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I’ll share a couple of things I found so far about Marriott’s plans for Starwood!
What’s Going On?
Link: Marriott Hotels
Link: Starwood Hotels
Marriott’s $12.2 billion deal to buy Starwood is expected to be complete by mid-2016. That’s very soon!
There’s still no information available about what the new award program will look like. But Starwood’s CEO implies it will be merged with Marriott’s loyalty scheme.
Starwood’s loyalty program is generally known for having better elite status, and their points are worth much more than Marriott points because they’re extremely flexible. So it will be interesting to see how they combine the 2 programs – to say the least!
Here’s what we know so far.
The Starwood Name Will Likely Go Away
International Meetings News posted an interview with the CEO of Starwood Hotels. They asked if the Starwood name would be dropped. He said:
“The Starwood name likely doesn’t have a long life. Marriott International will be the corporate name. This is a transfer of brands, intellectual property, organizational DNA and other capabilities – the loyalty program and all the benefits with it.”
Uh oh! So it looks like the Starwood we’ve grown to know will go by “Marriott” in the near future!
Starwood Points Are Safe for Now
In the same interview, he talked about the future of the Starwood points program:
“The blogosphere lit up with concerns. What has made Starwood so valuable is its brands and loyalty program. We are confident that Marriott would approach it with a do-no-harm approach. We do not want to alienate our most valuable members.
But, because of antitrust reasons, we haven’t been able to talk about how to put these programs together. SPG won’t switch over on day one. It will need to take longer.”
So it sounds like there aren’t plans to combine their loyalty programs for a while. Whew!
And in another interview with Road Warrior Voices, Marriott’s CEO also confirmed there wouldn’t be drastic changes to Starwood points right away:
“The SPG program was one of the most attractive aspects of our acquisition of Starwood. To state the obvious, devaluing points or member benefits is not the way to preserve and strengthen these programs, which is our aim.”
I’m glad Marriott sees the value in keeping Starwood separate for a while!
So it looks like the worst of our fears – that Marriott would change the Starwood program or its value – won’t be the 1st item on Marriott’s list after the merger.
That gives us some time to stock up on, and redeem, our Starwood points. That said, we don’t know when the changes will take place. But I think we have ~1 year with the current Starwood points program.
And hopefully, when and if, it does change, Marriott will give folks plenty of time to use their Starwood points!
What Should You Do Now?
Stock Up and Spend
One strategy is to stock up on Starwood points (or top-up your account) with a plan to redeem them. You might save up for a dream vacation at a fancy Starwood hotel, like the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, near where Emily and I stayed.
Remember, you can redeem your Starwood points to get:
- 5,000 bonus miles when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airline partners
- 5th night free on award stays
- Cash & Points and Nights & Flights bookings
Here are my top Starwood hotel picks:
- 5 Top European Hotels to Book With Starwood Points
- 5 Excellent Hotels in the US to Splurge on With Starwood Points
- 5 Outstanding Starwood Hotels in the Caribbean & Mexico
- 5 Luxurious Starwood Hotels in Asia & Australia
- 5 Fantastic Starwood Hotels in Central & South America
- 5 of the Best US Beaches With Starwood Hotels
Wait and See
Or, you might decide to wait to see what Marriott will do with the Starwood points program. If it’s bad news, you can always transfer your Starwood points to airline partners (including American Airlines and Alaska Airlines) to get award flights.
I wouldn’t jump to transfer Starwood points to airlines until Marriott tells us more. It’s very unlikely they’d remove these perks without giving customers a lot of advance notice.
And based on the interviews above, they sound like they’ll approach combining the 2 programs with some care.
On the plus side, Marriott might keep the best parts of the Starwood points program. It would be fun to book Marriott hotels with Starwood points and vice-versa!
That would be a positive change for booking award nights at Starwood hotels, because Marriott points are much easier to collect (especially because you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott)!
What About the AMEX Starwood Cards?
Now is also a good time to consider applying for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
Because after the merger, these cards will likely be discontinued. And, you can only earn the sign-up bonus on personal AMEX cards once per lifetime. You could always transfer your Starwood points to airline miles (or 1 of the other strategies described above).
I do NOT have any information about this. This is my thought based on other mergers we’ve seen.
But I have a feeling the AMEX Starwood cards will be discontinued. They might become Chase credit cards (because Chase has a relationship with Marriott already). Or they might disappear completely.
I’ll keep you posted and will let you know as soon as I find out more! But if you want to stock up on Starwood points, now could be a good time.
Marriott and Starwood will likely be 1 company sometime this year.
So far, we know the Starwood name will probably go away. And while we don’t know clear details of when or how Starwood points will change, the CEO of Marriott says they won’t devalue them right after the deal is complete.
That’s good news for folks who collect Starwood points! For now, you can make a plan to redeem them for award stays. Or wait until we hear what Marriott wants to do. Because they’ll likely give plenty of notice before changes take hold.
It’s probable the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express cards will eventually go away. Or get transferred over to Chase. So if you’ve been thinking of signing-up, you might want to do so soon.
As always, I’ll update y’all as soon as I find out more!