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All (?) you need to know about the new merged Marriott and Starwood hotel loyalty programme

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Last night Marriott held a major event in New York to outline the first steps of the integration of Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards.

This is what was announced, along with some other information supplied to me in advance.  It covers almost everything I wanted to know.

You will be able to find the official version of the news on the Marriott website here.

When do the changes start?

August 2018.  From that date you will be able to permanently combine your existing Marriott Rewards, The Ritz Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts into one account.

You will be able to book and redeem at ALL 29 combined Marriott and Starwood brands on both the Marriott and Starwood websites.

The individual programme names will continue until the end of 2018, but from August all earning and spending benefits will be unified between the legacy schemes.

What will the new programme be called?

I don’t know.  We won’t find out until 2019.

What is the point earning structure?

The current Marriott Rewards points structure will be the basis of the new programme.  Starwood Preferred Guest will also adopt this earning structure from August to December, before the new scheme launches in 2019.

You will earn ten base points for every dollar spent at all brands except for Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element which will be five points per every dollar spent.  There will also be elite status bonuses.  In August, all members will begin earning points for food and beverage and qualifying incidentals on their folio, rather than just the room rate.

Here are the status bonuses (based on the new tiers, not your current tier):

  • Silver members will earn 11 points per $1
  • Gold members will earn 12.5 points per $1
  • Platinum members will earn 15 points per $1
  • Platinum Premier members will earn 17.5 points per $1

Marriott says “members will earn more points faster than under the prior programs — on average 20% more points for every dollar spent”.  This primarily reflects the improvement in ‘points per $’ earning at the Starwood brands.

What is happening to elite tiers?

From August, there will be FIVE elite tiers going forward.  These will be based on your COMBINED SPG and Marriott nights in 2018.

You can no longer earn status based on stays, as SPG members can now.  All qualification will be based on nights.

Silver – will require 10 nights

Gold – will require 25 nights

Platinum – will require 50 nights

Platinum Premier – will require 75 nights

Platinum Premier (elite) – will require 100 nights and $20,000 of spend, in return for a personal ambassador

Existing lifetime status benefits will continue to be honoured.

Your existing Marriott tier will be ported to the new programme on this basis in August:

Silver (10-24 nights) = Silver

Silver (25-49 nights) = Gold

Gold = Platinum

Platinum = Platinum Premier

Platinum with 100+ nights and $20k spend = Platinum Premier with Ambassador

Your existing Starwood tier will be ported to the new programme on this basis in August:

Preferred Guest = Silver

Gold = Gold

Platinum = Platinum

Platinum with 75+ nights = Platinum Premier

This is a problem.   This potentially means that if you have Starwood Gold via American Express Platinum, even if you have matched it to Marriott Gold, you will only receive Gold status in the new programme as your status is ‘officially’ driven by your Starwood level.  This will mean that people like myself, who currently receive lounge access and 4pm check-out with a Marriott Gold comped from an SPG Gold, are going to suffer a loss of benefits in August.  We will even see our elite status bonus cut from 50% to 25%.  I await firm confirmation of this though.

What are the status benefits apart from extra base points?

Silver – nothing except points bonus

Gold – 2pm check-out, welcome gift, preferred room

Platinum – 4pm check-out, lounge access, welcome gift, suite upgrade certificates for 50 nights

Platinum Premier – additional suite upgrades for 75 nights

Breakfast benefits are being expanded

Platinum members (current Gold members) will receive free breakfast or lounge access at most of the 29 brands.  For the first time, free breakfast will be offered at resort properties.  Courtyard, AC Hotels, Moxy and Protea will offer free breakfast for the first time.  Some brands will offer a breakfast credit instead of ‘all you can eat’.

You will not get free breakfast at EDITION, Gaylord, The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, and Marriott Vacation Club.

However, current Marriott Gold members who were matched from Starwood Gold will LOSE their breakfast / lounge benefit as they will remain Gold in the new programme.

What is happening to points redemptions?

The new reward chart will have peak, standard and off-peak pricing for all hotels.

There will be no blackout dates.

From August to December, all hotels will be available at standard pricing for all dates.  Peak and off-peak pricing will be added in 2019.

Marriott Travel Packages will continue but we do not know the exact details.

