Marriott has completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, giving the combined company 30 hotel brands and over 5700 properties worldwide. Effective immediately, you can now match your highest level status and transfer points in either direction between the programs.
The 3:1 ratio for transferring points is fair: 3 Marriott/Ritz Carlton Rewards points = 1 Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) point. The only limitations are a minimum of 1000 points and a maximum of all the points in your account.
If you have a Marriott or Ritz Carlton account and an SPG account, you can link them together here. If you are not already a member of one or both of the programs, enroll in Marriott Rewards or The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG online; then proceed to link your accounts.
Linking your accounts is the first step to obtaining Status Match across programs and the ability to transfer points between your accounts.
If you have elite status with either SPG or Marriott/Ritz Carlton, you can now have that status matched by the other program. I have the American Express Platinum Card, which gives me Gold status in the SPG program (as well as Hilton HHonors Gold). Once I linked my accounts, I was immediately upgraded to gold status at Marriott/Ritz Carlton.
Here are some of the benefits of elite status with each loyalty program.
- Earn three Starpoints for every U.S. dollar spent on eligible stays
- 4p.m. late checkout, subject to availability
- An upgrade to an enhanced room at check-in
- Welcome gift upon arrival – bonus Starpoints or a beverage
- Complimentary in-room, premium Internet access
- Earn one Starpoint per dollar spent with Delta Crossover Rewards™ on eligible Delta flights.
- Earn one Starpoint per dollar on eligible Emirates® flights.
- Earn 1 Starpoint per U.S. dollar spent with Uber every day, and 3 Starpoints per U.S. dollar spent with Uber during your stays with SPG.
- All SPG Gold benefits plus…
- Welcome gift upon arrival — bonus Starpoints, continental breakfast or local amenity.
- An upgrade to best available room at check-in — including a Standard Suite.
- Complimentary health-club, Club-level and Executive-level access.
- Guaranteed room availability when your room is booked by 3 p.m., 72+ hours prior to arrival.
- Elite benefits when traveling with Delta, such as Priority Check-in, Priority Boarding, Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades, and first checked bag free.
- Elite in-airport benefits when flying Emirates, including priority check-in, priority boarding and complimentary e-gate access (visit emirates.com for details).
- Elite Reservation and Guest Services Lines
- Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
- Guaranteed Late Checkout as late as 4pm
- Guaranteed Room Type
- 25% Bonus on Marriott Rewards Points
- Complimentary Enhanced Internet Access
- Room Upgrade – Based on room availability at check-in
- Lounge Access/Free Breakfast
- Hertz® #1 Gold Membership
- Elite-Only rewards redemption options.
- All Marriott Gold Benefits plus…
- Dedicated Platinum Reservation and Guest Services Lines
- Platinum Exclusive Elite Offers
- 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability
- United MileagePlus Premier Silver Status – complimentary upgrades and access to Economy Plus seating (when available), 1 complimentary checked bag, Premier bonus miles and more.
- Guaranteed Platinum Arrival Gift
- 50% Bonus on Marriott Rewards Points
SPG points are renowned for their ability to be transferred to a large number of airline partners – virtually all at a 1:1 ratio. In addition, for every 20,000 SPG points you transfer, you get 5,000 bonus airline miles. This, in addition to low points requirements for award stays at Starwood properties, has made SPG points a valuable currency.
The ability to transfer points between SPG and Marriott has created some unique opportunities.
United MileagePlus Loophole
The one exception to SPG’s generous airline transfer program has always been United Airlines where the transfer ratio is only 2:1 — half the rate of other airlines. However, according to Marriott’s RewardsPlus chart, you can convert 56,000 Marriott Rewards points into 25,000 United MileagePlus miles.
Now, with the linked programs, you can transfer 19,000 SPG points to Marriott. This will give you 57,000 Marriott points–more than enough to convert to 25,000 United Miles. SPG->United has gone from the worst SPG airline transfer ratio (by far) to the best by simply taking the SPG->Marriott->United detour.
Marriott Travel Packages
Another valuable use of Marriott Points are the Marriott Travel Packages. For 270,000 Marriott points (or 90,000 SPG points), you can take advantage of an excellent vacation value–7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel PLUS 132,000 United MileagePlus miles!
There’s another tremendous sweet spot in the Travel Packages specifically for Southwest Airline flyers. That same 270,000 Marriott points (or 90,000 SPG points) will get you 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel PLUS 120,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points.
Better yet, those 120k Rapid Rewards points are enough to qualify you for Southwest’s companion pass for the remainder of the current calendar year and all of next year! Update: Effecitve January 1, 2017, points transferred from hotel and car rental loyalty programs no longer count towards companion pass.
The Travel Packages don’t require you to use the airline miles/points for the vacation you are booking. You can bank them to use any time in the future.
Credit Cards for Points/Status
It does require quite a few points to take advantage of some of the deals listed above, but spouses/domestic partners can combine points in both programs, which will allow couples to accrue points twice as quickly. In addition, there are many credit cards that offer bonuses to help get you there quicker.
- Chase Marriott Personal
- Chase Marriott Business
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (1:1 transfer to Marriott)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (1:1 transfer to Marriott)
- Chase Ink+ Business (1:1 transfer to Marriott)
- Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards (Gold status + Platinum after $75k annual spend)
- American Express SPG
- American Express SPG Business
- American Express Platinum (3:1 transfer to SPG + Starwood Gold status)
- Other American Express Membership Rewards cards (3:1 transfer to SPG)
Important items to note:
- As of the time of this writing, all of the above Chase cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule EXCEPT the Marriott Business and the Ritz Carlton Rewards cards.
- American Express SPG cards earn 1 SPG point per $1 spend, which is effectively 3 Marriott points per $1. This should make everyday spend on the Chase Marriott cards a thing of the past.
I’ll continue to update this post with more opportunities as I come across them.