Who Loses With Marriott’s New Loyalty Program?

Yesterday I shared the full details of Marriott’s new loyalty program, which is coming in August. As you could tell based on the post, the new program greatly exceeded my expectations, and was pretty close to being the best case scenario, as far as I’m concerned.

Some people disagree, which I totally respect, because obviously no program will be great for everyone. That’s simply not possible. I’m so impressed because we’re seeing the introduction of suite upgrades subject to availability, we’re seeing the introduction of confirmed suite upgrades for select members, we’re seeing breakfast added at Courtyard hotels and resorts, we’re seeing a strong points earning rate, and much more.

In this post I wanted to look at the negatives of the program. Specifically, who isn’t coming out ahead with Marriott’s new loyalty program? I’m going to put this into two categories — groups of people who definitely aren’t coming out ahead, and groups of people who may not be coming out ahead, depending on their circumstances. Even within these groups, there are of course going to be subsets of people who feel differently about things.

Who definitely doesn’t come out ahead with the new Marriott program

United RewardsPlus members

Currently United MileagePlus Gold members and above receive complimentary Marriott Gold status through RewardsPlus. That perk will be sticking around, though going forward Gold status won’t be worth as much as it currently is. Right now Gold status comes with guaranteed late check-out, and executive lounge access and/or breakfast at most brands, though that will no longer be the case.

Instead Marriott Platinum status will have the same night requirements that Gold status currently has, though United elite members won’t be comped that.

This is of course frustrating for anyone who benefited from this, but if we’re behind honest, we can’t really blame Marriott. They’ve improved the perks you get at 50+ nights per year, and it’s unrealistic to give that to all United MileagePlus Gold members and above.

Amex Platinum cardmembers

This is a similar story to the above. For years Starwood and American Express have had a partnership, and as part of this, Amex Platinum cardmembers have received SPG Gold status. When Marriott took over Starwood they offered status matching, including matching all SPG Gold members to Marriott Gold.

It was never intended that Marriott Gold would be a benefit of the Amex Platinum, but that’s indirectly what happened.

The good news is that at least for now they’re keeping this around. The bad news is that Marriott Gold status in the new program isn’t as valuable as it used to be.

Delta Crossover Rewards members

Just as Marriott and United have historically had a partnership, the same is true of Starwood and Delta. Through the Crossover Rewards partnership, members of both programs could earn points and receive select reciprocal benefits.

As of now Marriott has announced that they will continue to honor Delta Crossover Rewards through July 15, 2018. They say that they value their long-standing relationship with Delta, and expect to have more to share with members before July 15. At a minimum it sounds like the partnership won’t stick around in its current form.

Those who get club lounge access with the SPG Business Amex

The SPG Business Amex offers lounge access at Sheraton properties as a benefit. Unfortunately this is being cut as of August 2018, which is disappointing, and eliminates a huge benefit of the business card over the personal card.

SPG Platinum members who earn status exclusively through stays

Currently SPG Platinum members can earn status either by making 25 stays, or staying 50 nights. Going forward, they can only qualify based on nights and not stays. I suspect it’s only a small minority of SPG Platinum members who almost always stay just one night, but for those members it will be significantly harder to earn status.

Who might not come out ahead with the new Marriott program

SPG Platinum members with Ambassador service

I suspect SPG Platinum members with Ambassador service will have mixed feelings. Right now that requires 100 nights per year to earn, though going forward it will require 100 nights plus a $20,000 spend requirement.

The good news is that you’ll be able to take advantage of Ambassador service at a much bigger global portfolio of hotels, so you’re not limited to Starwood’s smaller footprint anymore. The bad news is that there’s now a $20,000 spend requirement, which is really steep.

As an SPG Platinum member with Ambassador service I’m not thrilled, though I completely understand why Marriott did this. Marriott has an insane number of elites, a huge global footprint, and many limited service properties, so they probably have tons of 100+ night elites who don’t contribute that greatly to their bottom line. It takes effort to spend 100+ nights with Starwood, but that’s not true to the same degree with Marriott.

I’d rather that they make it truly exclusive and put effort into the program, rather than just making it like “My Hyatt Concierge.” And I say this as someone who may lose Ambassador service because of the revenue requirement.

Those who earn Starpoints through credit card spend

Marriott is introducing a suite of new credit cards. Historically Marriott’s best credit card offered one point per dollar on everyday, non-bonused spend. I value Marriott Rewards points at ~0.8 cents each, so that was a pretty lousy return on spend.

Meanwhile Starwood’s credit cards have offered one Starpoint per dollar spent. Starpoints convert into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio, so that’s a significantly more lucrative credit card for everyday spend, since it’s like earning three Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent.

Going forward, all co-branded credit cards will offer at most two Marriott points per dollar spent, which is equivalent to two-thirds of a Starpoint. That means those who have been using the SPG Amex for everyday spend are going from a card that’s industry leading, to one that’s potentially just average.

The slight benefit is that those with the SPG Luxury Card will be able to spend their way to Platinum status. Spending $75,000 in a calendar year will offer Platinum status. So for those who are big spenders this might balance out, which is why I don’t think this is necessarily a negative.

