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What you need to know from a leaked version of the new Marriott / SPG scheme rules

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There is still quite a bit we don’t know about the new merged Marriott Rewards / Starwood Preferred Guest programme which launches next Saturday.

A leaked copy of the new terms and conditions has appeared online (click here) which was apparently extracted from the Marriott website albeit not on a published page.  It is almost certainly genuine although whether it is the final version is a different question.

Here are the bits I found interesting, in as much as they differ from current practice or reflect areas where readers have asked me what will happen:

1.3.c.i – you only get free high-speed internet if your elite status membership number is in your booking 24 hours before check-in.  If you turn up at check-in and your number is not in the booking already, you don’t get free high-speed internet (in theory).

1.3.c.ii – if you book multiple rooms and are an elite member you only get free high-speed internet access for one of them.  Worth noting if you tend to book two rooms because you travel with kids or extended family.

1.6.d – points will only expire if there is no activity on your account for 24 months, either earning or spending (a few exceptions apply to what is counted as earning or spending)

2.1.b.d – you can earn points when dining or drinking at a Marriott or SPG property – even if you are not a guest – as long as you spend $10 (the old SPG rule carries across)

2.1.d.i – you can earn points on up to three rooms per stay but NOT elite night credit towards status, which is limited to one room per stay

2.8.a – you can transfer up to 50,000 points per year from one member to another as long as you share an address

2.8.c – once per year you can exceed the 50,000 point transfer limit as long as the points are used immediately for a redemption

3.2.e – resort fees are payable on reward nights, where such fees exist (Hilton does not charge these although this is not a change for Marriott / SPG)

3.2.e.iii – “Free Night Awards at the following locations require a higher amount of Points either because the Participating Property does not have standard rooms or the standard rooms it offers have a mandatory full board requirement in peak seasons:  Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand; The Naka Island, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Phuket, Thailand; Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas, Steamboat Springs, Colorado; The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal, Costa Rica; The St. Regis Bora Bora and the Le Méridien Bora Bora, Bora Bora, French Polynesia; Mystique, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini, Santorini, Greece; The St. Regis Bali Resort, Nusa Dua, Indonesia; Hotel Cala di Volpe, Hotel Pitrizza, and Hotel Romazzino, Costa Smeralda, Italy; W Maldives,  North Ari Atoll, Maldives; W Koh Samui, Surat Thani, Thailand; Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai, U.A.E.; St. Regis Residence Club, Aspen, Aspen, CO; and Phoenician Residences, a Luxury Collection Residence Club, Scottsdale, AZ.”

We were led to assume that these restrictions on the top SPG hotels were being removed and that no hotels would operate outside the new reward chart.  Perhaps not …..

3.2.n – NO BLACKOUT DATES.  Marriott has adopted the Starwood policy.  If a “standard” room is available for cash, you can book it for points.  Of course, some hotels play games over what they call a “standard” room.

3.3.a.ii – ‘paid upgrade awards’ will continue as an optional feature, where you pay a fixed sum at the time of booking to be guaranteed a better quality room.  This is one of the features of Marriott Rewards I rate highly and ensures you can get a big room if you need to fit in children.

3.5.b – PointSaver discounted rewards will not be offered at ex-SPG hotels for now, although to be honest they were always few and far between.

3.6.b – you can continue to book reward nights if you do not have the points in your account as long as you earn them 14 days before check-in.  However, this feature will not apply to ex-SPG hotels at this time which will disappoint some readers.

4.1.c – you will only receive elite benefits when you book via or a similar channel – it is NO LONGER POSSIBLE to book via Expedia etc and get your benefits.  This brings Marriott in line with every other hotel chain.

4.3.c.ii – Platinum members are not guaranteed a suite upgrade even if suites are availableAt The Ritz-Carlton, only Platinum Premier members will be considered for suite upgrades and upgrades will never include club access.  No upgrades will be given at Element or Aloft hotels.

5.3.d – you now only earn 10 elite night credits for your first meeting per calendar year.  It is no longer possible to book a number of 1-hour meeting rooms at your local Marriott and gain elite status purely via that route.

Merged Marriott Starwood terms conditions

There is probably some stuff that I have missed, or which simply didn’t interest me but might interest you.  Click the link at the top of the page if you want to read the whole document ….. but it is long.

Please note that this may not be the final version of the terms and conditions so things could still change between now and Saturday.

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

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

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

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 (118)

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  • Genghis says:

    I’ll be Gold the new scheme which essentially gets nothing. Marriott points are rather hard to earn compared to other schemes. The changes to the T&Cs change some things I liked, especially the unlimited SPG household transfers. As such, I’ll probably start running down my now rather large Marriott points balance and then have little involvement going forward. I think for me Hilton and even IHG will have the better overall offering.

