Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

From August …. a 5-month window to redeem at the best Starwood hotels for 40% off

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

We have spent a lot of time this week discussing the new (and still nameless) merged Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards loyalty scheme.

If you missed it, this article here is a good place to start.

There is one positive aspect of all this which you may want to start thinking about.  

Gritti Palace Venice

Here is the high end of the new redemption chart, listed in thousand of points per night:

Category 6 – 50 standard / 40 off-peak / 60 peak

Category 7 – 60 standard / 50 off-peak / 70 peak

Category 8 (2019 only) – 85 standard / 70 off-peak / 100 peak

This chart will kick in during August.  However:

Category 8 will not be launched until 2019 – these hotels will be Category 7 from August to December

Only standard pricing will be available from August to December

Let’s be clear about what this means:

From 1st January 2019 the highest possible reward night will cost 100,000 points per night (Cat 8 peak)

BUT …. between August and 31st December 2018 the highest possible reward night will cost 60,000 points per night (Cat 7 standard)

At present, the highest category Starwood hotels – if we convert to ‘new scheme’ points – cost 90,000 to 105,000 points per night.

So …. for a five month period you can book ‘top category’ Starwood hotels for 43% off their current peak price (105,000 points down to 60,000 points) and for 40% less than they will be on 1st January (100,000 points from 60,000 points).

What hotels are we talking about?

This page of the Starwood website (link does not work on mobile unless you use desktop view) lists their current ‘Category 7’ hotels.  These cost 30,000 to 35,000 SPG points per night at present, equivalent to 90,000 to 105,000 points in the new scheme.

Highlights include (click to visit the hotel website):

The St. Regis New York  

The St. Regis Aspen  

The St. Regis Florence  

Hotel Danieli, Venice  

The Gritti Palace, Venice  (pictured above)

The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort, reviewed here  

W Verbier  

Al Maha desert resort, Dubai  

The St. Regis Bali Resort  

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

You can find a full list of ‘top category’ Starwood hotels here.  The link does not work on a mobile unless you switch to desktop view.

There are some astounding – and astoundingly expensive, in peak season – hotels on this list.  Mallorca is £700 per night in the Summer for example – and that is for a non-refundable pre-paid room.  The ability to book them for 60,000 Marriott Rewards points or 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points (both of which will convert to 60,000 ‘new scheme’ points) is a very rare opportunity.

And availability will not be an issue.  The new scheme will have ‘last room availability’.  If a standard room is bookable for cash, it will be bookable for rewards.

They could be even cheaper.  I am assuming – although I don’t think it is confirmed – that the current ‘book five nights, only pay for four’ redemption pricing deal will continue.

You have until August to pick up some Marriott or Starwood points ….

If any of the properties above are on your bucket list then you should be thinking of ways of picking up some points between now and the August to December period.  As you can book a year ahead you will be able to lock in the whole of 2019 for 60,000 points per night.  If ‘book five, pay for four’ continues, as we think it will, your average cost will be just 48,000 points per night on a five night stay.

The obvious way of picking some points is via credit and charge card sign-up bonuses:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (free in Year 1) has a bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points (£2000 spend in 90 days required) which converts into 10,000 Starwood points which converts into 30,000 Marriott points

American Express Platinum has a bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points (£3000 spend in 90 days required) which converts into 15,000 Starwood points which converts into 45,000 Marriott points

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card has a bonus of 10,000 Starwood points (£1000 spend in 90 days required) which converts into 30,000 Marriott points

Remember that you can transfer Starwood and Marriott points for free if you share an address.  If you and your partner took out an Amex Gold and a Starwood Amex and pooled the points, you would have over 120,000 points.  That is enough for a two night break at any of the hotels above, probably £1000 to £1500 of value at peak season, as long as you book between August and December when the hotels will be reduced to 60,000 points.

This is also a potentially valuable use of your existing American Express Membership Rewards points.  40,000 Amex points would get you 20,000 Starwood points which gets you 60,000 Marriott points which gets you a free night at any of the hotels above – plus many more.  You could get close to 2p of value per Amex point on a peak night.

And a good ‘buy points’ bonus …..

You can also currently buy Starwood Preferred Guest points at 35% off in a new offer launched yesterday – the link is here.  This is slightly insane if you work it properly.  30,000 SPG points will cost you $682.50 (£480).  That would convert into 90,000 Marriott points which gets you 1.5 nights at any of the hotels on the list above, which is the equivalent of £320 per night.

Of course, you can’t book at 60,000 points per night until August so you won’t be able to go now, but your mind will hopefully be whirring with ideas ….

The good thing about the ‘60,000 points per night’ redemption rate is that you have three months notice to think about it before it starts, and when it does open the window will last for five months.  That means plenty of time to get a strategy in place if you are keen.

If you want to buy SPG points at 35% off, however, you need to do that via this page by 31st May.

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

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (September 2023)

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.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits each year 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 Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable 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 (84)

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

  • Jimbob says:

    So I buy 30k spg points, my wife buys 30k points and my cat buys 20k points, then I can merge the points and get a 5 night stay in a top hotel for approx £1300? No bad a all

  • N says:

    Slight OT but if anyone is struggling to use their Marriott Cat 1-5 cert from Megabonus Q4 2017, I had expiry extended from June 18 to Apr 19 on mine. Called and asked.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Same with the Travel package certificates – they’ll extend them once by one year, as a goodwill gesture (well known, but they even mentioned it without prompting on the phone when I last purchased one a couple of weeks ago).

      Currently it’s best to call up just prior to the present expiry date, though of course things could change, so it may be good to do it sooner, rather than later.

    • Pangolin says:

      They have no issues with extending as the points are worth less with every passing year.

  • Rob says:

    Weird. Yes, that is the page.

  • Tom1 says:

    Maybe this is a stupid question- but will the current categories for Marriott hotels stay the same?

    For example I can get a Category 7 Marriott now for 35k marriott points per night.

    Under the new tiers they will be 60k if booked in Aug-Dec, then 50 or 70 off-peak/peak from Jan 2019 onwards.

    So worst case that 35k becomes 70k for peak days next year?

    • Rob says:

      No, the categories are all going to move around. We won’t know what is where until later in the year.

  • simon says:

    so Net Net, I can book great hotels for 40,000 Amex points a night. (possibly reduced to 32,000 on the 5 for 4 deal)….. For all of 2019…. this is superb!!! One question… How can a family of 4 best use this deal??? Is there a better way than having to book 2 rooms per night? Maybe book 1 and pay an uplift to get a suite? Are there any rules hotels use for this ?? EG at the St Regis in Mallorca??

    • Rob says:

      IIRC Mallorca doesn’t have base rooms that take four – we looked into this last year. For a family there is no easy option here UNLESS they allow standard priced redemptions at Maldives, Bora Bora etc where you’d get a villa. You could obviously negotiate a cash upgrade directly with the hotel.

      • simon says:

        Thanks Rob. Yeah it looks like book 2 rooms or pay cash for an upgrade which would probably work out better value. Or dump the kids and use this deal for an adults only holiday !

  • Lisa says:

    Do you qualify for the bonus on Starwood gold Amex if you hold gold or platinum amex

  • Jon says:

    Presumably Marriott’s ‘book before you’ve got the points’ option would be usable?

  • Melvin says:

    When clicking any web link hold:

    ‘Ctrl’ key = new tab
    ‘Shift’ key = new browser window

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.