03 Oct Marriott-Starwood Point Redemption Opportunities
The Marriott-Starwood acquisition is complete and the loyalty program integration has begun! Members of both programs have the ability to link rewards accounts, match status, and transfer points (back-and-forth) between the two programs!
The ability to transfer points between the two programs opens up a world of redemption options with Marriott and Starwood.
In fact, the number of possibilities is OVERWHELMING!
But don’t worry, I gathered my thoughts, and came up with a few good redemption opportunities that this merger provides us… and one not so good redemption idea that you should avoid!
Good Redemptions to Consider –
Programs linked? Check!
Points to be transferred? Check!
Aspirational redemption booked? Hmm not quite yet – let’s take a look at what you can do!
Marriott Flight and Hotel Packages – Redeem Marriott Rewards for 7 nights (or possibly 5 nights) at a Marriott or Ritz Carlton Property and receive the frequent flyer miles of your choice! That’s right – you get 7 nights in a hotel – PLUS frequent flyer miles!
With the SPG transfer option, these packages become very attainable and even more intriguing! Remember – these are the packages that could earn you the Southwest Companion Pass – providing you BOGO free travel for up to 2 years if you redeem in January 2017!
SPG Nights and Flights – Similar to the Marriott Packages above, SPG offers the ability to redeem Starpoints for free nights at a Category 3-4 SPG hotel while earning 50,000 frequent flyer miles in the process!
SPG Transfer to Partner Airlines – Starpoints can be transferred to over 30 airline partners and at an advantageous ratio when transferring in blocks of 20,000 points, where you then receive a 5,000 point transfer bonus – 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 airline miles! This transfer option makes it possible to transfer Marriott Rewards to SPG Starpoints to airline miles!
Marriott Transfer to Partner Airlines – Similar to SPG above, Marriott also has some airline partners that make it possible to transfer Marriott Rewards to airline miles, though based on a quick search, this option really only makes sense when transferring to United through the Rewards Plus program…
SPG and Marriott 5th Night Free Awards – Both programs offer 5th Night free for point redemptions, which provides some great value for longer redemption stays! The transfer ability makes it easier than ever to top off your rewards balance in either of your rewards accounts in order to be able to redeem for a longer stay and take advantage of the 5th Night free!
The opportunities and possibilities are overwhelming and it is going to take me some time to wrap my head around all the new point and mile possibilities provided by this merger!
Example of a Not-so-Good Redemption:
Perhaps you just signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve and are looking to redeem your 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards for some free hotel nights. Marriott Rewards is a Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner. With the merger, Chase Ultimate Rewards can now be transferred to Marriott then onto SPG. But is this a good deal?
In most cases, nah! As far as Chase Hotel Travel partners go, I really prefer Hyatt – since the top tier properties can be redeemed for only 30,000 points transferred from Chase to Hyatt. In general, Marriott is the worst Hotel Transfer partner of Chase, where one night at a top tier Marriott/Ritz Carlton Hotel will cost up to 70,000 points transferred from Chase.
A comparable top tier hotel in the SPG portfolio requires 35,000 points for a one night redemption. This means you would need 105,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards transferred to Marriott, then transferred to SPG at 3:1 – THIS IS BAD!
Long story short, look to Hyatt for the best Hotel Transfer Partner from Chase Ultimate Rewards, then maybe check out the Chase Travel Portal for redemption rates, and then lastly consider the transfer to Marriott/SPG.
Make sure to check out The Frequent Miler’s Complete Guide, who has a great rundown of point earning & redemption opportunities leveraging both Marriott Rewards and SPG Starpoints for maximum value!
And of course, remember…
If you are looking to give your Marriott-Starwood point balances an extra little boost, you have access to a variety of credit card products to choose from!
Chase Marriott Rewards (Personal) – 80,000 Marriott Rewards Points (equal to 26,667 Starpoints) upon spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus 7,500 points for adding an authorized user (equal to 2,500 Starpoints), plus an annual free night at a Category 1-5 Marriott Property – $85 annual fee, NOT waived!
Chase Marriott Rewards (Business) – 80,000 Marriott Rewards Points (equal to 26,667 Starpoints) upon spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus an annual free night at a Category 1-5 Marriott Property – $85 annual fee, NOT waived!
Ritz Carlton Rewards (Personal) from JP Morgan – 3 free nights at a Tier 1-4 Ritz Carlton Property after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, $300 airline fee credit, Club Upgrades, Visa Infinite $100 airfare discount, Marriott Gold Status the first year, and much more – $450 annual fee, NOT waived!
Note: American Express just announced a new bonus of 2 free nights for each of the SPG credit cards. In my opinion, these offers are no good – if you are considering a sign-up, go for the older offer of 25,000 Starpoints (which can be worth 75,000 Marriott Rewards)!
SPG (Personal) from American Express – 25,000 Starpoints (equal to 75,000 Marriott Rewards) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months – $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
SPG (Business) from American Express – 25,000 Starpoints (equal to 75,000 Marriott Rewards) after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months – $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
Which of these cards am I considering? I’m glad you asked! Here is what I am eyeing and why:
- Ritz Carlton Rewards card – I know that I can find good use for 3 Free Ritz Carlton Nights!
- Business version of the SPG card – those 25,000 Starpoints can be transferred to 75,000 Marriott Rewards, which will give me a nice boost to 2 free nights for a planned trip to Hong Kong (at the JW Marriott Hong Kong)!
I love the status match and transfer value, but my favorite aspect of this merger is the redemption opportunities! Whether it be a quick weekend vacation or an aspirational week long stay at a Ritz Carlton Tier 4 Property using Marriott Flight and Hotel Packages!
The possibilities are still overwhelming me, so I definitely plan to take some time to digest the options prior to making redemption decisions.
Overall, I am pleased with the merger and am excited to see what kind of value we can get with all of the new redemption opportunities.
How about you – what are your thoughts on the new reward redemption possibilities!?