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For the last few years, we have been on a slow march towards the merging of the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs. I have no problem with this being a slow and deliberate march since I kind of like the programs the way they are right now. Heck, I’d have no problem if the destination changes and we never get where we thought we were going and the programs stay separate forever and ever, though I think it is still most likely we are looking at major changes and integrations in 2019.
However, for 2018, we seem to be looking at tweaks as opposed to overhauls, and a few of those changes to the Marriott Rewards program have now been announced via the Marriott Insiders page.
2017 is the Final Year for Marriott Elite Rollover and Status Buy Back
Currently, if you have excess nights earned in the Marriott Rewards program then they can roll over to help you get a jump start on earning elite status the next year. For example, Marriott Platinum status requires 75 elite qualifying nights per year. However, if you were a road warrior and had 85 Marriott qualifying nights in 2017, then 10 of those could roll over into 2018, giving you a jump start on requalifying for status. The same is true for the lower tiers, as well.
Nothing will change in this respect for 2017 nights rolling into 2018, but any ‘extra’ nights you have in 2018 will not help you in 2019.
The Marriott elite status “buy back” offer was pretty lucrative for those who used it to keep Platinum status, and while the new announcements state that 2017 is the final year for Buy Back, I know there has been some confusion on whether that translated to a final chance to use it in early 2018 or not. I reached out to a Senior Director at Marriott Rewards and was told that “it was a promotion and will not return in 2018”, so it looks like that opportunity for status may already have been retired.
New Hertz Benefits for Marriott Platinum and Platinum Premier Members
Beginning in early 2018, Marriott Platinum members (including those who linked their Starwood Platinum to Marriott) can register to receive Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star Status. Marriott Platinum Premier (invitation only) members can register to receive Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Presidents Circle Status.
I’m not sure this is overly exciting as United Platinum and 1K members get Hertz President’s Circle and United Gold and Silver elites get Five Star status, and neither has really scored me anything overly exciting at Hertz, though it should at least help you get a slightly nicer car. It is worth a mention that having The Platinum Card® from American Express also gets you Hertz Five Star status (and a four hour return grace period!).
Still, I’m sure the new Marriott – Hertz partnership will help someone, so it is a positive addition for top tier Marriott elites. Once this partnership kicks off there will also be the option to earn Marriott points on Hertz rentals, though that will mean not earning Hertz points.
I know that the elite rollover and buy-back changes will hurt some folks, but on the whole, I am glad that the announced 2018 Marriott Rewards changes don’t seem bigger. How will these announced changes impact your family?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.