Rumored Details On A New Loyalty Program For Marriott & SPG

Marriott’s takeover of Starwood closed in late 2016. I was impressed by the pace at which they added reciprocal benefits for members, including the ability to status match and also transfer points between programs at a fair rate. The next big looming question is when Marriott will form a single loyalty program. At the moment they have Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest, all with different benefits. We’ve known they have the intention of eventually forming a single loyalty program, though the timeline hasn’t been known.

Marriott and Starwood are forming a single loyalty program this year

It looks like we now have a better idea, and it’s sooner than I was expecting. This is confirmed directly by Marriott’s CEO in a Hotel News Now video that was posted on YouTube. In it he reveals that Marriott and Starwood will be forming a single loyalty program in the second half of the year, and will adopt a new name early next year.

More specifically, here are a few quotes from Arne in the interview:

  • “We’re bringing the loyalty programs together, Marriott Rewards and SPG. That will happen the second part of this year. We’ll have a new name to launch those programs very early next year.”
  • When asked if he can share any details about what the new program may look like, he said “stay tuned, we’ll be saying more about this in the near term.”
  • “What we think we can do is deliver even more value to our guests, at more cost effective terms to our hotel owners, and drive a loyalty program which is second to none.”
  • “It’s been very interesting, from the moment we announced the acquisition of Starwood the SPG community has been very audible in saying we care about this program, we love this program, don’t do this program harm.”

What stood out to me most was this statement (bolding mine):

“What we think we can do is deliver even more value to our guests, at more cost effective terms to our hotel owners, and drive a loyalty program which is second to none.”

Let that sink in for a moment. They’re going to deliver more value and create a loyalty program that is second to none while cutting costs related to the program (which is what they’re saying with “more cost effective terms for our hotel owners”). I’d like to see that in action.

We now have even more details about what the new program may look like. FlyerTalk member coltonatx shares information from a “good source,” which matches a lot of other rumored information that has been posted online. Here’s what this suggests (and again, I can’t speak to the accuracy of any of this):

The new program will launch in August

Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest will be launching a single program in August, which would match what Marriott’s CEO said, when he indicated that it would happen in the second half of the year. That’s right at the beginning of the second half of the year.

The new program will have five elite tiers

The new elite tiers for the combined program would be as follows:

  • Silver status after 10 nights
  • Gold status after 25 nights
  • Platinum status after 50 nights
  • Platinum Premier status after 75 nights
  • Ambassador status after 100 nights and $20,000 of spend

So basically they’re maintaining all elite tiers presently available in the two programs. Currently SPG Ambassador requires 100 nights, but they’re adding a $20,000 spend requirement. It also seems like they’re eliminating the option to qualify on stays rather than nights, which has been a unique feature of the SPG program.

What remains to be seen is what the elite benefits will be at each tier. Will any status level come with unlimited complimentary upgrades? What will the difference between Platinum and Platinum Premier be? What will the opportunities to earn status with credit cards be like? How will lifetime status match up in the new program?

Members will earn 10 points per dollar spent

Currently SPG members earn two Starpoints per dollar spent, and Marriott Rewards members earn 10 points per dollar spent for most brands. Marriott is more generous with the points they award for stays, since Starpoints can be converted into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio. Going forward, apparently the program will offer 10 points per dollar, suggesting that the new program will be similar to Marriott Rewards in that way. We’ll have to see what elite bonuses are like.

Free breakfast expanded to 25 brands and resorts

Presently Marriott doesn’t offer complimentary breakfast to elite members at many of their brands, or at resorts. Going forward, Marriott’s free breakfast elite benefit will be “expanded to 25 brands and resorts.” Currently SPG Platinum members can choose free breakfast as their welcome amenity at all brands. The SPG program is simple, the Marriott Rewards program is complicated.

The good news is that it looks like Marriott will no longer exclude resorts from the free breakfast benefit. However, since the combined program will have 30 brands, this means that five brands won’t offer complimentary breakfast.

Could we still not see free breakfast at Courtyard and Ritz-Carlton? That would be indescribably lame and uncompetitive on their part. Could we even see them eliminate free breakfast from some Starwood brands?