Lifetime members

For the most part I think Marriott is handling lifetime status fairly here. Here’s how they’re honoring lifetime status for existing members:

  • Lifetime SPG Gold members will become lifetime Marriott Gold members
  • Lifetime SPG Platinum members will become lifetime Marriott Platinum members
  • Lifetime Marriott Gold members will become lifetime Marriott Platinum members
  • Lifetime Marriott Platinum members will be grandfathered as lifetime Marriott Platinum Premier members (a lifetime status that can’t be earned going forward)

However, some members are frustrated for a couple of reasons, which are at least worth acknowledging:

  • Marriott lifetime Platinum members are being grandfathered into Marriott lifetime Platinum Premier members, while SPG lifetime Platinum members have no way of earning that, even if they’ve way overqualified
  • Some Marriott members who are super frequent guests are on the verge of earning lifetime status based on a combination of nights and points, but now a new 10 year status requirement is being put in place, which will delay when they earn status
  • Going forward you can really only earn second (or third, depending on how you look at it) tier lifetime Platinum status, which is less lucrative than before

Bottom line

As I said above, I really think the new Marriott program is pretty close to being as good as it could have been. Marriott had so many interests to balance here, and my hats are off to them for the program they’ve come up with. Not everyone is coming out ahead, though, and hopefully the above is an accurate summary of that.

I’d say the most negatively impacted here are those who received comped status either with Marriott or Starwood. Does this change suck? Yep. At the same time, can we really blame Marriott? They wanted to introduce richer benefits, and you can’t do that while also massively increasing your elite pool.

Are there any other circumstances under which you feel the new program isn’t positive?


  1. Chase & Amex are going to take a big hit from people canceling their Platinum/Ritz cards. Marriott’s decision to not keep the $10k spend for old Marriott Gold/new Platinum seems shortsighted.

  2. @DS are you sure about that info? Greg at Frequent Miler spoke with management and the Q&A said Ritz 10k will get you new Platinum and Ritz 75k will get new Platinum Premier.

  3. Have you heard for sure that Crossover Rewards is ending? For now it sounds like Marriott is not committing to that, though the omens aren’t good.

    It’s also worth noting that there are slight devaluations to SPG Platinum 50 (number of SNAs) and SPG Platinum 75 (no more Your24). They’re reasonable, but they are devaluations. Not to mention a potentially big devaluation for people who qualified for SPG status on stays.

  4. I have the SPG Amex and like many, it was my go-to for unbonused spend. My Chase trifecta for everything else.

    The annual award night is ok, and with my spending it may break out even for the amount of nights I can get with either setup.

    Still, I’m interested in exploring other possibilities for my daily spending. Maybe freedom unlimited and go all-in with Chase. I like Amex as a company and want to continue doing business with them, but…

  5. If Amex took a model to the SPG card as they do for their Everyday Preferred, people would keep it and spend gobs of money on the card.

    Or if they rolled out more points every time you spent $10k.

  6. I’m one of the UA RewardPlus beneficiaries. It is what it is, and I’ll move on.

    For the last few years Marriott has been my go-to because of RP, and have gotten quite a bit of business they wouldn’t have otherwise. From now on, I have no reason to seek them out. The gold bennies are worthless.

  7. Amex Plat needs to add some kind of benefit to make up for this loss. For me, it just got even harder to justify the increased AF.

  8. @Lucky Are we able to do the “Marriott Platinum Challenge” (staying 9 nights w/in 3 months) before August 1st to obtain Platinum Premier status (and thus keep Platinum throughout 2020)?

  9. Big losers: Business owners who put large expenses on SPG business cards. I have a feeling that AMEX will feel a big impact on this (a la Costco). I think there is still time and correct the mistake of only 2 points per dollar and not 3. Maybe something like a threshold the same way they do with AMEX Platinum cards, where everything gets 1.5 points instead of 1 if you spend more than $5000 in a single transaction.
    People, specially business owners are going to think twice where they are going to put the big expenses or everyday expenses. There is no way to spin this. This is a massive devaluation (33%) of the program for people who get their points by expending in credit cards.

  10. “The bad news is that there’s now a $20,000 spend requirement, which is really sleep.” – I’m sure you meant “steep,” but it kind of works too, in that $20,000 for hotel status is a lot of sleep.

  11. Lucky, if you have any way to find out, I would be curious to know more about the new lifetime status details — apparently years of earned Marriott Gold status count toward the new lifetime Platinum requirement, so I am wondering if the offer to spend $10K on the Ritz-Carlton visa and get Gold status would count as an earned Gold year toward lifetime status?

    I am close to SPG Lifetime Platinum under both the old and new system, so if I could pick up another year of credit by earning Marriott/Ritz Gold by spending $10K, that would absolutely be worth it.

  12. Thanks for clarifying Lucky.

    Your previous post made me think it was all for the better, but in fact there will be lots of losers in the medium term.

  13. I have said many times and seems no one cares. SPG recognize multiple rooms on the booking for qualifying nights ( up to 3 rooms ). This is very generous benefit for many people and make it very easy to quickly qualify for elite status. It seems it will go away with the merge.

  14. That’s a very long way to say “everyone.” Everyone loses under the new program except for consultants or other people who have a ridiculous amount of business stays. Most of us aren’t staying so many paid nights and earn points from card spend. Cutting the earn rate on the SPG card is analogous to giving every working person a 33% pay cut. Everything gets more expensive unless you lower prices by the same amount or more.

