Strategizing Before the August 1st Combined SPG and Marriott Program

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The SPG and Marriott loyalty programs don’t fully combine until August 1st, but we will hit some ‘last chance’ deadlines before then. In fact, we may have already passed the point of no return with some SPG and Marriott points opportunities. A perfect example can be seen in the SPG Amex credit cards now only offering statement credits as welcome bonuses right now instead of offering SPG points…though Amex says welcome bonuses of points will return at some point.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Strategize on whether you should book pre or post-August 1st

We know what the combined Marriott award chart will look like on August 1, but we don’t yet know where all of the current Starwood and Marriott properties will fall on that new award chart.

We got a sneak peek at how some properties will price in destinations including Mexico, Caribbean, Paris, Dubai, New York City, and Bali. I imagine we will get the full list before much longer, but we know enough now to start the strategizing. In general, it seems that the top tier SPG hotels and resorts that are currently pricing at 30,000 – 35,000 SPG points per night are the ones you want to wait to book beginning on August 1st since they will top out at the equivalent of 20,000 SPG points per night (60,000 Marriott points per night) until early 2019. Note this will not apply to the non-standard SPG properties such as the ones located in the Maldives, Bora Bora, etc.

St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort Pool

In contrast, some of the properties that currently represent an outsized award value of sorts will likely be the ones that take a hit on August 1st. This will likely include some of the top Marriott properties that are currently 45,000 points per night. One example on the SPG side of things that we already have confirmed to be increasing on August 1st is the Westin Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. This property will go from the current equivalent of 36,000 Marriott points per night (12,000 SPG points) to 60,000 Marriott points per night beginning on August 1st. You will absolutely want to book that property by July 31, 2018, for travel as far out as the schedule will allow, which will be about mid-July 2019 by the end of July 2018.

Seven Mile Beach at the Westin Grand Cayman

You may also wish to book the SPG Nights and Flights sort of packages before August, since we don’t know exactly what those opportunities will look after that time. In contrast, stockpiling Marriott and SPG points until August 1st to book the high-end resorts that will temporarily top out at 60,000 Marriot points per night is a very strong strategy. For families, I can highly recommend the St. Regis New York, the St. Regis Punta Mita in Mexico, and the St. Regis Princeville on Kauai. Some other current Category 7 SPG properties that will temporarily cost fewer points beginning in August are:

St. Regis Bali

Gather up Marriott and SPG points as quickly as you can

Whether you want to book before August 1st, or have everything in place to book once August rolls around, you probably want to get your hands on as many SPG and Marriott points as you can as quickly as possible. One opportunity that is scheduled to end on May 31, 2018, is the ability to purchase SPG points with a 35% discount.

If you purchase a minimum of 5,000 SPG points, they will cost you 2.275 cents each during this discount. This is the same discount we have seen a few times before, but I don’t know if they will run it again before the programs combine on August 1, 2018. At that time, your Starwood points will transfer to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, meaning that with this discount you are effectively purchasing points at about 3/4 of a cent each for the new program. You can purchase up to 30,000 SPG points, but remember that SPG allows for free transfers between household members, so your partner with the same address could do the same and you could combine your points down the road.

If you don’t want to purchase your SPG points, a solid option is to get the new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card that was released earlier this month. It is currently offering 100,000 bonus Marriott Reward points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Learn More. 

The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card is also still available, and it is awarding 75,000 bonus Marriott Reward points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Obviously, with either of these offers, the sooner you get the card and hit the spending requirements, the more likely you will have the points in place before August 1st.

Grand Hyatt Kauai or St. Regis Princeville

Beach toys at St. Regis Princeville

We still have some time and a few things to learn before the August 1 cutover to the combined program, but the deadline for some actions is creeping up, especially with the 35% bonus on purchased SPG points scheduled to end on May 31, 2018. Personally, we are trying to stockpile as many SPG points as we reasonably can so we can lock-in some high-end SPG resorts come August 1st while they are temporarily “just” 240,000 Marriott Rewards points for a five-night award stay where the fifth night is free!

Where do you stand with your family’s pre-August 1st SPG and Marriott strategy?

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    • It is, but I’m here to help however I can. We will know a ton more when they release the full listing of where properties will fall on the new award chart. Know that SPG goes to Marriott at 1 SPG point becomes 3 Marriott Reward points and stay on the lookout for a full listing of where properties will fall and that should help some.

  1. Thank you so very much for the review!
    I have a Marriott 7 night 1-5 certificate expiring in November. Have plenty of SPG and Marriott points to upgrade.
    Any ideas of sweet spots?
    We are a couple in Grandpa Points demographic, love a bit of luxury (as long as it is a bargain ;))

  2. I got the SPG consumer card the last day they offered the 25k point bonus and reached the spending. I am using it for all my spending (except travel which is CSR) instead of my Freedom Unlimited. After August 1st, should I go back to my Freedom Unlimited? I hope to try and accumulate as many SPG points before the merger. Contemplating with applying for the Marriot card just making sure I can reach the spending needed in the timeframe before I apply otherwise it’s not worthwhile.

  3. Hi MP,
    I have a moderate amount of SPG points. I’m trying to decide if I should get the United mileage/stays package for category 1 vs transferring points to American while they are having their hotel bonus transfer. I think the hotel package pay be a better deal as I have acquired a nice chunk now of American miles elsewhere. I don’t plan on using the hotel points, but I’ve read that SPG/Marriott will reimburse another 45,000 points for the hotel part of the certificate. Is that your understanding? Is there a better airline choice for miles than the United in your opinion?
    Thank-you for your help, I love your low key but very informative blog.

