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Here’s the August date for the full Marriott / SPG merger – and news on Travel Packages

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I spoke to David Flueck, the big cheese at Marriott Rewards (his business card says something more prosaic) yesterday.  He filled me in on the timeline for the merger of the SPG and Marriott programmes.

This is what we already knew:

During August there is a ‘big bang’ day when the two programmes effectively become one.  The two scheme names – Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest – will continue and there will be two websites, but they will be clones of each other.  

The new reward chart kicks in from this date – we talked about the new chart here, highlighting the best and worst of the changes 

Marriott and Starwood loyalty scheme merger 18 August

The new elite tiers kick in – we discussed those here 

Your existing Starwood points balance gets multiplied by three

The new benefits package kicks in – for example, top tier elite members will start to get free breakfast at brands such as Moxy and JW Marriott Resorts where they do not get it today.

In January, there will be a 2nd round of changes when the new scheme name will be unveiled, a new website launched and the existing Marriott Rewards and SPG sites closed.

Pretty much everything you need to know is in my article from March here and my article from June on the new Marriott / Starwood redemption chart here.

What we didn’t know is the date.  Now we do.

The new combined scheme will launch on Saturday 18th August.  It will cover 6,500 hotels in 127 countries.

There will be a substantial period of downtime whilst the databases are moved across – and 20 million new lines of code added and tested, apparently – so it isn’t clear exactly when on Saturday 18th August you will be able to make redemptions.

This is important if you are planning to jump in on some of the 60,000 point bargains which will be available.  These are hotels which will jump to as much as 105,000 points per night from January when the new Category 9 and peak pricing begins.

At the extreme, hotels such as St Regis Maldives will drop from the equivalent of 270,000 points per night now to 60,000 points if you book between 18th August and 31st December, for stays up to 31st December 2019.

The new combined programme will have 110 million members.   If the new scheme was a country, it would be the 12th biggest by population.

Marriott and Starwood loyalty scheme merger 18 August

The new scheme name will not be revealed until January 2019.  Just to make life awkward for people like myself who need to write about it ….

From 18th August you will be able to formally merge your current Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts.  Once you have done, you will see a combined points balance and combined elite nights total when you log in to either website.

All SPG members will receive a new 9-digit account number that aligns with the specifications of the new system.  The new account number will appear through a pop-up when they log into their account. Passwords will stay the same unless you decide to change it. Some members of Marriott Rewards will also receive a new account number. These members will receive an email with their new account information.

What happens if you don’t trigger the merger? You end up with two accounts in the ‘new Marriott’ scheme.

I took the opportunity to ask David about the two key merger questions that I am always asked:

Is it now 100% certain that anyone who has Marriott Gold from a Starwood Gold match, and whose Starwood Gold came as a credit card perk, will be Gold and not Platinum in the new scheme?

Yes.

(If you are Marriott Gold because you earned it, you become Platinum in the new scheme.  Platinum in the new scheme is, in terms of benefits, the same as Gold in the old scheme.)

What will happen to existing Marriott Travel Packages which are not yet redeemed?

I did not get the answer that you may have wanted.  Travel Packages are well down the list of priorities at the moment.  Marriott will NOT be telling people before 18th August what will happen to their existing unused package.

David’s recommendation is to redeem now if you want to be certain of getting a specific hotel, but of course that is no use if you want what is currently a Starwood property.

If you are on the fence about getting a Travel Package, I can’t help you decide.  You won’t know before 18th August if you will get a better deal or not by waiting.

After 18th August, redemptions of existing Travel Package hotel certificates will be suspended.

David specifically said to me that Marriott is considering voiding all outstanding Travel Packages after 18th August and refunding the hotel part.

This may not happen.  It is possible that they find a way of mapping existing packages across to the new categories.  However, be aware that – after 18th August – you will not be able to book a hotel using an existing Travel Package certificate until they have made up their mind. You are at the mercy of Marriott as to whether they decide to reimburse your points (less the value of the airline miles you’ve already had) or find a way of letting you book a comparable hotel to the old category system.

For clarity, if you buy a Travel Package after 18th August based on the new pricing chart you won’t have any problems.  You can redeem that without issue.

Most people sitting on Travel Package certificates were hoping to redeem for Starwood hotels.  This may well not happen now and they will be disappointed.

