earning power of the two SPG Amex cards. The cards will earn 6x points at Marriott and SPG properties, equal to the 2x Starpoints the cards currently receive, but, just 2x points on all other purchases, an effective 33% reduction in earnings on everyday spend!

Final Thoughts

Phew!! It’s a massive amount of information to take in, with changes across the entire spectrum of the Marriott Rewards/SPG loyalty eco-system. Despite the devalued earning power of the current SPG cards, we think the changes are positive, much more positive than we assumed in 2016 when the merger was announced. There is a slew of new benefits to digest, and we’ll be digging further into the program as new details come to light over the coming weeks. For now, let us know what you think of the combined program in the comments below.

Details of New Combined Marriott and SPG Loyalty Program
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Comments

  • Honestly, while some things are sure to shake out badly (as noted, properties will surely be re-categorized I’m sure), the changes aren’t that terrible overall. I’m cautiously optimistic.

  • I’ll miss the Chase card when it goes.

  • Could have been worse

  • All right. So SPG card is not for daily use anymore. The only use is the free anniversary night.

  • So far this doesn’t seem so bad.. just need to fit in some last minute SPG nights before the status conversion in August.

  • I find it amazing that so many SPG members are shocked by the new programme [on various blogs/forums] – obviously forgetting it was Marriott who bought Starwood.

    All in all, not that drastic changes for most members, we will have to see if there’ll be more shuffling between categories and the dates for peak/off peak redemptions.

  • Your email summarizing the combined accounts says the transfer to airlines is still 1:1 – although you describe it correctly here. You should send an email clarifying that, as I was really excited that it was still 1:1, 🤪

  • Right now you can transfer smaller amount of points from SPG – 2500 instead of 10000 Marriott points and the transfer ratio is better. Will they keep it? I’m not platinum member and can’t transfer 1 point at a time.

  • Not good news.

    Currently Gold, thanks to my Amex Platinum with breakfast etc. We will now lose those benefits.

    Therefore it is probably better to stick with Hilton where I am Diamond.

  • The reduction of everyday spend on my SPG personal Amex is really disappointing! It wasn’t clear if there were bonus categories for that one or just the business SPG Amex. Despite the loss of lounge access, I’ll probably keep that one due to the bonus categories but I think I’ll be dropping the personal card.

    I look forward to your in-depth articles! Thanks.

  • They really ruined it for loyal SPG members with all this senseless elite mapping and no breakfast for Golds.

  • Everyone is saying this is a positive move, but all the facts and actually the most important fact is not known. That is, where will the hotels slot into the 8 new levels? If Marriott just moves there existing levels horizontally in to the new levels, then this will be devastating. Those 7 and 8 level hotels are the one you want to use your points for. If a property is now 40K, and then goes to 65K or 80K, then you will see the most devaluation of any airline or hotel program.

    Do not call this a positive change by Marriott until all facts are known. I have recently stayed, unfortunately, in some level 6 Marriotts that should be level 3. The new lounges for Marriott are a huge step down. I have been made to eat breakfast in the lounge and not in the restaurant. Big difference.

    Finally, there is another level for those of us that are grandfathered at Liftetime Platinum Elite Premier, but somehow without all the benefits. Very confusing.

    When the dust settles, all the bloggers saying this is positive, will be eating their words. Why in the world do you think Marriott separated the new hotel valuations from this announcement.?

    A bomb is coming in August.

    • We’re not saying everything is positive, but if you look at it black or white, horrible or not horrible, things are a lot better than they could have been on many levels. And yes, at the end of the day the award charts will dictate how bad this all is.

  • Claire Wrigley says:

    Thanks for the great overview. I agree that it could have been a lot worse. I’m just sad to lose my lounge access from the Platinum AMEX card but it was too good to last.

  • Bad news. There are not going to be 40k or 45k categories. Which means the current 49 or 45k will be in the 50k or 60k to align with the SPG properties. So this is a devaluation

  • Still unsure as to whether or not to keep my SPG card since the earning rate is effectively lowered.

  • Although expected, this is a lot of information to absorb and figure out the impacts. I look forward to other articles to learn from.

  • nice to see new cards.

  • Burying this at the end masks how much SPG cards were the daily drivers for people and will take a hit: “most significant change comes from a drop in the earning power of the two SPG Amex cards. The cards will earn 6x points at Marriott and SPG properties, equal to the 2x Starpoints the cards currently receive, but, just 2x points on all other purchases, a 33% reduction in earnings on everyday spend”

  • Thanks for the break down!!!

  • Thanks for the summary breakdown.

  • Don’t see how many of these changes are positive. Loss of lounge at Marriott brands for gold members, higher redemption rates, more tiers (do hotels really need 6 tiers to segment a small set of benefits?) and lower earnings on credit cards, non stackable elite night credits,

  • deerseason says:

    I’ll be interested in seeing the new award category levels. Overall slightly messy but not terrible, seems more like another transitional system that’ll move away from in a year or two.

  • Thanks for the good summary. This will be my go-to reference source.

  • what’s going to be with the ritz carlton card?

  • In the always devaluing world of points and miles, it’s good to see some companies committing to keep the value of their programs and the loyalty of their members!