    • Mark2 says:

      A serious downgrade on transfers.
      I agree that Hilton is now often better.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Only a downgrade if you don’t expect to book straight away.

        Do think the 50k cap is far too low though. Let’s see if some of these things get revised as time goes on

    • BJ says:

      Agree, Marriott had a great opportunity to ‘go after’ Hilton but they have not done so. They will remain my third choice chain after Hilton and IHG, my priority now is to retain Hilton Diamond and pick up IHG points where it is very cheap to do so. I have two TP to use and 72k points. Doubt Marriott will se much of me after that except possibly from SPG card churns.

      The point that was missed on transfers in the article is that those involved must now live at the same address like for old SPG rules. Old Marriott rules allowed transfers between members regardless of address.

      • Rob says:

        Compared to where it was 2 years ago, Marriott is much improved:

        * Platinum is now 50 nights rather than 75 nights
        * You get guaranteed 4pm late check-out at most brands (not available at all until 18 months ago)
        * Free (or $10 off) breakfast is available across more brands as of 18th August
        * You can earn and burn at the SPG hotels

        I only realised last week that I am in an SPG hotel next weekend (it is Luxury Collection so I’d forgotten it was SPG due to lack of branding) so I get to check in under one set of rules and check out under another set …

        • BJ says:

          Agree with this, they have improved and are not far behind and there is the airline transfers too, but they did not take the opportunity to go better. Besides, I think your judgment is severely impaired by a love affair with a guaranteed 4pm checkout 🙂 What’s the big deal man, can you not sit in the lobby with a drink for two hours, take a late lunch or afternoon tea or something? 2pm checkouts are easy to achieve at most hotels in my experience so I don’t see that much different with 4pm regardless of whether you have a flight at 7pm or 11pm. My judgement on Marriott is coloured by poor status recognition whereas Hilton have been superb for me these past three years. However, I think I recall you saying your upgrades at Hilton were poor.

          • Rob says:

            I have never had a decent Diamond upgrade at a Hilton in the year since I got it. This includes bookings where we had junior suites so a suite upgrade would only have been a one step upgrade. Only 1 stay was in the US where I accept you should lower expectations, the others were all Europe. There are two more bookings in the diary for October so let’s see what happens with those.

            (Worth noting that, for those 2 October stays, I am deliberately choosing Hilton on the basis of lounge access, free breakfast, hotel quality and potential upgrade, as I am at events where the ‘official’ hotel is a different one and I am slightly inconveniencing myself each day.)

        • Cat says:

          It’s really odd how inconsistent the upgrades are for Hilton – I got a corner suite in Dubrovnik, a lovely corner room at Evian-les Bains and a harbour view room in the Hong Kong Conrad (on NYE – so we had a fantastic view of the fireworks from our room), all from their most basic rooms while I was a Diamond, and as a Gold I got a junior suite and then a king deluxe corner room with a balcony (which I actually preferred, as the balcony had a lovely view) at Syon park. Other stays have mostly been twin rooms with friends, which does make upgrades rather difficult.

        • Alan says:

          Agree if top tier, but for mid tier it’s pretty poor – I’ll still mainly use Hilton whilst Diamond (have had some stunning upgrades with them!) and IHG when they make sense (as points fairly easy to accrue and have Spire AMB).

  • Crafty says:

    Do you think blogs such as this may have played a role in the retrospective decision to put top SPG hotels outside the banding?

    • BJ says:

      No, if anything I think blogs like this give travel providers pause for thought when trying to leg over their customers. The Iberia fiasco being a good recent example.

    • Rob says:

      Nah … the thing is, once peak pricing kicks in from January, Cat 9 hotels will be charging 100,000 points per night on a peak night. That is MORE than enough in my view. You are looking at 400,000 for a 5-day holiday in a Cat 9 and not many people get to that level.

  • FlyingChris says:

    Odd that St Regis Bali is on the apparently excluded list, when it was on the original preview list back in April.

    Also disappointing that Points Advance doesn’t apply to ex-SPG properties when there was nothing in the emails/transition website to suggest. Combined with lack of MR transfers (that wasn’t signposted) – looks like I’m out of luck on the 18th.

    • Tilly71 says:

      I’m SPG Gold in the last day or two but my linked Marriott account has not been matched?
      Can anyone advise me how long they usually take to match please.

      • Peter K says:

        Not sure at the moment but in the past you had to link accounts manually via their websites. The upgrade to Marriott Gold was then instant.

        • BJ says:

          Still the case, my partner did this on Saturday.
          #Tilly, were your accounts already linked before you became SPG gold? That might be why Marriott status is taking longer to change.

