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To help its customers understand the relevant aspects of the Marriott-Starwood merger, Marriott has put together an FAQ section on its website. The FAQ is quite extensive (excessive even), so to simplify the process we have sorted through all of them and brought forward what we think are the most relevant. At the end of each section, we have included comments with our take.

New Portfolio of Marriott Hotels - Ritz Marriott Starwood

General

How do I book a Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) participating hotel now that the companies have combined?
For now, you should continue to book your stays at SPG-participating hotels the same way you always have — such as visiting SPG.com or using the SPG App. While the companies are now combined under a single umbrella, the loyalty programs, and associated brands are still separate and operating under their respective organizations.

Does anything change with a reservation that I previously made at a hotel in the Marriott®, Ritz-Carlton® or Starwood® portfolios?
No, existing reservations won’t change at all.

Can I book Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG-participating hotels on the same site or in the same app?
Not yet. The programs are continuing to operate separately; when any merger of programs happens you'll be able to then. For now, continue to book your hotel stays through the mechanisms that you've been using:

• Marriott.com or the Marriott Mobile App for all hotels in the Marriott portfolio
• RitzCarlton.com or The Ritz-Carlton Mobile App for all Ritz-Carlton hotels
• SPG.com or the SPG App for all SPG-participating hotels

What does the merger mean for my Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest account?
The loyalty programs will continue to operate as separate entities for now. Best estimates are program consolidation in 2018. Points will continue to be accumulated in the program for which they're earned. That said, now that the two companies have merged, you can link your Rewards and SPG accounts to enjoy benefits across each program. The policy remains that you can be a member of either Marriott Rewards or The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, but not both programs.

In how many destinations and countries are there properties?
Marriott now has over 5,700 properties in more than 110 countries around the world.

What is changing with the merger?
Marriott wants you to take advantage of the best of both programs. That means a few things:
• You can now link your Rewards and SPG accounts.
• The highest status level will be matched across all of your accounts.
• You can freely transfer points between your accounts. (transfers are instant!)

Will I be able to use a Marriott GiftCard at SPG-participating hotels?
Not at the current time.

How will this impact airline partner status programs (e.g., Marriott and United/RewardsPlus, Starwood and Delta/Crossover Rewards)?

UPDATE: Delta and SPG have terminated the Crossover Rewards partnership as of 07/15/2018, full details in this post.

Marriott Rewards and SPG will continue to operate separately, including all existing partnerships. Members that link their accounts and receive a status match will be able to participate in these relationships fully.

Our Comments

Marriott and Starwood will continue operating separately for the time being. You cannot yet book a stay at a Starwood hotel or use a Starwood gift card at a Marriott hotel. What you can do is link your Marriott and SPG loyalty accounts, transfer points from one program tot the other and get status-matched from one program to the other (highest elite status will prevail).

Loyalty Programs

Will Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest be turning into one program?
Marriott doesn't anticipate that the two programs will come together before 2018, and they will keep you informed of any updates.

Can I earn Starpoints and receive SPG benefits during stays at hotels in the Rewards portfolio? And can I earn Rewards points and receive Rewards benefits for stays at hotels in the SPG portfolio?
You’ll continue to receive SPG benefits at hotels participating in the SPG program and Rewards benefits at hotels participating in the Rewards program. But you can’t earn or use benefits across programs — SPG hotels will not offer Rewards benefits, and Rewards hotels will not offer SPG benefits. You’ll only get your points and benefits at a hotel if you’re enrolled in the program in which that hotel participates, so it’s a good idea to sign up for both SPG and Rewards if you haven’t already. While the programs will remain separate for some time, learn more about how you can gain access to benefits across both programs through Status Match and Points Transfer.

Will I be able to combine stays in both programs towards my status?
Marriott anticipates that all three Loyalty programs will continue to run separately through early 2018, and your accounts remain separate. You’ll only earn credit for stays at a hotel if you’re enrolled in the program associated with that hotel.

Will I see all of my reservations for Rewards and SPG-participating hotels in the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton or SPG apps?
You’ll see your reservations for Rewards hotels in the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton mobile apps and reservations for SPG-participating hotels in the SPG App.

Can I see my points earned at SPG-participating hotels in my Marriott Mobile App or Ritz-Carlton Mobile App and vice versa?
If you’re an SPG member, your SPG App will show your points earned. If you’re a Rewards member, you can see points earned in the Marriott or Ritz-Carlton app. You’ll continue to earn Rewards points at Rewards participating hotels and Starpoints at SPG-participating hotels.

As a Gold or Platinum member of the Rewards or SPG program, how will my room upgrade benefit be impacted?
Your upgrade benefits within either program remain unchanged. Both programs will maintain the current policies for suite upgrades, as well, until further notice.

What happens to my existing Rewards points or Starpoints?
Your Rewards points will live in your Rewards account, and your Starpoints live in your SPG account. The programs will continue to operate as separate entities for some time. You’ll use Rewards points on Marriott.com or RitzCarlton.com and Starpoints on SPG.com. You can’t use one program’s points directly within the other program, but once you’ve linked accounts, you can transfer them between your accounts to redeem across the combined portfolio.