Bottom line

Let me once again emphasize that these are all rumors that have been posted online, and I can’t personally vouch for them. If there’s just one isolated rumor, I don’t typically post about it, but the rumors here are strong. The one thing we know for sure (based on the public comments of Marriott’s CEO) is that a single program will be formed this year, and it will get a new name early next year.

Everything else is speculation at this point. If the above rumors are true, we’ll see a single loyalty program in August that will have five elite tiers, offer 10 points per dollar at most brands, and an expanded breakfast benefit that still doesn’t cover five brands.

Assuming the above is true, there are still tons of questions. What will the combined credit card benefits look like? How will lifetime status work? What will the elite benefits be? Is it possible that they still won’t offer free breakfast at Courtyard and Ritz-Carlton? Will direct airline mileage transfers at a generous rate, and Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages, still be possible?

What’s unfortunately telling here is Marriott’s CEO indicating that the new program will be at “more cost effective terms for hotels.” Is it really possible to do that while creating a program that’s “second to none?”

What are your initial thoughts on this rumored new program?

Comments

  1. Wow so many questions…but my two biggest concern right now is:

    Do you expect them to give notice before cutting off starpoints ability to transfer to airlines or should I start making transfers in advance to protect myself?

    I am in the middle of doing a status match with SPG and should be able to gain Platinum status by the end of May, will the combination of the two programs affect my status in the program or should I still be able to have Platinum status until 2019?

    Thanks Lucky

  2. Fairmont president club also has/had stay qualifcations (which I loved because I general do one night stays)

  3. @Lucky you propose some excellent questions but I have some additional questions…
    1) if you have SPG points when the program is combined, will there be a bonus to transfer them to the “new program?”

    2) You mentioned that you will receive 10 points for Marriott Brands but that does not translate 1:3 (or 3:1), how does the math work in that scenario?

    3) Do we have any updates on the new credit cards? I am trying to coordinate my apps based on the new SPG/Marr cards and that crazy 5/24.

  4. Well combining he two programs will save them a ton of money just in itself. They’re gonna be eliminating a ton of redundant jobs.

  5. I hope there is still free breakfast at Sheraton’s for Amex SPG business cardholders, I really utilized that at the Sheraton in Maui.

  6. @AJ 1) no one knows at this point. Everything Lucky has announced are all rumors. But we can only speculate on what might happen. Most of us are hoping for bonuses… Similar to when Alaska try to get Virgin customers to convert their points over to Alaska, and gave them 10k bonus for it.

    2) earning 10 points will be after the conversion(im guessing). So transferring to SPG may not be available at that time.

    3) Currently, all we know is that Amex will have Biz and Premium card, Chase would hold a mid tier card and a lower tier card. What they serve and what not, we dont know. However, Chase has been probably finding a solutions for all, there are innovation surveys that went out to ppl inviting them to discuss.

  7. This is very problematic for us who have the SPG business increased bonus. With the hold they put on starwood points, I would expect my bonus once I meet it around June to post past this date…but they won’t be starwood points anymore? how do they honor that? And no way I’ll be able to transfer points at that bonus ratio either…

    Considering they said they wouldn’t merge originally until 2019 (which didn’t change until very recently), this is annoying and I may have not signed up for the card had I known that.

  8. A part of me just died. Can’t they at least wait until the new year to start? How will qualifications work?

    I could just cry.

  9. Lucky, Do you think AMEX will just convert the SPG cards to Marriott cards? Same product type of thing?
    I was hoping to get all 4.
    (SPG personal and biz now and Marriott personal and biz when they arrive)

  10. Common sense will tell you that the Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages will not survive into the new program. If it is too good to be true – they eliminate it to save money.

  11. I am hoping that all GOLD members will receive free breakfasts now. I hate that I don’t get it through SPG, but do through Marriott… That being said, I wouldn’t have Marriott Gold, if I didn’t get SPG Gold through Amex… Ayyy, I hope they don’t take that away!!

