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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.
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.
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.
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
Then there’s The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, which has the following basic details:
- Annual fee: $450
- Sign-up bonus: Three complimentary nights at any Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton property after spending $5,000 within three months, plus an additional 10,000 points when you add an authorized user and they make their first purchase within three months
- Perks: Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold status for the first year, Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold status for subsequent years when you spend $10,000 per year on the card, Ritz-Carlton Rewards Platinum status for subsequent years when you spend $75,000 per year on the card, a $300 annual airline credit, a $100 airfare companion discount, and much more
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.
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.