Starwood and Marriott merger (Marwood) now effective – what are the sweet spots?

MightyTravels 2016-09-25 at 2.14.06 PM

Dubbed the ‘Marwood merger’ the Starwood acquisition by Marriott finally got all regulatory approval earlier this week. Starwood and Marriott responded quickly and enabled an online interface that helps members prepare for the upcoming merged loyalty programs.

When you link your Ritz Carlton Rewards/ Marriott Rewards/ Starwood Preferred Guest account you can now:

– Transfer points on a 1:3 ratio from Starwood to Marriott and vice versa

– Match your status

Marriott and Starwood reciprocal status match

Marriott Gold Status is awesome and gives you guaranteed lounge access at any Marriott property that has a lounge (for example Marriott Bogota Review, JW Marriott Jakarta, JW Marriott Surabaya). Marriott properties tend to have much better lounges outside the US then their Starwood counterparts.

Starwood Gold comes with little effort from just a few stays or from the American Express Platinum credit card. You do need to call Starwood Preferred Guest to active it and get Starwood Gold. Then match it right away.

Keep in mind that the status match will be effective until February 2017. If you match your status after January 1st 2017 – it will be good until Feb 2018!

In reverse Starwood Gold status gives you little at most Starwood properties. Yes there is a 4 PM checkout but that is just 2 hours beyond what most properties do anyways on a courtesy basis when you book through SPG.com.

For Platinum members in any program the match isn’t something to miss out on but Marriott Platinum does not offer much for me beyond lounge access. There are things like a Welcome Amenity and complimentary breakfast. But it is not worth striving for in any program for me.

Marriott and Starwood reciprocal points transfers

Additionally you can now transfer points from/to any program one a 1:3 basis.

As you know many most Marriott properties in Africa can be booked for 7,500 Marriott Rewards points. Or now that is just 2,500 Starpoints – that is an incredible value since most Starwood properties in the region are expensive in cash or redemptions. This is not a Cash & Points rate but a full rate replacing the $200+ cash rates. That’s 10 cents per Starpoints!

In the other hand Starwood has so many transfer partners like most hotel chains have brands. The list keeps growing all the time. While the 3:1 rate isn’t great it is not punishing either.

For example 60,000 Marriott Rewards points will give you 25,000 miles in most airline programs (there is an extra 5,000 miles bonus when transferring 20,000 Starpoints). That is a one-way with Saudia from anywhere in the US to Central Asia using Saudia miles. That can be a much better value than just one night at a fancy Marriott property in the US (which you can spend easily 60,000 miles as well).

More options are always better and the may transfer options for Starpoints are a great tool for the Miles & Points traveler.