The Complete Guide to SPG, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton Changes

SPG Marriott Ritz Combined

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In late 2016, Marriott International completed their purchase of the Starwood Preferred Guest portfolio of hotels.

At that time, not much changed with either loyalty program. Later on, they added the ability to transfer points between Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, but they continued to run these as 2 separate programs.

Prior to the SPG acquisition, Marriott also maintained a separate loyalty program for their Ritz-Carlton properties. Now, with the merger, they were running 3 distinct loyalty programs.

These programs had different points, different award charts, different elite levels, and different benefits. You can imagine why a company would not want to continue down that road forever!

Table of contents

Table of Contents

A Big Announcement

Earlier this year, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest put the word out that they would be making a live announcement on April 16, which would include updates and details on what the loyalty programs would look like moving forward.

When they said details, they weren’t kidding! The announcement (via Facebook Live) and associated documentation contained a ton of details on changes to these programs.

The biggest change by far was also the most predicted:

Beginning with a program integration on August 1 and completing with a new name in early 2019, Marriott International will be merging the loyalty programs of Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards into a single new loyalty program.

UPDATE as of 7/25: The Starwood and Marriott programs will officially combine on August 18th.

On that date, certain aspects of booking and redeeming will be unavailable for unknown amounts of time. If you need to book a hotel or change a reservation, you should plan to do it before or after the 18th.

Everything You Need to Know

In the post below, we’ll detail all the changes to these 3 programs as they combine into 1.

We’ve included information on the new program including points earning, elite levels, and expected benefits. We’ll also let you know the major ways this program differs from what’s in place today.

Since co-branded credit cards are a major way we earn our hotel points, we’ll also explain the coming changes to the currently available SPG, Marriott, and Ritz Carlton cards. This section will include a couple of new premium cards that will be launched in the coming months.

Finally, we’ll give you an idea of our take on the good news and bad news about these program changes.

Who will benefit the most? Who really loses when it comes to the new elite status requirements? Is it even worth trying to be loyal anymore? We’ll tell you everything you need to know to make the most of the new Starwood/Marriott/Ritz-Carlton combined loyalty program.

New Program Overview

On August 18, 2018, the loyalty programs of Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards will merge into 1…mostly.

For some reason, Marriott International has decided they won’t announce the new name of the program until 2019.

In addition, some features of the program — including a new higher award category for hotels and peak award pricing —  will not go live until early 2019.

Aside from those 2 things, however, there will be a single loyalty program moving forward. This program will include all hotels in the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood portfolios, bringing the total to over 6,500 hotels worldwide.

There will be 29 brands included in the new combined program, which will be categorized as follows:

  • Classic Luxury
    • Ritz-Carlton
    • St. Regis
    • JW Marriott
  • Distinctive Luxury
    • The Luxury Collection
    • W Hotels
    • Edition
  • Classic Premium
    • Marriott
    • Sheraton
    • Marriott Vacation Club
    • Delta Hotel
  • Distinctive Premium
    • Le Meridian
    • Westin
    • Autograph Collection Hotels
    • Design Hotels
    • Renaissance Hotels
    • Tribute Portfolio
    • Gaylord Hotels
  • Classic Select
    • Courtyard
    • Four Points
    • Springhill Suites
    • Protea Hotels
    • Fairfield
  • Distinctive Select
    • AC Hotels
    • Aloft
    • Moxie Hotels
  • Classic Select Longer Stays
    • Marriott Executive Apartments
    • Residence Inn
    • TownePlace Suites
  • Distinctive Select Longer Stays
    • Element

New Member Levels

The new program will have 6 levels, including basic membership and 5 levels of elite membership. The requirements for each level of elite status are different, and the associated benefits for each level vary as well.

These charts will summarize the requirements and benefits of each status level in the new program.

Basic Member: 0-9 nights/year
Benefits:
– Complimentary In-Room Internet Access– Member Rates– Mobile Check-In/Services

 

Silver Elite: 10-24 nights/year
Benefits:
– Complimentary In-Room Internet Access– Ultimate Reservation Guarantee– Priority Late Checkout
– Member Rates– 10% Points Bonus– Dedicated Elite Reservation Line
– Mobile Check-In/Services

 

Gold Elite: 25-49 nights/year
Benefits:
– Complimentary In-Room Internet Access
*Enhanced Internet
– Ultimate Reservation Guarantee– Dedicated Elite Reservation Line
– Member Rates– 25% Points Bonus– In Hotel Welcome Gift (points)
*Varies by brand
– Mobile Check-In/Services– 2 pm Priority Late Checkout
*Based on Availability
– Enhanced Room Upgrade
Based on Availability

 

Platinum Elite: 50-74 nights/year
Benefits:
– Complimentary In-Room Internet Access
*Enhanced Internet
– 50% Points Bonus– Enhanced Room Upgrade Including Select Suites
*Based on Availability
– Member Rates– 4 pm Priority Late Checkout– Lounge Access
– Mobile Check-In/Services– Dedicated Elite Reservation Line– Guaranteed Room Type
– Ultimate Reservation Guarantee– In Hotel Welcome Gift (points, breakfast offering, or amenity)
*Varies by brand
– Annual Choice Benefit (5 Suite Night Awards or Gift Option)
*Awarded with 50 qualifying nights

 

Platinum Premier Elite (75-99 nights)
75-99 nights / year
Benefits:
– Complimentary In-Room Internet Access
*Enhanced Internet
– 75% Points Bonus– Enhanced Room Upgrade Including Select Suites
*Based on Availability
– Annual Choice Benefit (5 Suite Night Awards or Gift Option)
*Awarded with 50 qualifying nights
– Member Rates– 4 pm Priority Late Checkout– Lounge Access– Additional Choice Benefit (5 Suite Night Awards or Gift Option)
*Awarded with 75 qualifying nights
– Mobile Check-In/Services– Dedicated Elite Reservation Line– Guaranteed Room Type
– Ultimate Reservation Guarantee– In Hotel Welcome Gift (points, breakfast offering, or amenity)
*Varies by brand
– 48-Hour Guarantee

 

Platinum Premier Elite (100 nights)
100+ nights and $20,000+ in spend / year
Benefits:
– Complimentary In-Room Internet Access
*Enhanced Internet
– 75% Points Bonus– Enhanced Room Upgrade Including Select Suites
*Based on Availability
– Ambassador Service
– Member Rates– 4 pm Priority Late Checkout– Lounge Access– Your24
– Mobile Check-In/Services– Dedicated Elite Reservation Line– Guaranteed Room Type– Annual Choice Benefit (5 Suite Night Awards or Gift Option)
*Awarded with 50 qualifying nights
– Ultimate Reservation Guarantee– In Hotel Welcome Gift (points, breakfast offering, or amenity)
*Varies by brand
– 48-Hour Guarantee– Additional Choice Benefit (5 Suite Night Awards or Gift Option)
*Awarded with 75 qualifying nights

New Platinum Welcome Gifts

Marriott Platinum Welcome 1Marriott Platinum Welcome 2

Just in case you didn’t think Marriott and Starwood could make the program any more complicated, they’ve released the new Platinum Welcome Gifts for the program starting August 1st.

