United Announces RewardsPlus

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Well the speculation can (thankfully) now stop – the United rewards enhancement has been announced and it actually isn’t bad news (though I sure wish they would have handled this announcement differently to avoid panicking the herd).  In fact, it actually is good news for some United and Marriott elites.  Much like how Delta and SPG partnered earlier this year to provide some reciprocal benefits for elite members of each program, United and Marriott have done the same and called it RewardsPlus.

RewardsPlus Mommy Points

According to UA Insider on Flyertalk, here are highlights of this new partnership:

  • Starting today, MileagePlus Premier Gold members (and higher) can register to receive complimentary Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status, which includes benefits such as lounge access and free breakfast (at select locations), room upgrades (subject to availability at check-in) complimentary internet access, priority late check-out, bonus points, and more.
  • Marriott Rewards Platinum Elite (top-tier) members can register to receive Premier Silver status in MileagePlus.
  • New Miles-to-Points Transfer: We’re introducing the ability for Premier members (at all levels) to convert MileagePlus award miles into Marriott Rewards points at a 1-to-1 ratio, up to 50,000 miles per year.
  • Improved Points-to-Miles Transfer: We’re improving the rate at which all members can convert their Marriott Rewards points into MileagePlus miles by offering a 20% discount off the number of points required for miles. This will be the leading conversion rate for transfer of Marriott Rewards points into airline miles.
  • Improved Mileage Earning on Travel Packages: We’re adding 10% more MileagePlus award miles when members redeem for a Marriott Rewards Air and Hotel Travel package using points transferred from a Marriott Rewards account – a bonus of up to 12,000 miles.
  • You can register for complimentary Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status starting today, by going to www.united.com/rewardsplus. The enhanced points and miles features are coming in August.
  • Elite status through RewardsPlus is effective for the current program year only, meaning through January 31, 2014. Details on RewardsPlus in 2014 will be released at a later time.

I have United Platinum status, so was able to register today for the new promotion – it already associated my Marriott number without me having to add it.  Kinda handy, kinda creepy, effective in either case.  I was told it will be 7-10 business days for my Marriott account to be updated with the new Gold status. 

United Marriott Rewards Mommy Points

I am thrilled this is actually an addition to the program and not a change that hurts more than helps.  Marriott Gold status is typically obtained after spending 50 nights in a Marriott branded hotel, so I am obviously happy to get it without having to do that.  I will now have free internet and potentially free breakfast and lounge access.  That will be handy on the occasions that I find myself at a Marriott, though that will still likely be an infrequent occurrence as my hotel loyalty lies elsewhere.  Now, for those who earned Marriott elite status the hard way, this is not going to necessarily be great news as there will be even more Gold elites.

In return, Marriott top-tier Platinum elites are given United Silver status.  I’ve read some saying this is not very generous, but since I am married to someone who just barely qualifies for United Silver status, I actually think it is not too shabby to be gifted any sort of elite status with United.  Silver status is not amazing, but it does get you priority security screening, access to E+ seats at check-in, free checked bag, access to the elite phone line, and a shot at upgrades.  Upgrades for silvers aren’t common, but they do happen.  I don’t personally care much about the transfer rates for miles/points changing.  The big news here is the reciprocal elite status.

If you want more info on this new announcement, you can check out the FAQs here. What are your thoughts on the new RewardsPlus program?  Cool addition, royal shaft for Marriott Gold elites, or somewhere in between?

Thanks to View From the Wing for sharing this news this morning!

Comments

  1. Seems like a much better deal for UA elites than Marriott elites. As a Marriott Gold already, I get nothing from this deal, and face increased competition for upgrades now. Great incentive to strive for UA Gold though, maybe it’s time i went for a status match challenge.

  2. DBest, I agree totally. Marriott Golds are the biggest losers in this, followed by United Silvers. Not huge losers, but certainly don’t gain advantages.

  3. Curious how others have done on UA silver from DEN,SFO,or LAX to HNL/KOA/OGG on upgrades. Last year on LAX to OGG I was upgraded by using a friends RRU and we had 3 or 4 non revs in 1st with us. So I’m hoping I can score some upgrades with my new UA silver.

  4. MSPDeltaDude, I think those upgrades aren’t super hard – I often sit with non-revs as well on the way to Hawaii. I have heard they are harder than they used to be, but if you are flying somewhat off-peak days I would think you have a shot. I always wimp out on those routes and use a confirmed upgrade.

  5. When really looking at the benefits of a Marriott Gold, there really is no loss here to an existing Marriott Gold member. Golds basically never get an upgrade beyond a better view/higher floor. You’ll still have free internet, a points bonus, and access to the lounge. If Marriott did up grade to Suites, I could see an argument here, but suites are rare, and I know this being a Ritz-Carlton Rewards (Marriott) Platinum. Hats of to these companies for coming together to make things a bit better for their customers.

    • TTF, 2014 program details have not yet been released, so I can’t say for sure. I would assume it is annual based on your status with United for that year, but that is a guess.
      DeltaTraveler, the argument from Golds I have seen is that lounges are already too crowded. I have minimal Marriott lounge experience, but that is the real gist of the complaints I have seen.

    • Mike, based on previous comments it seems you don’t like any of the posts around here, which is totally fine, and I appreciate you continuing to read. I wrote that something was coming because it was interesting to me, and lots of folks in the miles and points world were talking about it. Yes, I was worried, so were the majority of people I interacted with. We are kind of programed these days to expect changes to be negative. Not sure why that wasn’t worth posting about and speculating about, but thanks for the feedback!

  6. @Mike, You didn’t read Lucky’s blog then. I’m still expecting the other shoe to drop at some point in the next few months, its inevitable.

    • Nick, sadly I am too, though maybe we have seen the only huge change for the year with the revenue component of elite status. It is redemptions we are all now concerned about, but hopefully it will hold steady for a while.

    • Nkk, do you mean what benefits do you get for having Silver on United or what Marriott benefits do you now get for Silver?

  7. I got the idea to do a Marriott Platinum challenge and then get United Silver. Marriott would only do the gold challenge for me, oh well.

  8. As a Marriott Gold (earned the hard Way with 50 nights so far this year), the addition of a bunch of UA elites turned Marriott Golds does concern me moreso because of lounge access. They are, and there is no arguing this, overcrowded for breakfast.

    If anything this has encouraged me to finish up Platinum this year to move a tier above them.

    That being said, it’s hard to say if the additions of the United Elites will matter. A surface check of the blogs and FT shows that most UA flyers who stay at hotels do not use Marriott. Given that, I am hesistant to think this will end up being a major issue. I see this as an occasional issue.

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