Tags Posts tagged with "Marriott"


Marriott and Starwood have merged. With admirable speed, Marriott has announced that you can now status match between the two rewards programs and transfer your Marriott points to Starpoints or vice versa, and that the programs will remain separate until at least 2018.


I’ll break down the news from the perspective of how to maximize the separate programs.

Status Match Angle

This one is a no-brainer. Link your Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts now, so that any status you have in either program matches to the other program.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-2-33-05-pm For instance, I am an SPG Gold member, and now I am Marriott Gold member too.
screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-2-35-04-pm That’s pretty nice since Marriott Gold is better than SPG Gold and includes free breakfast and club access.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-2-38-14-pmBelow is a table of how the statuses match. The only complaint would be from top-top tier elites who only match the top of the other program and not the enhanced top of the other program reserved for those who spend half their lives in hotels.


United Angle

United has a partnership with Marriott. If you’re United Gold or higher, you get Marriott Gold Status, which means you can match to SPG Gold also and have mid-tier status at two chains without ever having made a paid stay.

If you’re a Marriott Platinum member, you get United Silver elite status. So if you have SPG Platinum, match to Marriott Platinum and claim your United Silver status.

American Express Platinum Angle

If you have any American Express Platinum (the best one is currently the Mercedes-Benz AMEX Platinum), you can get free SPG Gold status–that’s how I have mine. You can match that to Marriott Gold Status.

Combining Stays for Status?

Sorry, no dice here. (The third loyalty program referenced is Ritz-Carlton Rewards, which has been maintained separately of Marriott Rewards despite the companies’ prior merger.)


Points Transfer Angle

Once you link your accounts, you can transfer from Marriott to SPG at a 3:1 ratio or the other way at a 1:3 ratio. There are a lot of times you’d want to do this.

Hotel Booking

If you have an upcoming hotel stay that you want to book with points, go to both sites and check your award options. All other things equal, if the Marriott option is less than three times the number of points, you might want to transfer from SPG to Marriott to make the booking. But if the Marriott option is more than three times the number of points, you might want to transfer from Marriott to SPG.

SPG Chart
Marriott Chart

At the top end, Marriott free hotel nights will be a better deal. At the bottom end, SPG free nights will often be a better deal.

SPG to Marriott for Hotel + Air (including Southwest Companion Pass)

The best value redemption of Marriott points is Hotel + Air packages. You redeem a certain number of Marriott points for seven free nights at a Marriott or Ritz Carlton hotel plus a certain number of miles in the airline program of your choosing. Here is the chart to convert Marriott points to Southwest Rapid Rewards.


Along the left, you see the Category of the Marriott hotel or Tier of the Ritz Carlton hotel where you’d get your seven free nights. Along the top, you see the number of Southwest points you’d get.

For 270,000 Marriott points, transferred from 90,000 Starpoints, you can get a week in a Category 5 Marriott and 120,000 Rapid Rewards and a Southwest Companion Pass valid until December 31 of the next year.

The Rapid Rewards are worth about 1.4 cents each ($1,680), and the Companion Pass gets a designated person onto Southwest flights for free (plus taxes of $5.60 one way on domestic flights and a little more internationally) every time you fly Southwest, whether you book your ticket with cash or your 120,000 new Southwest points.

Read more about the Southwest Companion Pass (and other ways to get it) here. For those with a regular companion who like to go where Southwest flies, the Companion Pass is the best deal in travel.

To maximize this deal, you’d want to redeem for the Hotel + Air package in January 2017 or January 2018 to get the companion pass for two full years. Redeeming now would get the Companion Pass for only 15 months.

If you don’t want a Southwest Companion pass, you can redeem a Hotel + Air package for dozens of airlines’ miles.


You get 10% more miles if you choose United miles because of the special Marriott-United relationship.

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18,667 SPG to Marriott to 25,000 United Miles

While SPG points have a great transfer rate of 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 miles with a few dozen airlines–my favorites being Asiana, American, and Alaska–United is not on that list. Twenty thousand Starpoints is a measly 12,500 United miles.

Now, with an intermediate step, you can turn SPG points into United miles at a better rate.