  4. MP

    I have been trying to figure out the best strategy as well. I am torn between hoarding points to try and take advantage of the SPG properties that will be at a great discount as of August 1st or redeem before August 1st and take advantage of the Marriott Flight and Hotel package.

    I have an existing Marriott Hotel (Cat 1-5) and Flight package already, but I have not reserved the hotel portion. Do you think that this will be best to book before August 1st? Also, do you think it is best to upgrade from Cat 5 to a higher property?

  5. Hi MP. Any idea if Marriott will continue to let you book an award without having the required number of points? Now you can book an award and issue it months later once you acquire the missing points. Not possible with SPG. Would be great to find out! Thanks.

      • Great! So I have hope for that 0.000000001%!!!. I am planing to get 2 travel packages with Alaska and cat 8 hotels just in case. Worst case scenario I guess I will keep the miles and get the points reimbursed if I cancel the certificate. What do you think?

  6. Do the programs really CONBINE August 1st? Meaning there will only be one program? The reason I’m wondering is I have SPG points that expire in late August. But if the programs actually combine, does that apply anymore?

    Or is the “combining” only in that awards rules are standardized for both programs? In which case I would need to generate some SPG account activity rather soon.

    • They are combining in August, as in your SPG points will become Marriott Rewards points. I’m not 100% sure what that means for expiration dates, but hopefully, it means good things.

  7. We are going on a trip to Italy in April 2019. Our plan is to wait until August 1st and then book the St. Regis and/or Westin in both Rome and Florence. Depends where they both end up on the new (temporary) combined chart. If the St. Regis is the same as the Westin I’m thinking its a no-brainer to go with the St. Regis. Any idea where any of these hotels will end up on the award chart? I’m worried the award availability at these high end SPG properties will go super quickly with lots of people thinking like we are? Do you think its worth staying up till midnight to book? Do you think it will be available right at midnight? I wonder which time zone?

    • Beth, great questions. I think we should get a look at the coming award chart in the next few weeks. Agree this is the chance to go big at the St. Regis if you can! In terms of a go-live time, I don’t know, but I will work to find out before August.

  8. I am trying to figure the best way to get Platinum in the combined program. Right now, I am 1 stay short of SPG Gold.

    If I understand correctly, Marriot Gold status will transfer as Platinum in the combined program, but not if it came from status matching.

    I could complete 16 more stays by the end of the year or I could do a status challenge. The latter would get me Platinum (and the benefits) a lot sooner.

    It looks like SPG is 18 paid nights in 3 months, but I read somewhere that Marriott has a secret Gold Challenge that only requires 6 stays or 12 nights.

    If I don’t stay at SPG again before Aug 1 to prevent myself from getting SPG Gold (and being status matched by Marriott) would I be able to use the Marriott status challenge to get Marriott Gold and on August 1 combined program Platinum???

    On a side note, another consideration is I occasionally travel for work. One of the places I might end up traveling to has no SPG properties, but has Marriotts.

  9. Like everyone else, I am anxiously awaiting the complete new award chart. I have several reservations “on hold” with Marriott to lock in the current award prices. Wish I could do the same for SPG! I need two rooms in Niagara Falls in Sept and am hoping to book the Sheraton at 10,000 SPG points per night before it (probably) goes up since there is no 30,000 point category in the new chart. Thankfully I got in on both SPG cards before the bonuses changed to statement credits, so I will have enough points to book it before August 1.

  10. Summer,

    My wife has 79,000 Marriott points. Most of these points posted 10 days ago to her account.

    She’s wanting to convert them to her SPG account so she can more easily pass them over to me (husband). It’s only allowing 3300 or so. Did I miss a memo preventing full transfer from Marriott to SPG?

  11. I just had the 35k SPG business Amex bonus hit my account, and booked 5 nights at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort for 48,000 (9600/night). At $420/night for our dates in early 2019, that’s almost 5 cents per point in value, and there’s no way that resort stays at that category of pricing after Aug 1.

    • “there’s no way that resort stays at that category of pricing after Aug 1.”

      I am basing this on the nearby Mauna Kea being Marriott cat 9, at 45k/night (=15k starpoints), and the Waikoloa Beach Marriott being cat 8 at 40k (=13.3k SPG) and paid rates there also being ~$420.

      The Courtyard King Kamehameha in Kailua-Kona town is Cat 7, 35k/11.7k, so with the 5th night free it’s 9.3k/night. Based on photos and having walked through that Courtyard – perfectly fine, but a Courtyard and with a tiny beach – the remodeled Hapuna is worth the extra 300 SPG/night. 🙂

  12. In your list I didn’t see The Wellesley Knightsbridge on the list. I’m thinking of taking a trip to London with my wife, and didn’t know if you had any thoughts on this particular hotel — or other better deals that would be better for London. Trying to figure out my plans with our Marriott/SPG points! Probably going to book a February or April trip to Grand Cayman to take advantage of that pricing (April is off-peak, so better nightly deal), but also would like to jump on something on August 1st too! Santa Marina looks fantastic, but it’s expensive/hard to get there from Denver.

  13. How long after August 1 will we have to book our free hotel night from our old SPG card?

    We’d love to use our upcoming free night in Europe in mid-August.

  14. If I read this correctly, I can book awards NOW (before August 1) with my Marriott points with stays into March/April 2019 at the “OLD” rate ?
    Or does Marriott reward points travel have to take place before August 1, 2018

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