With 36 different brand distinctions moving forward, why would they standardize the welcome amenity? That would make things too easy for members. Instead, they have released the above chart with the detailed gifts for each brand. Some are the same, but there are still a whole lot of different options available.

Good luck remembering what these are and knowing if you were given what you deserved.

Lifetime Elite Status

Beginning in August, members of the combined program can qualify for Lifetime Elite status at any of 3 levels.

Qualification will be based on combined Marriott Rewards and SPG nights, as well as years spent at an Elite level. Nights and years with Elite status from each of the programs will be combined together, so some members will automatically qualify for lifetime status when the programs merge.

For example, if you’ve had Gold elite status or higher for 4 years with 250 nights at Starwood properties, and Gold Elite status or higher for 3 years with 150 nights at Marriott properties, those will combine to reach the requirements for Lifetime Gold Elite with the new program.

Even better: if you’ve qualified for Gold Elite status with both SPG and Marriott in a single year, you’ll get credit for 2 years of Gold Elite status toward the requirements for lifetime status.

Members of both Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards will have the option to qualify for Lifetime Elite status through their respective programs under the old rules until December 31, 2018.

Any member who has previously achieved Lifetime Elite status in either Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest will maintain that Lifetime Elite status level in the new combined program.

The following chart shows the requirements and benefits of the 3 Lifetime Elite levels in the new program. If a member ever has a higher elite status than their Lifetime Elite status, they will be recognized at and receive the benefits of the higher elite level.

Lifetime Silver EliteLifetime Gold EliteLifetime Platinum Elite
Requirements:
250 Lifetime Nights400 Lifetime Nights600 Lifetime Nights
5 Years Elite Status7 Years Gold Elite Status or Higher10 Years Platinum Elite Status
Benefits:
– Points Never Expire– Points Never Expire– Points Never Expire
– All Silver Elite Benefits– All Gold Elite Benefits– All Platinum Elite Benefits

Members who reach 750 nights and 10 years at Platinum by December 31, 2018 will be grandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite status. In addition, members who qualify for Marriott Rewards Lifetime Platinum under the previous program requirements by December 31 will also be grandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite status.

Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite status includes a 75% points bonus on stays, an additional Choice Benefit, and a 48-hour room availability guarantee.

It will not be possible to earn Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite status after 2019.

Earning Points

When it comes to earning points, the new combined loyalty program actually does make things fairly simple.

The program materials list the following ways to earn points:

Stay

When staying at hotels within all but 3 of the 29 brands, you will earn 10 points per dollar spent on eligible charges.

The 3 exceptions to this earning structure are Element, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites hotels. At these brands, you will earn just 5 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases.

In addition, you will earn bonus stay points based on your Elite status level.

Spend

There are several co-branded credit cards that will be available when the programs are combined. Using one or more of them for your everyday spending can help you earn points quicker.

Dine and Relax

At all brands within the portfolio, you can earn points on things like dining and spa services, as long as those items can be charged to your room.

Travel

You can earn up to 5,000 points on eligible car rentals with Hertz. With cruises and other travel partners, you can earn points wherever you travel.

Shop

By shopping and making purchases through Marriott Rewards MORE, you can earn points on purchases at a curated list of top retailers.

Meet

Weddings, conferences, meetings, or other group events can earn you huge numbers of points when you host them at one of the 6,500+ hotels in the new combined program.

Refer

Earn up to 50,000 bonus points when you refer friends and family and they become new members.

Redeeming Points For Hotel Stays

Domes Of Elounda Pool
Save up your points for a stay at the luxurious Domes of Elounda Autograph Collection property in Greece, and you could find yourself lounging by this pool enjoying your evening with a delicious cocktail in hand. Image courtesy of Marriott.com.

Redeeming points for award nights, on the other hand, is not quite so simple.

Before we get to that though, let’s go over a few basics of the program.

Free night awards will be available at all of the 6,500+ hotels in the combined portfolio. There won’t be any set blackout dates for any of the hotels, although award nights will still be capacity-controlled. As with any other hotel loyalty program, on busier nights, you might not be able to find an award available because they are already taken.

Cash + Points awards will also be available on a capacity-controlled basis. Depending on the cash price of the room, this can sometimes be the way to get the best value out of your points. You can see the corresponding Cash + Points rate for each award level on the chart below.

One item that SPG fans were afraid would disappear under the combined program is the 5th night free on award stays of 5 nights or more. Luckily, we were worried for naught! Stay for 5 nights, pay for 4 is indeed listed in the benefits of the new program. That means you can still use this benefit going forward at any of the hotels in the combined program.

Another remaining benefit is the ability to upgrade a stay with points. You can even pay for a suite upgrade with points, depending on availability when you’re booking or trying to upgrade.

New Award Chart

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at where it gets more complicated: the new award chart.

The new program will have 8 tiers for hotel awards. Within those 8 tiers, hotels will have Standard, Off-Peak, and Peak award rates. Each of the levels will also have a Cash + Points rate associated with it.

Tier 8 and Peak pricing will not go live until early 2019, but when it does, your award night could be at any of 24 different points levels depending on what hotel you choose and what dates you need to stay. If you are looking at potentially using a Cash + Points rate for your stay, you can add another 24 levels for a grand total of 48 different award levels.

Here’s what the new award chart looks like, including the features that will be launched in early 2019. Point values listed are for 1 free night at a property at that level.

Standard

(Effective in August)

Off-Peak

(Coming in 2019)

Peak

(Coming in 2019)

CategoryCash + PointsPoints OnlyCash + PointsPoints OnlyCash + PointsPoints Only
1$55 + 3,5007,500$50 + 2,5005,000$60 + 4,50010,000
2$65 + 6,00012,500$60 + 5,00010,000$70 + 6,50015,000
3$80 + 8,50017,500$70 + 7,50015,000$90 + 9,00020,000
4$105 + 12,00025,000$90 + 10,00020,000$120 + 13,50030,000
5$140 + 17,00035,000$120 + 16,00030,000$165 + 19,00040,000
6$190 + 25,00050,000$165 + 22,00040,000$225 + 27,50060,000
7$250 + 30,00060,000$225 + 27,50050,000$325 + 35,00070,000
8      (Coming in 2019)$440 + 42,50085,000$325 + 35,00070,000$635 + 50,000100,000

New Hotel Categories

Marriott New Hotel Categories
On Marriott’s new category change page, you can see each hotel’s location, current points required, new points required, new award category, and difference in points required. This makes it pretty easy to see if you should book a hotel before or after August 1.

