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I have official word on the Marriott Starwood merger details and what it means for you, your points, and your elite status! I spoke with Thom Kozik, Head of the Marriott loyalty program, and David Flueck of Starwood hotels.
Starting later today, September 23, 2016, you can link your Starwood and Marriott accounts to enjoy the perks each program has to offer.
You’ll get an instant status match between programs, be able to transfer points between your Marriott and Starwood accounts at a 3:1 ratio, and have more options for award stays around the world! I love how Marriott and Starwood let you move points between their programs from Day 1 of the merger. 🙂
As I suspected, there are NO major changes to either rewards program at this time. So thus far, the merger only makes both your Marriott and Starwood points more flexible, because you’ll be able to use them at 5,700 hotels worldwide.
I’ll show you how to combine your Marriott and Starwood accounts. And share ideas about earning & using Marriott and Starwood points now that the merger is official!
Marriott Starwood Merger Details
We now have the details of the Marriott – Starwood merger and what it means for both rewards programs. And it’s very positive news!
Starting later today, September 23, 2016, you’ll be able to link your Marriott and Starwood accounts to transfer points between programs. And you’ll get an instant status match if you have elite status with either hotel chain.
I love how Marriott and Starwood have allowed members to move points between programs from day one. That’s a strong signal Marriott will be putting high priority on their members’ needs!
And according to Marriott and Starwood leaders, it’s business as usual for both programs through the end of 2017. That said, the goal is to eventually combine Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood Preferred Guest into one loyalty program. But they haven’t indicated when that might happen.
Here are highlights of the merger:
1. Transfer Points Between Programs
Once your accounts are linked, you can transfer points between your Marriott and Starwood accounts at a 3:1 ratio. Meaning 3 Marriott Points = 1 Starwood point.
And there’s no maximum limit to the number of points you can move between accounts.
Is This a Good Deal?
Transferring points between programs might make sense for some folks, especially if you have a particular stay in mind. But as always, do the math to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
There is no cap on the amount of points you can transfer.
For example, say you have 60,000 Marriott points. You could use those 60,000 Marriott points to stay 2 nights at The Stones Hotel – Legian Bali, Autograph Collection, which costs 30,000 Marriott points per night.
Or you could transfer 60,000 Marriott points to Starwood points at a 3:1 ratio. After the transfer, you’d have 20,000 Starwood points, enough for an off-peak award night at a Category 6 Starwood hotel, like The St. Regis Rome.
The St. Regis Rome easily costs ~$600+ per night, whereas rooms at The Stones Hotel – Legian Bali, Autograph Collection cost ~$127.
Using 60,000 Marriott points for 2 nights at The Stones Hotel – Legian Bali, Autograph Collection would save you just ~$254. But you could save ~$600 if you transferred them to Starwood points for a night at The St. Regis Rome!
Transfer Points to Airline Miles
And don’t forget! You can transfer Starwood points to airline partners at a 1:1 ratio (with few exceptions). And you’ll get a 5,000 mile bonus when for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer.
You could turn 60,000 Marriott points into 20,000 Starwood points by making a transfer between your Marriott and Starwood accounts. Then transfer the 20,000 Starwood points to 1 of their airline transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio, like American Airlines. You’d end up with 25,000 American Airlines miles.
That’s enough for a round-trip coach ticket within the mainland US, which costs 25,000 American Airlines miles. And more than enough for a one-way coach ticket to Hawaii, which costs 20,000 American Airlines miles!
There is no plan to discontinue the option where you can combine Marriott and Starwood points into airline miles.
2. Status Match Between Programs
Do you have elite status with either hotel? Good news!
You’ll get an instant status match between programs when you merge your accounts at members.marriott.com.
For example, if you have Platinum status with Marriott, you’ll get Platinum status with Starwood, or vice versa.
Here’s how your status will be matched:
- Marriott Rewards Basic = Starwood Preferred Guest Preferred
- Marriott Rewards Silver = Starwood Preferred Guest Preferred Plus
- Marriott Rewards Gold = Starwood Preferred Guest Gold
- Marriott Rewards Platinum = Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum
Automatic Status If You Have the Right Cards!
