While it is as yet unnamed, it has been announced that the new single program that will unify Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest will be introduced in August, 2018. The announcement comes more than a year since Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels, and there are certainly more positives than negatives to the new program benefits, for both Marriott Rewards and SPG members.
Members will be able to combine their separate Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG accounts into one single account for the entire loyalty portfolio, although the new program name itself won’t be introduced until 2019. Members will be able to book stays on Marriott.com, SPG.com and the Marriott and SPG apps, or by contacting customer engagement centers.
For the first time, members will be able to book stays and earn or redeem their points among 29 participating global brands comprising of 6,500 hotels across 127 countries and territories. Plus the Moments experiential platform that was created in 2006 will be expanding to give members more possible experiences and more once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Here’s the lowdown on the main changes that members can expect from August onwards.
It will now be easier to earn elite status. Members will be able to earn elevated benefits and elite status faster with new elite tiers – for instance, earning Silver status after 10 nights, Gold status after 25 nights, Platinum status after 50 nights and Platinum Premier status after 75 nights will become standard in all three programs. This eliminates the Starwood option for achieving elite status by the number of stays. Plus all Platinum Premier members who surpass 100 nights and $20,000 of spend will enjoy the ambassador program as well as all the other benefits in that tier. If you have already achieved Lifetime status, you will continue to have your status recognized.
Members will, on average, earn 20% more points for every dollar spent than they did with the prior programs. A single points currency is being introduced in August, where SPG members will see their points balance triple. All members will all earn ten points for every dollar spent at all brands except for Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Element, for which you will earn five points per dollar spent. Elite members will earn even more for stays with bonuses and all members will begin earning points for food and beverage and qualifying incidentals, rather than just the room rate.
Members will also earn points every time they purchase a new Moments experience.
Award pricing will be changing this year and in terms of redemption, it’ll likely be worse overall for Marriott Rewards, but an improvement for Starwood members. Next year there’s going to be a new Category 8 to look forward to, though. In terms of point transfers, there will be more than 40 airlines to transfer to and points transfer bonuses are remaining, so we get to keep the 5k bonus that Starwood gives when transferring each 20k.
Platinum and Platinum Premier members will receive a free breakfast in 23 participating brands, including in resorts. With some brands, members will receive free breakfast or an on-property food and beverage credit for breakfast or other dining options.
There will be no blackout dates for points redemptions across the board.
Free Night Award chart
An award chart with peak, standard and off-peak pricing will be adopted by all hotels.
The digital and mobile experience will be significantly improved and booking by app or on Marriott.com or SPG.com will give you exclusive member-only rates and free WiFi. Members will be able to use the apps to check-in or check out, receive Room Ready Alerts, chat directly with hotels and, where available, use their smartphone as their room key.
Plus Platinum guests will have access to 4 pm checkout, while Golds will have access to 2 pm checkout.
Cardmembers of Marriott co-branded credit cards will have more benefits including valuable perks and more ways to earn points when using your card to pay for your stay. You can choose to keep your current cards, or you can apply for or upgrade to the new cards that are being introduced this year.
So overall, it’s positive for existing members. Sure, there will be complaints from SPG members that it’ll be harder to achieve the highest tier of benefits, for example, but the new combined program is something to look forward to on the whole. Some of the program’s features haven’t yet been announced and some features won’t roll out until next year but for now, members can rest easy that it could have been much worse.