Marriott has announced the new categories for all 6,500 of their participating hotels. You can browse the new categories or search for specific cities or properties here.  The new rates will go into effect on August 18, 2018.

Here are a few important things to know about the new rates:

  • 52% of hotels will go to a lower redemption rate.
  • 17% of hotels will remain at the same level.
  • 31% of hotels will go to a higher redemption level.
  • 6,300 hotels will be available for redemption at 35,000 points or lower.
  • Members can save 25,000 points per night by booking future Category 8 hotels at the Category 7 rate until 2019.
  • All-suite properties such as those in the Maldives and Bora Bora will be bookable at the Category 7 rates until 2019.
  • Marriott will not automatically refund points for a previously booked stay after August 1st, but members can call in and re-book to get the lower rates.

New Hotel + Air Packages

Marriott’s Hotel and Air packages have long been one of the best ways to redeem points for outstanding value. With the new program, these awards will be changing and will not be quite as valuable.

New Award Redemptions7 Nights + 50,000 Miles7 Nights + 100,000 Miles
CategoryNew Points RequiredNew Points Required
1-4225,000330,000
5315,000390,000
6435,000510,000
7495,000570,000
8675,000750,000

Previously, there were different award charts for transfers to each airline. With the new program, this single chart will apply to all programs. In addition, when transferring to United, you will receive a 10% bonus in miles due to the existing partnership.

Hotel and Air Transfer Partners
Points can be transferred to any of these airline partners using the Hotel and Air award rates from the chart above.

With the new rates for these packages, the Hotel + Air awards have gone from an obvious choice to one you really need to think about.

Previously, you could redeem for one of these packages and even if you only used a couple of the hotel nights, the airline miles you got made it worth it. Now, you really will have to have a need for a 7-night hotel stay to make these packages worth redeeming. Only then will the new Hotel + Air packages save you a significant number of points.

Other Redemption Options

Although these options are usually not a good way to use your points due to the terrible redemption value or fees, we’ve included these options to make it clear that they’re not going away under the new program.

  • Redeem for Exclusive Moments – Redeem points for exclusive events with artists, musicians, chefs, or athletes.
  • Redeem for Vacations – Enhance your vacations by using points for cruises, car rentals, and more.
  • Redeem for Merchandise – Redeem your points for gift cards, tech, travel gear, and other items.
  • Redeem for Others – Share your points with family, friends, or charities.

Transfers To Airline Partners

One of the most loved features of the Starwood Preferred Guest program for miles and points enthusiasts was the ability to transfer Starpoints to a wide variety of airline partner loyalty programs. The transfer ratios were good — and for every 20,000 points you transferred, you would receive 25,000 miles.

This bonus made SPG points even more valuable, and many people were dreading the potential removal of this option to transfer when the programs combined.

Great news though! The new combined loyalty program for SPG, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton will still have airline transfers as a major component. Even better, they are keeping the transfer ratio effectively the same for almost all airline partners.

Let’s take a look at the airline transfer program moving forward from August 1. Overall, the changes appear to be positive.

Airline Transfer Partners

The new program has, by far, the largest list of airline transfer partners of any transferable points currency.

All of the airline partners of both SPG and Marriott will be retained, and 2 additional programs will be added: China Southern and El Al.

Each member will be able to transfer anywhere between 3,000-240,000 points per day, so it will be easy to get as many airline miles as you need for a given redemption.

Combined Program Transfer Partners

  • Aegean Air, Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Canada (Aeroplan), Air China, Air France/KLM, Air New Zealand, Alaska, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways, American, Asiana, Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, COPA
  • Delta
  • El Al, Emirates, Etihad
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Gol
  • Hainan, Hawaiian
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, JetBlue Airways
  • Korean
  • LATAM, Lufhansa
  • Qantas Airways, Qatar Airways
  • Saudia Airlines, Singapore, South African, Southwest
  • TAP Portugal, Thai, Turkish Airlines
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia

Airline Transfer Ratios

American Airlines
Points in the new combined program will be transferable to American Airlines and 44 other airline loyalty programs. Wherever you want to go in the world, you’ll be able to transfer your points to an airline program that can get you there. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Under the current SPG and Marriott programs, there are a wide variety of transfer ratios, ranging from 1:1 all the way up to 10:1 and higher.

The new program will make this much simpler, with a single ratio that applies to almost all airline partners. Even better, once you do the math, that ratio is effectively the same as it was for the majority of partners under the SPG program.

Here’s what we mean:

  • SPG currently has a 1:1 transfer ratio with most airline partners
  • SPG points transfer to Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio
  • The new Marriott transfer ratio to most partners will be 3:1
  • In the end, transfer to airlines is effectively the same with both kinds of points

For example, if you transfer 10,000 SPG points to an airline at a 1:1 ratio, you get 10,000 airline miles.

If you instead transfer your SPG points to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, you end up with 30,000 Marriott points.

Under the new program, you can then transfer your 30,000 Marriott points to the same airline partner at a 3:1 ratio. You’ll end up with the same 10,000 airline miles.

Beginning August 18, the new SPG/Marriott/Ritz-Carlton points will transfer to 42 of their 45 airline partners at this 3:1 ratio. Only Air New Zealand, El Al, and JetBlue will have different transfer ratios, which have not yet been set. We’ll have to wait to see if they will be as good of a value as the rest of the partners.

Airline Transfer Bonuses

As we mentioned above, under the current SPG program, you can get a transfer bonus when you transfer 20,000 miles to an airline partner. The bonus is 5,000 extra miles, so you end up with a total of 25,000 miles.

The new combined loyalty program will have a similar bonus so you can get the same added value when you transfer your points.

Under the new rules, you need to transfer 60,000 Marriott points to get the bonus 15,000 points. At first glance, these numbers look much higher — but when we remember that each SPG point is worth 3 of the new points, the numbers are effectively the same.

So you’ll transfer 60,000 points and get a 15,000-point bonus…but since the transfer ratio is 3:1 to the airline programs, you will end up with the same 25,000 miles in your airline program account.

