Members of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest were unified under one program on Aug. 18, 2018.
With the merger, frequent guests of each brand have gained the ability to use their points at 6,500 hotels across 29 brands, but will lose the unique benefits of each program. The first few days after the merger were rocky as members flagged issues when accessing accounts and transferring Marriott Rewards points to frequent-flyer programs, but progress is being made.
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All three programs unified under Marriott Bonvoy will become simpler to use. Instead of managing multiple accounts to book awards, members now have one account, member number, profile and login to manage their points and rewards.
In addition to earning up to 10 points per dollar spent on most stays, members now also earn points for all their spending at select properties under the single program. Qualifying charges include food or drink at hotel restaurants, spa services, as well as up to 5,000 points on Hertz rentals.
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However, Starwood Preferred Guest members may discover that their points aren't as valuable as in the past. All Starpoints have converted into Marriott Rewards at a ratio of one Starpoint to three Marriott Rewards points.
What members can do now
Check awards for lower pricing. When the hotels shift categories, not all will increase in price. Some will align in lower categories, meaning planned or booked awards may drop in price. Before committing to an award, check the new award chart to see if your points can go even further.
Manage expectations during the transition. As with any transition, technology downtime is to be expected. While travelers can still view and book awards, lifetime elite status and current night credits may not be visible for the near future.
Check lifetime elite status. Those who have lifetime status with either Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest should check their accounts to ensure they are getting the optimal status. While those with lifetime Gold or Platinum in SPG will automatically get the same lifetime status in Marriott Rewards, those who have 750 nights and 10 years of platinum by the end of 2018 will get grandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite.
Decide how to manage Marriott Travel Packages. If you have any outstanding Marriott Travel Packages in Category 6 or Category 8, or former Ritz-Carlton Tiers 1-3, it’s possible to get a partial points refund. Those holding these awards can request a one-time exchange for a Travel Package one tier lower and 30,000 Marriott Rewards points. To request an exchange and refund, visit marriott.com to submit a request. For those who bought high and didn’t have a use for their certificates, this can be a great way to ensure maximum value. Not only can travelers keep their airline miles earned from a Marriott Travel Package, but also get 30,000 points back — enough for a one-night stay at up to a Category 4 hotel.
Sign up for RewardsPlus with Marriott and United Airlines. Finally, if you have recently earned Platinum Elite status in the new Marriott Rewards now is a good time to redeem your crossover rewards with United Airlines. Through their RewardsPlus program, Marriott Rewards Platinum Elite members qualify for complimentary Premier Silver status at United, with a reciprocal status match to be announced by United. In addition, members of both programs can stretch their points and miles further through free transfers. Those with Marriott Rewards points can transfer them to United MileagePlus to use on flights, while those with extra MileagePlus miles can transfer them to Marriott for use toward future hotel rooms.
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Photo courtesy of Marriott International
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card