  12. Courtyard,
    Ritz-Carlton,
    EDITION,
    BVLGARI. The current non-breakfast brands.

    Does this suggest they are not going to give breakfast at St. Regis?

  13. Let’s hope they will remove the CC free nights and free status for CC holders. This is a pledge. Period.

  14. My initial concern is simar to @Andy’s first point…having advance notice of changes to SPG airline transfers. I’m sure the current scheme won’t survive, just wondering about having notice to prepare or if I should be proactive.

  15. 5-tiers is too fine-grained and doesn’t provide much differentiation between 10 and 25. Why not just simplify it :

    25 nights – Silver
    50 – Gold
    75 – Plat
    100 – Ambassador

    4 tiers like this is a lot cleaner and easier to message and differentiate. If they wanna reward high spenders, create a 5th super tier that qualifies purely based on $ spent, with no nights or stay requirement whatsoever.

  16. Will SPG Platinum lifetime status become second tier status? Right now, although SPG 75s and Ambassadors get some additional perks, it has never seemed (at least to me) as if regular Platinums were not generally top tier (and I was Ambassador one year). Will lifetime Platinums be lowered in the pecking order? This would be very unfortunate.

  17. I wouldn’t mind if they merged the nights for status at the end of this year. I have 11 nights spg, 29 nights marriott with 15 from CC coming up. Then I would only need 20 more to get PP. Otherwise I would need 31 more nights.

    Marriott use to be 10 night silver, 50 night gold, 75 plat. Bumping gold down to match spg gold at 25 make sense to me since it was harder to get gold in marriott anyways.

    Now it is easier to get gold/plat for marriott people. Extra teir for SPG but still gold and plat with the same nights. I’m not sure why people are complaining besides the 25 stay for platinum, which they can probably still do for this year only since platinum isn’t top tier anymore.

    I would assume gold no longer gets lounge access, and only platinum and above will get it(which matches current SPG status). Same nights to get plat as gold for regular Marriott, so shouldn’t affect Marriott people. Only affects people who get SPG gold status from credit card and matching Marriott to get lounge access.

  18. I said it at the time of the merger, and and I’ll say it again now. As a SPG Lifetime Platinum member I am 100% convinced that I’m going to get screwed in the new program.

  19. If they don’t want to get SPG members upset then just qualifying based on nights is not the way to go!

    How are they going to handle qualifications THIS year if they are merging them in the second half of the year?

    What about SPG Lifetime status?

  20. Under Marriott, SPG corporate discounts have been slashed and rates have ballooned at many hotels (350 euro AAA rates for Le Meridien Etoile?? How about 440 for W Verbier when there isn’t even any snow?) None of this bodes well for the combined program, regardless of what corporate doublespeak company leaders try to sell.

  21. @ITST, on the SPG side, Design Hotel doesn’t provide free breakfast…hopefully that’s all of them.

  22. I’d say that something needs to be announced very soon. With an August implementation and the possibility of some benefits being withdrawn (airline transfers and Marriott + air packages) there won’t be enough time to plan before the program changes take effect.

  23. so my buddy is about 38 nights away from lifetime SPG plat. His goal was to get these 38 nights over with by the end of this year…should he be worried?

  24. @chancer : my company’s corporate rates at Marriott are still quite good …. e.g. ¥‎ 29,500 / $276 at Ritz Carlton Osaka and ¥‎ 1,350 / $214 at Ritz Carlton Shanghai Pu-dong

    I’ve also scored Ritz Chicago at $201 corporate rate against the same-night rack rate of $449.

  25. According to the SPG agent I just spoke with on the phone, the airline transfer program is being “discontinued” on April 16th. If you need to transfer do it now.

  26. @Albert H I am such a fan of SPG but have so many questions. The acquisition has been great so far (which is unfamiliar & unusual) & thus leaves me uncomfortable. I am finally at the point where I want to make some of my “dreams” happen with these points so I’m hoping nothing happens that takes the wind out of my sails. You’re always so helpful with your comments. I appreciate that.

  27. @ AT — Potentially! I know I’m certainly worried, and I’m not quite that close. I’d probably try to lock it in ASAP, though I guess we’ll see what lifetime Platinum even looks like. Presumably it will be the 50 night Platinum and not Platinum Premier.