As you can see, transferring in groups of 60,000 points and getting the bonus nets you 25,000 airline miles, effectively making the ratio 2.4:1. This is definitely the best way to transfer your points!

Current Program Changes

As Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards all combine into the single new program we’ve described above, there are obviously going to be a few changes to each of the previous programs. We’ll start by looking at the changes you will see no matter what accounts you have.

In August, you will begin earning 10 points per dollar at most hotels within the portfolio. You will earn only 5 points per dollar at Element, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites hotels.

If you have both Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards accounts, you will need to combine them so that when your SPG account combines in August, you’ll be left with a single loyalty program account. This will allow them to give you all the credit you deserve for Elite status levels and Lifetime status.

Your earning and redemption procedures will also switch to what we have described above for the new program.

New credit cards will be available for earning points: there will be Marriott, SPG, and Ritz-Carlton cards, and we’ll discuss the details of their earnings and redemptions in the next main section.

There will also be a few changes that are specific to each type of account, mostly having to do with Elite and Lifetime status levels.

Changes to Starwood Preferred Guest

On August 18th, your Starpoints will all convert to points in the new program at a 1:3 ratio. Yes, this means you will have 3 times as many points, but don’t get too excited — when it comes time to redeem them, you’ll find they are generally worth 1/3 of what your Starpoints were.

Your Elite status level and Lifetime Elite tier in the new program will be assigned based on the charts below.

SPG Tier TodayElite Tier in August
Preferred Guest with 10-24 nightsSilver Elite
Corporate Preferred GuestSilver Elite
Preferred Guest PlusSilver Elite
Gold Preferred GuestGold Elite
Platinum Preferred GuestPlatinum Elite
Platinum Preferred Guest with 50 nightsPlatinum Elite
Platinum Preferred Guest with 75 nightsPlatinum Premier Elite
Platinum Preferred Guest with 100 nightsPlatinum Premier Elite with Ambassador

 

SPG Lifetime Elite Status TodayLifetime Elite Status in August
Lifetime GoldLifetime Gold Elite
Lifetime PlatinumLifetime Platinum Elite
Lifetime Platinum with 750 Nights + 10 Years of Platinum EliteGrandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite

Changes to Marriott Rewards

Your Elite status level and Lifetime Elite tier in the new program will be assigned based on the charts below.

Rewards Elite Tier TodayElite Tier in August
Silver Elite with 10-24 nightsSilver Elite
Silver Elite with 25-49 nightsGold Elite
Gold ElitePlatinum Elite
Platinum ElitePlatinum Premier Elite
Platinum Elite with 100 nights + $20k in qualifying spendPlatinum Premier Elite with Ambassador

Rewards Lifetime Elite Status TodayLifetime Elite Status in August
Lifetime Silver EliteLifetime Silver Elite
Lifetime Gold EliteLifetime Platinum Elite
Lifetime Platinum EliteGrandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite

Changes to Ritz-Carlton Rewards

Your Elite status level and Lifetime Elite tier in the new program will be assigned based on the charts below.

Rewards Elite Tier TodayElite Tier in August
Silver Elite with 10-24 nightsSilver Elite
Silver Elite with 25-49 nightsGold Elite
Gold ElitePlatinum Elite
Platinum ElitePlatinum Premier Elite
Platinum Elite with 100 nights + $20k in qualifying spendPlatinum Premier Elite with Ambassador

Rewards Lifetime Elite Status TodayLifetime Elite Status in August
Lifetime Silver EliteLifetime Silver Elite
Lifetime Gold EliteLifetime Platinum Elite
Lifetime Platinum EliteGrandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite

Co-Branded Credit Card Changes

Many people expected a whole new set of credit cards when these programs were combined. New cards, new sign-up bonuses, new points!

Well, we aren’t really getting all of that…but we are getting a few new cards that just might be worth applying for.

Both American Express and Chase will be launching new co-branded credit cards and updating the cards they already offer. The first new card will be available as early as May, with others following in August.

What’s interesting to us is that these new cards will launch before they even announce the new program name!

The cards will be issued under SPG, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton branding, but in 2019 none of those program names are likely to exist. What will they do at that point — send new credit cards out to everyone who already has one? That seems like an expense that could have been easily avoided if they announced the name of the program along with the details.

We also have yet to see if there will be even more new credit card products when the new loyalty program name is announced in 2019.

Enough about that speculation though — let’s see what we can expect from the new credit card offerings, and what changes we’ll see with the cards that are already available.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards

SPG Credit Cards
American Express will add a new high-end Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card to their portfolio. Along with the current personal and business cards, that will bring the total number of American Express SPG cards up to 3.

 

Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card – NEW CARD PRODUCT

Annual Fee: $450

Earning Structure:

  • 6 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 3 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2 points per dollar everywhere else

Key Benefits:

  • 1 free award night (up to 50,000-point redemption level) after your card anniversary
  • Complimentary Gold Elite status. Earn Platinum after spending $75,000 in a year
  • $300 per year in credit for purchases at SPG and Marriott hotels
  • Coming in 2019: 15 Night Credit towards Elite status (1 credit allowed per loyalty account member)
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership with up to 2 guests per visit
  • $100/$85 statement credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fees (once every 4 years)
  • Free in-room premium internet
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi
  • No foreign transaction fees

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Annual Fee: $95

Earning Structure:

  • 6 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 2 points per dollar everywhere else

Key Benefits:

  • 1 free award night (up to 35,000-point redemption level) after your card anniversary
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status; earn Gold after spending $30,000 in a year ($35,000 after 1/1/2019)
  • Coming in 2019: 15 Night Credit toward Elite status (1 credit allowed per loyalty account member)
  • Free in-room premium internet
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi
  • No foreign transaction fees

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Annual Fee: $95

Earning Structure:

  • 6 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott properties
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless phone services from U.S. providers, and U.S. shipping services
  • 2 points per dollar everywhere else

Key Benefits:

  • 1 free award night (up to 35,000-point redemption level) after your card anniversary
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status; earn Gold after spending $30,000 in a year ($35,000 after 1/1/2019)
  • Coming in 2019: 15 Night Credit toward Elite status (1 credit allowed per loyalty account member)
  • Free in-room premium internet
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi
  • No foreign transaction fees

Marriott Rewards Credit Cards

Marriott Credit Cards
Chase will increase the number of available Marriott credit cards to 5: 3 personal and 2 business. Like American Express, they will also be adding a high-end card to their lineup.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card – NEW CARD PRODUCT

Annual Fee: $95

Earning Structure:

