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Like probably everyone else in the miles and points world, I value Starwood Preferred Guest points more than Marriott Rewards points. It’s nothing personal against Marriott, it is just the reality that SPG points are worth more per point as it generally takes fewer of them to obtain the hotel award nights that I want. Even Marriott recognizes this as when they acquired SPG they set the transfer ratio between the two programs at 1 Starwood point = 3 Marriott Rewards points.
I’ve stayed at a Marriott property here and there over the years, and even have Marriott Gold status via my United Platinum status, but Marriott Rewards has never been a program I have really focused on. However, I have long since known that there is always that one time that a program that isn’t your focus will be the exact one that you need, and this weekend that is exactly what happened for my family and Marriott Rewards…largely thanks to puppies and grandparents.
These situations are exactly why transferrable miles and points programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards are my favorite types of programs as they allow for you to move points into other hotel and airline programs that aren’t your focus as you need them. However, even with those type of programs there hasn’t really been a great way to move points into Marriott Rewards as there are generally more lucrative ways to use Ultimate Rewards points than transferring them 1:1 into Marriott.
With the SPG and Marriott ‘marriage’ a few months ago, a decent way to obtain Marriott points opened up since 1 SPG point = 3 Marriott points. When they announced the ability to freely and instantly move points between the programs at that ratio I didn’t know if I would ever really transfer points into Marriott since I haven’t historically frequented Marriott properties, but never say never, and that opportunity presented itself over the weekend.
To give a little context, this weekend we were lucky enough to host both my oldest daughter’s 7th birthday party and her grandparents from Kansas. While I never intend this to happen at the onset, parties around here have a way of becoming relatively big affairs, at least in terms of attendance. They are a great excuse to have folks come and hang out for a few hours.
However, with a questionable weather forecast, approximately 50 folks likely to attend, and even some puppy guests of honor expected (instead of presents she requested donations for a homeless pet organization), we had a problem brewing with available space in our very regularly sized house.
When my in-laws visit we normally convert the (crowded) playroom into a guest bedroom, but we couldn’t afford to lose that floor space given the party and rainy weather forecast which could have forced the guests (and puppies!) to all have to be inside instead of spilling over into the backyard as intended.
As I was thinking through the logistics as my in-laws were literally in the air on their way to Texas I realized I had a dilemma and possible solution. If my in-laws could have their own space the first night of their visit at a nearby hotel instead of our house they could potentially rest better, have free breakfast and get ready for the day at their pace, and we could avoid setting up and tearing down a make-shift guest bedroom to make room for a small army of children at the birthday party.
There are no aspirational or 4 star hotels in our suburb, but the newest hotel of the bunch is a Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott. It’s not fancy, but it seemed to be totally acceptable for a nearby one night stay. They wanted around $100+ for the one night reservation, which was okay, but not really something I needed to add to our cramped budget with Christmas and a kiddo’s birthday this month. However, award nights at this property are just 10,000 Marriott Reward points and there were award rooms available. Transferring those points in from Ultimate Rewards would have been a waste as you would get just 1 cent in value instead of the 1.5 – 2 cents I like to get from my Ultimate Rewards. However, transferring from SPG actually made a lot of sense.
Since you get 3 Marriott Rewards points for every 1 SPG points transferred in it cost roughly 3,333 SPG points instead of the $100+ to make a cash reservation at our local Fairfield Inn. I’m happy with 3 cents in value per SPG point, so I made the transfer and the points posted immediately to my linked Marriott Rewards account. Well, almost immediately. I had to log out and log back in and then they popped right up. I did have to transfer 4,000 points as you have to do it in 1,000 point increments.
Since we have never done this before, I felt a little bad about having the grandparents stay at a hotel the first night of their visit instead of with us, but I think the set-up probably worked better for everyone…and they even avoided having to hear a crying toddler in the middle of the night and got a personalized note from Little C left for them on their bed.
The last minute hotel room scramble didn’t cost anyone any cash, and it was a good value for the SPG points I redeemed. You just never know when you will need to use a certain rewards program, so it is always good to know how to move points into that program should the need arise.
As an aside, if you have a puppy loving kid like I do who already has more toys than they could ever play with, consider teaming up with a local dog rescue group to do the birthday party in honor of the homeless puppies and collect puppy supplies and donations instead of more gifts that your kiddo probably doesn’t need. This worked out great for everyone in my crew, and thankfully the weather even held off enough for the kiddos and puppies to play outside!
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.