Summary of the Combined Starwood/Marriott Program

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Back in April, Marriott and Starwood revealed their new consolidated rewards program. There are a ton of changes which you can see on their dedicated site. I’m still not sure why they decided to switch the programs in the middle of the year instead of January 1st, but anyways, here’s my summary of the most relevant changes.

Elite Status Matching

On August 1, the Starwood Preferred Guest program will cease to exist. Your current balance of SPG points will be transferred at a 1:3 ratio to Marriott Rewards, your SPG credit cards will earn Marriott points, and your Starwood Elite status will be mapped to the new Marriott Program. You are already able to transfer points and match status between your Starwood and Marriott accounts, so much isn’t changing there.

Marriott has unveiled a new set of elite status tiers which basically combine many parts of each program. The Starwood upgrade policy to standard suites remain. Suite Night Awards are also carried over, while the Platinum amenity, lounge access, and late checkout benefits remain the same.


One of my favourite changes is that you will now be able to redeem points if standard rooms are available for sale. This has been the case with Starwood but not Marriott, and I’ve run into this problem with several Marriott properties.

I’m currently Platinum with Marriott, so I’ll be a Platinum Premier under the new program. In my opinion, these changes are generous as you can requalify using the existing criteria or the new policy, whichever is better. The biggest losers are current SPG Golds as they will lose lounge access and breakfast at Marriott properties in August.

Award Chart Changes

The award chart will now include all Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties. Peak and off-peak pricing, as well as Category 8, will come in 2019. Starwood top-tier hotels were already fairly overpriced, so Category 8 is most definitely a steep increase for Marriott properties.


However, one boon is that Starwood Category 7 properties will be a lot cheaper, one of the reasons why it’s a good time to purchase Starpoints with the current 35% discount. Marriott has only released a selected list hotels and their new redemption values, which I think are fairly balanced. We’ll know more once the entire list is published.

Up in the Air

The redemption options that are still unclear are the airline transfer ratios and Hotel and Air Packages, which are both one of the best ways to use your points. Marriott has said that Hotel and Air Packages and the de-facto 1:1 transfer rate will remain to some extent. We also don’t know how the 7-night certificates or current/future credit card certificates will translate to the new program.

Overall

I’m never a fan of award program changes, although this one isn’t too bad. Because there are so many changes slated to come, most people will find at least one portion of the changes advantageous, which is a really good thing.

View the full list of changes on Marriott’s dedicated site.

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Comments

  1. Just increased my stake in Hilton, where holders of the AMEX Aspire card get Diamond status, breakie, and lounge access. Also enjoying my 4th night free with IHG redemptions with the new Premier card. Will see how all the Marriott dust settles a year from now. Bye, bye to my AMEX SPG and SPG Business cards….

  2. Does this mean we will lose out on SPG points if we want to transfer to Aeroplan? Should we just transfer to aeroplan before August 1st to ensure we get those points there. I was waiting for the bonus 30% before I do that. What would you recommend?

  3. One very important item that’s still up in the air is how Canada’s AmEx MR points will transfer to the new Marriott program, given that the transfer to SPG will change to transfer to Marriott in August.
    The transfer rate better not change in the new program…

  4. My hope is now spg is gone Amex or someone brings a mariott rewards card to Canada. This way can do aeroplan card for ap flights, and mariott card to cover hotel stays. Minimizing travel expenses!

  5. Is it highly unusual that Marriott and AmEx are being so deadly quiet in the Canadian marketplace? This new program launches in just over a month, yet there has been zero announcement ‘s. It seems really strange.

    • Totally agree!!! Tried to ask at Amex whats going on and the agent was very vague with scripted answers .He suggest I call SPG and what I got out of them was those with the SPG card n Canada will continue but earn Marriott points at 1:2. That’s a 33% earning devaluation now. Will have to wait and see if this is so.

      • Just received my program change letter for AMEX SPG (dated June 28th), confirming the devaluation of earning. 2 points for every $1 spent, and 5 points for every $1 spent at Marriott…. definitely a devaluation!

  6. Totally agree!!! Tried to ask at Amex whats going on and the agent was very vague with scripted answers .He suggest I call SPG and what I got out of them was those with the SPG card n Canada will continue but earn Marriott points at 1:2. That’s a 33% earning devaluation now. Will have to wait and see if this is so.

  7. I do not agree that communication is quiet in Canada. I have had numerous e-mails from Marriott concerning the new program. I have transferred all my spg points (earned from spg Amex card) to Marriott at 3:1. I believe points in an spg account will be transferred to Marriott at 3:1 on August 1st. Thereafter points award on the spg Amex card will be at 2:1. Definitely an earnings drop. However I see that two hotels which I am using with points have been reclassified downwards and now cost fewer points. So it is not all negative with the changeover.

    One question. I was looking at buying points during the 35% discount offer. Looking at the website, it is not clear if the cost is US or CDN $$? Does anyone know?

  8. Looks like Amex MR points transferred to SPG after the merger are going to be significantly devalued? The only communication I’ve see refers to MR points, not the Cobalt MRs points. Any news on the transfer rate from Cobalt Amex to the new Marriott rewards program? Maybe the Cobalt is not as attractive going forward? If it seems too good to be true…..

  9. Some good hotels, currently grade 6, are being downgraded to 5. I have two Grade 5 certificates which I am presuming can be used for those properties after August 1st. Any thoughts on that?

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