  28. @ Nevsky — It’s anyone’s guess at this point. My inclination is that the answer is “yes,” and they’ll now be third tier guests, really.

  29. @ henry LAX — My guess is that they want a fifth tier so that they can easily give it away even with the most basic credit card, just as Marriott is doing now.

  30. We’ll I’m American Airlines Platinum for life and now they introduced Platinum Pro. So if I had to guess, I would say SPG life Platinum will be a devaluation as well.

  31. Does this mean that 10,000 starpoints would automatically be changed to 30,000 Marriott points? Does this also mean that the SPG hotels’ free nights also also be 3X the current SPG points requirement after the combination? So a 16K SPG free night would be worth 48K new combined program points? Asking for a friend.

  32. What are the sources of these rumors? Perhaps acknowledging that they came from Reddit and FT would be more professional

  33. One thing seems no one talking about but very important for some people is multiple rooms policy. SPG is the only program I know recognize up to 3 rooms as qualified nights. So for the Platinum challenge right now going on, you can finish up in 1 week if you book 3 rooms for 6 days, that give you 18 nights.

    Taking away this policy, it would make leisure traveler like myself very hard to qualify any status.

  34. I imagine they will have a waiver for non-U.S. customers because hotels in Asia and elsewhere are much, much cheaper. Just as the U.S. airlines exempt non-U.S. customers from revenue spending requirements.

  35. @KeninDFW – We’ve long known that 1 SPG point will transfer into 3 Marriott points (and likely 3 “new” Marriott points given they’re following the earning structure of that program). You can do that transfer now in fact.

  36. Those tiers match details I’ve seen on paper. Unfortunately, so does Klint’s statement (though there was no timeline shared, so I wasn’t sure if happening simultaneously).

  37. @lucky :

    chase hyatt card gives away Deplorist, the 10 night tier
    chase marriott visa card , IIRC, gives away silver status, the 10 night tier
    new amex hilton ascend (the mid-level card) gives away hilton honors gold, the 40 night tier

    i agree with the need to have a “give away tier”, but given that roughly the same annual fee gets a much stronger offering at Hilton, they might want to slightly rethink the approach …. perhaps merging 10 and 25 with something around 20 …. 20/50/75/100 isn’t a bad split.

  38. “It also seems like they’re eliminating the option to qualify on stays rather than nights, which has been a unique feature of the SPG program.”

    Not a unique feature of SPG at all, as Hilton offers 4 ways to quality for status, which can be characterized as truly ‘unique’, based on: (a) nights, (b) stays, (c) base points or spend on revenue stays, and (d) co-branded credit cards with the possibility for a status upgrade (silver to Gold or Gold to Diamond) based on spending a preset amount.

    With respect to the rumored 5-level elite structure, if it turns out to be accurate, an intriguing question is at what level UA elites will be matched in the merged program. If it is at the Gold, then that is likely be a devaluation because I suspect that the new Gold status will be as useless as the current SPG Gold. Also, will the associated UA/Marriott joint venture, called ‘RewardsPlus’, even survive the merger?

  39. @Klint – I find your comment about the alleged SPG elimination of transfer to airlines starting next week to be highly suspicious, especially since your comment is identical (down to the punctuation no less) to the comment posted by @MEOW on VFTW a couple of hours earlier. So either you copy and pasted their comment, or you are the same person but use different monikers across different blogs which further lessens your credibility.

  40. So should I switch to SPG for the rest of the year or stay Marriott platinum? I stay 65 or so paid Nights a year. Would they combine nights stayed between the two for status for next year?

  41. @DCS Well the current United Matching was platinum for silver, PP for gold. But since the new PP is the old platinum, so Silver for PP and Gold for Ambassador is my guess. Would be nice to get gold for PP but I doubt they will do that.

