Members of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest now know when the three rewards programs will become one. According to Marriott International, all three will become unified on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018.
The combined program was announced earlier this year, but no date was set for the official switchover. With the merge, frequent guests of each brand will gain the ability to use their points at 6,500 hotels across 29 brands, but will lose benefits unique to each program.
» Learn More: Which kind of traveler benefits most from the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card?
All three programs unified under Marriott Rewards will become simpler to use. Instead of using three different websites to book awards, members will receive one account, member number, profile and login to manage rewards.
In addition to earning up to 10 points per dollar spent on most stays, members will also earn points for all their spending at select properties after the programs merge. Qualifying charges include food or drink at hotel restaurants, spa services, as well as up to 5,000 points on Hertz rentals.
However, Starwood Preferred Guest members may find their points were not as valuable as they once were. On Aug. 18, all points will turn into Marriott Rewards, with remaining Starpoints converting at a ratio of one Starpoint to three Marriott Rewards points.
How to prepare
Before moving to a single loyalty program, members of all three can make the most of their points by preparing for the shift:
- Book awards before Aug. 18
When the unified program goes live, all hotels will be unified under one award chart. In this situation, some reward prices will increase. To ensure you get the best rate, be sure to compare the current and future award chart to understand the most effective use of all your points.
- Before and after: 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.
- Prepare for downtime on Aug. 18
As with any transition, technology downtime is to be expected. Marriott is asking guests to avoid logging into their accounts or booking awards when the new award chart goes live. The system transition will start at 6 a.m. Eastern time and is expected to affect the website and call centers for most of the day.
- Check lifetime elite status before switchover
Those who have lifetime status with either Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest should check their progress before the merge is complete 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.
- Book Marriott Travel Packages before Aug. 18
Finally, if you have any Marriott Travel Packages outstanding, consider using the certificates before Aug. 18. In a statement to NerdWallet, a spokewoman for Marriott Rewards confirmed unused certificates from the Chase Marriott Rewards Card will convert to their points equivalent. This will also apply to Marriott Travel Experiences certificates.
“We are encouraging members with existing travel package certificates to book before August 18,” the spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement. “We are currently working on a post-August 18 solution for those who haven’t attached stays to their existing certificates.”
Feature image and reward chart courtesy Marriott International
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2018, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®).
- Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (Earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase).
- Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Get 3 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases).
- No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card (Earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, with no annual fee).
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Get 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, plus get access to the Global Lounge Collection). Terms Apply.
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card: Good Fit for Loyal Travelers
7 Guaranteed Ways to Find Cheap Hotel Rooms
5 Items That Make Any Hotel Room Feel Like Home