Marriott Merger Loopholes: 3 Secret Tips for Longer & More Luxurious Stays
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Now that you can transfer Starwood points to Marriott and vice versa, I’ll show you how to get Big Travel by converting your points!. And I’ll reveal the times when transferring your points is NOT a good idea!
There are instances where transferring your points can be a great deal. Those of y’all who like to splurge at top hotels will be happy. And so will folks looking to stay longer at affordable hotels.
Starwood to Marriott or Marriott to Starwood?
Link: Marriott Rewards Chart
Marriott and Ritz-Carlton are part of the same company. So you can use your Marriott points at both brands. Marriott hotels are between 7,500 and 45,000 points per night. Ritz-Carlton luxury hotels are between 30,000 and 70,000 points per night.Marriott hotels include:
- AC Hotels by Marriott
- Autograph Collection Hotels
- Bulgari Hotels
- Courtyard by Marriott
- Delta Hotels
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
- Gaylord Hotels
- JW Marriott
- Marriott Executive Apartments
- Marriott Hotels
- Marriott Vacation Club
- Moxy Hotels
- Protea Hotels
- Renaissance Hotels
- Residence Inn by Marriott
- Springhill Suites by Marriott
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott
Starwood hotels have a different scale that ranges from 2,000 to 35,000 points per night. Starwood Preferred Guest hotels include Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Meridien, Sheraton, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin and W brand hotels.
You can transfer Starwood points to Marriott at 1:3 ratio. And from Marriott to Starwood at 1:3 ratio. You also get your elite status matched. Folks who are still unsure which points to transfer to which program can consider this:
1. For Top Hotels, Transfer Starwood Points to Marriott
- Top Starwood Hotel: 105,000 Marriott points
- Top Marriott Hotel: 15,000 Starwood points
Yup. You read that right. 🙂 Transfer your precious Starwood points to Marriott.
A top Starwood category 7 hotel, such as The Gritti Palace in Venice, will cost you 35,000 Starwood points. Or if you transfer Marriott points to Starwood Preferred Guest, it will cost 105,000 Marriott Rewards points. That’s because 3 Marriott points transfer to only 1 Starwood point!
In the meantime, a night at a top, category 9 Marriott hotel, like Boscolo Venezia, costs 45,000 Marriott points. Or if you transfer Starwood points to Marriott Rewards, that’s only 15,000 Starwood points!
That’s because you get 3 Marriott point for every 1 Starwood hotel point!
Folks, Starwood points are extremely valuable, but not 7 times as valuable as Marriott points.
So for most folks, I would NOT recommend transferring Marriott points into Starwood’s program to stay at a top Starwood hotel. That’s because:
- Top Marriott hotels cost 45,000 Marriott points per night
- Top Starwood hotels cost 105,000 Marriott (35,000 Starwood points x 3) points per night
But I DO recommend converting your Starwood points to stay at the top Marriott hotels. Because:
- Top Starwood hotels cost 35,000 Starwood points per night
- Top Marriott hotels cost just 15,000 Starwood points (45,000 Marriott Points/3) per night
That said, if your account is overflowing with Marriott points and you greatly prefer Starwood, do what makes sense for you!
2. To Stay at Starwood Category 1 & 2 Hotels, Transfer Points From Marriott to Starwood
For those folks who want to visit friends and families without spending too many points, Marriott is more suited for the task, because there are 10 times more Marriott Category 1 & 2 hotels in the U.S. than Starwood hotels – about 670 vs. 67. But if you are looking for some undervalued touristy destinations, Starwood might be a better fit.
Check Le Méridien Angkor in Siem Reap, for example. It’s a 5-star hotel with a gorgeous pool and beautiful grounds.
And Siem Reap is hardly in the middle of nowhere, as it’s booming with tourists from all over the world. But as it’s a Category 2 hotel, you can stay there for only 3,000 points a day on the weekend, and 4,000 on a weekday.
And if you transfer Marriott points to Starwood, you will get a 3-night stay at Le Méridien Angkor for 30,000 to 36,000 Marriott points. That’s a great deal, too!
If Cambodia is not your cup of tea, that’s not a problem. To catch some sunrays closer to home, consider Aloft or Four Points in Cancun, Four Points in Punta Cana, or Sheraton Buganvilias Resort in Puerto Vallarta. All of them are Category 2 hotels, so your cost is the same: 30,000 to 36,000 Marriott points.
3. For Category 1 & 2 Marriott Hotels in Africa, Transfer Points From Starwood to Marriott
If traveling to Africa is on your bucket list, you’re in luck! Last year, Marriott acquired an African hotel chain called Protea Hotels. Many of Marriott’s Protea hotels are Category 1 & 2. That gives you a fantastic value in South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Morocco, and other countries.
If you stay 5 nights or more, it gets better. Starwood Preferred Guest doesn’t offer the 5th night free on their Category 1 & 2 hotels, but Marriott does. That means your 5-night stay at a Category 1 Marriott hotel will only cost you 10,000 Starwood points (and 14,000 for Category 2 with 2,000 points to spare).
For example, 5 nights at Protea Hotel Zanzibar Mbweni Ruins, which routinely sells at around $200 a night, will only cost you 10,000 Starwood points for 5 days, or at the rate of 10 cents for 1 Starwood point. That’s the kind of value you don’t see very often!
Your Elite Status Matters
Both programs treat their top Elite Platinum members nicely, but if you are a mid-tier Gold member, you’ll get more at Marriott hotels. Because in addition to the possibility of getting an upgraded room, you’ll get free breakfast and use of the hotel lounge at these Marriott brands:
- Autograph Collection Hotels
- Delta Hotels
- JW Marriott
- Marriott Hotels (except resorts)
- Renaissance Hotels
Still not sure which way to transfer your points? That’s fine, you don’t have to decide right away unless you’re traveling in the near future. Marriott is trying to build some trust with Starwood members, so it probably won’t devalue the program anytime soon.
Get Gold Marriott Status With Credit Cards
You can earn Marriott Gold status with the following credit cards:
- The Chase Ritz-Carlton card gets you free gold Ritz Carlton status (with the same benefits at Marriott hotels, too) for the 1st year. Maintain it each following year you spend $10,000
- The American Express Platinum cards (personal and small business) get you gold status with Starwood that Marriott will match online.
The Marriott & Starwood transfer option has opened new doors for us to go where we want and save big on points.
If you want to pamper yourself at the top luxury hotels, transfer your Starwood points to Marriott. And folks who want to stay longer at the category 1 & 2 international hotels will find transferring their Marriott points to Starwood an excellent deal.
But there are exceptions. For travel to some world regions where Marriott’s foothold is especially strong, like Africa, transfer your Starwood points to Marriott for category 1 & 2 Protea hotels. For one thing, you get the 5th night free at Categories 1 & 2 Marriott hotels, but not Starwood’s.
Folks with Platinum Marriott or Starwood status receive great recognition at either chain, but Gold members get more goodies at Marriott.
I’m usually cautious about mergers between huge travel companies, but Marriott and Starwood are doing right by us for now, and I’m really happy about this one.
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Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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