  • 6 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 2 points per dollar everywhere else

Key Benefits:

  • 1 free award night (up to 35,000-point redemption level) after your card anniversary
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status; earn Gold after spending $35,000 in a year
  • Coming in 2019: 15 Night Credit toward Elite status (1 credit allowed per loyalty account member)
  • Coming in August: Free in-room premium internet
  • No foreign transaction fees

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Annual Fee: $85

Earning Structure:

  • 5 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 2 points per dollar at restaurants, car rental agencies and flights booked directly with airlines
  • 1 point per dollar everywhere else

Key Benefits:

  • 1 free award night (up to 25,000-point redemption level) after your card anniversary
  • 15 Night Credit toward Elite status, which qualifies you for Silver Elite status (1 credit allowed per loyalty account member)
  • 1 Elite Night Credit per $3,000 spent on purchases

Marriott Rewards Consumer Credit Card

Annual Fee: $45

Earning Structure:

  • 3 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 1 point per dollar everywhere else

Key Benefits:

  • 1 free award night (Category 1-4) each year after you spend $25,000 on purchases
  • 10 Night Credit toward Elite status, which qualifies you for Silver Elite status (1 credit allowed per loyalty account member)
  • 1 Elite Night Credit per $3,000 spent on purchases

Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Annual Fee: $99

Earning Structure:

  • 5 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 2 points per dollar at office supply stores, restaurants, car rental agencies, flights booked directly with airlines, internet, cable, and phone services
  • 1 point per dollar everywhere else

Key Benefits:

  • 1 free award night (up to 25,000-point redemption level) after your card anniversary
  • 15 Night Credit toward Elite status, which qualifies you for Silver Elite status (1 credit allowed per loyalty account member)
  • 1 Elite Night Credit per $3,000 spent on purchases

Marriott Rewards Business Credit Card

Annual Fee: $45

Earning Structure:

  • 3 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 1 point per dollar everywhere else

Key Benefits:

  • 10 Night Credit toward Elite status, which qualifies you for Silver Elite status (1 credit allowed per loyalty account member)
  • 1 Elite Night Credit per $3,000 spent on purchases

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card (no longer available)

Ritz Credit Card
Chase will continue to offer only 1 version of a Ritz-Carlton credit card. Like the hotel brand, this card is high-end with elite benefits.

Update: as of July 26, 2018 the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card is no longer available for new sign-ups. Existing accounts are not affected and will continue to be open, with new benefits expected on August 26, 2018.

Annual Fee: $450

Earning Structure:

  • 5 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 2 points per dollar at restaurants, car rental agencies and flights booked directly with airlines
  • 1 point per dollar everywhere else

Key Benefits:

  • Complimentary Gold Elite status when you spend $10,000 in a year, and Platinum Elite status when you spend $75,000 in a year
  • 3 Club Upgrades each year on paid stays of up to 7 nights
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • $100 Global Entry credit
  • $100 Hotel Credit for any paid stay of 2 nights or more at a Ritz-Carlton
  • Coming in August: Free in-room premium internet
  • Automatic membership in Priority Pass Select
  • New Benefits Coming Soon! (This is listed at the bottom of the benefits information section for this card, but we don’t know what these benefits will be or when they will be announced.)

Winners and Losers of the Combined Program

With any program change, we can expect certain aspects to be good for some people and bad for others.

Although this is not by any means an extensive list of the pros and cons of the new program for every traveler, we thought we should hit on a few of the obvious winning and losing parts of the new program. Some may apply to you, and some may not.

Maybe you can even get a few ideas from the winner sections and make the new program work a little better for you!

Winner: Booking Category 7 SPG Properties Until the End of 2018

Category 8, the highest category of the new combined program, will not be launched until 2019. This means that for now, all top tier SPG properties will go into Category 7 beginning August 18th.

Since Peak pricing will also not launch until 2019, the price for a Category 7 award night booked between August 18th and the end of the year will be 60,000 new program points. This is equal to just 20,000 SPG points.

Currently, SPG Category 7 properties cost 35,000 points per night — meaning you’ll get a 15,000-point discount when booking these properties between August 18th and the end of the year.

We can expect that most of these top-tier SPG properties will go into Category 8 of the new program when it launches, so this is definitely a limited time opportunity. Book them for less while you can!

Hot Tip: If you pair this “discount” with the 5th night free on award stays, you can really save a ton on these properties! Just make sure you book before the end of the year.

Winner: Family Points Transfer

In the new combined program, members will still have the ability to transfer points to their family members for free. This is a great feature, and we wish airlines would start doing this as well.

Winner: SPG Non-Elites Earn More

Currently, someone with no elite status who stays at a Starwood property earns just 2 points per dollar for their stay.

Beginning in August, anyone who stays will earn 10 points per dollar spent (5 at Element, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites hotels). Combine that with the added points from paying with a co-branded credit card, and you’ll really see your points add up quickly.

If you pick one of the credit cards that gives you night credits and automatic elite status, you can use that to shortcut yourself to Gold status (and even get an additional bonus on the points earned when you stay).

Winner: Airline Transfers

We said this before and it deserves repeating here: this new program will have more Airline partners and better transfer rates for many of those airlines than you can find with any other transferable points currency.

Rather than doing away with the amazing transfer partners and bonus points when transferring that we had with SPG, the combined program is adding even more partners, keeping the transfer ratio low, and keeping the bonus.

This combination really couldn’t have gone any better for members!

Winner/Loser: Current Marriott Elites/Current SPG Elites

It’s not a huge difference, but if you really look at the details of status transfers, you will find that some levels of Marriott Elites are getting a few more perks and benefits with their new status.

SPG Elites, on the other hand, may see a few benefits going away with their new status. This is especially true for those who are close to Lifetime Elite status, since the new Lifetime levels require more stays and more years as an Elite member to qualify.

Loser: SPG Elites Who Qualify With Stays

The new program will only allow members to qualify for Elite status with nights stayed. You will no longer be able to qualify based on stays alone like you could with SPG.

Since the number of stays required was lower and even 1-night stays counted, it was often easier for occasional travelers to qualify for Elite status this way. Now everyone will have to start counting nights if they want to be an Elite member.

Loser: SPG Cardholders

When putting non-bonused spending on SPG cards up until now, cardholders would earn 1 point per dollar. Transferred over to Marriott, that would work out to 3 points per dollar.

With the updates to the SPG credit cards, they will now earn 2 points per dollar in the new program. That means a 33% decrease in earning for people who put their non-bonused spending on those cards.

