Should You Link Your Starwood Account To Marriott Or Ritz-Carlton?

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Yesterday it became possible to link your Starwood Preferred Guest account with either your Marriott Rewards or Ritz-Carlton Rewards account. The benefit of linking accounts is that you can instantly status match between programs, and can also transfer points between accounts at a ratio of one Starpoint per three Rewards points.

linking-marriott-starwood-accounts-4

Should you link your Starwood Preferred Guest account to Marriott Rewards or Ritz-Carlton Rewards? What are the differences?

Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards are parallel programs

You’re only (technically) allowed to be a member of Marriott Rewards or Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and not both. That’s because the programs offer virtually identical benefits. A Marriott Platinum member gets treated the same as a Ritz-Carlton Platinum member at Ritz-Carlton properties, and a Ritz-Carlton Platinum member gets treated the same as a Marriott Platinum member at Marriott properties.

Now, Marriott doesn’t have consistent recognition at all brands, but at least the recognition is consistent regardless of which of the two programs your status is with. Keep in mind that the end goal is that by 2018 all three programs will be merged into one, so deciding which program to link to is just a temporary decision.

Marriott-Madrid-Auditorium-Hotel - 31
Marriott & Ritz Carlton Rewards Gold & Platinum members receive Marriott lounge access

What are the differences between the programs?

There are two main differences between Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards — the credit card opportunities and the promotions.

Marriott vs. Ritz-Carlton: promotions

Marriott and Ritz sometimes offer promotion, though when they do, they’re usually different depending on which program you’re a member of. Marriott’s promotions are typically valid at all Marriott family properties, while Ritz-Carlton’s promotions are typically Ritz-Carlton specific.

For example, with Marriott’s current global promotion you can earn 5,000 bonus points after your second paid stay, and 10,000 bonus points after every 10 nights, up to 50,000 bonus points. That promotion is certainly better than nothing, though also not exactly groundbreaking.

Marriott-Megabonus

Meanwhile Ritz-Carlton doesn’t have a global promotion at the moment.

So most members would probably do a bit better with Marriott Rewards than Ritz-Carlton Rewards when it comes to their global promotions. However, if you’ll just be using your status for a stay every now and then, that might not be as important of a consideration.

Marriott vs. Ritz-Carlton: credit cards

The other big difference is that the two programs have very different credit cards.

Marriott offers the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card the most basic details of which are as follows:

  • Annual fee: $85
  • Sign-up bonus: 80,000 points after spending $3,000 within three months, plus an additional 7,500 points when you add an authorized user and they make their first purchase within three months
  • Perks: an annual Category 1-5 free night certificate, 15 elite qualifying nights towards status annually, and an additional elite qualifying night towards status for every $3,000 spent on the card

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The annual free night certificate offered by the Marriott Card is very useful

Then there’s The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, which has the following basic details:

ritz
There are lots of awesome hotels where you can redeem your three complimentary Ritz nights

Both cards are fantastic in their own right, so I’d put a lot of weight in which credit card you prefer in deciding which program is best for you.

Bottom line

Purely in terms of recognition, status with Marriott and Ritz-Carlton will be identical. The two real differences are the promotions and credit cards that you’ll be eligible for based on which program you belong to. So I’d put a lot of weight on that when deciding which program to link your SPG Platinum or Gold status to.

If you’ve already linked your accounts, did you choose Marriott or Ritz-Carlton?

For more coverage on the Marriott/SPG merger see:


Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Just a FYI I just linked my account SPG to Marriott, I’m 150 SPG night PLT, and when I linked my account I was given Marriott Sliver. Contacted both SPG and Marriott via Tweeter regarding this, waiting for a response. I wonder how many people have had problems.

  2. This post is completely wrong. Members of each program can take advantage of the Marriott promotions while only RC Rewards members can take advantage of the RC promos. (The offer just ended – 10 Ritz nights for 100k points)
    Therefore I would always choose the Ritz Carlton program as you don’t miss out on anything.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong but Marriott Gold does not allow access to RC executive lounges or offer free breakfast? That is only good at Marriott brand locations is it not?

  4. Wrong. I’m a Ritz Carlton Member and am always able to sign up and participate in any Marriott promos. I’ve also had multiple Ritz and Marriott cards and always receive the signup bonus.

