Marriott’s takeover of Starwood closed last September, and members have had a lot of questions about the future of the loyalty program. As of now Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are still being run as separate programs, with the plan being to eventually merge them. We now have an update both about the future of the program, and also about the future of the credit card agreement.
When will Marriott Rewards & SPG be merged?
As of now Marriott operates three distinct loyalty programs — Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. As part of the latest update, Marriott has said that they hope to have a single technology platform in 2018, and then plan to combine programs at a later point. Per the press release:
In late 2018, Marriott expects to launch a single technology platform for Marriott Rewards, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG. This should enable the company to synch the technology-dependent components of each program, further reducing costs. The new technology platform will also take Marriott one step closer to the goal of having a single loyalty program for the company’s 100+ million members in the current Rewards and SPG loyalty programs.
I think it’s safe to assume that programs won’t be merged until 2019 at the very earliest, and possibly even later than that. I’m still rooting for them to continue to operate separate programs, but that’s probably pretty unlikely.
Amex & Chase will both issue credit cards for Marriott
Another big question has been what will happen in the future for co-branded credit cards for the combined hotel program. Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit cards are issued by Chase, while Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards are issued by American Express. It looks like we now have our answer.
Both American Express and Chase will issue credit cards for Marriott in the future. Starting in 2018, Marriott will introduce new co-branded credit card products:
- Amex will offer super premium and small business cards
- Chase will offer mass consumer and premium consumer cards
For the time being, both issuers will retain their existing portfolios and continue to offer their current products, and more details on the above cards will be revealed in 2018. Here’s what Marriott’s CEO had to say about the arrangement:
“Marriott’s co-brand credit cards have been a meaningful contributor to the success of Marriott’s loyalty programs and a sign of the extraordinary value of our portfolio of brands,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are pleased to bring together the power of JPMorgan Chase and American Express with our global portfolio of brands to continue to provide consumers with choices. We expect our loyalty program members, owners and franchisees, and our shareholders will see significant incremental benefits from these new agreements.”
Ultimately I’d say this is good news for consumers, as it looks like we’ll have quite a few cards to choose from. What’s interesting here is that American Express and Chase aren’t issuing redundant cards (as we’ve often seen when there are non-exclusive credit card agreements), but rather each issuer can go after different segments. We’ll have to wait and see the details of these cards, including what the “super premium” card from Amex looks like, compared to the “premium card” from Chase.
My guess is that we’ll see the introduction of a new no annual fee card from Chase, and that Amex will issue something similar to the current $450 per year Ritz-Carlton Credit Card (especially as Hilton will also start issuing a $450 annual fee card as of early next year, which almost seems too good to be true).
What do you make of this news of Amex and Chase splitting Marriott’s business going forward?
(Tip of the hat to @IadisGr8)