  15. Hi Lucky

    I was just wondering would you know if any of the new credit cards from both Case and Amex would be available in Canada?

  16. Lucky,

    So current LTPs get grandfathered into LTPP with the suite upgrades included? I’m at 780 nights but only 1.3 million points, so just Lifetime Silver. If I get to Lifetime Gold by August, does that give me LTP under the new program? It’s a real shame that I got screwed with getting enough nights but not points to get the old LPT. Would have ended up getting grandfathered in as well…

  17. Ben, I really appreciate you breaking this all down with multiple posts and the nuances that really matter to super-frequent travelers. There are obviously two sections to a program: benefits and redemption. With the benefits transition seeming to be OK, I’m really worried what they aren’t revealing: the redemption. To me, where they place hotels in those new categories is EVERYTHING. Because of the wide variance of what Starwood charges because of their few jewel properties, there’s a green light for Marriott to massively and I mean massively increase the cost of redemptions. And I smell that as the other shoe here no one is paying attention to now.

  18. Personally I’d say the SPG Amex becomes less than average now. Maybe worth keeping for the annual night but even that is questionable for me. Even the Biz card bonus categories don’t do much for me. Shame but not surprising I guess.

  19. Amex Plat better step with some new perks. Many people will see their first $550 fee this year and another downgraded perk will not go over well with people.

  20. Keeping an expensive Ritz-Carlton card is worthless since Ritz-Carlton has foolishly been exempted from complying with all components of the new, unified program. I’d argue Ritz-Carlton will be a loser here because most St. Regis properties are better than most Ritz-Carlton properties.

  21. I think to say that those of us who are “nearly but not quite” Marriott Lifetime members currently aren’t completely in the “those who lose” category is wrong: the 10 year requirement is huge, and considering you can get to 750 nights in far fewer years, it is going to be a massive pain to now get there in the short term. Very disappointing.

  22. You are really soft pedaling the devaluation in the legacy Amex cards. They are neutered and no the Marriott Plat status after 75k in spend does not make up for that. I have put mid-six figures annually through two Amex SPG cards for the last couple of years. Come 8/1 that will drop to zero. My spend will move to other cards most likely Amex MR and Chase UR cards. It is interesting to see Starriott devalue its card relative to the increasingly competitive bank currency cards. I don’t know yet whether I’ll keep my SPGs for annual night certificate or not but honestly I think it is unlikely as I’d rather use one or both of the Amex credit slots for something else.

  23. @Rob,

    I also read the frequent miler post with the Marriott VP yesterday. It’s not confirmed yet, but in light of the $75k spend requirement on the new SPG Amex Luxury card to hit new Platinum, it’s unlikely that the $10k spend to hit old Gold/new Platinum on the Ritz card will continue past 2018.

  24. Lucky,

    1 Will those who have status from an SPG platinum challenge get to keep that status into 2020?
    2. For those who qualify on stays, can they still qualify this year, for next years status with stays?

  25. @ Nick Tan — Don’t have an official answer to the first one, but for the second one, you can qualify on stays, but only if you stay exclusively at SPG hotels. So any Marriott stays wouldn’t count towards that.

  26. @ Jordan D — The point is that lifetime status is a mixed bag in general. For example, lifetime Marriott Golds are better off than before. That’s why I put it in that category, because not everyone is worse off when it comes to lifetime status.

  27. I think it’s really, really unfortunate that most of the blogosphere is glossing over the devaluation in the award chart.

    Does anyone for a moment think current category 9 and category 8 Marriott, JW Marriott and Renaissance properties will drop 1-2 categories? Especially properties in London, Paris, Rome, Hawaii, New York, San Francisco and other marquee destinations.

    Marriott’s current award chart on face value is reasonable, but, in reality, it was already a mess because Marriott has never been fully transparent on how it classifies properties. Moreover, there has NEVER been a correlation between hotel brand and award-redemption category. For example, the Newark Marriott is a category 7 award-redemption presently. That’s absurd. You also have several Courtyard properties that are category 7 and category 8 presently.

    It would be nice if Marriott would have a consistent maximum category for each brand or a consistent maximum for airport hotels as opposed to resorts or city centre hotels.

  28. Hi Lucky,

    When is the cutoff to earn LT status in the old system? I am close to LT Gold with Marriott. When do I have until to try and qualify? Thanks!

  29. Hi Lucky,
    With the new AMEX Luxury Card, if you spend $75K and earn Platinum status, will this count towards the lifetime status qualification, assuming I wouldn’t be earning Platinum by staying 50 nights.

  30. Lucky – commented yesterday on this being a huge slap in the face for those who have been most loyal to SPG in the past i.e. SPG LTPs who, on equivalent basis, had 750+ nights and 2M+ points (obviously me being one of them!)

    Basically Marriott saying those folks not worth the same as their own equivalent LTP’s who are getting LTP Premier. Think we’ll see a number of those SPG folks going elsewhere; granted I’m ‘knee jerk responding’ as it’s not even one day since launch, but I’m sure I’m not the only one in this category left feeling seriously let down by Marriott.

