Last week Marriott International, Inc. finalised the merger with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. With a change this big, everyone is wondering, “What will happen to my rewards points?” Marriott has released a statement saying that the rewards programs for Marriott and Starwood would remain separate until 2018. But there will be some increased flexibility with your points. There are five changes that are coming with the merger.
Instead of automatically combining the rewards programs of the two brands, you will be able to link your Marriott account to your Starwood account. This action will give you the opportunity to transfer points and match your rewards status across brands. If you aren’t a member of both programs, Marriott encourages you to become a member of both and link them. That will allow you to earn points with both brands and build your points status. By linking your accounts, you aren’t necessarily combining the points unless you do a points transfer, which is explained in item number three.
One of the benefits to linking your rewards accounts is the automatic status match. Whichever loyalty program has the highest status becomes your status for all accounts. For example, if you are at Platinum Status in Marriott Rewards and your Starwood Preferred Guest status is Preferred Plus, your account automatically adjusts to Platinum Status in both programs. Even if you are only a member in one program, you can have the same status level in both brands by joining the other program and linking your accounts.
Although your accounts will be linked, your points will remain in separate accounts. While it would be helpful to have them all in one account, you can combine your points by doing a points transfer. This can only be done online by logging into your rewards account through the brand’s website. The points convert at a 1:3 ratio; one Starpoint to three Rewards Points and vice-versa. This gives you more flexibility with your points because Starwood and Marriott partner with different companies for rewards points redemption.
Regardless of which brand you are staying with, the process of earning and redeeming points has not changed. Whether you are staying at a Marriott Hotel or a Starwood Hotel, you will earn points based on that brand’s preset points program. For example, if you are staying at a Marriott Residence Inn, you will earn points in your Marriott Rewards account based on their points program. The same goes for a Starwood Hotel. You will earn Starpoints based on the Starwood Preferred Guest Program. To redeem the points, you will continue using the same process as before the merger. Log into your account for the points you want to use and then redeem them online for hotel stays or with one of that brand’s partners. If you’re short on points for one program, do a points transfer in your online account.
Interested in earning more Starpoints? The SPG AMEX Card is one of the most popular rewards cards because of the high amount of points you earn by using it. Not only do you earn points for regular, everyday purchases, but you can earn up to 5 times more on purchases at Starwood Hotels. When you stay at Starwood Hotels, you earn 2 points as a Card Member and 2-3 points as a Starwood Preferred Guest member. For all other purchases, you earn one point per dollar spent. With the Marriott and Starwood merger, you have the option to earn points with the SPG AMEX Card, then transfer those points to Marriott Rewards.
This merger changes Marriott into the largest hotel chain in the world. Loyalty members now have the opportunity to use their points for hotel stays at over 5,700 hotels with more than 1.1 million rooms in more than 110 countries. Link your accounts to unify your rewards status and then transfer points to take advantage of staying in these hotels. Your stay at Marriott or Starwood is more than just a room; it’s the brand you love.