Marriott and Starwood Combined Program FAQs

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With the Starwood and Marriott joint program and award chart launching just a few weeks from now in August, there are still a few question marks and loose ends to sort through to be sure you are getting as much value as possible out of your points, awards, and elite status levels. While many questions have already been answered, today I wanted to focus on recent most frequently asked questions surrounding the merger to clarify as much as possible.

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When does the combined Starwood and Marriott program launch?

This site and several others had been reporting the go-live date of the new combined program as August 1, 2018, but the reality is that may or may not be 100% correct. It could launch on August 1, but at this point, Marriott is just saying that it will launch in “August”, presumably to give themselves some wiggle room to work out last minute issues.

Can you get a Marriott Rewards points refund for properties that drop in award price in August?

Some Starwood and Marriott hotels are getting pricier on points when the combined award chart takes effect in August, but many properties are getting less expensive, sometimes dramatically so. For example, the St. Regis Maldives normally prices at 90,000 SPG points per night, but beginning in August it will (temporarily) price at the equivalent of just 20,000 SPG points per night. This is an extremely dramatic example, but you would be able to get the 70,000 points per night difference refunded once the new chart launches in August by calling Marriott Rewards. This will not be an automatic credit, but I was told that if you ask, they will be able to reprice your reservation even if the hotel is now sold out of standard award rooms.

St. Regis Maldives and other high-end resorts are going down in award cost

If the hotel has ample standard awards available, you can save yourself a phone call and just cancel and rebook the award online. If you are concerned about availability, or want to keep your current award reservation intact for some other reason, then you will need to call. For what it is worth, I fully anticipate hold times to be an issue, so just prepare for that reality.

What happens to Marriott Category 1 – 5 certificates when the new program launches?

The new Marriott Rewards award chart and the current Marriott Rewards award chart don’t perfectly align with their categories and points prices. Because of that, beginning in August, I was told that “the current Marriott Rewards Category 1 – 5 certificates will be converted into points at the current conversion rate. For example, the Free Night Award for the existing Chase Marriott Card will be worth 25,000 points once the programs combine.”

What I think that means is that you will be able to use the certificates to book properties that cost up to 25,000 points per night on the chart below, rather than getting 25,000 points deposited into your account…though the wording is admittedly confusing.

What happens to Marriott Travel Package certificates issued before August?

The Marriott Travel Packages are changing pretty dramatically (for the worse) once the new program launches in August. Just like how the Marriott Category 1 – 5 awards will have an adjusted value when the program combine, the hotel stay portion of the travel packages might as well. There has been a ton of speculation about what will happen with existing travel package certificates, but unfortunately, I still wasn’t able to get a solid answer from Marriott.

I was told, “Travel Packages Certificates are still under review from the program, we’re working through those details now.” I will continue to inquire about the plans around these certificates and will update as soon as there is a firm answer to share.

For those curious about the travel packages, they are a great way to stretch your points and get a seven-night stay at a Marriott or Starwood property (beginning in August) along with some airline miles. There are also unpublished five-night packages out there, but those are supposed to only be available to Marriott Vacation Club owners. There are some successful reports of non-owners booking these packages over the phone, but not enough recently for me to feel comfortable telling you it is possible, though you can always try.

Current Marriott Travel Packages

New Marriott Travel Packages launching in August

MARRIOT REWARDS OFFER REFERENCED BELOW HAS EXPIRED!

When does the limited-time 100,000 point Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card bonus end?

I’m going to do a separate post on this, but also remember that the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card’s limited-time 100,000 point bonus after you hit $5,000 in spending in the first three months has an end date of this week on July 12, 2018.

 

What outstanding questions do you still have about the combined Starwood and Marriott program? Do you have any ‘last minute’ agenda items to take care of before the new program rolls out next month?

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The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. The “end date” for the Marriott bonus is just to sign up, not actually complete the $5k in spend, right? My wife got the card around the first of June, so assuming we’ll have the full three months.

  2. I’d love to buy an Air & Hotel travel package right now but I’m confused as to which category I should purchase if I would like to use the hotel certificate for a high end St. Regis – like Maldives or Bora Bora – can you tell me which you think would work? Thank you!

  3. So I have 80K SPG points at the moment.
    My understanding is that they would convert at a 1:3 rate into Marriott, so that’s 240k Marriott points.

    I have been thinking about a Marriott Travel Package for a while and 240K is enough for a 7-night stay in a 1-5 category with some Avios thrown in and even a Cat 6 with a few Avios thrown in.
    My thoughts would be to transfer some AMEX MR points into SPG 2:1 rate then 3:1 rate to Marriott in order to either stay at a higher category hotel or get more Avios included in the package.

    Looking at your example however of the Maldives property dropping to just 20k SPG points, four nights there (for 80K SPG) seems far better value than 7 nights in a cat 1-5/6 property. The problem being availability as I suspect that will be a hotly contested redemption, with availability gone within minutes !

    What are the other aspirational properties which are temporarily dropping in points for August ? Also, is that only for August or a bit longer ? Is redemption availability made 365 days in advance or if we are booking in August is there only a tight window when rooms can be actually booked for ?

    Cheers.

    • The current Cat 7 SPG line-up consisting of many St. Regis resorts are good examples of aspirational properties topping out at 60k Marriott (20k SPG). St. Regis Princeville, Punta Mita, Bora Bora, New York City, etc. are all good options.

      You should be able to book for about 11 months out come August and the properties will stay at that rate until early 2019.

  4. If I wanted to gamble, wouldn’t it best to do 7 nights (or 5 if possible) and max miles for a category 9 and then see what happens.

  5. Am I reading this right?

    As a current Marriott/SPG Platinum member, in August I’ll be bumped up to Platinum Premier Elite is this right?

    What happens next year, will I soft land back down to Platinum?

    I’d be cool with that!!!

  6. I have a cancelable reservation for January at a starwood hotel at 12k SPG points per night for three nights (36k total). If I cancel the reservation now, I will obviously get my 36k in SPG points back which will convert automatically to 108k marriott points in August. Has it been clearly stated what will happen if I cancel that reservation in October? Will I automatically be refunded 108k marriott points? Will it convert to however many Marriott points would be then required for that hotel? I haven’t heard anything written about this scenario, but I presume it is quite common.

  7. Currently, you can transfer SPG points to another member in your household for free. Marriott does not allow this but I transfer to SPG points and then initiate transfer. Any indication if points are still transferable to other household members in new program. Should I consolidate now?

    • Wouldn’t hurt to do it now, but I think I remember something about this being allowed. Don’t quote me yet though, just consolidate for simplicity’s sake if you can.

  8. I used to be platinum for many years. Had over 900 nights But never made the point requirement for lifetime platinum. When will I know if I made lifetime under the new criteria Dont remember how many years I was Platinum 🙂

  9. If I have a nights and flights category six package now (or purchase one), do you know if it will transfer to a category six with the new chart?

    Thanks,
    Andrew Mullek

  10. What happens to SPG Suite Nights received as a Platinum member at the end of 2017. Will they still be valid through the end of 2018?

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