      • Dan says:

        Marriott gold was updated in a few days for me after triggering SPG gold through the SPG amex

        • Tilly71 says:

          Yes, accounts were already linked. I will wait a few days as like Dan, I matched via amex platinum.

      • rachael says:

        There are problems with this. I ended up going round and round between Marriott and SPG sending me links for a week or 2. In the end I called America Marriott ( call pm when UK Marriott closes) and after much arguments they sent me a special link and eventually it linked. But I must say it took me hours to sort, over a 2 week period and each company were blaming each other stating nothing wrong their end !

    • Paul says:

      And it’s not that great a hotel! IMHO. It shares a rather rough sand beach with the Novotel!

      • FlyingChris says:

        Have you been? Was looking at it as part of a Honeymoon trip next year. Lots of blogs have raved about it in the past. If excluded from points bookings, I guess makes the decision easier. Otherwise maybe the RC looks the next best (Marriott Points based) bet? Over say the W Bali.

        • Genghis says:

          We stayed at RC Bali for one night last year after it had recently opened. Fantastic hard product but soft product was seriously lacking and reading some TA reviews now, things perhaps haven’t changed. It has the potential to be a seriously good hotel. We then moved to the Conrad Bali for a week and whilst the hard product wasn’t as good, the soft product was absolutely fantastic and as such we had a great time.

  • Lee says:

    Loosing breakfast, upgrades and 4pm check out from Saturday means that I will no longer opting for Marriott over Hilton.

    • KBuffett says:

      Would anyone be able to clarify the breakfast & late checkout offering at Marriott’s and ex-SPG properties for Platinum (earned via status match)?

      • BJ says:

        Platinum members will get the guaranteed and conditional benefits of that status, including breakfast at almost all brands.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        If you’ve earned platinum by stays, nights or challenge you will stay platinum

      • Rob says:

        You’re joking 🙂

        There is a different rule for virtually all of the 29 brands!

  • JK says:

    This is the part I was least pleased about:

    “Platinum members are not guaranteed a suite upgrade even if suites are available. At The Ritz-Carlton, only Platinum Premier members will be considered for suite upgrades and upgrades will never include club access. No upgrades will be given at Element or Aloft hotels.”

    I don’t recall if the Suites were guaranteed under SPG, but this just seems like a massive “Get out of jail free Card” for the properties… And one of the very top things I valued in the SPG program.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I believe you had guaranteed suite upgrade nights you could use when you hit certain platinum levels

      • Riku says:

        the suite upgrade certificates from SPG were not guaranteed. The hotel would check a few days before you arrived to see if they had suite availability and confirm the upgrade 2-3 days before arrival. In effect they put you at the top of the queue of platinum members when it came to suite upgrades and they confirmed them a few days before. But often when I book even 3 months in advance they already say that certificates cannot be applied to the booking. Either all suites are booked by then (unlikely) or there is some threshold for suite sales and if the sales are above that level then certificates cannot be used on the booking.
        The whole system is rather vague anyway. I’ve had upgrade certificates refused 3 days before a booking and then at check-in receive an upgrade (which I get without needing to use any of the certificates I would have been happy to give up 3 days before).

  • Tilly says:

    I’ll be sticking with Hilton now, one Marriott stay booked for next month which I paid for before the announcements to changes were made, that will be my last. From now on it’ll be Hilton or the cheapest I can get for what I want if part of a holiday package. This was Marriott’s opportunity to entice me to move my loyalty from Hilton to them and they blew it.

    • Ian M says:

      What is it you like about Hilton over Marriott?

      I’m Hilton Diamond and have found upgrades to be dreadful (5 bookings so far). Also the late check out policy is woeful compared to Marriott. The Hilton in Sydney would only give me until 1pm. They offered me longer if I was willing to pay for it. So they clearly had availability.

      • Si**o says:

        I love Hilton Diamond – I think its the guaranteed lounge access which wins it for me.
        We always make sure we book a hotel with a lounge, and fully use our ‘monies’ worth – It can make a expensive resort a cheap stay with limited spend in bars / restaurants.

        Would always depend on which hotels you are staying at but across ASIA we’ve always had great upgrades.

        • BJ says:

          I’ve never used mobile check-in and have no intention of ever doing so. Usually I find Diamond upgrades are processed before arrival or on check-in. Just be normal and polite at check-in, I take what they give me and never ask. Once I get to the room I will call them and raise my concerns if I have any although I rarely have any need to do so.

        • Alan says:

          Agree BJ re mobile check-in not always being that great. Mind you when I stayed at Conrad Chicago and was given a rubbish internally facing room I called down to complain and they just sent the key to the new (much improved) room to my phone 😀

      • Tilly says:

        I only get status through credit card – Hilton Gold via either amex plat or Hilton Visa £10k spend and Marriott gold via SPG status match via Amex plat. With the SPG/Marriott changes I will get nothing worth having with Marriott only having gold so benefits I’ll get with Hilton will be worth more to me. Am a leisure traveller, don’t travel out of the country for work ever and any travel for work at all is on crown rate and not supposed to (not allowed to) collect loyalty points for those stays.