  1. Transfer 19,000 SPG points to 57,000 Marriott points
  2. Transfer 1,000 Marriott back to 333 Starpoints (necessary step because the starting amount of transfers from each program has to be an even thousand)
  3. Transfer 56,000 Marriott (18,667 Starpoints) to 25,000 United miles

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Or you can turn 8,000 Starpoints into 10,000 United miles.

Speculative Transfers

I value SPG points at 2.5 cents and Marriott points at 0.8 cents.

My SPG valuation is pretty steady no matter how many you have because SPG points are valuable for free nights, Cash & Points stays, transfers to airline miles, SPG moments, and Nights & Flights awards.

My Marriott valuation changes a lot depending on how many you have. If you only have a few thousand, you can really only redeem for free nights, and I’d value your points around 0.5 cents. If you have enough to book Hotel + Air packages, a few hundred thousand points or more, then I’d value the points at 0.8 cents or even higher.

Your valuations may differ.

Under my valuations, there is some value in transferring 3 Marriott points to 1 SPG point. If you’re afraid that transfers will be cut off without notice, or the ratio will change, maybe you should transfer speculatively. I don’t see either thing happening, though, so I think there is no point in speculative transfers. Keep your balances as they are until you see an arbitrage opportunity for on an immediate redemption.

Credit Card Angle

Until at least 2018, we will see the Marriott and SPG credit cards stick around.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-2-37-24-pm You’ll want to get all the cards before 2018 when one or more might be killed off. Right now the SPG personal and business cards each offer 25,000 SPG points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The Marriott card offers 87,500 Marriott points after spending $3,000 in the first three months and adding an authorized user.

After meeting minimum spending requirements, you’d have:

  • 56,000 SPG and 90,500 Marriott points
  • or 86,000 SPG points
  • or 258,500 Marriott points (which is just $4,000 more in spending on an SPG card short of the best Hotel + Air package values which cost 270,000 points)

Bottom Line

In the long run, it’s bad for our rewards when hotels or airlines merge. It means less competition and less need for the airlines or hotels to offer lucrative rewards programs.

But for the next two years or more, there will be a lot of ways to take advantage of the Marriott-Starwood merger by combining points and matching status.

Hat Tip Dan’s Deals


The Chinese insurance company Anbang has topped Marriott’s latest bid for Starwood, the company that manages these hotel brands.

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This soap opera has been ongoing since November when Marriott offered $72.08 per share for Starwood. Anbang and Marriott have gone back and forth with the latest Anbang offer worth $82.75 per share.

I haven’t been covering the twists and turns and won’t cover them again until a sale is completed. When that happens, we will have plenty of time to sort out what that means for our SPG points.

I am rooting for SPG to remain independent (either not be purchased or purchased by the Chinese company) over a Marriott purchase because Marriott’s points are worth about 0.5 cents each while SPG points are worth 2.5 cents each. I see a Marriott purchase as a death sentence for the SPG program as we know it, though one in which execution will be stayed for at least a year from the purchase announcement.


Marriott has announced a deal to buy Starwood Hotels. The deal still has to get shareholder and regulatory approval, so this is not a done deal, but I thought I’d offer some preliminary thoughts.

Marriott buying Starwood is bad for miles and points enthusiasts.

Starwood has a far more lucrative program, SPG. I value SPG Starpoints at 2.5 cents each because they can be used on a very cheap award chart for free nights, starting at 2,000 points per night; used for Cash & Points nights, which offer some good values to stretch your points for more hotel nights at the cost of a cash co-pay; or transferred at a rate of 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 American Airlines, Alaska, and Asiana miles to just name my three favorite options.

Marriott’s points are worth 0.8 cents each to me. They can be used on a much more expensive award chart or transferred at a worse rate than Starpoints to airline miles.

We don’t know for sure what Marriott would do with the SPG program. It could continue to run SPG independently of Marriott Rewards, keeping SPG’s value intact. However, I highly doubt Marriott would keep SPG around for two reasons related to the two companies’ current sizes and one reason common to all mergers.

  1. As the bigger program and surviving brand, Marriott Rewards would probably swallow SPG.
  2. Because SPG was so small, it needed to engender loyalty, since it couldn’t compete on the number of hotel options it offered in each city. This is why SPG was the most valuable program, because it had to be. As part of the largest hotel chain in the world (the new Marriott), the loyalty program would no longer need to be so lucrative.
  3. Mergers mean less competition, which means less need to offer a lucrative program.