But …. it is possible that some people may be happy to get a large part of the cost of their package refunded. I will look at why in a future article.  For the brave, there could be an interesting gamble here.


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 (166)

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

  • RK says:

    David Flueck’s answer on Travel Packages is intriguing.

    Stating the obvious here but the fact that they won’t say until August 18th means one of the following:

    Either

    1) They genuinely have not made up their mind what to do. Seems unlikely that they have not made some kind of tentative decision by now.
    2) What they are going to do will be generous for those who currently hold TPs and they do not want to tell people, for (a very reasonable) fear of a flood of people buying last minute TPs.
    3) What they are going to do will be bad for those who currently hold TP’s and they do not want to say for fear of a flood of people redeeming TPs all at once.

    I really think #3 is the least likely, just because programs usually, but not 100% always, give a headsup when they going to devalue something, to allow people a chance to redeem them. Also I think this would be really bad PR for them, especially for people like me, who just this month bought/obtained a TP from Marriott with a 12 month expiry. e.g. I sold you something worth $1000 last week but now I am going to take it off you and give you $100 for it. It would be pretty harsh.

    • BJ says:

      According to Rob’s comments on IF and his response to my comments on first page here existing MRTP certificates will be voided and points returned. We do not know how many will be returned so it is a gamble as you discuss. Rob commented earlier that he finidhed writing an article on this which he plans to run tomorrow.

      • Rob says:

        My money is on No 2

      • BJ says:

        Agreed, for the simple reason Marriott have been very fair and professional throughout this merger process. I cannot see that changing now, I think it has generated a lot of goodwill amongst their members. If they were smart, many other loyalty schemes would take note of how Marriott has gone about this.

  • BigSi says:

    Also worked for me a few weeks ago for USA rental.

  • Peter says:

    Any update on what is happening to those who got Gold through SPG/Amex Platinum?
    Thanks

    • BJ says:

      You will be gold in new scheme so no breakfast, lounge etc.

      • Peter says:

        Even if I book now for a stay in late August? Should’ve used my points up earlier..

        • BJ says:

          For stays through 17th August you will get benefits if you book now but not for stays from 18th onwards. You could always emsil your proposed hotel and enquire if they will extend benefits to you, for a 7 night stay. They might well be willing, especially if you have nearby choices with Hilton. I recently did this very successfully pssying a Courtyard off sgainst a JW with ongoing renovations.

        • DaveL says:

          I think this is an interesting question. I have bookings confirmed for October and my confirmation emails explicitly state my benefits (including breakfast etc.) Are they really not going to honour that upon arrival, since my status hasn’t increased to platinim? I will certainly be having a polite conversation with them if they suggest that contrary to my confirmation I cannot have free breakfast. But will equally be prepared to accept if the answer is no, as overall I don’t think the changes are unreasonable…

        • BJ says:

          @DaveL, some readers in your situation have emailed hotels requesting sritten confirmation these benefits will be honoured given status changes were unknown at time of booking.

  • Craig says:

    Looking at 2 nights in SA, Protea by Marriott, Cat 20. Just making sure I’ve got this right, 13400 Amex MR = 6700 SPG = 20100 Marriott? If I’m right then that’s a bargain because the hotel is £150 a night.

    • Craig says:

      Cat 2 even.

    • Genghis says:

      The proteas are bargains currently but going up sharply

    • Jonny says:

      Careful here as can only transfer SPG>Marriott in multiples of 1000, so will need 14000 membership rewards points

      • Genghis says:

        Good point. Also Amex->SPG is multiples of 400. For SPG->Marriott, also remember it might be worth transferring Marriott->SPG first (1000->333) before then doing SPG->Marriott (1,000->3,000).

      • Craig says:

        Thanks Jonny.

  • Davef says:

    For anyone wanting to transfer MR to SPG to make this happen be aware that Amex have disabled all points transfers until August 8th because of a system upgrade (or so it say on my account).

  • VJ says:

    Repeat Question – How many leading zero while converting Amex MR to SPG

  • John says:

    Has it been confirmed that anyone who reaches 25 stays at ‘SPG’ properties in 2018 will be given platinum? Then the new rules kick in for 2019? Thanks

  • Matt says:

    Will we be able to book hotels like the St Regis Maldives online with points then? Right now it shows limited SPG benefits

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

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