Loser: Credit for 1 Room Only

Beginning in August, program members will only be allowed to earn Elite Night Credit for a single room at a hotel on a single night.

This is especially costly for large families who have to book more than 1 room to fit everyone. Now they’ll be paying for 2 or 3 rooms but only getting Elite Credit for 1.

Members will still earn points for all the rooms they book and pay for — it’s just the Elite Night Credit that will be limited to 1 per night.

Loser: Quick Hits

  • Marriott and SPG Gold Status through United RewardsPlus and The Platinum Card® from American Express will lose valuable benefits.
  • The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express will lose its lounge access benefit.
  • The Delta Crossover Rewards partnership with SPG will continue through July 15, but it’s not guaranteed past that.

Final Thoughts

Hotel Marques de Riscal
If you are looking for an architectural wonder for your next hotel, try saving up your points for a stay at the Hotel Marques de Riscal, a Luxury Collection property in Elciego, Spain. Image courtesy of Marriott.com.

There’s so much new information to understand with this merger that even our Final Thoughts section needs to have some sub-headings!

If you can’t process it all right now, don’t worry — it’s all right here for you to come back to. By the time August 18th comes around, you’ll be ready to work the new SPG/Marriott/Ritz-Carlton program like a pro.

Until then, we’ll leave you with these few thoughts.

Credit Cards

With the launch of these new cards, there will now be 9 different credit cards that can help you earn points in this loyalty program.

Do you need to have all of them? Certainly not!

You should, however, have at least 1 or 2.

Take a look at the overviews we’ve presented above and decide which card will help you earn the most points. If you already have it, great. If not, it’s time to think about applying for it.

Especially with these new cards, almost everyone should be eligible to apply. We don’t know what introductory bonuses we might see as the programs merge, so you may want to hold out a bit to get the best one — but you should definitely be using a credit card to earn points in this new program.

There are so many options, and there’s sure to be at least 1 that fits with your spending patterns.

An Easier Program?

Marriott International claims that “one program makes benefits easier to earn and redeem.”

While it may be true that 1 program instead of 3 will mean your points and nights will add up faster, I’m not sure a program with 6 levels of membership (1 basic and 5 elite) and 16 listed benefits that you may or may not receive depending on your membership level should be referred to as “easy.”

In addition, when it comes to award nights, the new program will have 8 category levels of hotels and Standard, Off-Peak, and Peak rates depending on dates of stay. That works out to 24 different pricing levels for award stays. Add in Cash + Points rates and you go up to 48 different levels. It’s almost like they looked at Wyndham’s 15,000 points for any hotel at any time and decided to do the opposite!

Good luck saving up points for a specific redemption unless you know the exact dates of your stay and can save enough points before the hotel category changes, in what are likely to be annual adjustments to property levels and Peak dates.

Since the Peak pricing isn’t going to exist until early next year, we don’t yet know how many properties this will effect or what dates will be used for Peak and Off-Peak award pricing.

Hopefully, the dates will be fairly clear and announced ahead of time so members can plan their stays and know what to expect.

Pay Attention to Changes

This is probably the most important advice we can provide, and by reading this post you’re already on the right track.

As programs change, there are always bound to be some growing pains. When IHG re-launched their program a few years back, there was a short time where you could book lots of properties at the lowest award level. If you weren’t keeping up with the changes, you would have missed it!

With this merger, we’ve already discovered the great value of booking SPG Category 7 properties for just 60,000 points (20,000 SPG points) until the new Category 8 goes live. Who knows what other gems will be discovered as time goes on!

Pretty Good News

Yes, there are a few things to be unhappy about, but overall the details of this new combined loyalty program were far better than most people expected.

The major parts of SPG that people were afraid we would lose were actually kept…and in some ways, improved. This is a huge win!

It’s also quite nice that they’re continuing to give us plenty of notice before changes are made. Assuming this continues, we should have time to look at the new hotel categories and Peak pricing before it goes into effect.

Overall, this new program looks far more generous than most people thought it would be. The major worry is that we don’t know how many luxury properties will be in the new Category 8 with Peak pricing for most of the year.

We’re hoping it isn’t too many, but if it is, we’ll just have to earn more points or find lower category hotels we want to visit. With over 6,500 hotels in the combined portfolio, there’s sure to be a place that you want to travel for the points it’s going to cost.

Maybe we’ll see you there!

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39 comments

  1. Jeff, thank you for this useful summary! I want to clarify two issues. I don’t think you get 15,000 bonus miles with 60,000 point transfers to airlines unless Marriott has increased the bonus by 10,000 miles. I believe it stays the same at a 5,000 mile bonus. Also, other blogger state that the credit card yearly certificates are good for 35,000 point rooms. You said 25,000 point rooms. Which is it? Thanks!

    • Jeff Brownson · April 19, 2018 · Reply

      Mike, my apologies if I presented that in a confusing way. Technically, you get a 15,000 point bonus, which is then transferred to your airline of choice at the 3:1 transfer ratio, resulting in 5,000 additional miles. It ends up as 25,000 miles for every 60,000 points transferred.

      As far as the credit card yearly certificates, it depends on which card you get. Basically, the higher annual fee will get you a higher annual certificate. Amex cards will give you either a 50,000 point max room or a 35,000 point max room depending on the card and the Chase cards will give you either a 35,000 point room or a 25,000 point room depending on the card.

  2. It appears that even if you attain platinum elite with $75,000 spend, you are not eligible for the annual choice benefit if you stay less than 50 nights. Am I interpreting the table correctly? Thanks

    • Jeff Brownson · April 19, 2018 · Reply

      Yes, that is the way I interpret that as well. If you do not actually stay 50 nights (or 75 for the next level), you will not receive the Choice Benefit. In reality, they might give you the benefit when you reach platinum because their system may send it out with status level, but the fact that they have specifically stated that it will be “Awarded with 50 qualifying nights” makes me think you will need to actually stay the nights and not just get the status from spend.

  3. Hello,
    Thanks for the info! Where has it been confirmed that “In the new combined program, members will still have the ability to transfer points to their family members for free.” Right now, we can freely transfer from one SPG account to a family member’s SPG account, but Marriott has a 50K limit and charges a fee to do so. Did you see confirmation somewhere that Marriott will basically follow the current SPG policy? I couldn’t find that anywhere else.

    • Jeff Brownson · April 26, 2018 · Reply

      Sorry for the delayed reply Ryan. I needed to locate my source for that particular piece of information and it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I pulled the information for this post from a lot of difference places. The ability to transfer points between family members for free was actually shared in the Facebook Live session that The Points Guy did with David Flueck from Marriott. I don’t know of anywhere that it is written into the terms of the program yet though.

