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Marriott and Starwood Create World’s Largest Loyalty Program: Here’s What You Need to Know

Hotel loyalty programs Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest officially become one program on August 18, creating the largest hotel loyalty program in the world with more than 110 million members. The change follows Marriott International's $13.6 billion purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide LLC in 2016.

The loyalty programs will be unified under the Marriott Rewards banner. Here's what you need to know about how the program will work, as well as updates to the co-branded credit cards.

How the New Marriott Rewards Program Will Work

Members will no longer log into separate websites for the three programs. Everyone will be directed to the Marriott Rewards website, where each member will have one member number and profile to manage their reward points. In 2019, the company will announce a new name for the unified program.

Guests will have the ability to earn and redeem points at 6500 hotels across 29 different brands. For most stays, members will earn up to 10 points per $1 spent—and will also have the chance to earn points through purchases at hotel restaurants and spas.

To redeem points, members can refer to an 8-category award chart that details point requirements for standard, off-peak and peak times of the year. There will be no blackout dates, and members can use points for upgrades as well.

SPG members gnashed their teeth at the announcement of the merger, as the Starwood program was one of the most beloved around, offering valued benefits and perks, along with points that carried significant value. Much of that angst has been eased by details announced by Marriott in recent months.

If you are an SPG member, your Starpoints will convert into Marriott Rewards points at a ratio of three to one. For example, if you currently have 10,000 Starpoints, they will be converted into 30,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Members will also be able to transfer points to more than 40 airlines, a favorite of the former SPG loyalty program. The transfer ratio will be 3 points for 1 mile, and members will earn a 15,000-point bonus for every 60,000 points transferred to an airline (up to 25,000 miles).

Elite status in the new program will feature five tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Premier, and Platinum Premier with Ambassador. Elite status will be earned through nights stayed each year. Find a breakdown of how many nights are required for each level and its corresponding benefits here. If you are an SPG member with elite status, that will transfer over the new system.

Starwood Credit Cards

For now, you still have the option to keep your Starwood's co-branded American Express credit cards or apply for a new one. In fact, American Express has updated its offers on its two current Starwood credit cards.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is currently offering 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months (equivalent to 25,000 points in the old SPG program).

The card comes with a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year, and cardholders earn 6 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott and SPG hotels and 2 points per $1 spent on everything else. You also receive automatic Silver Elite status, as well as one complimentary night each year on any participating hotel that costs 35,000 points or fewer per night.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express is currently offering 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months.

This offer is available until Oct. 31, 2018. This card also has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year, automatic Silver Elite status and 15 elite night credits. In addition to the 6 points earned per $1 spent on purchases at qualifying SPG and Marriott hotels, cardholders will earn 4 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, cell phone services, and shipping purchases at places like USPS or FedEx in the U.S.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card

American Express is also launching The Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card on Aug. 23, a few days after the merger.

This card will carry a $450 annual fee and will offer elite benefits, like complimentary Gold Status, $300 in annual statement credits at Marriott and SPG properties, and complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. Cardholders will earn 6 points per $1 spent at Marriott and Starwood hotels, 3 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points per $1 spent on everything else.

Marriott Credit Cards

Chase, which offers the Marriott co-branded cards, launched a new one in May called the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card.

It is currently offering 75,000 bonus points (down from 100,000 in May) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months. The card comes with a $95 annual fee, automatic Silver Elite status, 15 elite night credits (coming in 2019), and an annual free night award on hotels that cost 35,000 points or less. Cardmembers earn 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels and 2 points per $1 spent on everything else.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
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