  42. Well, one rationale for the merger was always “cost-savings” which pretty much = devastating the program as it now stands. 🙂

    So I’m not surprised that SPG to airline miles transfers will be going away. But, I am surprised that it will go away with zero official notice, and apparently in less than a week, if the 4/16 date is to be believed. Maybe Marriott thinks the cost savings from not announcing the end of SPG airline transfers is worth the negative publicity & anger from SPG members. I bet that millions of points would be transferred with an announcement and that is a cost that SPG has to pay out right away. I remember when bmi diamond club was (falsely) rumored to be shutting down, apparently 1 million miles got redeemed in a very short period, and the diamond club head was very unhappy about the shut down rumor being spread!

    I went ahead and transferred a bunch of points to JAL, and will be doing 2 more transfers this week (60K limit per day). I always planned on doing this but was going to wait until closer to the announced end of the program, since JAL miles hard-expire in 3 yrs. Initially I thought I would have until Aug 1, but better to be safe than sorry (and also, an extra 3 months won’t make a big difference).

  43. @Jerry D — You might well be right about the matching being UA Silver for MR PP and UA Gold for MR Ambassador, but I was wondering about matching in the other direction where currently UA Gold elites and up are matched to Marriott Gold. The new matching should be UA Gold elites and up to MR PP if it is to retain any value, because I am afraid that the new MR Gold will be greatly devalued.

  44. Talked to my SPG ambassador, she wouldn’t confirm or deny that the airline transfers are going away but kinda hinted I should make any transfers in the next week to “be safe.”

  45. what about SVN timeshare owners that can currently convert their ownership weeks into SPG points, will tgat switch over to a scaled equivalent of MR points?

  46. I am currently a MR gold achieved through status challenge last year . I was matched to spg gold with MR status.
    Would the new tiers mean i become plat?

  47. @Jerry D and DCS, matching MR PP with UA Gold has been removed this year, perhaps in anticipation of the upcoming changes. You can still receive UA Silver from MR Plat, though.

  48. RobPHX, the timeshare product is owned by a separate company(Interval). Marriott Vacation Club made an offer to Interval last year to buy the Westin/Vistana timeshares, but I haven’t heard anything since. Latest news is that Interval is seeking counteroffers to gain leverage against Marriott.

    It’s unlikely that the point transfers will remain directly, but Interval is a bigger company and has their own programs for exchanging timeshare points/stays for hotel points

  49. Now I’m panicked about that 4/16 date… Since AmEx transfers to Delta/Hawaiian, and Chase transfers to United/BA/Flying Blue, it looks like AA is my best bet to transfer to, since there are no other transfer partners to them. Does this sound right?

    Now I’m worried about my 7 night cat 7 package certificate I have been unable to use yet. Maybe I should try to get my 105k points back in case they quit extending the use date or allowing category changes.

    Honestly between the IHG change and now this, I’m about to give up on hotel loyalty programs. It’s a lot of work looking for good hotels at good point values in the places I’m traveling, making sure I stay in the right increments (4 days or 5 days, to optimize the points conversions). I’m about to say good riddance to them all and just buy rooms at whatever hotel I want to, and stop compromising.

  50. @Lucky we need some confirmation on the airline transfer issue. I was hoping to maintain flexibility a bit longer as I choose between two destinations. If destination 1 then spg to ek; if destination 2 then spg to as. I hate to transfer points in a panic especially since I’ve almost got another 20k block complete. I have been saying since the merger closed that the transferability of spg points to airline miles is the single most important issue in the points and miles world.

  51. I have a feeling Marriot is going to kill the airline transfer program next week. I’m going to make transfers everyday this week to make sure I don’t get screwed.

  52. @bhcompy: thanks. but interestingly, the Marriott timeshares are also exchanged on Interval.

    Given how much the Starwood and Marriott timeshare owners contribute to hotel revenues, I can’t imagine that we would lose our ability to exchange into a hotel points currency to be used for nightly stays and in thr many places where timeshares are not located. The good thing with SPG was that we could convert to air miles.

  53. What I really need to know is if they will be combining nights for qualification between the 2 programs by the end of the year or if we really need to stick to one program or the other being at risk of getting no credit for the lesser nights.