        • Ian M says:

          Ok yeah makes sense. Hilton Gold is definitely better than Marriott Gold come Saturday!

        • Ian M says:

          Regarding Hilton upgrades though, I’ve just checked in for my 6th stay since getting Diamond and yet again no upgrade whatsoever. I got more upgrades when I was Gold than I have since becoming Diamond! Am I missing a trick here? Should you never use the mobile check-in on the app? I’ve used mobile check-in on my last 3 stays, 2 of them I’ve received no upgrade whatsoever, 1 of them I did, but only a very small upgrade.

        • Genghis says:

          I did rather well for upgrades as Diamond but only checked in on the app once when I was offered a suite and wanted to lock that in.

        • Ian M says:

          I’ll try not using the app for the next 2 bookings I’ve got coming up then. If still no upgrades then I’m giving up on Hilton.

        • S**mo says:

          Never used the online check in unless i had already been upgraded

        • Pangolin says:

          @Ian M, you practically guarantee never being upgraded if you do OLCI, unless you wait for the morning of the day you’re checking in, in which case upgrades sometimes clear in the app.

          But doing OLCI the moment it shows as available in the app is a pretty effective way of avoiding upgrades in Hilton in my experience.

        • Alan says:

          @Ian M – I always check the online app, if upgraded then lock it in (occ then get further upgrade on arrival) but if no upgrade then just check in normally. Can’t see much benefit in checking in via app as even if walked (only happened to me once) the compo is decent. Always ask if any upgrades when checking-in too if they don’t say.

        • john says:

          Got upgraded at Conrad St James on Barclaycard free night in May as a Gold to a better room after doing checkin in app. I have also had upgrades show up in the app – Hilton Diagonal Mar, Barcelona got us a large corner sea-view room, after having booked the most basic.

          • Rob says:

            That’s good, because I have two nights there for an event in October.

  • Pangolin says:

    I will have Platinum in Marriott/SPG till early 2020 but like others here I will be switching to Hilton as my main programme from next year.

    The loss of suite upgrades for Platinum (as opposed to Platinum Premier) members that SPG properties had, and the benefits on OTA bookings that MR had are both now gone. Apart from the 4pm checkout I don’t see any advantage over Hilton and Hilton has much better promos for racking up points (and miles if you look at the Lufthansa promo).

    50-74 nights doesn’t even get me top tier status (and possible suite upgrades) whereas Hilton Diamond is something I can aim for, knowing that there isn’t a top tier above they can use as an excuse to give me worse rooms, etc. And even if I only manage Gold that’s still a very decent mid-tier status, unlike the now useless Marriott Gold.

    • Ian M says:

      It’s only at Ritz Carlton hotels that you will need to be Platinum Premier for suite upgrades. Normal Platinum will be eligible for suite upgrades at other hotels.

      I’m disappointed to see the loss of any upgrades at Element hotels though.

      I’ve found Hilton to be dreadful with upgrades as a diamond member. Not impressed at all.

      • Rob says:

        However, Starwood to all intents and purposes guaranteed suite upgrades if you were Platinum.

        • Pangolin says:

          That’s the difference. I got more and better upgrades within a month of being Plat at SPG than I did from a year at Marriott. The only time I ever got upgraded in Marriott was when I rang the front desk beforehand to specifically ask for one, and this was at a hotel where I was a regular, whereas SPG upgrades were always unsolicited.

          My experience is that Hilton is similar to Marriott – much less proactive with upgrades in the way that SPG was – but Hilton beats Marriott in many other respects (loses on guaranteed check out).

          So the language in the combined programme is akin to what Marriott already have. Therefore, Platinum members should expect few suite upgrades in the way that SPG elites used to get them.

  • Tilly71 says:

    Whilst Hilton is getting discussed today here a lot. I am gold but my account states I will be “Member” next year.
    I’ve just used amex plat to match to gold again, will this route guarantee me an extension until Mar 20?

    • Rob says:

      If you still have Plat at the end of the year, yes. Whether it resets it now (assuming you might cancel the card) is a different question.

      • Tilly71 says:

        Yes, was planning on cancelling soon but reading reviews on plat and status matching I got the impression HH Gold was permanent up to a certain date.

        • Rob says:

          It is permanent until March of the following year, but in your case – because you already have Gold – it isn’t clear if telling Hilton you now have an Amex Plat will override your current status and keep you Gold until March 2020. It is possible that Hilton has simply made a note to check back in December if you are still a Plat.

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