United and Marriott introduce RewardsPlus

Over the weekend I posted about how United hinted at a new “rewards experience” coming soon, which to me (and hundreds of people on FlyerTalk) sounded like a hint at a negative change. How jaded we’ve become with the industry, eh?

Anyway, the good news is that it looks to actually be a positive change, and a new partnership between United and Marriott. Earlier in the year Delta and Starwood hooked up to offer reciprocal benefits, and it looks like United and Marriott are one upping them here, at least for elite members.

The key benefits of the partnership are as follows:

  • MileagePlus Gold members and above get Marriott Gold status. This is huge, given that Marriott Gold status gets you free internet, lounge access, and room upgrades, so that’s a pretty darn valuable benefit to have just for having elite status with an airline.
  • Marriott Rewards Platinum members will receive United Premier Silver status. Not as rewarding as the status that MileagePlus members get in the Marriott Rewards program, but better than nothing.
  • United MileagePlus miles can be converted into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. That’s not a good deal, but better than before I suppose.
  • 10% bonus points when redeeming Marriott Rewards points for a travel package.
  • 20% discount when converting Marriott Rewards points into MileagePlus miles.


The partnership is effective immediately, so if you’re a MileagePlus Premier Gold member or above, be sure to register for your Marriott Gold status match.

Anyway, the key benefit here is the Marriott Gold status match, and to be honest that almost seems overly generous. I have to imagine that Marriott is potentially doubling their number of Gold elite members with this change, and I’m guessing some Marriott Rewards members earning status the “hard way” won’t be thrilled about that.

So, American and Hyatt, when are you going to announce your partnership?

(Tip of the hat to Gary)


  1. For once this is a change I really like! Having free Marriott Gold status give me the option to book with them and receive decent elite benefits. Very cool!

  2. Yeaaaa…. I was looking for a final, conclusive reason to leave Marriott’s program, and this is the nail in the coffin for me. I’ve spent 7 years spending a lot of nights to earn lifetime Gold status, and now, anyone who has Gold or above with United gets the same status as I have? Thanks for the memories Marriott. I’ll keep and enjoy my lifetime gold status for whenever I decide to show up at one of your properties, but for now, my loyalties (and my credit card spend) are switching.

  3. Lucky – American and Hyatt is wishfull thinking and way too good to be true. American and Hilton seems more like it since the respective card issuers seem to line up (Amex, DL and SPG ; Chase, UA and Marriott)

    Somehow though I’m bracing myself for American and La Quinta Inn 🙂

  4. How does Ritz-Carlton fit into this with the odd, bifurcated Marriott/Ritz-Carlton relationship?

  5. Ugh this is really annoying that after working so hard for Marriott Gold, I get nothing in return on United …

  6. @ VG — This gets you Gold status with Marriott though nothing with Ritz-Carlton as far as I can tell, unfortunately.

  7. As a Boston based flyer I have status with JetBlue, Delta, and American. Everyone can laugh at JetBlue but free change fees save a lot of cash.

    Marriott and SPG Plat.

    I figure this makes my Marriott platinum even more valuable for something that otherwise has little difference from gold.

    Also means that when I do have to fly united (rare but useful for Houston trips) I am no longer with no status.

    So overall it makes me happy. Maybe even enough to actually try and re qual for Marriott platinum which with I actually find easier than airline status since I can earn it on paying for rooms for other people in my team when we are all somewhere at the same time.

  8. @ Brian, Just curious, why do you see Marriott Platinum as a better option and more valuable?

  9. I just can’t get over the carpet in Marriott hotels. It hurts my eyes. No longer stay there.

  10. probably looked right past it, but missing how I turn my Marriott Plat into United Silver. Like others said it’s not much, but if I AM flying on United it would be nice to have

  11. Jon, I don’t love Marriott, but for the ‘long tail’ of hotels it’s either Marriott or Hilton, and just for some of the places I end up staying Marriott makes the most sense. I always stay at Starwood when I can, but when I can’t I usually default to Marriott. I’d love to give Hyatt a try but they just don’t have enough hotels in the places I usually end up staying. I think the program is silly, but I can usually easily hit the nights requirement since I usually book me plus my team of 2 more people all as one reservation and the elite credits usually post (even though it isn’t officially the policy like it is for Starwood)

    Paul v, I went through the united site and there is a link to sign up if you are a Marriott member. It says it takes 7-10 days to confirm and apply your united status.