If you have certain cards, you’ll automatically get status with either chain.
For example, Chase Marriott Rewards Premier personal and small business cards come with automatic Marriott Silver status. And you’ll get automatic Starwood Preferred Guest Plus status with the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest personal and small business cards.
And folks with the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card get automatic Gold status with Marriott and Ritz-Carlton. Remember, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton share the same frequent-guest program, just with different branding and marketing.
If you’re have The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN, or American Express® Mercedes-Benz Platinum cardholder, you’ll eligible for Starwood Gold status when you enroll your card.
3. More Ways to Earn Points for Marriott and Starwood Stays
With the merger, you’ll now be able to (indirectly!) use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Starwood stays. That’s because you can transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Plus to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio.
Then transfer those points to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio after you’ve linked your Marriott and Starwood accounts. But that isn’t the best transfer ratio for valuable Ultimate Rewards points, and you could be better off using them at Hyatt hotels at a 1:1 transfer ratio instead.
You’ll also be able to use the sign-up bonuses from the Marriott and Starwood cards for stays at both hotel chains.
Marriott Credit Cards
If you get the personal version of the card, you can earn another 7,500 bonus Marriott points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase within the first 3 months of opening your account. The $85 annual fee is NOT waived for the first year.
Starwood Credit Cards
You can earn 25,000 Starwood points after completing the minimum spending requirements on the Starwood Preferred Guest personal card. Or for a limited time with the small business version of the card, earn 2 free nights at participating Starwood Category 1 through 5 hotels, after meeting minimum spending.
You can read my review of the limited-time offer for the Starwood Preferred Guest Business card. And check out my series on how to earn and use Starwood points.
Chase Cards That Earn Ultimate Rewards Points
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Because you’ll be able to indirectly use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Starwood stays now, you could consider cards from Chase that earn Ultimate Rewards points. That said, Ultimate Rewards points may be better used for stays at Hyatt hotels.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Check out my full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
You can also earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Or earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening an Ink Plus account.
4. Other Good News
Because you can now transfer Marriott points to Starwood points at a 3:1 ratio, you’ll have another way to top off your Starwood account if you want to bid on SPG Moments!
I’ve written about redeeming Starwood points for unforgettable experiences through SPG Moments. With Starwood points, you can buy exclusive concert & theater tickets, attend VIP sporting events, culinary events (yum!), and more.
It’s nice to see nothing about this part of the Starwood program has changed. 🙂
Marriott also has a Marriott Rewards Experiences Marketplace, where you can bid on or spend Marriott points for unique experiences, like gourmet meals, concerts, sporting events, and more.
Also, if you’re in New York City on October 14, 2016, you can check out Marriott’s “Global Travel Day” at Rockefeller Center. There, Marriott and Starwood will be celebrating the merger with a HUGE interactive map displaying all of the Marriott and Starwood locations around the world.
And keep an eye out for sweepstakes from Marriott and Starwood soon, too. I’ll keep you posted on the details!
The Marriott – Starwood merger details are now official. And as I suspected, there are NOT any immediate major changes to either hotel chain’s loyalty program.
In fact, you can still earn and redeem points with both programs as you normally would. The main difference is, you can now link your Marriott and Starwood accounts, to enjoy the perks of both programs!
After your accounts are linked, you’ll get an instant status match between the programs if you have elite status with either chain. And you’ll be able to transfer points between programs.
For every 1 Starwood hotel point you transfer, you’ll get 3 Marriott points, or vice versa.
And you’ll have more ways to earn points to use at either hotel chain, because you can earn points with cards like the Marriott Rewards Premier card or AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest card. And even transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve indirectly to Starwood points!
So far, I’m happy with these changes. And I am grateful for the safe message that the 3:1 transfer ratio conveys. I’ll keep you posted as we hear more about the merger!