  31. I think it’s an unmitigated disaster, far, far worse than the Hyatt fiasco. There are no winners in this. The spin-meisters will continue to talk up the earnings increases ( but pretty much ignore the slashed credit card earnings), praise the fact that airline transfers are retained ( but not articulating the fact that in order to fund those airline points a 50% increase in CC spend is required. 50 %).
    SPG gold benefits totally destroyed, those using stays for status can pack up and go home, SPG LTPs with high number of nights ( real, in-bed nights not Marriott fake nights) are relegated to second class in the LTP program).
    And we are yet to see, it goes without saying, any detail of award changes ( other than the prospect of some short-term bone between August and the New Year).
    I’ve never seen a more ham-fisted , Ma and Pa Kettle launch of a new product. Maybe less partying with Keith Urban and a greater focus on the preparation of decent materials ( eg, the pathetic illegible table on the blog sites) , with clear answers, would have been more fruitful.
    Just hopeless.

  32. Does anyone know the answers to these important questions? Ben?

    1. Is 5th night free gone?? what are the new hotel booking perks compared to SPG?

    2. For SPG SVO vacation owners (Vistana) probably 100K plus owners – most have deeded property and contract allows for conversion of weeks to Starpoints ( at very weak transfer point rates). Will they now be Marriott point conversions to trade in your week?

    3. Will there be any AMEX SPG lux point promotion to get new card and can you use the $300 toward a hotel stay itself?

  33. …and to be clear, I wasn’t referencing Lucky in my comments but rather a vomit-inducing piece on another site: TPG

  34. I didn’t get an answer from any of the bloggers’ posts…is Amtrak remaining a transfer partner? All mentions of transfer were with regards to airlines, not train. So amtrak will be removed?

  35. SPG Lifetime Gold are the biggest losers here. I’ve been a SPG member since 1999 and I achieved Liftetime Gold the old fashioned way (nights, not credit cards). Over the last 19+ years I’ve regularly enjoyed lounge access, 4pm checkout and available suite upgrades. All of these will go away when I am downgraded to Marriott Gold.

  36. You forgot about “anyone who stays at Marriott properties.”

    The impending devaluation of properties that previously cost 45k points to what will surely be 60k and above. The introduction of peak versus off-peak, which did not exist under previous Marriott terms and will surely be exploited by properties. And the the massive onslaught of Platinum members into the system that will make upgrades for *everyone* including Platinum Premier and above more difficult to achieve. The new coupon system will essentially mean 5 or 10 suite nights per year and no more.

  37. Has any merger ever benefited anyone? Perhaps Lucky and the other 100+ night a year crowd are delighted (for the moment until the devaluation of the award chart hits home).

    I moved to Hilton last year and am still holding onto 90K Marriott points until I can figure out how to use them. And I will unload my Marriott card as soon as I complete my last stay. I’m very happy with Hilton so far.

  38. @lucky Will the nights credits remain stack-able across the Marriott and SPG cards for the remainder of 2018? I’ve received 15 nights from my Marriott Personal, 5 nights from both my SPG Personal and Biz and should receive my 15 for my Marriott Personal in Aug/Sept.

  39. What happens if you hit the old Marriott LTP qualification after August 1 but before December 31? Will you still get grand fathered into the new LTPP…? I’m trying to figure out whether or not I need to start hustling…

  40. Who loses? Those who buy SPG points when they’re on sale. I can’t imagine the combined program selling 90K Marriott points at 0.75 cent a point.

    AmEx also loses. The SPG AmEx card is raising spend to $35K for dishwater gold? Who would go for that? Especially with the devaluation of SPG earn. And AmEx Platinum gets much harder to justify. Did AmEx get played? Or did they just not have the leverage in negotiations?

    I’m not flouncing away from the combined program. But, I expect that the value proposition is going to mean that Hilton Diamond will get some of my dollars that I would have previously spent on old Marriott Gold.

  41. Still not crystal clear if Amex Plat’s who Status matched and are now Marriott Gold – Will they be Platinum from Aug 2018 to Jan 2019??

  42. I’m sure these changes will benefit *some*, but for the vast majority of travelers it’s hard to not see this as a downgrade. I’m Marriott Gold Elite for example and can still not find a single positive change. It seems that in general both programs were pretty popular. So if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Also, could one be grandfathered in for a reservation that was made before the changes were announced?

  43. hi- quick question.

    If i sign up for the Platinum AMEX tonight ( I’m in UK), i get Gold status with SPG which i can match to Marriot Gold which will turn to Marriot Platinum in August?

    just i have a stay booked in Dubai in an SPG property and the cost of the executive lounge upgrade alone that we were paying would pay the £450 Platinum Card fee.


  44. Lucky, what’s the actual elite ratio? You frequently mention the need to cull the “massive” number of folks who will be marriott elites. I absolutely agree that when everyone is elite, no one is. However, as you’ve said, they also have a massive footprint. So I’m curious whether they truly have a disproportionate number of elites staying in any given hotel. How many amex platinum cardholders are there, and how often are they staying at a marriott? It’s clear that by comping people up a level, there will certainly be an unusually large number of platinums versus the long-term intent.

    But let’s have an economics moment: breakfast is costly for properties and this is being strictly limited to those who stay 50 nights+. Bonus points are moderately costly, and for silver this falls. Super-elite benefits offered by spg are being ported over with a $20k spend requirement. Nothing else really costs money, so I doubt this new program is costing owners any more, and as a customer who doesn’t live in hotels (literally or figuratively), I’m neither devastated nor excited.