Here is the reward chart

Read this as standard / off-peak / peak:

Category 1 – 7.5 / 5 / 10

Category 2 – 12.5 / 10 / 15

Category 3 – 17.5 / 15 / 20

Category 4 – 25 / 20 / 30

Category 5 – 35 / 30 / 40

Category 6 – 50 / 40 / 60

Category 7 – 60 / 50 / 70

Category 8 (2019 only) – 85 / 70 / 100

This is a very good result, in general.  Some of the top SPG hotels will become cheaper, noticeably so off peak, as will some The Ritz-Carlton Hotels.

We do not know at present which hotels will be in which list.  However, unless a ludicrously huge number of hotels went into Category 9 I would imagine that the majority of high profile redemption hotels, especially off peak, will be cheaper.

What will happen to airline transfer rates?

Marriott is keeping the generous SPG system.  3 points = 1 mile with a bonus of 5,000 miles if you transfer 60,000 points.  This is IDENTICAL to the current SPG structure.  It seems that most (all?) partners from all three schemes will remain on board.

You really couldn’t ask for more than this.

What happens with the SPG airline ‘in flight’ partners?

Crossover Rewards with Delta will end as of 15th July.

The partnerships with Emirates and China Eastern will continue for now as long as you are registered.  I am guessing that registration may cease at some point even if the benefits continue.

The Marriott partnership with United will continue.

What happens to the UK credit cards?

The free Marriott UK credit card, issued by Creation, will re-open for new applications in August.  Don’t all rush at once at the opportunity to earn 1 point per £1 spent.  Although, ironically, it will be a better Avios card on that basis than the Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard!

The bonus of 10,000 Marriott Rewards for signing up is a tasty 3,333 free Avios though.

The Starwood American Express card will continue.

What happens in 2019 remains to be seen.  Will we really have an American Express card from one issuer and a Mastercard (for the same scheme) from a different issuer?

It appears, at least in the US, that American Express Platinum will continue to give Gold status.

Moments is being expanded

The Moments experiences platform is expanding.  One part of this is commercial – you will be able to buy, for cash, 110,000 (!) experiences.  Special events will continue to be exclusively available for members using points.   There will be a new bespoke Moments Live event series with Keith Urban as one of the first artists to appear.

Conclusion

If Marriott didn’t have such a bad reputation for legging over its loyalty scheme members over the years, we shouldn’t have been surprised by anything here.  The two programmes have been slotted together neatly.  No major feature have gone, no major features have been added – and everyone benefits from having a wider footprint to earn and redeem.

The reality is that most people will be pleasantly surprised by this, as am I.  This is despite the fact that it seems I will lose lounge access and 4pm check-out in August as my Marriott Gold was not earned but comped from my Starwood status.

I am meeting Marriott this morning and if anything else interesting turns up I will write it up later.

For now, though, you can stop worrying and go back to something more productive!

More information is available on this special section of the Marriott website.


How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (June 2022)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (198)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Adrian says:

    Hi Rob, the loss of lounge access and 4pm checkout, also the biggie for me is the loss of breakfast too.
    I read it slightly different in that this would be the case from 2019 but we would retain the benefits from August 2018 to Jan 2019, can you find out if this is the case or if I’ve read it wrong?
    It looks like I’m back to Hilton, as new gold looks pants.

    • RK says:

      There seems to be confusion about this on Flyertalk and the various travel blogs. Some of the established bloggers now believe that those with Marriott Gold (matched from SPG Gold, in turn gained from Amex Platinum), will be made Platinum in this new program from August until December 31st only. Rob seems to be reading this differently. I don’t know if he is just interpreting it differently or if he has specifically asked an insider about this.

      My reading of the Marriott page on these changes is that those with Marriott Gold become Platinum in August. There is no ambiguity or exclusions mentioned. I have Marriott Gold status so therefore I will become Platinum.

      That said, just because their page mentions no exclusions does not mean they do not exist and it sounds like Rob may know something from insider knowledge. Hopefully he might confirm later today.

      • RK says:

        And of course their website on these changes says that SPG Gold will become Gold under the new program. SPG Gold currently automatically grants/equals Marriott Gold status. Under the new program SPG Gold = Gold and Marriott Gold = Platinum. This is a contradiction that needs to be clarified.

        • RK says:

          UPDATE: One of the major blogs asked the Marriott VP in charge of rewards this specific question and his answer was that as long as the SPG Gold is used to match to Marriott Gold before August 1st, then that Marriott Gold will become Platinum in the new program until year end.

        • Roger says:

          What is the best time then to sign up (or renew) SPG gold to marriott status to prolong the status as much as possible?

        • Alex W says:

          Wahoo! Thanks @RK. Which blog? I tweeted Marriott on this but they didn’t reply.