Instead I anticipate SPG to operate as a separate program in much the same form as it does now until integration between the two companies. At that point, your SPG account will merge with your Marriott Rewards account and your SPG Starpoints will be forcibly converted to Marriott points. The ratio is harder to predict.

If Marriott tried to convert Starpoints to Marriott points at a 1:1 rate, people would revolt since SPG points are about three times as valuable as Marriott points. Instead, I could see Marriott converting SPG points to Starpoints at a 2:3 or 1:2 ratio. They could spin at as a great deal (“we’ll give you 50% more Marriott points when we convert your Starpoints”) while actually offering a terrible deal.

I will keep abreast of the latest news on the purchase of Starwood by Marriott and continue to share it here.


Transfer hotel points to United miles by August 31, 2015 for a 25% bonus of United miles.

  • You must register here before transferring to get the bonus miles.
  • The bonus is capped at 20,000 bonus United miles.
  • Here are the participating hotel points partners.

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All of the hotel partners offer a terrible rate except for Marriott. (For instance, 20,000 Starpoints = 15,625 United miles after this bonus.)

Marriott and United have an enhanced partnership, so Marriott offers a very fair rate on United transfers. With a RewardsPlus transfer, you can transfer 56,000 Marriott points to 31,250 United miles after bonus or 112,000 Marriott points to 62,500 United miles after bonus. In general, I’d value Marriott points at 0.4 cents and United miles at 1.5 cents, so those are good deals.

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With a RewardsPlus Hotel + Air Package, you can do even better. With these deals, you get seven free nights at the hotel category listed plus the number of United miles listed at the top of the table.

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Remember that the 25% bonus is capped at 20,000 bonus miles, so choosing a “7 Nights + 110,000 Miles” or “7 Nights + 132,000 Miles” will result in far less than 25% bonus United miles. But those are still the best options. You’ll notice that as you move left-to-right in a row, get 1.1 extra miles for each 1 point spent before the current bonus promotion. That’s an insane value since, as I already noted, United miles are far more valuable than Marriott points.

How should you use your United miles? For international economy awards, United BusinessFirst and Global First awards, and these Six Under-Priced Awards on the United Chart. Check out my Basics of United MileagePlus post for more info.

Updated June 4: Hilton has moved up its free wifi to today from its originally announced date of August 1.

Hilton, Hyatt, SPG, Marriott, IHG, and Fairmont all offer free internet in their hotels worldwide if you meet certain easy conditions. Finally the great hotels of the world are catching up with a standard benefit of hostels for the last decade. 😉

Hilton now offers free wifi as of June 4, 2015 to all Hilton HHonors members who book their stay through a Hilton-controlled channel (like hilton.com, the Hilton app, or by contacting the hotel itself.) Join Hilton HHonors free here. Diamonds will get premium internet. All other members will get basic internet. Hilton operates the following brands:

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Hyatt offers free wifi in lobbies and guest rooms worldwide since February 1, 2015. This applies no matter how you book your room–yes even if you use Priceline–and even if you are not a member of the Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program. Hyatt operates the following brands:

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SPG offers free internet access since February 2, 2015. The free internet is only available to SPG members who book their stay through SPG.com or other SPG owned channels (ie the SPG app or sheraton.com.) Join SPG for free here. SPG operates the following brands:

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Marriott offers free internet access since January 15, 2015. The free internet is only available to Marriott Rewards members who book their stay through marriott.com or other Marriott owned channels (ie by phone or directly with the hotel.) Join Marriott Rewards for free here. Marriott operates the following brands:

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IHG has long offered free internet to IHG Rewards club members no matter how their stay is booked. Join IHG Rewards for free here. IHG operates the following brands:

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Fairmont has long offered free internet to Fairmont President’s Club members no matter how their stay is booked. Join Fairmont President’s Club for free here. Fairmont operates the following brands:

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This is great news for travelers. In the United States, I never bought internet from hotels anymore, opting to tether my laptop to my phone, but abroad I was often stuck paying 10 to 15 euros per day at hotels. I look forward to free internet at hotels worldwide for the rest of my life.