  45. Well they could have made the requirement an Or points instead of just years, like the Marriott lifetime status was based on before. Certainly less incentive for staying at higher level brands the past several years that have more points might as well just been in a Residence inn they give complimentary breakfast with no status.

  46. Biggest thing here is that SPG non bonus spend is dead. That card will lose a ton of users, at least those that know what they are doing. I will drop mine and use another card like AMEX Everyday. Guessing Marriott understands that fairly well. Earning SPG/Marriott points with credit cards is basically dead for a hobbyist. And that is probably how Marriott wants it, they want people staying at hotels and they pay a ton of points when they do. Hard to blame them.

    I bet establishing 2 Marriott points per dollar was an immense battle with AMEX, they are yet again a huge loser with this.

    A concierge/ambassador is badly needed by Marriott. They stole 200k points from me and I can’t get Rewards to pick up the phone, 3 times I have waited an hour on hold… on a supposedly Platinum call in line. That is pathetic and has really soured me on them. If I had a concierge I would be ok.

  47. Are you sure the match from spg gold to marriott is still working? I checked the link and it redirects. It doesn’t let me match. Been trying this for a few days. The upgrade to spg gold on the amex site was also down last week. I finally got through a few days ago.

  48. Will Elite Qualifying Nights be applied to award/points redemptions under the new program?

    SPG would award EQN’s on award/points redemptions, but Marriott would not.


  49. LOL:
    “That means those who have been using the SPG Amex for everyday spend are going from a card that’s industry leading, to one that’s potentially just average.”

    The notion that in the age of the 3x CSR and 14x HH AMEX Aspire card, or even of the 1.5x no-fee CFU visa, the SPG AMEX was “industry leading” is, at best, highly dubious; at worst, completely wrong.

    An over-hyped card is going from average to subpar would be about right…

  50. BTW, has the claim that UA elites will henceforth be matched to MR Gold Elite been provided in writing anywhere. I have searched but have yet to find it stated factually anywhere…

  51. Anyone who has the SPG Gold through AMEX Platinum and then status matched to Marriott Gold will not be moved to the new Marriott Platinum (courtesy to Head for Points blog on this info!). Apparently SPG status takes the lead and so we will lose out as we will move onto the new Gold level instead, losing a number of benefits. Only if you have earned Marriott Gold will you move to the new Platinum level.
    I have also received an email from SPG which says I will get a revaluation if my miles by 3x!

  52. Another category that comes out poorly is the high spend /low night crowd . For example , you can spend the $20,000 that is required for top tier status but be at Gold level by lacking the 50 nights .Hyatt and Hilton offer an avenue to top tier via base points which are determined by spend.

  53. Liar.

    “Going forward, all co-branded credit cards will offer at most two Marriott points per dollar spent, which is equivalent to two-thirds of a Starpoint. That means those who have been using the SPG Amex for everyday spend are going from a card that’s industry leading, to one that’s potentially just average.”

    You’re saying that earning 2/3 of a point per dollar spent is “potentially just average”.

    That’s complete nonsense. It’s disingenuous. Only a fool, a liar, or someone with a hidden agenda (pushing credit cards even when they suck) would say that.

    You simply can not bring yourself to ever say anything negative about a program when it might have any impact on your ability to suck money from your clueless readers.

    Shame on you. Liar.

  54. So I’m an perennial SPG Gold who normally earns status on stays (rarely nights) and SPG AMEX and Biz AMEX. Who loves the Sheraton lounge access with Biz Amex. And likes earning the 1.25mi/$ for SPG Amex (non-bonus cat.) spend. Now I lose all of this. I’m about 1-2 years away from LT SPG Gold. But will end up with MR Silver (useless).
    I’m also losing 4PM guaranteed checkout which I found quite useful over the years.

    I’ll keep my SPG soon to be MR points for conversion to airline miles. But it sounds like a major change is in order. I’m a mid-range status guy who liked my setup for status/CC benefits and non-bonus cat. spending to airline mile conversion. I’m losing nearly all of this.

    So where are other mid-tier status people headed? Hilton with the Aspire card? I never went Hilton because I liked the SPG airline mi. transfers. But maybe its time to CC spend everything on Chase trifecta, and use HH Aspire for on property spend only? What is everyone else thinking?

  55. @DCS: “An over-hyped card is going from average to subpar would be about right…”.

    Agee however, it seems almost worse than subpar, perhaps fringing on useless!

    I’d love to see a post here of the top ten credit cards (currently being offered) that have gone from great to obsolete. I’m sure this one would be high on the list.

    Hoping the HH Amex Aspire doesn’t end up in the trash heap of useless cards.

  56. @dko3tgk I’m not sure. My family likes staying at Marriott, Hyatt, and haven’t done Hilton in awhile. We also have the Chase trifecta and it has been good and flexible for our purposes. Tend to stick to Southwest for our flights, and I’m not seeing another airline that would really be a good fit for us right now.

    Have the SPG for non-bonused spend, but the new gold will not be worth it to us, and I don’t know that keeping all of my regular spending on the card will result in a worthwhile payout.

    I think until I see the new categories in June, I will continue as I am and use the Chase trifecta when the category is relevant/Freedom Unlimited if AmEx isn’t accepted, and stockpile as many SPG points as I can ahead of August.

