SPG and Marriott Loyalty Programs to Merge in August 2018 - What it Means for You

Everyone knows about the acquisition of SPG by Marriott International and as most of us would have expected, all three loyalty programs which are operating independently today (even though they are linked and points can be transferred freely between them), will come together to form one powerful program. Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards as well as the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) programme will be unified in August 2018 to offer loyalty benefits across all 29 brands that are under the Marriott International portfolio - a brand new loyalty program name will only be unveiled in 2019. 

 Photo Credit: Marriott International

Photo Credit: Marriott International

New Elite Status Levels

It is currently more difficult to qualify for Platinum Elite status in Marriott Rewards than in SPG since the former requires 75 nights while the latter requires only 25 stays (or 50 nights) in a calendar year. Therefore, the new programme will take these discrepancies into consideration (but do note that qualification is still done on the existing system for 2018). All existing elite status levels in August 2018 will then be matched respectively to the new program:

SPG Tier Marriott Rewards Tier Elite Tier in August
Preferred Guest with 10-24 nights Silver Elite with 10-24 Nights Silver Elite
Corporate Preferred Guest Silver Elite
Preferred Guest Plus Silver Elite
Gold Preferred Guest Silver Elite with 25-49 Nights Gold Elite
Platinum Preferred Guest Gold Elite Platinum Elite
Platinum Preferred Guest with 50 nights Platinum Elite
Platinum Preferred Guest with 75 nights Platinum Elite Platinum Premier Elite
Platinum Preferred Guest with 100 nights Platinum Elite with 100 nights and $20k in qualifying spend Platinum Premier Elite with ambassador

If you have qualified for Silver Elite status in the Marriott Rewards program, it is worth noting that having 25 elite-qualifying nights will bump you up to Gold Elite in the new program come August 2018. I have not included The Ritz-Carlton Rewards status equivalents in the table above since most of my readers belong to either the SPG or Marriott Rewards program. If you do require it however, more information can be found here.

New Lifetime Status Requirements

 Photo Credit: Marriott International

Photo Credit: Marriott International

Members will be able to earn lifetime status (without the need to re-qualify each year) if they meet a set of requirements as stipulated above. You can qualify for Lifetime status based on your combined Rewards and SPG nights and Elite years. If you achieved Elite status in both SPG and Rewards in one year, you’ll receive credit for two Elite years. You can also qualify via the existing criteria through December 31, 2018. When your current Elite status is higher than your Lifetime status, you’ll receive the higher-status benefits for that year.

Modified and Enhanced Enhanced Benefits

Photo Credit: Marriott International

While the benefits for Platinum Elite members stay largely the same under the new program, Gold Elite members will no longer have access to the Executive Lounge (or equivalent) when staying at a participating Marriott property. Additionally the 4:00PM late check-out that you get by simply being a Gold Elite member has been reduced to 2:00PM (subject to availability). If you are used to the 'Gold Treatment', the new program looks fairly bleak for you so it is definitely worth trying to bump up your stays to hit 50 nights per year instead.

Earning of Points from August 2018

With the unification of all three programs, members will be able to not only earn (and redeem!) points across 29 brands (over 6,500 properties) but also achieve and retain elite status easily (since all nights across the three programs count towards qualifying for elite status). All remaining Starpoint balance will be multiplied by three come August 2018. This means to say that if you have 35,000 Starpoints sitting in your SPG account, it would be converted into 105,000 points in August 2018.

Elite Status Level Points per USD
(% Bonus)
Equivalent Miles per USD
(Maximum Valuation)
Member 10
(Base)
4.17
Silver Elite 11
(10% Bonus)
4.58
Gold Elite 12.5
(25% Bonus)
5.21
Platinum Elite 15
(50% Bonus)
6.25
Platinum Premier Elite 17.5
(75% Bonus)
7.29
Platinum Premier Elite w/ Ambassador 17.5
(75% Bonus)
7.29

Depending on your elite status level (more details below!), you can earn up to 17.5 points per USD of eligible spend. If you are planning to convert these points into miles, you can do so with any participating Frequent Flyer Programme at a 3:1 ratio (you will continue to receive 25% bonus when you convert them in blocks of 60,000 points) - converting 60,000 points will give you 25,000 Miles (instead of 20,000). Using the maximum valuation rate where we assume the conversion to be done in blocks of 60,000 points, you can essentially earn up to 7.29 miles per USD which is pretty impressive! Members will also be able to earn more points by referring friends and family to the program (you can earn up to 50,000 points but it is unclear whether this is capped at an annual or period basis). You will also continue to earn points on dining (even though it is unclear right now whether you will need to be a guest at the participating property) and on meeting events. 

Final Thoughts

 Photo Credit: Marriott International

Photo Credit: Marriott International

New award charts will also be introduced in August 2018 and some properties can cost up to 100,000 points per night (during peak season). Essentially, being a 'Gold Elite' member in the new program does not offer a lot of perks so you should definitely evaluate whether this program is still achievable for you (especially if you do not travel for work). It will no longer be possible to qualify based on stays and therefore if you tend to do plenty of one-night weekend staycations like me, this may not be the best change that is coming to the program.