  • Richard Blundell says:

    Really useful. Don’t think I have done too badly as a current Platinum member. Could have been a lot worse.

  • I think the worst part is the lack of CC stacking for elite nights- that’s the major way I have received status was from Chase Marriott and Chase Marriott business cards. Now I only get 15 no matter how many cards I hold, and I believe the award nights for each card do not count towards elite credits, either, so I may not want to keep them open even for those certificates.

    Also, the new SPG Luxury card gives gold status plus 15 elite nights– why? If I understand it correctly, that will only put my annual night count at 15, so I still have to earn all of the required gold nights before I can earn the platinum ones. Crazy.

  • There is a lot to digest here. Hopefully the SPG bonus for transferring points to frequent flyer miles really does stay in effect post-merger.

  • So much for my SPG “life.” Much to consider moving forward.

  • Not a bad result overall.

  • Not as bad as I feared

  • very useful, thank you!

  • Overall doesn’t look to bad! Will miss the Gold lounge access, breakfast & upgrades. I view the loss as more of a AMEX Platinum card issue. The fact of the matter is with the cutback in guests at Delta Lounges and the deterioration of the Platinum Hotel program the AMEX Platinum card has been losing value over the last few years.

  • Thank you for the hard work in putting this post together!

  • It is disappointing that there doesn’t appear to be a way to qualify on stays as well as nights.

  • Great summary of things to come. We all knew the devaluation was on horizon. They just set the goal post farther. Double down or redemption?
    New cards not as good. They can keep the annual certificate. Rather have a point bonus
    The most devastating thing about SPG personal being gutted on everyday spending. I used to look at it as 1.25 Miles for each $1 spent. To then use with any participating airlines.

  • WorldTraveller73 says:

    I think they are going to have to up their game in the credit card earning department. The earning rate is much softer and there are competitors that also offer a good program.

  • “Gold Elite members lose breakfast and executive lounge access,” This not good.

  • I have the SPG AMEX and have used it’s transferring to airlines ability a lot. That really why I keep it, so I’m glad that hasn’t been distroyed. I’ll miss the lounge access I now get as a gold member (through spending) though. Thanks for making the change understandable.

  • Not having lounge access for gold members is a devalue.

  • hope they stay focused on beating the competitors in benefits!

  • There is no mention to what happen to a Marriott 7-day certificate category 1 to 5 on August 2018.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Just read that if your amex platinum your Marriott plat is extended till the end of the year!😃

  • The_Bouncer says:

    This looks ok. Marriott is way down my list of preferred chains, but I do have a few points stashed.

  • Playalaguna says:

    Marriott is sugar coating the transition. They fully intend to wring the value out of their acquisition.

    Ask travel agents about how Marriott is now limiting commissions? Severely limiting commissionable rates, changing agency codes and driving guests to book directly. Must’ve decided that they are now large enough that they don’t need travel agents.

    When will that translate to guests?

  • This could have been much worse.

  • Waiting and wondering what tiers hotels will be assigned to

  • It looks like the base of new combines program will be Marriott, so what’ll happen with free points transfer from Starwood program?

  • Thank you for this summary of all the changes. I am disappointed to hear that the credit card earning power will be diminished with the new program. Guess it’s finally time for me to get a new credit card!

  • An informative read. It will be interesting to see how this change pans out. I think there will be a little bit of something for everyone.

  • Still have questions about the Marriott travel packages and what to do, transfer now or wait

  • To me its getting worse….Thats sad!

  • I asked about free transfer to another family member in SPG – in Marriott it’s not free

  • But with SPG you could get to Gold with 10 nights!

  • No devaluation, for now!

  • Wow I needed this! While I was watching I was trying to get my head wrapped around it all but it came fast and furious. lol!
    I really needed this all written down and divided up :o) I counted on that ya’ll would have a break down and you didn’t disappoint.
    And now I’m going to play lazy and just ask…for lifetime silver, etc. can you get a status from the credit card and then stay 250, 400 night etc and get lifetime? My brain is saying no but my heart is saying please let it be so! lol!

  • As there is the Promo at the moment with 35% Bonus – would you still buy these Points? Or is the Game over?

    • Even with a 35% discount, we only recommend buying points if you have a specific redemption in mind and you are 100% confident the value of the redemption exceeds the purchase price, which in this case is a touch under 2.3¢ per point.

  • Let’s see how things look when the award chart is finally mapped to specific properties…

  • It is absolutely immenent that SPG program will not survive in it its current form and all the future changes will be a devalution in some form or another.

  • Beppoello81 says:

    Very useful. Thanks for the wrap up.

  • thank you for the info!

  • @Byron says: “Why in the world do you think Marriott separated the new hotel valuations from this announcement?

    I do fear that the separation and delay of the key news does not bode well for us.

  • Do you think the 7-day certificate will be related to a category as it is now or it will become more points related?
    I have a 7-day certificate category 1 to 5 and I don’t know if it’s better to book before or after August.

  • I don’t like any devaluation, but it’s not awful.

  • On the bright side, those top tiers hotels could be redeemed with discounted rate for the 2nd half year of 2018.

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