  57. @DCS – I absolutely agree about your blogosphere assessment and love fest with SPG and ex-affair with Hyatt.

    The bloggers hated WOH changes (because it down graded them as well) but love this change (because it affects most others but not them).

    Bottom line is people can say what they want about HH but it’s an industry leading program. While others chip away Hilton builds up.

    I have never understood unless bound by your business why people would chose Marriott unless you’re staying at the JW. It is a very inconsistent brand across the board. You all will love Hilton but don’t all be tromping over at once. Marriott did throw you a pittance (Platinum for 4 or 5 months).

  58. I must admit I was always a fan of the SPG properties when I occasionally stayed there.

    It’s a shame instead of building up to SPG standards they’re choosing to bring them down to Marriotts. Reminds me of DP and his dismantling of AA.

    And why in the h$&@ do you do this in Aug. I get the whole FY thing but I’m sorry this should have been a CY change which goes into effect in 19. All you’re doing is pudding off your loyal by giving this “half baked platinum upgrade”.

  59. @Kacie I meant what to do after August, not right away. I’m losing all benefits as a SPG Gold as of August, and the SPG Biz Amex won’t have Sheraton lounge access, and I won’t earn the current 1.25mi/$.

    I don’t see the point of MR/SPG Gold status at all after August. What to do next about choice of hotel program?

    What are other mid-tier status people doing after August?

  60. The credit card offerings really are disappointing, especially the “premium” card with the same earn rate at the mass market one(s).

    As much as I love Amex, this is probably the end my of spend on their cards, aside from the odd Amex offer. I can’t justify earning only 2 Marriott points (rather than 1 SPG) for the sake of diversifying my point holdings when I could have 1.5 UR instead.

  61. Looks like I will be moving my non bonus spend to Chase Freedom, but Ill probably keep the spg card for the “free” night . I also might need to reevaluate my amex plat. I originally planned on keeping it for just one year and downgrading it but I found lots of value in having access to lounges at some properties. Now that that is gone I will have to crunch the numbers to see if it is worth keeping. I think I will explore staying at Hilton properties more often.

  62. @dko3gk
    I migrated to Hilton last year. I’m about a 24 day/year guest and the Aspire card works well for me.

  63. Time to think the herd according to who actually brings money to the table. Sick and tired of all these ‘elites’ watering down rewards programs.

  64. As a frequent Delta flier, I earned 20,000 SPG points via crossover rewards in 2017. I really hope the crossover rewards sticks around in some iteration, although I view this as unlikely given the existing Marriott/Untied relationship.

  65. The thrill of the SPG program is gone . . . you can sense it on every blog in the “replies.”

    Maybe the program will still work out just fine for TPG, Lucky, and the rest of the Platinum+ bloggers/readers. And based on an 80/20 rule for company profits, maybe that’s also appropriate and the majority of Marriott’s point.

    There is, however, no denying the fact that the Starwood program has now been devalued for us all. Marriott is moving to three-tier pricing in points for free rooms; a standard price and then peak and off-peak rates coming next year. I find it doubtful we can get 3 cents per point any longer when booking free rooms. And exactly what will a 35k “free night” using credit cards even mean? As the largest hotel chain, availability will clearly be there but what of its quality?

    A huge gift has been given to Chase – the CSR/CSP/CFU cards will replace SPG AMEX non-bonus spend for the savvy who have/are eligible for those cards, Sapphire is now king. Marriott wants to go all-out economics & devalue Gold status & below. . . well, back at ya.

  66. @Daniel W –
    Marriott certainly does not agree with you. They have no respect for folks who bring real money to the table . No recognition and no path to high tier elite status for high spending guests . Certainly a shame .

  67. Another nail in the coffin of Amex SPG cards… Canadian version just got new sign-up bonus: $100 statement credit after meeting minimum spend. And that is on $120 anuual fee card.

    Whatever fight was on, Amex lost, and it lost badly.

  68. Marriott has made a huge mistake with the Gold status benefits . To stay 49 nights a year with an average spend of ( $14700USD) and not be offered a choice benefit to include breakfast is uncompetitive . Hilton will benefit from this dilution of Gold benefits.It would seem Marriott have decided to dismiss and disrespect loyalty achieving less than 50 nights per year.

  69. @Lucky, do you know if lifetime SPG points will count towards Marriott Lifetime status in 2018? i.e. when all SPG points are converted to Marriott points, will they add all earned SPG points to calculate if we have required points to earn the lifetime status? Also, with the Chase Premier card, for each $3,000 spent you were credited one night towards elite status, will that remain?


  70. @Donna: “Hoping the HH Amex Aspire doesn’t end up in the trash heap of useless cards.”

    Under Hilton’s guidance, AMEX has played smart with the Aspire. The two companies partnered in introducing the most exciting co-brand loyalty card in the history of the “game” and then purposely decided to keep travel bloggers as far away from it as possible.

    To this day, no blogger that does significant business with AMEX has written about the ASPIRE because it’s verboten! Moreover, AMEX has purposely not released a commission-earning link for the ASPIRE because this truly unique card is not to be treated and cheapened like any other card that can be churned and abused. AMEX is not interested in quantity for the ASPIRE. They prefer quality, meaning that they are interested in catering only to serious folks who would apply for the ASPIRE card because of its superlative benefits and not because its huge signup bonus. AMEX, in fact, adopted the same subdued approach, although less so, with the other cards in their new folio of HH co-branded cards.