  54. @CSue, Do not transfer to AA!! AA miles are pretty easy to get in massive quantities with credit card sign-ups (assuming you are a US resident with a decent credit record). AA has dramatically cut back on award space on their own metal, and the best use for AA miles are for partner awards.

    Personally, I would transfer to AS instead. Most of the “good” airlines that AA offers are also partners with AS, and AS has a significantly better award chart. The only exception of the top of my head is Etihad, but EY are transfer partners with Citi, and their award chart is about the same as AA after the AA devaluation a few years ago.

    If you have sufficient points, using 270K points for the Marriott Travel package for 120K AS miles + a 7 night category 5 stay is better than directly transferring to SPG to AS (even if you don’t use the 7 night award stay).

    My take on the new program leaks is that I will plan on getting the new super-premium Amex card, assuming it comes with at least Plat50 status (& free breakfast), and basically, not bother with SPG mattress runs ever again.

  55. Silver status after 10 nights
    Gold status after 25 nights
    Platinum status after 50 nights
    Platinum Premier status after 75 nights
    Ambassador status after 100 nights and $20,000 of spend

    What level would get lounge access – 25 night level or 50 night level and up?
    What happens to Lifetime Marriott levels:
    Currently Platinum is the 75 night level – would LT Plat become LT Plat Premier?
    Would LT Gold become LT Platinum – the 50 night level?

    Any speculation?

  56. @SY and CSue, it’s interesting that you mentioned April 16th…this is the deadline for the current sign-up bonus on AMEX SPG in Canada.

    I’m quite curious of other things to come.

  57. Just a heads up guys — as @ Elizabeth noted, the comments claiming the SPG airline transfer program is ending are highly suspicious. They are all being made by the same person using different names, both on this site and others.

    I’ve spoken with a half-dozen SPG agents since the first comment was posted, and of course we’ll keep trying to confirm, but thus far no one has had any inkling that something could be changing.

    We’ll let you know if we can get this sourced by someone credible, but in the meantime I wouldn’t panic.

  58. SY It all depends on where you go and how you use points. I’ve never found space on AS where I go, and I often find space on AA (and Delta). The AA space I typically use is Hawaii to Europe, or Europe to Hawaii in business/first. So while AS was a consideration, it doesn’t make sense in my case. And as far as AA credit cards, my husband and I have already each had one, although it was quite some time ago.

  59. I’m kind of bummed. Been a platinum for 12 years, but only have 367 stays. Was going to take me another 5 years to lock in lifetime Platinum, but guess that won’t happen. 50 nights is such a huge stretch for me…

  60. Making this change in the middle of the year seems really strange, as all of the above questions and comments would indicate. Depending on how this all pans out, DCS may actually be right about Hilton being a superior program.

  61. The proposed ( rumoured) 100 plus 20K Ambassador level seems strange. I guess that quite a few could make it but surely many others would do the nights but may fall short on the $$$ from time to time as points are redeemed. They would need to have some carry-over $$$ system to make it work.
    Really, they need to have a fair/generous plan in place for those who committed to the programs , and the significant expense involved, on the basis of attaining LT status…and who may be a year or two short. That said, LT status holders are likely going to get royally screwed anyway.
    I’m LTP from the start in 2012 but won’t hesitate for a second to move on if there is a significant diminution of benefits.

  62. Well I am 20 nights away from Marriott Lifetime Platinum (with 15 nights due to post on my cc anniversary in October) so I am very curious how this mid year change is going to affect me!!!

  63. @DCS Welcome back. Haven’t seen your posts in a while especially things related to Hilton. I would also say the best part of Hilton is the Aspire with AMEX, which gives you automatic top-tiered diamond status. @Patty B I wouldn’t be so sure of that. There are even more expensive options outside of the US well. It just depends. Also, the CC would have to also do more with the agreement with the companies/banks and not solely because you think they are all much cheaper. I think with the US airlines, they are just being greedy and they can get away with it more in the states. I don’t think there are any international carriers especially in Asia that has such a consistent and complex spending requirement structure as the US airlines. Also, look at AMEX Platinum US, which now costs $550, but look at AMEX Platinum HK, which costs $1,000. Sure, you could get more benefits, but you pay a lot more. So, in this reality based on your analogy, are we saying that US customers are exempt, because we don’t want to or can’t pay $1,000 annual fee or that credit card fees are much cheaper in America than in HK?