Can I earn Rewards Elite night credits for staying at an SPG participating hotel (or vice versa)?
Because the programs remain separate, you earn Elite nights in the program associated with the hotel at which you’re staying. For example, if you spend two qualifying nights at a Sheraton®, the credits apply to your SPG account, not your Rewards account.

I’m in Marriott Rewards Elite Concierge or have an ambassador through SPG. Do these benefits now work at all hotels?
Elite Concierges are associated with Marriott Rewards and ambassadors are associated with SPG, so they’ll remain within their respective programs. Your SPG ambassador can only make requests at SPG-participating hotels, and your Elite Concierge can only assist with requests at Rewards participating hotels.

If I have Lifetime Status in one of the programs, will I also get it in the other program when I link my accounts?
Lifetime Status is unique to the program that you earned it in. While linking accounts will not result in Lifetime Status in the other program, your Elite status will be matched to the same Elite tier in the other program. Any existing Lifetime Status you already hold within either program will still be enjoyed within that program. Marriott is working on more ways to recognize loyalty and Lifetime Status as they work towards harmonizing the programs, which they don’t anticipate happening until 2018.

I have a free night certificate or another promotional item (e.g., free breakfast, resort credit) from Rewards. Can I use it at an SPG participating hotel (and vice versa)?
No, all credits or certificates associated with a particular program have to stay within that program. You can’t apply a Rewards certificate on an SPG stay or an SPG Free Night Award on a Rewards stay.

I have a credit card that’s associated with Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards or SPG. Will anything be changing?
No changes here. You can keep using your card as you do today. Your credit card will continue to link to the program it’s associated with, and you will continue to accumulate points with that program.

Once you’ve linked accounts, you can transfer points earned through your credit card in one program to another program. If you’ve earned Elite night credits through your credit card, you can’t transfer those. However, if your card has given you Elite status, that status can be applied across programs through Status Match.

Can I still sign up for the credit cards associated with the Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG programs?
Yes, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG will remain separate loyalty programs for some time. You can sign up for whichever credit card product is right for you, whether one credit card or multiple credit cards.

Our Comments

When it comes to the way you book stays, manage reservations, apply for credit cards and use credit cards, nothing will change for the time being. Continue to do all of these things as usual.

Account Linking

What’s Account Linking?
If you have a Rewards account and an SPG account, you can link them together. If you're a Rewards member but not SPG member you'll want to join the Rewards program so you can create a link.

Linking your accounts gives you access to the best of Rewards and SPG. It’s the first step to obtaining Status Match across programs and the ability to transfer points between your accounts.

It is important to note that linking will not create one account — you’re just associating your two existing program accounts with each other. Points have different values in each program, but you can transfer them between your loyalty accounts.

Will my accounts link automatically?
No, they will not. While we think it’s a good idea to link your accounts, the decision is up to you. You must initiate Account Linking at Marriott.com, RitzCarlton.com or SPG.com; otherwise, your accounts will continue to operate as they have previously.

How do I link my Rewards and SPG account?
Linking accounts is easy. Here’s the process:
• Go online to link from one of your accounts: SPG, Marriott Rewards or The Ritz-Carlton Rewards.
• Log into your Rewards or SPG account.
• Log into the other account by providing your login credentials.
• If you are not already a member of the other program, now’s the best time to join. Just enroll online and then proceed to link your accounts.

How soon does Account Linking give me Status Match and Points Transfer?
As soon as you get your Account Linking confirmation, you’re ready to go — Status Matches applied automatically, and Points Transfer is immediately available for you to use.

Marriott will be syncing your accounts daily with their hotels; it might take up to 24 hours for your newly matched status to be reflected in your accounts. If you do something during this brief time that results in a status upgrade or downgrade, it could also take 24 hours to appear on your linked account.

Does linking my accounts merge them into one account?
No. For now, your accounts are still separate: one for Rewards, one for SPG. Linking creates a connection between them to allow for Status Matching and Points Transfer.

I just linked my accounts. Will my Rewards Elite nights and points be applied to my SPG account, too (and vice versa)?
No, each program is still operating independently. For example, if you have 100,000 points in a Rewards account, they won’t suddenly appear in your SPG account. You can transfer points between the two accounts.

You can’t transfer Elite nights between the programs, but you will immediately receive Status Match across programs. So if you have 50 Elite night credits in your Rewards account, giving you Gold Elite status, you won’t get 50 nights at SPG, too, but your Gold status will transfer over.

Now that my accounts are linked, will I simultaneously earn points in both programs?
No, your two accounts will have different points balances. Right now, you earn at the participating hotels that are part of each program. For example, if you stay at a Westin® (a participating SPG brand), you’ll earn Starpoints in your SPG account. Stay at a Renaissance® (a participating Rewards brand), and Rewards points will go to your Rewards account. But you can transfer points between the two accounts.

