It May Soon Be Possible To Link Marriott & Starwood Accounts

Marriott’s takeover of Starwood has been a bit more exciting than I imagine either company was hoping for.

First Marriott got into a bidding war with Chinese conglomerate Anbang, and even since the deal was finalized there have been significant delays. About a month ago we learned that Chinese regulators were slowing down the takeover, as they needed more time to approve and review it on their end. I haven’t heard an update since then, so as far as I know they still haven’t been given the green light to move forward with the integration.

Merger

With that in mind, a lot of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest members are wondering when the programs will integrate, and what that will look like in practice. Heck, some are even wondering if the programs will even integrate.

While Ritz-Carlton belongs to Marriott, they maintain two separate loyalty programs, so in theory it’s conceivable that Starwood Preferred Guest will stick around as an independent program, and just have reciprocal benefits across all properties. For example, Marriott Rewards has already started matching some Starwood Preferred Guest benefits.

Up until now we haven’t received any official timeline for Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest to be linked in any way. I suspect the programs might be merged in early 2018, in which case I imagine accounts between programs can be linked in some way by some point in 2017. Perhaps there will be status matching between programs, the ability to move points between programs, etc.

Well, Marriott’s mobile app hints at an update coming soon, and it even has a screenshot of what it will look like. The text reads “Three programs. One reason: You.”

Marriott-App-1

In the screenshot you’ll see that it shows all three loyalty programs — Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest — and says “Link your Marriott Rewards account to your SPG account.”

Marriott-App

So we still don’t know when that will happen or what that will look like in practice, but the fact that the mobile app hints at being able to link accounts should be good news. My hope is that they offer the ability to link accounts and get some sort of reciprocal elite benefits long before the programs fully merge.

When do you think it will be possible to link Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts?

(Tip of the hat to @jamespreid2)

Comments

  1. It makes little sense to maintain 3 different loyalty programs. 2 I can see, something like this

    1. “Ritz-Carlton St. Regis Rewards”
    2. “Marriott Preferred Guest”

    The IHG+Kimpton approach is doing it all backwards. IHG Rewards members can’t access the upscale properties of Kimpton, while Kimpton Karma members can’t access the footprint of IHG. Zero synergy in my opinion.

  2. Was really hoping the merger would fall through. I will wait to merge my Marriott and SPG account until I know what is going on with being able to transfer the points. If Marriott doesn’t offer the same transfer partners and bonuses I will probably transfer my points out of SPG to get the nice transfer bonuses and then close my SPG cards.

  3. @jeff : then where would you go ? IHG and Hilton both have few aspirational or even truly upscale properties, while Hyatt has an atrocious footprint (they have a total of ONE property in the global banking hub of Hong Kong). The stupid Amex FHR ? That won’t deliver any points earning or redemption.

  4. Can you link Ritz-Carlton and Marriott rewards programs currently? I was under the impression that you had to have either RC or Marriott, but couldn’t maintain a joint account on both?

    I ask because I was thinking about the RC credit card, but all of my points and status are with Marriott.

  5. I think the whole “link your SPG account” is nothing to get excited about it’s just preparation for the merger of both programs. Similar to when airlines FF programs have merged, they ask you to link your two accounts. The more members they have that link up their SPG accounts to Marriott NOW the smoother the transition will be.

  6. @ Henry LAX my father in law is a Marriott employee so I get the friends and family rate and if it’s available I also get the employee rate. With Marriott properties I am more inclined to pay with the pricing structure available to me then using points.

    I have the SPG AMEX for transferable currency, not for staying at Starwood properties. Although I have stayed at a few really nice Starwood properties.

  7. @john : i misspoke. i meant just one property on hong kong island that’s convenient to the Central financial district and is relatively upscale.

    @jeff : the amex will likely have to be cut up as I armchair guess Chase will win the card deal.

  8. I would welcome this if linking the two meant my Marriott Platinum was recognized as Platinum at SPG properties.

  9. @Henry LAX I don’t see how AMEX ends up with the Marriott contract either. Chase is already there and not sure if the merger triggers a new card contract clause for Marriott.

  10. Looks like the Marriott app was pulled from the App Store. Guess they didn’t want this speculation in the wild yet and are probably removing those screenshots.

  11. @Matt: You can only be a member of one program, but the programs are functionally the same. The points have the same value, comparable redemption rates, and you enjoy full reciprocal elite status at both types of properties. You can book Marriott awards with RC points and vice versa. It will be interesting to see if SPG follows this model as well–forcing those of us with both accounts to choose a Marriott or SPG account. It would be truly unfortunate if SPG points became the equivalent of Marriott points in this new system (I’m sure this is what will happen with some kind of conversion ratio like 2x or 2.5x).

    @Jeff I definitely agree that Amex doesn’t end up with an exclusive contract but it might be interesting to see if we have dual-issued cards for a while like the situation post-AA merger. In any case, those of us who don’t already hold a Marriott card and are blocked out by 5/24 may be incentivized to keep our SPG cards through the merger in hopes of conversion to either a new product or the currently out of reach Marriott one.

    @stvr Unfortunately what’s more likely is a poor conversion and SPG points being redeemable at the same rate as Marriott points.

  12. I really don’t know what to do with my spg points.I have well over 1.2million spg points and counting. I know spg points worth more than Marriott for sure.If they do 1:1 transfer, it will be bad. I have to redeem everything if that happens. What is the value for Marriott points will x2 orx2.5 be enough? What is the idea transfer rate?

  13. to answer my own question: just did some research, apparently the conversion rate needs to be x5 , means 1 spg points to 5 Marriott. Any conversion below that rate, will be a wash for spg user. I doubt they will do that.

  14. When do you think we will see a Chase SPG card (if ever)? Do you think that if Chase does indeed release a SPG card, wouldn’t that be kind of quirky for them to continue to offer Amtrak as a transfer partner? I know amtrak points got a big devaluation for folks that book bedrooms/roomettes, but for me I like their newer pricing structure. I really hope that Amex rolls out this rumored promo on Sept 21st because I would love to get the SPG Biz card with 35k+ points! http://www.doctorofcredit.com/will-amex-increase-bonus-spg-cards-summer/

  15. I’m concerned that if they merge the two programs, we will lose the ability to transfer points to frequent flyer programs at a 1:1.25 ratio.

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