Today ends the fourth of five weeks of discounted travel packages from the US Travel Association called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will often sell out in a few minutes. Every weekend I’ll preview the deals for the next week, and the morning of interesting deals, I’ll have a full write up.

Today only, Marriott eGiftCards are 20% off.

Today’s deal is:

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You can buy five of the $100 gift cards, two of the $500 gift cards, and one of the $1,000 gift cards. That means you can purchase $2,500 in gift cards for $2,000. These eGiftCards are delivered electronically and do not expire.

The gift cards can be used at the following brands:

  • JW Marriott®
  • Autograph Collection® Hotels
  • Renaissance® Hotels
  • AC Hotels by MarriottSM
  • Marriott Hotels & Resorts®
  • Gaylord Hotels®
  • Courtyard® by Marriott
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites® by Marriott
  • SpringHill Suites® by Marriott
  • Residence Inn® by Marriott
  • TownePlace Suites® by Marriott
  • Marriott Vacation ClubSM
  • And participating hotel outlets: retail, spa, golf and food and beverage.

My Plan

I’m out. I don’t book (m)any paid stays at Marriotts. If you do stay at Marriotts, this deal is a no-brainer to purchase gift cards and lock in a 20% savings on future stays.

Will This Deal Sell Out?

Yes, very quickly.

What Cards to Use to Purchase Daily Getaways

  • You can redeem Arrival miles from the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® to eliminate the cost of your package.
  • You can earn 3x ThankYou Points per dollar by purchasing the packages with a Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.
  • You can earn 2x Ultimate Rewards per dollar by purchasing the packages with a Chase Sapphire Preferred.


Purchasing the Packages

To maximize your chances of getting in on the deal, I recommend using a site like whattimeisit.com to figure out the official time. The sale starts at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT / 7 AM HT. This year’s sales all started on time to the second. Keep refreshing the deal page until you see the BUY NOW button replace the SEE DETAILS button.

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This is what happens if you try to purchase something when all quantities are already in someone’s cart.

This doesn’t mean the deal is sold out. If someone doesn’t complete his purchase, that quantity will immediately become available for someone else. Keep checking until the dreaded “Sold Out” appears.

Key Links

Do you plan to buy Marriott eGiftCards? Post your successful or failed attempt in the comments, so we can gauge how quick you had to be to snag a deal.



Reader Steve passes along a great deal for people with lots of Marriott points.

Until October 31, 2014, you can get a 20% bonus when you transfer Marriott points to American Airlines miles.

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This includes Marriott-points-to-miles transfers and transfers of Marriott points to hotel and air packages.

  • What are hotel and air packages?
  • Why are hotel and air packages often a better deal than just transferring to miles?
  • What airline transfer partner of Marriott points is always 10-20% better than other options?

The offers listed in this post have expired so their links have been removed. Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

Sometimes I want luxury, and sometimes I want quantity.

Last week I talked about the Three Best Credit Cards for Free Nights in Luxury Hotels.

But what about going to the other end of the award chart? A lot of times when I am traveling I just need a pillow and a roof, since I plan to be out exploring the city all day. What credit card sign up would net me the most free hotel nights? (20 in all!)


Marriott Hotels announced that they are changing the requirements for lifetime elite status. The FlyerTalk thread discussing Marriott lifetime benefits can be found here. Shockingly, the changes are all positive. When word came from a Marriott Rewards forum post that lifetime elite criteria would be changing, there was some apprehension. However, I can tell you that the changes are actually beneficial to travelers. The new requirements are listed below with changes in bold.

Lifetime Silver

250 (previously 600) nights at Marriott properties &  1,200,000 Marriott Rewards points earned

Lifetime Gold

500 (previously 800) nights at Marriott properties &  1,600,000 Marriott Rewards points earned

Lifetime Platinum

750 (previously 1,000) nights at Marriott properties &  2,000,000 Marriott Rewards points  earned

The requirement that you had to be a Marriott Rewards member for at least 12 years was also eliminated. Marriott has the toughest nights requirement to qualify for top tier elite status of all hotel chains and is notoriously stingy with room upgrades. I have avoided them in the past, but work commitments might change my hotel choices in 2013. Make sure to check out my upcoming posts on the program as I spend more nights at Marriott properties.

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