The All-New Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest Combined Loyalty Program
April 18, 2018
April 16th 2018 – the day the world was given a peak into the new loyalty program combining Marriott and SPG.
The forthcoming changes will come into effect on August 1, 2018 when all three programs – Marriott, SPG and The Ritz Carlton – will be combined into one. All Marriott and SPG accounts/points will be combined into one unified program – Starpoints will be converted to the new loyalty program at a rate of 1:3.
The final, unified loyalty program will be unleashed in 2019 under a brand new loyalty program name. Until then, Marriott and SPG will keep their names.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the new program!
– One combined loyalty account; 29 brands, 6500 hotels and properties, 127 countries and territories
– Elite status levels will change slightly
– Updated Free Nights redemption chart (8 categories) with the addition of “Off-Peak” and “Peak” pricing, so to speak
– Additional transfer partners being added to current list with a new transfer ratio of 3:1 to said partners along with transfer bonus
Elite Status for the new program will also be changing and will consist of 5 tiers – Member, Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Platinum Premium Elite.
In addition, any elite nights you’ve accumulated between Marriott and SPG will be added together and used towards the new program – no need to worry about starting from scratch!
In addition, there have been a few notable changes to Member Benefits. The biggest change was the removal of Free Breakfast and Lounge Access for Gold Members, which was once a perk under the current Marriott Member benefits.
For a full list of the new Member Benefits, visit the Marriott Website here.
Earning and Redeeming Points
For us Canadians, earning Marriott/SPG points has remained
unchanged, for the most part. Amex is still offering both its SPG branded credit cards – Amex SPG and Amex Business SPG – and for the time being, we can continue to transfer our Amex MR to SPG at a rate of 2:1. The Amex SPG and Business SPG cards are still offering a 20,000 Starpoint Welcome Bonus and the Annual Fees have also remained unchanged at $120 and $150, respectively. The only change made at this time was the removal of the 5,000 Starpoint referral bonus and was replaced , for the time being, with a $25 statement credit per successful referral.
**Update April 17th, 2018**
Amex has axed the Welcome Bonus on the SPG cards from 20,000 Starpoints to a measly statement credit.
Earn a $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months plus an additional $150 statement credit after you charge $200 or more in purchases at participating Starwood or Marriott properties in the first 6 months.
Brutal, I know. But this has been confirmed that this is temporary until the new program is up and running.
With that being said, if you still wanted the Amex SPG card, it’s now more worthwhile to apply for the Amex SPG card via Great Canadian Rebates to obtain a $30 cash-back rebate as opposed to referring yourself and only obtaining a $25 statement credit.
While we should be fortunate that we are still able to transfer MR to SPG at 2:1 (or effectively 2:3 to Marriott from MR) for the time being, only time will tell what the new transfer ratio into the new program will be.
We can only hope that it will remain unchanged and that Amex doesn’t reduce it to a 1:1 ratio.
Free Night Awards
For the time being, and up until August 1st, all redemptions within Marriott and SPG will be based off of current charts. That means that any reservations you have or make before that date will be honoured. After August 1st, all Free Night Awards will be based off the new redemption chart seen below.
In 2019, the new redemption chart will include an 8th Category as well as the inclusion of Off-Peak and Peak redemption schedules. Regarding Off-Peak and Peak schedules, those periods will be set by the hotels themselves based on their yearly demand.
We are still unsure which properties will fall into which categories but we can reasonably assume that the Ritz Carltons and JW Marriotts will be at the higher end of the redemption spectrum. Take a look below at the new redemption chart.
Much will remain unchanged with respect to how you redeem for free nights. You will enjoy:
- Access to 6,500 + properties around the world
- No blackout dates
- Ability to book using cash and points
- 5th night free
- Use points to upgrade to suites or select room with more desirable views
As with before, you can still redeem points for Exclusive Moments such as meet and greets with your favourite band, cooking lessons with world-renowned Chefs and many more. You’ll also be able to cash in points for vacations and car rentals.
Lastly, you’ll continue to be able to transfer points to airline partners as you did with SPG. The list of airline partners now stretches to more than 40 and the great part is that the 25% transfer bonus will remain in place.
Within the new program, transferring will be done at a ratio of 3:1 or 3000 points = 1000 miles and a 15,000 bonus will be added for every 60,000 points you transfers.
For example, if you transfer 60,000 points to an airline, you’ll get a bonus of 15,000 points for a total of 75,000 points. These points can then be transferred at a rate or 3:1, giving you a total of 25,000 airline miles of your choosing.
Overall, I think the announced changes of the new program have been fairly positive. There will always be some purists who will huff and puff over the changes but like anything in life, with change comes adaptation.
We don’t know all the details yet and there are many unanswered questions still to be addressed. I think a few of the top queries relate to the Flight and Hotel Packages – how many points will you need to redeem, which category each hotel will fall into under the new 8 Category system, as well as what new credit products will be offered to the Canadian market in the next few months?
Exciting times are ahead no doubt, and I’ll be sure to add any updates as they come available!