What We Know (and Do NOT Know!) About the Future of Starwood’s Loyalty Program
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The Marriott – Starwood merger officially closed in September 2016. And you can link your Starwood and Marriott accounts to enjoy the perks of both programs.But you might be wondering, what’s the future of Starwood’s loyalty program?
While I don’t have all the details yet, I’ll share what I know. And give you ideas about earning and using Starwood points going forward!
What Will Happen to Starwood in 2018?
So far, there haven’t been any major changes to the Marriott or Starwood loyalty programs. In fact, the merger made both Marriott and Starwood points MORE flexible, because you can transfer your points between programs. And use them for free nights at 5,700+ hotels worldwide.You can also get an instant status match if you have elite status with either hotel chain. And enjoy elite perks with both hotels!
These are all positives. And I hope this means Marriott will continue to put customers first!
So I wouldn’t stress if you have a lot of Starwood points saved. Or if you’re planning to take advantage of the limited-time offers on the personal and small business AMEX Starwood cards to earn even more Starwood points. But I’d suggest having a plan, so you can have fun earning and redeeming your points!
Because Marriott’s goal is to eventually combine Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood Preferred Guest into one loyalty program by 2018.
What Should You Do With Your Starwood Points?
If you have Starwood points or plan on applying for the latest (great!) offer on the AMEX Starwood cards, you’ll likely have plenty of time to use the points you’ve earned. And if Marriott ends up making negative changes to the program, hopefully they’ll give enough notice so folks can use their points before the changes go into effect.
1. Book Hotel Stays
You can book Starwood stays up to 18 months in advance And Marriott stays ~11 months in advance. So if you have Starwood points, you can plan a trip. Here’s how to make the most of your Starwood and Marriott points after the merger.
If you apply for the AMEX Starwood personal card by April 5, 2017, and earn the full sign-up bonus, you’ll have at least 40,000 Starwood points (35,000 point sign-up bonus + 5,000 points from the minimum spending requirement). And the sooner you meet the minimum spending requirement, the sooner you’ll be able to use those points.
And you’ll earn a total of 43,000 Starwood points with the better offer on the AMEX Starwood small business card (35,000 points from the sign-up bonus + 8,000 points from the minimum spending requirement).
Say you apply on the last day of the deal, April 5, 2017. And take the full 6 months from account opening to complete the tiered minimum spending requirements.
That means you’d have the 40,000 Starwood points in your account in October or November 2017. At that point, we’ll probably know more about the future of the Starwood program.
And I’m optimistic they won’t drastically change the program without a fair warning. Especially because they’ve just announced the limited-time offer on the AMEX Starwood cards.
2. Transfer Points to Airline Partners
You can get Big Travel from your Starwood points by transferring them to airline partners. And once you make the transfer, they’re in the airline’s loyalty program.
So if you’re worried about the future of the Starwood program, you could transfer your points to your favorite airline. Like American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, and more.
And don’t forget, you’ll get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer to airlines with a 1:1 transfer ratio.
And check out my post about how to use Starwood points for any flight without blackout dates. This could make sense if you’re having a hard time finding award seats and want to use your Starwood points before any changes to the loyalty program take hold.
3. Other Ways to Redeem Starwood Points
Don’t forget about these other great ways to use Starwood points:
- Inexpensive hotel stays using the Cash + Points benefit
- The 5th night free perk at Starwood Category 3 to 7 hotels
- 5 nights and 2 airline tickets to Disney World
Since the Marriott – Starwood merger officially closed in September 2016, there haven’t been any major changes to either loyalty program. And because you can link your Starwood and Marriott accounts and enjoy the perks each program offers, the merger has been a good thing for those of us in the miles & points hobby!
That said, Marriott’s goal is combine Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood Preferred Guest into one loyalty program by 2018. And we aren’t sure what the new, combined program will look like.
So if you want to use your Starwood points before any changes happen, you could book a hotel stay in advance, or transfer your Starwood points to your favorite airline transfer partner. Because once the points have been transferred to airline miles, they’re out of your Starwood account!
How do you plan to use your Starwood points?
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Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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