  4. John Mann · May 7, 2018 · Reply

    Question for you Jeff.

    I’m a current SPG Platinum with 233 lifetime stays. I made platinum in 2014 and every year since. So far in 2018 I’m at 27 nights.

    Two questions related to attaining SPG Lifetime Gold before August 1
    – Because I currently hold elite status, does ’14, ’15, 16′, 17′ and 18′ count as 5 years?
    – If I accelerate a couple stays and get to 250 nights by August 1, will I qualify for lifetime gold and then be grandfathered in?

    Cheers.

    • Jeff Brownson · May 14, 2018 · Reply

      John,

      As long as you have had Gold status or higher for those 5 years (which it looks like you have), then they will count for your SPG lifetime qualification at the Gold level.

      As long as you reach the 250 nights before August 1st, you will qualify for SPG Lifetime Gold, which will then transfer over to Lifetime Gold in the combined program. It would definitely be in your best interest to get those stays in if you can, since earning Lifetime Gold in the new program will require 400 nights and 7 years of elite status if you don’t previously have Lifetime Elite in SPG or Marriott that transfers in on August 1st.

  5. When does the 15 nights actually kick in, 8/1 or at the beginning of the year? I understand I already received 5 from my Amex SPG card. If I have 5 nights at Marriott and 35 at SPG on 8/1 will I attain platinum for next year or will I only get the bonus nights starting in 2019? Thanks!!!

    • Jeff Brownson · May 21, 2018 · Reply

      It is my understanding from the credit card details that the 15 nights will only be credited beginning in January. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to count on them to reach a higher status this year.

  6. Mike Renna · May 30, 2018 · Reply

    Thanks for all this info! Lots to digest! We’ve been getting points mostly through credit card spend. Yes, nice to be able to move points between family members to consolidate under 1 persons account. With the merger, maybe the few hundred points in the different family member SPG accounts will get over the 1000 family transfer minimum and they won’t get lost (ie if you have more than 333 points in SPG, you can’t move to a family member and can’t move to your Marriott account… but when they move them over to each of our marriott accounts, then that’ll be >1,000 and can be swept to the 1 family member account (at least I think this is right… you’d know better,certainly : )

    A question: We’re looking to take a trip in Arizona area in October 2018. Any thoughts on this: We could book hotel before Aug under the current points schedule, then see after august if we could rebook under the new point levels if the points needed will go down? Would you think off peak / peak / standard dates going to be posted? That would vary for each location, right?

    Thank you again!!

    • Jeff Brownson · May 31, 2018 · Reply

      Mike, as long as you have the points, you might as well book now. Just make sure you can cancel the reservation if you are concerned about the rates changing. As far as peak rates, they will not be going live until 2019, so you won’t have to worry about those for your October reservation this year. When they do go live, peak rates will absolutely vary by location and probably even by each specific hotel in a given region. We don’t know for sure how much rates will vary at peak times. Plenty of info still to come from Marriott. Enjoy Arizona!

  7. Luc B · June 4, 2018 · Reply

    Do you know if transfer between family members will be capped ? With SPG there is no cap in points transfer while with Marriott there is a maximum annual of 50,000 points.

    • Jeff Brownson · June 4, 2018 · Reply

      As far as I know, they have not provided any details on the family transfers other than that they will be available. Hopefully it will be uncapped like SPG is now.

  8. Since Ritz Carlton elite members get equal match status into SPG and Rewards, do SPG and Rewards elite members get the same courtesy back? Understanding that the concierge lounge service is a bit more higher end in a Ritz than SPG or Marriott, but giving Ritz concierge lounge access to Platinum Elite members would be a nice perk to have. I haven’t been able to find any specific information in regards to a Ritz Carlton benefits match.

  9. Steven H · June 18, 2018 · Reply

    Jeff, I am tryin to wrap my head around elite qualification in 2018. I was trying to hit Platinum status under the current SPG rules through stays instead of nights. In SPG, you could do this with 25 stays. I need 12 more stays to qualify for Platinum in 2018 under the old rules. Do I need to complete those 12 stays before August 1, 2018 or before January 1, 2019? (I realize that next year I won’t qualify this way but trying to get one last hoorah in before the jig is up.) Thank you.

    • Christine Krzyszton · June 18, 2018 · Reply

      I just received an email from SPG with the following information that answers your question: “As an SPG member, you can still count stays at SPG-associated brands to achieve Elite status through the end of 2018. Starting January 2019, only nights will count toward Elite status. And remember, you can qualify for Lifetime Elite status via the existing criteria through December 31, 2018.”

  10. My wife and I both have 800 lifetime marriott stays but we are both 150,000 short of the 2 million points and will be really close by end of year but will miss if points stop August 1st. So we would remain gold for life or need five more platinum years to get premier for life????

    • Michael McHugh · June 29, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Mike

      First, I would call Marriott to confirm what I’m about to say as its a fluid situation. I would hate for your to miss out on Lifetime status because I misunderstood the terms and conditions.

      With that said, you will have until 12/31/18 to earn the 2 million points needed to reach Marriott Lifetime Platinum (750 nights + 2M points). Marriott Lifetime Platinum will be grandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite in the new program.

      Please let us know what you hear from Marriott.

  11. I’ve Ritz Carlton card and I’m Gold elite status in Marriott so after merger what status would I get?
    I read some where that after August no more breakfast and lounge access to Gold elite members.

    • Jeff Brownson · July 11, 2018 · Reply

      Hey Adnan, as you can see in the chart in the post, your Marriott Gold status will transfer to Platinum status in the new program. Breakfast and Lounge Access will not be available for Gold elites in the new program, but they are available to Platinum elites (depending on brand). Since your current Gold will turn into Platinum, you should still have those benefits.

  12. Hi

    Thank you for your summary.

    2 questions:
    1) I am on the way to reach 100 SPG nights by October this year. In the old program that would have meant “Platinum with Ambassador”. Is that still possible within 2018 as kind of a grandfather right as SPG member. Or will I need to qualify as well for the 20kUSD to reach Ambassador level?

    2) Do you think it is an error that the free breakfast benefit is NOT offered at JW Marriott / Marriott / Delta HOTELS but IS OFFERED at JW Marriott / Marriott / Delta RESORTS.
    That does not really make sense to me.

    Best regards

    John

  13. Platinum Welcome Gift options – points options is less worth than within SPG

    Do I see this right: Under SPG a platinum member would receive 500 SPG points at Sheraton, Westin and other upscale properties whereas in the new program it will be only 1000 new points (which equals 333 SPG points)?

