Marriott Rewards & SPG Program Changes For 2018

Marriott’s takeover of Starwood was finalized in September 2016, so it has been just over 14 months since the deal closed. At the time I was impressed by the fact that Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest were offering points transfers and elite status matches as of day one, which we haven’t seen before from any other merger of this size.

Merger

From the beginning Marriott shared their vision of forming a single loyalty program from the current Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest programs, though they said it would be at least a year until they do so. I appreciate the fact that they’re taking their time and trying to make sure they get it right. Besides, selfishly I’m happy if they keep Starwood Preferred Guest independent for as long as possible.

Well, today Marriott has an update on the future of their loyalty programs… sort of. For now Marriott has announced that Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG will remain separate as they continue working towards building a combined loyalty program, with members continuing to have the ability to link accounts and transfer points.

Here are the planned changes for 2018:

  • SPG and Hertz are introducing a new partnership, and Marriott’s partnership with Hertz is also being expanded in early 2018. Through this partnership, SPG members can earn Starpoints for Hertz rentals. Furthermore, both Marriott Rewards and SPG Platinum members will be eligible for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star status, which includes car upgrades and more. SPG Platinum members with Ambassador service and Marriott Rewards Platinum Premier members will receive Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle status and benefits.
  • For SPG members with lifetime status, Starpoints will never expire. This aligns with Marriott’s policy of never having points expire for lifetime members.
  • 2017 will be the last year for Rollover Nights and Status Buy Back for Marriott Rewards members. This means that only 2017 nights earned in excess of elite requirements will roll over toward 2018 status, but excess nights earned in 2018 will not roll over toward 2019 status.

When it comes to Marriott combining their three loyalty programs, I generally tend to think that no news is good news, so I’m happy about this development.

The new partnership with Hertz is good, though so many other programs have partnerships with Hertz as well, so it’s hardly unique.

It’s also nice that Starpoints won’t expire for lifetime members, though that’s not exactly a game changer.

Rollover nights was always a unique feature of Marriott Rewards. It meant that if you overqualified for status in one year, those excess nights would roll over to the following year. My guess is that when Marriott creates a single new loyalty program, the thresholds for status may very well be changed, and as a result, the concept of rollover nights won’t work well in the short term. This also hints at it being likely that the programs will be merged in 2019. Who knows, maybe rollover nights will be reintroduced at some point.

Many will also be sad to see Marriott’s Buy Back promotion discontinued.

marriott-elite-buy-back-1

While many loyalty programs let you “buy up” if you don’t requalify for status, Marriott Rewards was one of the only programs that did so in a lucrative way. You could redeem 7,500 Marriott Rewards points to buy back Silver status, 25,000 Marriott Rewards points to buy back Gold status, and 40,000 Marriott Rewards points to buy back Platinum status. I value Marriott Rewards points at 0.8 cents each, so to me 40,000 points are worth $320. Essentially being able to requalify for Marriott’s top tier status for $320 per year is pretty good, if you ask me.

marriott-elite-buy-back-2

Bottom line

While I’m ultimately anxious to see what the future of Marriott’s combined loyalty program looks like, I continue to tend to think that “no news is good news” when it comes to this, since I’m happy for SPG to remain independent for as long as possible. At this point I think it’s safe to assume that Marriott won’t have a single loyalty program until sometime in 2019 at the earliest, and maybe even in 2020.

I’m sure some Marriott Rewards members won’t be happy about the changes being made to requalifying for status, while the Hertz partnership changes are positive for both Marriott Rewards and SPG members, and the points expiration policy changes are positive for SPG members as well.

Comments

  1. Sucks to see the rollover nights go away. Gives me more time to check out other brands after the first 2/3rds of the year. Was hoping though that they’d combine nights between SPG and Marriott as I have 102 Marriott nights and 11 SPG nights. Would already put me at 38 nights towards my 75 for the year.

  2. I never considered status buy back a serious option. The fact that it subtracted those points from your lifetime balance made that a nonstarter.

    Bummer about rollover nights and the substitution of Uber for Hertz.

  3. Am I understanding correctly that 2017 is the last year for status buy back, meaning it is already over and we won’t get the chance to buy back status if we don’t qualify organically by year end?

  4. Losing rollover nights is no small matter. It makes achieving lifetime status harder (especially for those who want to earn it fast).
    Rollover nights used to count twice towards lifetime status (once in the year they were earned and a second time in the following year).
    While it may not be a game changer for the casual point collector it will be for those that want to secure lifetime status (and typically are super loyal during that timeframe).

  5. The rollover was ridiculous. Everyone wants Marriott to make benefits better yet make status so easy. I have a great idea!

    Starting NOW. Rollover PLUS 10 elite nights for not achieving status. We know it was a tough year for you!

    We will add 10 floors to all full service Marriott’s with club lounges on all to accomadate everyone who ever had Gold and Platinum status plus all the United elite members!

  6. Why Hertz and not National. Hertz is so bad that it should be a partner of Motel 6. BTW, I have President’s Circle status and it is worthless. With National status you chose whatever car you want in the aisle. Hertz will not give anything other than what you reserved.

  7. Ryan if you think thats bad how about hyatt free and instant diamond status match/challenge and 20 night fast track to diamond? Or hilton instand diamond for having a credit card…

  8. Minor? WTF. Getting rid of rollover nights for Marriott is HUGE. Why should I stay at Marriott past 75 nights when platinum-premier benefits isn’t defined either in terms of requirements or benefits?

  9. Ok read the email from marriott
    It says 2018 updates – final year for rollover nights and status buyback… So I think 2018 you can still buyback…

  10. This sucks for Rollover nights. As an american-canadian, I have been able to secure Platinum status every single year due to credit card elite nights. 3 cards (canada personal, us personal, us business) x 15 elite night credits = 45 nights first year. 35 roll over + same 45 credit card nights (signed up in january for all 3) = 80 nights by the end for January good for nearly 2 years. Following year, rince and repeat. By using the 3 free nights accordingly, this has costs me nothing at all. Usually use the 3 for a nice long weekend. Should have known this would come to an end. Bye-Bye free Marriott Platinum Status.

  11. “I value Marriott Rewards points for 40,000 points,”

    I am having a hard time understanding what that bit means. Can you clarify?

  12. @Rob, buy back period for elite status normally happens around Q1 which means it’s already done for 2017. It will not be offered again in 2018.

  13. I stayed 65 nights in Marriott properties in 2017. Today, the page states that I have 0 rollover nights from 2017, but need 10 more nights to achieve Platin. Is this a Marriott Rewards gift that they seed by combining two years or is it simply an inconsistent system reset between the years?

  14. Where does one go to link their marriott and hertz account together to take advantage of the presidential status with Hertz?

  15. Marriott Rewards and SPG Platinum members are eligible for Hertz Five Star and Platinum Premier and Platinum Ambassador members fpr Hertz President’s Circle. These benefits will begin on January 25, 2018.

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