    Bottom line: Not to worry. The ASPIRE is here to stay because the loyalty savvy of Hilton Honors is guiding and keeping in check AMEX’s worst impulses.


  71. @Lucky
    1. What happens to lifetime Gold SPG members who achieved this through purchase of a Starwood timeshare?

    2. If I already have Gold as a Marriott member due to my lifetime SPG gold, will I be upgraded to Platinum?

  72. @MikeT –
    Absolutely spot on ! It’s all about the nights and no respect for revenue . I am over the spend you mention in less than half the nights you mention . Yet , I will be a Gold in the new program with few real benefits . At least in my case , Hyatt is the way to go – easily hit the base points via spend to get top tier and Globalist at Hyatt has some very nice substantial benefits . Have already reached out to Hyatt and booked a 4 figure dollar Park Hyatt stay in a city where that stay would have gone to a Ritz or JW.

  73. I’ll be getting rid of both my AMEX SPG cards come August- Personal & Business – I love AMEX BUT the devaluation is just too steep – and the removal of lounge access at Sheraton ridiculous! people will drop these cards.

    – so I’ll be focusing on using my Chase Sapphire Reserve and my Hilton card instead.

    AMEX will get hit HARD!!!! too bad – they still have time to re-negotiate back to the 3 points per dollar – but doubtful that will happen. I bet they lose 150K plus cardholders!

  74. Thank you for at least providing some balance to the debate. I felt yesterday’s article was very one-sided although factual so that at least is appreciated.

    I acknowledge the point that having a pool of elites that’s too big is probably undesirable but you have to remember some of the elites don’t get massive privileges and it doesn’t cost much to furnish them. For example, does a welcome drink cost much? Does an upgrade to a slightly better room (and I don’t mean a suite or a room with club access) really cost much if it’s not being used? Did the 50% points bonus for Gold Members really hurt them?

    If Marriott have enough 100 night a year customers to fill their hotels then that’s great but as far as I am concerned they have really alienated the modest but loyal customers, who try to do as many business stays as possible within the constraints of a company travel programme and who are not super wealthy and can’t take more than two or three weeks of vacation and a few weekend breaks a year. There is no way I can get any status based on nights unless its a very cheap hotel chain (hence my Platinum with IHG who have corporate rates with my company). The removal of status based on nights is a big issue and as far as I am concerned SPG Golds have been the hardest hit of any actual customer of Marriott (by which I mean everyone except those who get status solely through credit cards).

    The more I have thought about this the angry I have become. I really feel now like ditching Marriott completely from now on, because my quest for meaningful lifetime status is over no matter what I do. I need to spend some time learning about the competing options before I make a decision but my two choices are: make Gold on stays this year and enjoy one year of Platinum next year or cash everything in after August for airline miles (with bonus) and ditch Marriott in 2018. Either way, I can see no way that I will stay with Marriott after the end of 2019 unless they radically change their mind on some of their proposals.

  75. The United match to new Marriott Gold only makes sense. United only gave Silver (which does not give lounge access on international travel) so why should Marriott give hotel Lounge access. Lounges are too crowded already.

    The way I read it – no LT Plats or LT PP get suite upgrades unless earned by nights (50/75). Then not really much difference between Plat and PP – other than a few extra bonus points. Seems like they could have given LT PP 5 nights (just skip the first 50 tier) (5 instead of 10).

    I guess they are copying United, no GPU’s unless you earn 100K miles and 12K spend.

  76. Thank you for all this info. You’re my go to travel resource. I never stayed at a Marriott until I received the MR Gold status as a UA Gold/million miler. But since then I’ve stayed at Marriott exclusively worldwide for the lounge access and upgrades. I’m also amex platinum. The new Marriott gold appears worthless so I’ll be transitioning to Hilton though not happy as I’d gotten to really like Marriott and gave them lots of business, but not enough to qualify through nights because I have a life now (unlike when I traveled weekly for biz). Thanks again for the info!

  77. @Philco
    I am in a similar situation as you. Currently I split my business spending between Amex SPG and Chase Freedom Unlimited, with about 70% already going to Chase as the Amex spend is limited on Plastiq to certain merchant types.
    I was considering moving the SPG Amex spend to the new Barclay Arrival Premier card. At least a bit over 1.4 miles per dollar, although transfer partners are not the best (I would love to see Miles and More and AA). I don’t want to go all-in with Chase…
    What are your thoughts?

  78. This is not a Full review since there is no coverage of how Marriott will stack which hotels against 1-8 slots.

    This is exactly why Marriott did not do this now.

    When they do that, they will screw us all.

  79. I think it’s being fair… Mostly. I was already on the fence with the Amex Platinum, and just downgraded today to Gold for the better points accrual. The other benefits did not pay off for me.

  80. Easy decision to move my non-CSR spend from SPG Personal/Biz to EDP/Plat Biz. I’d bet Marriott knows the volume spenders will move on and they’re OK with it.

    And, after a couple of years hitting $75k spend on the Ritz card and almost never being able to upgrade or book the suites/connecting rooms I wanted with awards I gave up. I choose properties on service and convenience regardless of brand and book the rooms I want.

