Marriott & SPG: New Opportunities Galore

Marriott and SPG officially became one company a week ago (9/23/16). Marriott purchased SPG and the deal finally went through. We will see the eventual combination of Starwood’s loyalty program (Starwood Preferred Guest aka SPG) into Marriott’s Marriott Rewards program. However, this will take some time and in the meantime, they introduced some cross benefits that created some unique opportunities.

Welcome letter the day Marriott and SPG became one company
Welcome letter the day Marriott and SPG became one company

Status Matching

Marriott introduced cross status matching. If you have status with Marriott, you will get equal status with SPG. If you have status with SPG, you will get equal status with Marriott. All you need to do is go to this site and link your SPG and Marriott accounts. Once you do so, your status in the program that you do not have status in will be instantly updated. Brittany was able to do this the day we were checking in to a SPG property to get SPG Platinum status from her Marriott Platinum status. This was able to score us free breakfast during our stay!

One interesting point that jumps out to me is that Marriott has a unique partnership with United. Marriott Platinums get United Silver status automatically. With this status matching, it now means that SPG Platinums can get United Silver status for free as well.

Points Transfer

You can now transfer points freely between your Marriott and SPG accounts in both directions. 1 SPG point transferred into Marriott gets you 3 Marriott points. Consequently, 3 Marriott points transferred into your SPG account gets you 1 SPG point. The ratio is like this because SPG points are the most valuable points currency that exists. What’s interesting to me is that this new option to transfer to Marriott makes SPG points even more valuable than they were before.

1. Low Category Marriotts

Marriott Category 1 properties go for 7,500 points a night. Marriott also offers the 5th night free on an award stay. It costs 30,000 Marriott Rewards points for a 5 night stay at a category 1 Marriott property. This means that it costs only 10,000 SPG points for 5 nights at a category 1 Marriott property.

2. Marriott Flight and Hotel Packages

Marriott offers something called flight and hotel packages. These can be incredibly useful and are something Brittany and I have used 3 times to get a ton of airline miles. The minimum amount of points you need for 1 of these redemptions is 270,000 Marriott Rewards points. This will get you a chunk of airline miles (amount varies based on airline) and 7 nights at a category 1-5 Marriott hotel. This will cost you 90,000 SPG points to redeem.

I would only do the Flight and Hotel package for United MileagePlus or one of the airlines in the Hotel and Air Package 1 or 3. The list below contains all of the programs in all of these categories and the miles/points you would receive.

  • United: 132,000 miles
  • American: 120,000 miles
  • Aeromexico: 120,000 miles
  • Air Canada: 120,00 miles
  • Alaska Airlines: 120,000 miles
  • British Airways: 120,000 Avios
  • Copa Airlines: 120,000 miles
  • Delta: 120,000 miles
  • Frontier: 120,000 miles
  • GOL: 120,000 miles
  • Hawaiian: 120,000 miles
  • Iberia: 120,000 Avios
  • Virgin Atlantic: 120,000 miles
  • Southwest Airlines: 120,000 rapid rewards points

I bolded the airlines that I personally would consider the most valuable. One important note: don’t forget that SPG points transfer 1:1 to most airlines and give a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 you transfer (United transfers at a worse ratio; I’ll talk about this in a later section). If we were to transfer 90,000 SPG points directly to an airline, we would receive 110,000 airline miles (20,000 point conversion bonus). If you transfer to Marriott first, you can get more airline miles and 7 free nights at a Category 1-5 hotel.

3. Southwest Companion Pass

You may have noticed that I bolded and italicized Southwest in the list above. I decided to break that one into its own section to show the importance of how good of a deal this is. If you earn 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in a year, you get something called the companion pass. The companion pass allows you to designate 1 other person as your companion. Then, for the rest of the year in which you earned the pass and the entire following year, whenever you fly Southwest on a cash or points ticket, your companion can fly with you for free. That’s pretty insane!

The best part is that the points transferred in from Marriott’s flight and hotel packages count towards the companion pass! That means 90,000 SPG points can be turned into 270,000 Marriott Rewards points, which can then be redeemed for a Flight and Hotel package with Southwest to instantly get you a companion pass. The best time to do this would be in January so you can have the companion pass the rest of that year and for the entire following year.

4. United Transfers

United was one of the few transfer partners of SPG that did not transfer at a 1:1 rate. You could transfer 2 SPG points into 1 United mile. That was not a good deal at all. However, now you are able to redeem SPG points to United at a better rate than 1:1. If you transfer 19,000 SPG points to Marriott, you will get 57,000 points. You can then redeem 56,000 of those points for 25,000 United miles thanks to United’s unique partnership with Marriott. Normally you can transfer 20,000 miles into 25,000 miles with SPG points (with bonus). Now you can transfer 19,000 SPG points into 25,000 United miles, which was not possible before.

5. Sharing Points

Marriott does not allow people to share points for free (unless they have Platinum status). SPG allows someone to transfer points with 1 member of the same household. If you have Marriott points you wish to transfer to somebody in your household, you could now convert those points to SPG points, share them with the household member, then have the household member transfer them back into their Marriott account.

6. Top Off An Account

I do not consider this to be one of the best uses of this new point conversion opportunity. SPG points transfer to almost every airline. If you have an account in which you only need a few more points for an award, it could make sense to transfer your Marriott points to SPG and then to the airline of your choice.

Conclusion

Both the newly introduced status matching and points conversion has created some pretty amazing opportunities that never existed before. This makes me excited and I already have a few ways I plan on personally taking advantage. There are plenty more new opportunities that I have not talked about here. The above opportunities are simply the ones I found to be the best.

Let me know what you plan on doing with these new opportunities! Is there any great new opportunity that I forgot to mention?

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