For those who regularly transfer hotel points to airline frequent flyer programs, there’s both good news and bad news. The good news is Marriott Rewards will keep the transfer-to-airline-points benefit. But the bad news is the benefit may not necessarily come at the same value as Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.
One of the best uses of SPG points was the ability to use them toward airline rewards. Points could be transferred to over 30 airlines, including American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Avios and Air Canada Aeroplan miles.
But when SPG joins the Marriott Rewards program Aug. 18, your ultimate value from hotel points transfers may vary. Here’s what you need to know.
Transferring hotel points to airline miles under the new Marriott Rewards
When the Marriott and Starwood program unify Aug. 18, all points will turn into Marriott Rewards, with remaining Starpoints converting at a ratio of one Starpoint to three Marriott Rewards points. The combined rewards program will get a new award chart and new tiered benefits for Platinum Elite members. But there will be fewer opportunities to book combined airfare and hotel awards. One thing that will remain is the option to transfer points to airline reward programs.
Under the new program, Marriott Rewards members can transfer their points to the frequent flyer programs of over 40 airlines, including United, Delta, Emirates and Lufthansa. However, they will not transfer at the 1-to-1 ratio that SPG offered. Instead, they will transfer at a rate of three Marriott Rewards points to one airline mile -- the same rate at which Starpoints transferred to Marriott Rewards.
»Learn More: Here's how much your points and miles are worth
Coming over with SPG is the bonus for transferring rewards points to airline frequent flyer programs. For every 60,000 rewards points transferred to an airline program (the equivalent of 20,000 Starpoints), Marriott Rewards will add an additional 15,000 points, for a total of 25,000 miles in the airline program of the guest’s choice.
In addition, Marriott Rewards points will be redeemable for other airport experiences, as well. Members can use points to pay for airport lounge access and TSA PreCheck.
Doing the math on Marriott Rewards airline points transfers
With the transfer chart changing, does it make sense to transfer Marriott Rewards points to airline partners? It depends on several factors, including how badly you need the miles.
Under the new Marriott Rewards award chart, 60,000 miles is enough for a stay at Category 7 hotels (and some Category 8 hotels until early 2019). On the alternate side, those 60,000 points also transfer to 25,000 United MileagePlus miles (if Marriott does not offer a bonus for United miles with the RewardsPlus promotion). And 25,000 United MileagePlus miles are enough for a single domestic economy discount award, which may be worth more than a single night hotel stay.
Travelers who are collecting Marriott Rewards points through a stay or from a travel credit card may be able to take advantage of the transfers more than others. With more opportunities to earn rewards, the points may be more available for mileage transfers.
»Learn More: Five things you need to know about the Marriott-Starwood loyalty program merger.
But transferring to other programs may not be as rewarding. Before making a transfer, be sure to have a goal for using those miles. While transferring a small amount of points may be useful for topping off toward an award, transferring 60,000 points at a time for 25,000 airline miles — a ratio of 2.4 points per one airline mile — may not be as valuable as booking reward nights.
Finally, do not use points to pay for TSA PreCheck or airline lounge access. Many premium credit cards come with both airline lounge access or a one-time credit to enroll in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which represent an overall better value than buying them with Marriott Rewards points.
» Learn more: Find the best hotel credit card for you
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:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card