  81. “obviously no program will be great for everyone. That’s simply not possible.” Why not Lucky?

    Did Marriott have to screw the mid tier members to the benefit of higher tiers? Bring on the 1% and let the 99% support them.

  82. I have earned Marriott Lifetime Platinum status twice over- I have openly questioned Marriott as to what incentive I have to keep staying, so frankly I’ve stopped being loyal and stay at Hilton a lot more now.

    But this program change has me ready to abandon my disloyal ways and come running back.

    For that I say, bravo! A loyalty program that inspires loyalty at all levels!

    I could not have designed something better myself. Other than the ambassador thing, not sure if that would be helpful- I’d rather a one stop “make it right” desk when delivery goes wrong (like my Marriott tonight in Mexico, which cannot help but over charge me each stay if I don’t fight the bill).

  83. Christina isn’t the only one to want to know about Amtrak. Will it remain a transfer partner?

  84. @Michael

    “I could not have designed something better myself.”

    Really? You must be the only one on here that couldn’t.

    Bye bye Marriott. Bye bye SPG.

  85. @Liam: Don’t be a dick. It makes you look like an ass.

    No one forces you to come here and read anything on Lucky’s site.

  86. “Marriott lifetime Platinum members are being grandfathered into Marriott lifetime Platinum Premier members, while SPG lifetime Platinum members have no way of earning that, even if they’ve way overqualified”

    With 1,300 SPG nights and 10+ years of SPG membership, that’s my complaint, coupled with SPG Platinums effectively being pushed down a level with Platinum 75+ a new official level.

    I expect my suite upgrade rate to decline even further . . .

  87. Overall, not bad. The credit card earning devaluation will hit me badly. We have been putting ~$500k/year of business spending on the SPG card. I don’t travel so much these days so the ability to earn plat through spending will be useful. Of course, I will be diversifying now. More Freedom Unlimited, but staying at Hyatt without status is not as enjoyable. So Hilton and Aspire will finally be part of the mix. We will see how much more than $75K gets put on the Marriott card (I am assuming that just using my RC card is sufficient). While the “1.25” transfer to flights is no longer exciting, it is still valuable to have the ability to transfer points to airlines that no one else offers. But, since we are getting less than a mile per penny, it now makes sense to spend on airline cards directly: AA, LF, AS. Not looking forward to all the annual fees though I churn as much as I am allowed.

  88. Just talked to Vistana ans they are TOTALLY confused. Anyone owning vacation ownership should call them and COMPLAIN. They are saying they will be converting ownership to “Starpoints” as usual at same rates even after August and in 2019. After a battle of semantics the manager said their system will not change=100,000 Starpoints will convert to 100,000 “points” in new program- “we have nothing to do with how they handle transfers” – I continued to argue my point on 3 for 1 and she said “we are not changing or its not a devaluation”?? we’ll send over the same # of Starpoints as before and they can do whatever they want. I reminded her they wont be the same value (1=3) I said 100K will mean you transfer 300K “points”in the new system – she said, NO that is incorrect – we’ll only transfer “100K Starpoints” not points – and back and forth. She told me “I” was confused. Seems like they are WAY confused. Does anyone know what the new system will be for Starwood Vacation Ownership /SPG point conversions? Lucky? They have “Vistana” logo on the SPG site as a partner – but Vistana is clueless and says “their” Starpoints will stay the same and they wont be using a new system. What does that mean? If you have SVO/Vistana ownership I urge you to call and COMPLAIN!

  89. Thanks for the info Lucky. I have not been able to figure out how I will fare after August as I am currently a platinum premier and that doesn’t seemed to be listed as a category that maps into a new category in the new program. Any idea?

  90. Certainly as a SPG Gold for the las 15 years, I enjoyed very much the 4pm late check out. As virtually all of my travel is business, this came handy.

    Now, this will go down to 2pm as a Gold … furthermore, I’m a road (runway) warrior, seldom staying more than one night, which makes it most unlikely I qualify for that in the future … (currently about 15 stays=nights at SPG, about 2-3 at Marriott).

    @Lucky: Any suggestions for road warriors in general?

  91. Regarding Vistana this is what I was sent. It looks like the Starpoint conversion value will be tripled

    How does this affect Owners?

    • To align trading values in the combined program, your Starpoints® balance will be multiplied by 3 with a one-time adjustment in August.
    • Whether you own one of our weeks products or new points products, your conversion value will also be adjusted to reflect the new 1:3 change.
    • Owners will retain their existing SPG Gold- or Platinum-level status with loyalty benefits remaining largely intact.
    • The ability to convert a weeks or points product into Starpoints, along with the applicable rules, will remain the same.

  92. The big losers are SPG Plats who can currently rely on a clear upgrade policy to the best room incl. standard suites if available. This will be gone and it will certainly have a huge impact on my choice of hotels. I have been Plat50 for years so they will take away 5 SNAs plus the upgrade policy which was decisive for me. I don‘t seem to be part of the clientele they want to keep.

  93. Its looks like a downgrade is coming to Mileage Plus members. I have been Gold at Marriot for 6 years and 1K at United for seven years. A major reason my company would book Marriot was the free breakfast/lounge access.. especially overseas. I love Marriott, but believe that UAL should rethink its relationship with Marriott. I will if there is devaluation.

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