  12. Great. From the airline that watered down it’s own program with a flood of ‘elites’ takes with it another program. This is really pissy as my Rewards Silver gets moved further back in line now.

  13. Hi Lucky, This is off-topic, but my wife and I have a RT to HNL in October of this year on 2 MileagePlus reward tickets. UA has changed the flight times on our reservation, but hasn’t sent me an email about the flight change. My question is this: can I now cancel the flight and re-deposit the miles due to the flight times no longer working for us?

  14. Judging from some of the commentary here and on FT, UA could announce free ice cream for all elites and people would complain about how inconsiderate it was towards lactose-intolerant people…

  15. @ John — Assuming the change is substantial (like, not a couple of minutes), then yes, you could redeposit for free as a result of the schedule change.

  16. This does seem to be a good deal for UA golds+. I don’t usually stay in Marriot so having gold status when I do is handy. At first I was dissapointed it was not Hyatt, but perhaps relieved as the hotel would be flooded with UA folks. This seems better for me. I see we get Hertz #1 Gold status – will ahve to look and see what that is worth. Perhaps an added beenfit.

  17. This does seem to be a good deal for UA golds+. I don’t usually stay in Marriot so having gold status when I do is handy. At first I was dissapointed it was not Hyatt, but perhaps relieved as the hotel would be flooded with UA folks. This seems better for me. I see we get Hertz #1 Gold status – will ahve to look and see what that is worth. Perhaps an added beenfit.

  18. It seems that Ritz Carlton credit card becomes less attrative since you can get Marriott Gold through United.

  19. @ Lucky:

    If you are Gold with Marriott, you are Gold with Ritz-Carlton (and vice versa).

    When you check in to a Ritz as a Marriott elite, they recognize your status and you do receive some benefit.

    Granted, as a Gold at a Ritz, you don’t receive a whole lot…

    – Priority Late Checkout (Silver, Gold)
    – 25% MR / RCR Points Bonus
    – Complimentary Room Upgrade / availability


  20. I am sooooooo disappointed.

    I am SPG and Marriot Plat members for years, and Delta medallion for years, and AA frequent flyer (was medallion). I am glad to enjoy SPG with Delta and I had hoped Marriott and AA could team up. I never fly United and have no status at all.

    Besides, this program is not as good as CrossoverRewards (spg and delta).

  21. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that the status match to Marriott Gold only lasts until January 31, 2014 (about 6 months)

  22. I agree with Andy. SPG+Delta is better because you actually earn points on one when you use the other. With this program, there’s really no point-incentive.

  23. I’m already Marriott Plat and permanent (million mile) United Gold. So there’s little in this for me except a bit of bonus point concessions.

    In the meantime, having stayed in Marriott under the old rules more than 1000 nights to get permanent Platinum, I now see anyone with United status — who has never spent a dollar at Marriott — also getting essentially the same Marriott benefits I spent so much to obtain. (Not much difference in bennies between Gold and Plat in Marriott system.)

    I am currently staying at the Marriott Marina in San Diego. This morning, the concierge lounge was bursting overcapacity with people trying to score their free breakfast. People were walking around, looking for an open table. At one point, there was a line of six-seven people to get the scrambled eggs. If this “program enhancement” produces 50% more potential Marriott Golds with access to that lounge, this becomes a major, major devaluation of the Marriott experience.

  24. @Robert Unless you purchase expensive tickets you will likely drop further down the upgrade list. This isn’t a change that really benefits the elites of either program.

  25. @Robert: I stayed at Ritz Carlson Washington, DC, last night. It was not flooded but WAS slightly augmented by Unitd Elite members — for example, as a Marriott Plat member when I made my reservation, I was guaranteed a 2 double-bed room but at the last minute I found on marriott.com website that the 2 bed room is no longer guaranteed. Over the week when I stay more at other marriott hotels, I will see the consequence more clearly.

  26. Hard Way here. 44 nites and only July. This does nothing for me except maybe I can not stay at Marriott and get some status elsewhere besides existing HHonors Diamond.

    Disappointing that they are offering same status for UA Gold, Plat , 1K, kind of like premier access.

  27. @Nevafazeme I suspect the match is there until the current agreement ends. Unless Marriott and United break up their arrangement, i suspect the free match will continue.

  28. Hmmm – could one get a Ritz Carlton Visa card that comes with Gold Membership and then get Silver Status on United?

  29. @ Keith — Unfortunately this is only available for the Marriott Rewards and not Ritz-Carlton Rewards program.

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