  64. @ Lucky – Many unanswered questions and here are a few that come to mind:
    If we hold points in both programs currently how will these points be merged?
    If we hold both an SPG Amex and a Marriott/Ritz Carlton Visa, how will the points on the spend on each be calculated in the new program?
    Currently if you spend over $30,000 per year on SPG, then you qualify for gold status? Will they keep loyalty at a spend level or will it always depend on the nights required.
    How will SPG properties be measured for redemption if the awards are apparently Marriott level focused?

  65. Interesting. At the end of the day, rewarding loyalty from airlines and hotels is on its way out!

  66. Scott, Having stayed with SPG for 750+ nights making platinum each year and enjoying SPG lifetime platinum status from its inception (which also meets the Marriott requirement for nights stayed to achieve their lifetime platinum status) I can only trust my loyalty will be still honored as it is now. Please reward my loyalty Marriott (and my 275+ Marriott nights too….)

  67. The timing does seem a bit odd given the elevated 35k bonus on the Business SPG Amex that ended just a couple weeks ago. I’m glad my recent sign up won’t count towards 5/24. I was hoping SPG would last until at least early 2019.

  68. On the Canadian SPG cards Amex changed some language recently that says you must apply before April 16th for the current welcome bonus – indicating a change is coming.

    Interesting that the 16th is also floating around as a potential date for the discontinuation of airline transfers. Should be an interesting news day…

  69. The way I see it, during the transition period, they did a great job keeping most people happy! I think that is only a sign that what comes next will require everyone to “Brace! Brace! Brace!”!

  70. Im Lifetime Gold of SPG. If Marriot just convert us to just another Lifetime Gold without the benefit of BF or Club lounge access, rest assured i will say bye bye to the new program

  71. @Tiffany
    What motivation would someone have to post that airline transfers are ending if they’re not? Is someone on the OMAAT team an ambassador? Can they call their ambassador to confirm?

  72. Yeah, as Tiffany pointed out, the April 16th date for SPG to stop all airline transfers is very possibly just a bogus rumor.

    However, I think it is very likely that SPG airline transfers will stop by August 1, the date of the new program launch (and the end of the SPG website/program entirely?). I bet the reason for the mid-year launch for the new program, vs say something like Jan 1, is to staunch the high $$$ costs of the program in its current iteration. You can get SPG Gold/Marriott Gold with just the Amex Plat card, so free breakfast/lounge access at many Marriott hotels.

    As for me, I already was planning on transferring SPG points to JL but wanted to wait as long as possible. However, I’m also okay with doing the transfer now to be on the safe side. But if you didn’t already have a clear plan to use your SPG points, you probably don’t need to rush to transfer in the next week – but you should have a game plan to use the points over the next few months!

  73. @CSue, have you booked using AA miles recently? In the past 1-2 yrs, AA saver award space has really gotten scarce, with no pattern to its release. However, if you are okay with paying for higher level standard awards, AA is fine. Standard awards require “native” miles, so yeah, AS won’t work for you.

    Right now, you can get 50-60K AA miles with the Citi AA credit card, and another 50-60K miles with the Barclays AA credit card (per person), rinse and repeat. Barclays requires paying the $95 annual fee upfront, but you just need to make one purchase on the card for the signup bonus miles. It is easy to churn Barclays AA every couple of months (you just need to close the old Barclays card). Citi AA card is churnable too, but requires more effort.

  74. If I just have to make a guess from what the CEO said. They combine both programs this year, which is what they have been working towards. No benefits changes in 2018 as everything is beame aligned for both programs to combine. Once both programs have moved together in 2018, they launch a new loyalty program to start for 2019 with new requirements. Guessing stays for both chains will count for status, which will only help everyone reach status for next year. CEO said there would be something new in 2019, so cant see how they make any significant changes this year. Just my guess but maybe they have the technology finally ready to merge everything and once it’s all merged it’s easier to bring that into a new system instead of 2 systems to merge into 1 brand new program.

