Marriott and Starwood are making moves. Though the final merger of their loyalty programs likely won’t complete until 2018 you can now link your Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts. Once linked, you can transfer points back and forth between the two programs! You can also get status matched.
Transfer Points at a 3:1 or 1:3 Ratio
There had been much speculation on the transfer ratio that would show up once this stage of the merger was reached. Some thought it would be two Marriott Rewards points for every one SPG point (Starpoint).
It turns out that three is the magic number! With this merger, each Starpoint is worth three Marriott Rewards points. With this news, it is affirmed yet again that Starpoints are an ultra-valuable currency.
Overall, the ability to link accounts can be key. It means that in many cases you can combine points to get to a redemption that you would otherwise not be able to achieve.
Let’s look at an example. Say you want to stay at the Sheraton Maui for 2 nights when the points booking rate is 20,000 Starpoints per night. For the sake of this example, say you have 22,000 Starpoints and 55,000 Marriott Rewards points. Your Starpoint balance can get you one free night at the hotel but not the second night you desire. Previously those Marriott Rewards points would have been of no help. Now though you could transfer 54,000 of them into 18,000 Starpoints, bumping your Starpoint balance up to 40,000 points – enough for two nights at your desired hotel!
Of course the logic prevails in the other direction as well.
Some other key points, from the FAQ:
- You can only link your own accounts…no linking of accounts between spouses, friends, etc.
- Points can be transferred in increments of 1,000 and up to full account balance
- Transferring points from your SPG account to your Rewards account will keep your Starpoints from expiring but will not keep your Rewards points from expiring
- You can repeatedly transfer back and forth between programs
- Points earned through an interest in Vistana Signature Experiences or Marriott Vacation Club may not be transferred between SPG and Rewards
The account linking/transfer option is really a big win for consumers with no immediate downside.
Get Your Status Matched Instantly Across Programs
The other benefit of this account linking capability is that status earned in one of the awards programs will get you status in the others. The program where you have lower status will automatically increase to match your higher level status in the other program.
Though your status match will go into effect immediately note that you cannot transfer elite nights between programs.
Here’s what your status gets you at the three brands of hotels:
Again, this is a win for consumers with no immediate downside.
Mix and Match Card Signup Bonuses for Max Payoff
If you’re looking to stay at a Marriott property in the future, you can of course get a Marriott credit card and use the points earned toward a redemption. Now though you can also consider getting an SPG Amex card and using the signup bonus from it toward the Marriott stay. There are two cards which earn you SPG points:
- Starwood Preferred Guest Personal American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest Business American Express
You can of course go the other direction as well and get a Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card and then transfer signup bonus points to your SPG account. Keep in mind though that the personal version of the card seems to be subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule whereas the business version does not seem to be subject to the rule.
- Chase Marriott Rewards Personal Premier (appears to be subject to 5/24 rule)
- Chase Marriott Rewards Business Premier
If you really want to rack up some points in one of the programs you could get two or more of these cards and combine points once you’ve earned them. Patty and I have SPG Amex cards and are big fans of them.
Marriott and Starwood got it right with this step of their merger. Instant transfers of points in either direction and without any major limits is a win for consumers. The status matching approach is straightforward and fair. There’s really no reason to skip linking your accounts so I’d suggest doing it now.
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Are you linking your accounts? Is it helping you get to a redemption you couldn’t have otherwise made? Share your thoughts in the comments below!