    And an add-on to my other “free breakfast” related question. As pointed out, the published table seems kind of not logic if you receive free breakfast at Marriott RESORTS but not Marriott HOTELS. In the very same table there is no “dot” in the breakfast column when it comes to Courtyard hotels. However at the bottom of the information page of Marriott there is the following statement “A breakfast offering is new for Courtyard, AC Hotels by Marriott, Moxy Hotels, Protea Hotels and participating resorts”. That is confusing me totally. What is true now? Link to their website where the information is published:

    https://members.marriott.com/faq/#is-complimentary-breakfast-available-for-platinum-elite-members

    • Jeff Brownson · July 28, 2018 · Reply

      @John – Replying to both of your comments here.
      From the first one –
      1) They are allowing members to earn elite status in either legacy program through the end of this year. Since you will earn Platinum Preferred Guest with 100 Nights through SPG, at the end of the year that should translate to Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador in the new program. In future years, you will need to complete the $20k spend to maintain the Ambassador benefit.
      2) I am assuming that you are looking at the chart you linked to for both this and the second half of the other comment. This chart is for the Platinum Elite Welcome Gift options. The free breakfast is showing as an option at the resorts but not at the base hotels because you would have lounge access and therefore get breakfast in the lounge at those hotels already. You would not have lounge access at the Resort versions of those brands.
      For Courtyard hotels, although they do not have full breakfast as a listed benefit, if you choose the amenity, you will get credit that can be used in the Courtyard Bistros. Similar F+B credits can be chosen for the amenity at AC, Moxy, and Protea hotels. They are saying at the bottom that these F+B credits, which can be used for breakfast, are new options at those brands.

      As far as the welcome points, you are correct in that you will get less in equivalent points at the high end SPG hotels, going from 500 SPG (1500 Marriott) to 1000 Marriott. This is similar to the way that the SPG Amex cards will be earning only 2/3 of what they did before the merger, going from 1 SPG (3 Marriott) to 2 Marriott.

  14. Guru S · August 3, 2018 · Reply

    Thanks; very useful. One thing the post doesn’t opine on, which I’d like clarity on. I have pre-merger Lifetime Platinum status. Which of the three Platinum Elite levels will this equate to, in the new scheme of things?

    Thanks for your thoughts on this.

    Guru

  15. I have a Ritz Carlton card which clearly states you get Gold elite status for Marriott each year after $10,000 spend. I realize that as of August my Marriott gold stays I have now will go to Platinum. But in 6 months when my card and status renews with my $10,000 spend will I be awarded the Gold as it states on the card agreement or Platinum status? The card will not be worth it to me without lounge access.

    • Michael McHugh · August 15, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Gail

      The $10k spend requirement to earn Gold goes away in August. When the $10k spend requirement goes away, you will earn gold status in the new Marriott program by simply holding the card. You will need to spend $75k to earn Platinum status in the new program.

  16. Steven Schwartz · August 3, 2018 · Reply

    So for those of us who earn points mainly through credit card spend, this new combined program is much worse than the SPG program with the SPG credit card. But I have a question. I am Platinum Elite with SPG, Lifetime Gold. I understand I will keep my SPG status through the end of the year. But when I check into the St Regis in November, will I still be eligible for Suite Upgrades through the end of the year or has that now changed for me? Thanks for your input and for the work you did putting this together.

    • Michael McHugh · August 15, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Steven

      It is my understanding that SPG Platinums will be eligible for suite upgrades through the end of the year. I would call Marriott to confirm this. I was on the phone with them earlier today regarding a similar issue and Marriott is still unable to share all of the details of the new program. I would assume on/after August 18th, we will have more clarity on questions like this.

  17. Mary Jane Matheny · August 3, 2018 · Reply

    I have 707 Marriott nights and short 158000 points which I am not worried about because I can transfer UR points to make up the shortage before the end of 2018.
    I have 93 SPG nights. I am lifetime Marriott gold which I know will become platinum.
    What I need to know. Will my combined night total of 800 and 2 million points give me
    LTPE? That is what I am aiming for. I do not have 10 yrs of platinum, only 8.
    Your thoughts?

    • Michael McHugh · August 15, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Mary Jane

      As I understand it, you would qualify for LTPE if you reach the current Marriott Lifetime Platinum requirements by 12/31/18. Lifetime Platinum = 750 nights and 2 million Marriott points. The other way to reach LTPE is the Marriott/SPG combo route. If you reach a total of 750 nights and have 10+ years of Platinum status across both Marriott and SPG by 12/31/18, you will earn LTPE.

      I would call Marriott to confirm this.

  18. Jeff,

    Thanks for the info. Question for you. I am a lifetime platinum with SPG. I have been platinum for 10+ years and, by the end of 2018, I expect to have about 680 lifetime nights with SPG. I have also been a Marriott Rewards member for many years and have about 80 lifetime nights. So between the 2 programs, I will have 760 lifetime nights and 10+ years as an SPG Platinum. Will that grandfather me into lifetime Premier Platinum elite, or would I need to have had 750 lifetime nights on just the Starwood side to qualify? Thanks.

    • Michael McHugh · August 15, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Jon

      As I understand it, if you reach a total of 750 nights and have 10+ years of Platinum status across both Marriott and SPG by 12/31/18, you will earn Lifetime Platinum.

      I would call Marriott to confirm this.

  19. will q · August 9, 2018 · Reply

    Would you say now that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are more valuable than SPG?

    • Christine Krzyszton · August 15, 2018 · Reply

      My answer would be yes with a caveat. Starwood points will no longer exist after the transition as they will become Marriott points. Marriott points are worth less than Ultimate Rewards points. With that said, adding more redemption flexibility for Marriott points after the transition will increase their value but not enough to exceed the value of Ultimate Rewards Points.

  20. I am a Million Miller with United Airlines which allowed me to become a Marriot Elite Gold (Now Platinum ) for a couple of years. Million Miller status with United Airlines translates to United Gold for life. Does this mean I will be a lifetime Platinum with Marriott?!

    • Christine Krzyszton · August 19, 2018 · Reply

      No, unfortunately it doesn’t. The RewardsPlus program which grants reciprocal status between the Marriott/Ritz-Carlton/SPG Rewards program and United MileagePlus states that MileagePlus Premier Gold members and above receive Marriott Gold status. Marriott/Ritz-Carlton/SPG Rewards Platinum Premier Elite members and above receive complimentary Premier Silver status in the United MileagePlus program. These are the only levels of status granted in the RewardsPlus program.

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