  5. I only have an SPG Amex card – now they my accounts are linked, if I pay at a Marriott with my SPG Amex will I now get the extra points like I would with an SPG stay ?

  6. Thanks Tiffany! Sent my comment before I read Ben’s other post.

    So would I do better to have RC gold and enjoy those benefits at both RC and Marriott properties vs the other way around?

  7. Every post I read about this makes it sound like you have to choose between the credit cards. You don’t. I have both.

    Thanks to the comments here, I just learned that I could sign up for Marriott promos still as a RC rewards member. How is it that every blog article I’ve read about this has told me I could only sign up for RC promos? That’s valuable info! Thanks commenters! My bad for not just trying it sooner, but thought I couldn’t based on the articles I’d read.

  8. Good post Ben. i hesitated to join the rush to link, as i figured there might be a reason not to- i was hoping for a post like this and was the only reason i just came to BA (i rarely do) now. So, thanks.

    I’ll have to read more and I assume you will do a followup given some of the corrections in the comments.

    To the Marriott faithful: It seems from comments that a RC account can do, and has access to, everything a Marriott Account has- correct? I assume that includes all redemption options like the hotel and air packages- which is the only outsized value I see in the entire program.

    From the perspective of an SPG Plat with over 1mm points looking at the comically gutted ridiculous MAR chart, the hotel/air is literally it. For example, 2 nothing hotels in Pigeon Forge TN at……….. Cat 7. seriously wtff. countless other ‘really?!?!?’ moments reading the chart. the devalued to oblivion chart has hotels at Cat 6 or 7 that would be SPG 3. a harbinger of what is coming once the romancing is over (and, if at a ‘resort’, we won’t even get fed before we’re F’d).

  9. @abby,

    That’s right ask a question of Marriott faithful and then ridicule the program and those of us who participate in it.

    I hope there are no masochistic Marriott members here to answer your question as yours truly certainly won’t!

  10. I don’t understand the basic question. I only have one account number for the RC/Marriott program. I linked this a.m. (because I’m in a Sheraton tonight and wanted the gold status on my profile before I checked in). When I got my emails from both RC and SPG they showed all three programs across the top.
    I don’t see how you could link to RC OR Marriott –you automatically link both.

  11. @hadley

    sorry, i forgot it’s 2016 where truth is the new hate speech and i should have warned you to find a safe space before TELLING THE TRUTH. geesh. grow up- what are you, 8?

    people CHOOSE SPG, MAR is chosen for most due to work and MAR footprint size. there are countless lifetime MAR Plat on FT who are very critical of the bs breakfast policy and lack of benefits (that have been greatly enhanced due to the SPG merger- ie: 4pm checkout. if you’re in the army of one who has been Plat with both and things MAR is superior, well… i applaud your level of delusion.

    if you’re still thinking clearly, you should be none to happy about the relentless category drift on the MAR award chart. is your position that these make sense, are fair and you’re thrilled with the award chart weighting? c’mon…

    i’ve stayed in a fair share of MAR- nearly all have been clean and well maintained. none of them have been even remotely memorable. most MAR people are THRILLED to gain access to the large number of special and memorable SPG properties. there’s a reason for that.

    i pointed out where i saw value (and very good value if i can find a Cat 5 i’d actually want to stay in for 7 nights). feel free to point me to the bevy of steals on the MAR award chart…

  12. @Abby —

    You know, did not even bother to read your rant.

    Don’t worry, in a little over a year, your precious SPG won’t exist and you will have to join the rest of the hoi polloi. Hopefully, Marriott will stiff you on lifetime status.

    Toodles!

  13. @Abby –
    Lucky for you, you’re investment in your hundreds of SPG nights will become totally worthless to you in 2018. I for one am smiling.
    Given your attitude and language, I’m sure you’ll enjoy that. Enjoy your pleasant life.

  14. Ben,

    One issue with this decision that you did not discuss was the Marriott – United partnership.

    I had originally chosen Ritz platinum status over Marriott, but in Feb 2015 when it came time to renew my United Silver status through their partnership, I was told that this was only a perk of the Marriott program and NOT the Ritz program. I has to have them transfer my elite program (back to) Marriott in order to keep my UA silver elite status (which I value for lower fees).

    Hope this extra info helps!

    theBOAT

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