  75. One of the 5 brands without free breakfast will be Design Hotels; as MR will not force small independent hotels to offer this benefit.

  76. @Marsh, when would you think the next category changes will be announced, and do you think that there will be an opportunity to make bookings at the current category level prior to the changes taking place?

    My Starwood summary says I am a dozen stays from making platinum this year for next year (and 37 nights). Would you think that with a dozen more stays (and only 12 nights) that I will have a meaningful list of benefits, meaning some or all of : breakfast, late check out, upgrades? I am thinking that it will take at least 50 nights to get those from 2019 qualification year on.

  77. Ben, Thanks for the update.

    Many great questions asked here.

    How do they change two programs to one during a year? Is this like a soft opening for a hotel, a test run?

    I remember the United and Continental merger and no matter what they told us, there was a great mess up.

    Really not sure what is happening, but of course we must have confidence in the CEO as he is qualified.
    Kent

  78. Lucky/Tiffany,
    Can we please get an updated post on best places to transfer SPG points with timing being the driving force and not specific redemptions? I, like a few others am sitting on a cache of Starpoints of which my only goal is to transfer to an airline partner I don’t have a redemption in mind yet but need to know the best bang for buck in your opinion. I’m leaning towards ANA for their reasonable roundtrip redemptions. Can I park miles with ANA more than 12mos without activity on an ANA flight?

  79. I wonder if they will also include the new Ritz-Carlton Yachts (first one launching in 2020) in the reward and redemption programs that include the Marriott-owned hotels.

  80. @SY Yes, I found flights in Nov 2017. One way Europe to Hawaii for 57,500. The only thing I’ve found lately is they want me to take an extra stop, which is a bummer.

    As for opening new cards, I’m taking a breather for now because my credit has been hurt a bit and i’ll be getting some loans soon. I also try to only open cards I really want to, or at least might, keep. But thanks for the heads up.

  81. @SY The other thing that is super frustrating is that when you search AA site for business class saver awards it shows you ones where some of the legs are on coach. So it takes a long time to hunt through the garbage to get to the flights I might actually want. They really should have a check box to prevent that.

  82. If I see the other „probable“ leaked information on FT like suite upgrade for >75 nights and late check out 4:00 pm also plus no lounge under 75, revenue requirements for all status, award prices based on current room rate etc. this would definitely make me abandon this programme after many years as Plat50 with SPG.
    It would be a no-brainer to shift to other options although an expected one – noone really exptected Marriott to change its nature.

    On the other hand… if I worked at Marriott communications and had a somewhat worse programme to be presented in a couple of weeks/months, I would certainly „leak“ information about a worst case scenario like this one so people will actually be reliefed instead of angry once I reveal the real new programme that includes only part of the negative aspects….

  83. Same question as Lu. Will the new program use SPG’s policy of up to three qualifying rooms per night, or Marriott’s one room per night? Using Marriott’s policy would be a huge devaluation for me, with no lounge/breakfast unless I spend 1/4 of my year in their hotels.

    The breakfast/lounge only at 75+ nights is a huge devaluation, it seems they’ll be punishing some of their most loyal customers (the lifetimers). Using SPG’s policy would lessen the pain.

    Hopefully the merger doesn’t take the stingiest policies from each program and merge them into one stingiest program. This large a devaluation for my loyalty would push me to other programs, if not because of value, then on principle alone.

  84. Hi Ben,
    I do hope that we are still be able to purchase points and transfer it to airlines on a 1:1 ratio though.

  85. I qualify for spg plat on stays since my stays are always one night…Will suck if that goes away.

  86. I was staying at a hotel this past week and a 3 x 5 card was left out, it pretty much confirmed the above info without the spend info. i didn’t think much of it so I threw it out in my trash back home, and am on the road again this week so wont be able to look back at it.

    it told me to go to a URL (i think it was rewards.marriott.com), so i assume at 4:30 EST they’ll push an update there.

    Did anybody else see the little card?

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