Will linking accounts affect my points and Elite nights?
Don’t worry; your points and Elite credits are safe and sound. Linking accounts doesn’t do anything to your points — it just lets you Status Match and transfer points from one program to the other. As for your Elite nights, they’ll stay in each of your programs; you can’t transfer them like you can points.

What happens to my Elite status expiration date?
Nothing will change until you link your accounts. Once you do that, your Elite status expiration date is based on whatever year your higher status program expires.

For example, if you are a Marriott Rewards member with Silver Elite status through February 2017 and an SPG member with Platinum status through February 2018, once you link accounts, both accounts would be Platinum level. Your Rewards account would have a new expiration date of February 2018, and your SPG expiration date would remain unchanged. If you achieve Platinum status with SPG again in 2017, the status expiration on both accounts will extend to February 2019.

As another example, if you’re an SPG member with Platinum status for two more months, and a Ritz-Carlton Rewards member with Silver status for 10 months, you’d be Platinum for two more months. If you do not qualify to have your Platinum status renewed at the end of those two months, but you qualified for Gold status, your SPG status will drop to Gold with an expiration of February 2019. Your Ritz-Carlton Rewards account would then also be Gold until February 2019.

Is there a deadline to link my accounts?
There are no deadlines; link your accounts whenever you want. The sooner you do, the sooner you can receive the benefits of status matching and transferring your points across the programs.

Our Comments

Although there is no deadline to do so, there is no reason to hold off on link your SPG and Marriott Rewards right away. With that, you'll be able to match your status in either program and enjoy the ability to transfer points between the programs. You will not yet be able to earn Marriott points for SPG stays and vice-versa. The same applies for elite night credits.

Status Match

I have attained Lifetime status in one of the loyalty programs already. Will that be recognized in the Status Match to the other program?
Don’t worry; you’ll continue to enjoy all the benefits of Lifetime status in the program in which you earned it. Marriott is initially matching your tier status between programs, and when the programs are combined in the future, they'll consider ways that preserve the continued recognition of their most valued lifetime customers.

Comments

Although it might take time for their systems to reflect it, any lifetime status you might have with one program already extends to the other provided you have linked your accounts. As for future lifetime status recognition of SPG members, once the programs have integrated, we'll have to wait and see.

Points Transfer

How do I transfer points between my Rewards and SPG accounts?
Transferring points is easy, fast and free.

First, your accounts need to be linked. Once you do that, just log in to your online account at Marriott.com, RitzCarlton.com or SPG.com and follow the easy steps to initiate the transfer. You won’t be able to transfer points by contacting the SPG or Rewards Customer Service Centers.

What’s the conversion rate between SPG Starpoints and Rewards points?
Marriott has developed a conversion rate that brings the value of the points in each program on par with the other. Here’s the breakdown:

1 Starpoint transfers to 3 Rewards Points. Conversely, 3 Rewards Points transfer to 1 Starpoint.

For example, if you transfer 9,000 Rewards Points to your linked SPG account, 9,000 Rewards points will be removed from your Rewards account, and 3,000 Starpoints will be added to your SPG account.

How many points can I transfer between Rewards and SPG?
You can transfer up to the full balance of your account in increments of 1,000 points into the linked account.

How long does it take for my transferred points to appear in my other account?
It’s instantaneous. Once you transfer, you can redeem your points for stays, merchandise or experiences immediately.

I have a mix of Elite night credits across my Rewards and SPG accounts. Can I transfer those, too?
No, only points can be transferred. Elite night credits stay with whichever program you earned them in.

Comments

Points transfers between Marriott and SPG accounts can easily be completed online. There is no limit to the amount of points you can transfer. The transfer ratio is 1:3 from Starwood to Marriott, and 3:1 Marriott to Starwood. Transfers are instant.

What Other Questions Do You Have?

The gist of where everything stands now is that you can fluidly move points between programs and you match to an equivalent status level. Indeed a great start to a whole bunch of unknowns we're likely to see in the next 14-18 months.

FAQs About Marriott & SPG Merger
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Comments

  • Shawn devooght says:

    Just to confirm, I can no longer use the Marriott stay and pay package to get the sw companion pass?

  • I am about 20K point shy of Lifetime Platinum at Marriott. I had the Chase Marriott card but they just cancelled that for Canada. I will get the SPG Amex which offers a bonus of 25K SPG (or equivalent of 75K Rewards). My question is, does the 75K count earned “reward” points or only SPG… i.e. does it help me get towards my Lifetime Platinum status. From what i can tell it does not. I dont stay at hotels for business much anymore so the Chase Visa was my primary mechanism for earning points that counted towards lifetime status. Any suggestions on the best way to get about 20K reward points that would qualify towards lifetime status? I know you can buy them.. would cost me about $250 US (which might worth it) but trying to figure out another way. I am in Canada so I cannot get any of the US credit cards.

    • SPG earned points will not count towards Marriott lifetime status. Perhaps they will when the programs merge. As for another way to do it, honestly, you’ve hit all the options I can think of, unfortunately.

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