        • Alex W says:

          @Roger SPG gold is worth little so I would do it now if it means you get Marriott platinum aug-dec.

        • FlyingChris says:

          @Roger. Not sure it matters. SPG – Marriott is a status *link*, not a match, with status linked to your SPG tier. SPG status granted today should (?) last until the start of 2020 in the new program.

        • Roger says:

          I meant renew, as I am already Gold in both, but renew using current Amex Platinum

        • RK says:

          @Alex. Not sure if I’m allowed mention other blogs here but the link to the blog and the answers from the Marriott VP is in this FlyerTalk thread:
          https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marriott-rewards/1904314-marriott-gold-status-august.html

          Seems like everyone has a different opinion on this issue but this interview with the Marriott VP on this blog does seem pretty (if not 100%) conclusive.

        • RK says:

          Poat #5 on that flyertalk thread has the link to the blog.

  • Dan says:

    Interesting to see the level at which the new combined scheme will offer status matches? E.g. I wonder whether Hilton Diamond would match to Gold or Platinum in the new scheme? That is, if Marriott even offer status matches on a regular basis?

    • Sergey says:

      They don’t (normally at least). But they offer status challenges.

  • Neil says:

    I’m not impressed at all. I’ll stick with IHG and Hilton.

  • Henry says:

    Probably wishful thinking that they might honour benefits for bookings made before August. I was planning to stay in Amsterdam but without the late checkout (and club access) there is no point in that being in the Marriott.

    • Roger says:

      I have a booking in October (booked couple of months ago) on Marriott Travel package.
      I am Marriott gold via SPG. Would I continue to receive gold benefits in October, not interested in late check out but for 7 night stays at JWM (non resort), I will be looking for free breakfast.

      While booking hotel directly confirmed that BF will be complimentary due to Mariott Gold (incl. family members), not sure they will still honor if the changes are applied from August 1st.

      • Alex W says:

        Based on comment above from RK you’ll be platinum from aug to Dec.

  • Lax says:

    So if we have Silver thanks to the Amex Platinum there seems little point in matching it to Marriott Gold.

    I’m sure there will be a few complaints about being downgraded by the new system and loosing breakfast etc.

    Might as well stay using Hilton as a Diamond as now we will get less at the Marriott.

  • HA says:

    Based on my personal stay patterns, which some may relate to, I have 5 queries as a SPG Platinum Ambassador over the last few years :

    1. Will the members be able to earn elite night credit for upto 3 rooms booked under the member’s name as was the case with SPG OR will the Marriott policy prevail whereby members may only earn points and NOT elite night credits for upto 3 rooms per reservation.

    2. Will the Starwood Luxury Privilege Programme stick around ? This was a great way to get additional valuable benefits at many premium properties.

    3. Will members in the same household still be able to transfer points to each other irrespective of any immediate use ?

    4. As per current SPG T&Cs and qualification requirements, my SPG Platinum Ambassador status is suppose to last until 28th February, 2019. However, in the current case it seems as if this will only last until 31st December. Am I correct in my understanding ?

    5. I currently have 10 SNAs and will earn 10 more by June end. Does this mean that on 1st August my 20 SNAs will be reduced to just 5 SNAs. Additionally can my 20 SNAs be used even at Marriott properties from 1st August onwards ?

  • Jaka says:

    I cannot see how any Holder of Platinum AMEX can be happy about this change as they lose out in almost every aspect. Personally I will be moving all my hotel spending away from Marriott because of this change.

    • JamesB says:

      I cannot understand the huge song and dance about this, Marriott benefits from amex platinum were a recent lucky break, never a part of the deal. The reversal is no fault of amex, and if anybody took out platinum for these benefits alone they are mad. In any case they can cancel for a pro rata refund.if they wish.

      • Leo says:

        +1. Although if you’d booked a Marriott between now and the end of the year for free breakfast you’d be annoyed but that’s as far as it goes. It’s a loop hole we’ve been able to exploit for 5 minutes basically.

      • Rob says:

        Cannot argue with that.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Exactly up in arms about a generous upside from the merger. It was never promised by AMEX or Marriott.

        The two offers are AMEX give you SPG gold and Marriott offers to match your SPG status. As far as I can see you are getting exactly what it says on the tin if you stay at Gold in the combined programmes.

    • Rob says:

      SPG Gold was useless before they got bought. This just puts you back where you were.

  • Claire says:

    Hi Rob,

    In August when existing points convert, it says your balance will be tripled. Would that include just earned points or points you purchased?

    Thanks 🙂

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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