My take on Marriott’s big announcement


Well, it certainly was a big deal after all.  And, thankfully, none of our worst fears were realized. No, they won’t go revenue based.  No, they won’t take away free breakfast from those who earn elite status at the 50 night per year level.  No, they won’t take away the favorable points to miles transfer rate offered by SPG.  No, they won’t add a spend requirement to any elite tiers except the very top, top tier.  In fact, in many of these areas things will be better.  I don’t know about you, but I’m both relieved and cautiously optimistic about the opportunities ahead of us.

On Monday afternoon Marriott announced the details of how they plan to bring together the three rewards programs they own: Marriott Rewards, SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest), and Ritz-Carlton Rewards.  Marriott and Ritz already had one program with two names, so why not add a third?  And that’s what they did.  Starting August 1, there will be a single rewards program with three separate names.

Details of the new combined program can be found on Marriott’s website, here:  Nick and I will publish posts over the next days and months going into details about the new program, and how best to take advantage of the transition.

The basic details that you need to know are that elite status levels will be similar to SPG’s levels today (if you have Marriott Gold status today, you’ll have Platinum status in the new program. If you have Marriott Platinum today, you’ll have Platinum Premier 75K in the new program), and point values will be similar to Marriott’s point values today (so, all of your SPG points will automatically triple when they get converted to the new program).

My take overall?

Overall, things look good.  The hardest thing for many people will be the confusion over the elite status names, especially for Marriott elites (Marriott Gold status today will map to Platinum status in August).  And SPG members will have point confusion.  All of their points will map 1 to 3 to the new program and so it will seem like hotels will cost many more points, but that’s only because SPG points will have mapped to this new 1 to 3 scale.


  • Free breakfast for elites will extend to Marriott resorts and Courtyard properties, and will remain in place with all SPG properties
  • Top tier SPG properties will be much cheaper in the new program.  If you can wait until August 1 to book that St Regis property you have your eye on, do so.


  • Currently, SPG cards earn 1 SPG point per dollar which is equivalent to 3 Marriott points per dollar for all spend.  Starting August 1, they will earn only 2 points per dollar in the new program.  This has big implications for those who do SPG spend primarily to transfer points to airline programs.  If that’s you, the SPG card is being devalued.
  • Most Top tier Marriott properties will probably be a bit more expensive, and some will likely be much more expensive
  • Ritz Carlton is still not on board with free breakfast or lounge access for elites. This is kind of weird since top tier Starwood properties, some of which are much higher end than most Ritz properties, do offer free breakfast.

Answers from the VP

At an event in New York City for the big Marriott announcement Nick and I managed to corner the VP of Marriott Rewards, Bob Behrens.  Here’s what I learned from that conversation:

Using points

  • Q: Today, both Marriott & SPG allow booking upgraded rooms with points under certain circumstances. Will that continue in the new program?
    A: Yes
  • Q: Will the new program continue to offer 5th night free awards?
    A: Yes
  • Q: Today a select list of SPG properties cost substantially more points than top tier 35K properties. They’re literally off the charts.  How much will they cost in the new program?
    A: All properties, including those, will map to the category 1-8 chart (1-7 chart for 2018).  They will no longer be off the chart.

Elite status

  • Q: Will a member’s Marriott Rewards nights and SPG nights combine to determine their elite level?
    A: Yes
  • Q: Will a member’s historic Marriott Rewards nights and SPG nights combine to determine their lifetime elite level?
    A: Yes
  • Q: In the new program, lifetime elite status will require a certain number of years of status. Will those years be additive across Marriott & SPG?
    A: Yes. To determine the number of years you’ve been Platinum, you would add up the number of years you were Gold or higher with Marriot plus the number of years you were Platinum with SPG.  They even count both when you had elite status with both programs in the same year.
  • Q: What level status will my Amex Platinum card give me in the new program?
    A: Gold status.  However, if a member has Marriott Gold status before August 1, they will have Platinum status on August 1.  [So, if Bob was right about this, Amex Platinum cardholders will continue to get free breakfast until the elite year resets in 2019 as long as they use the card to get SPG Gold status AND link their Marriott & SPG accounts before August 1]
  • Q: What status level will people get with Ritz card $10K spend or $75K spend?
    A: The status will map based on nights required to get that status.  So, $10K spend today gets you old Marriott Gold and in August it will get you new Marriott Platinum status since both are 50 night elite levels.  And $75K spend gets you old Marriott Platinum and in August it will get you new Marriott Platinum Premier 75K.

Free night certificates & travel packages

  • Q: Will you be able to use Marriott free night certs at SPG properties and SPG free nights at Marriott properties?
    A: Yes
  • Q: If we have a 7 night category 7 stay certificate, will that map to category 7 in the new program?
    A: Yes.  They haven’t established the exact mappings yet, but they will try to map it based on the number of points required.  For example, category 7 hotels in the current program require 35,000 points per night.  In August, category 5 hotels will cost 35,000 points.  So the category 7 certificate should become a category 5 certificate in August.  Note: Even though we asked a lot of questions about category 1-5 certificates, we somehow failed to ask what category they will become in August.  By the logic above, they should become category 4, but I don’t have confirmation of that.
  • Q: When will we know which hotels will be in which categories?
    A: They will be releasing some examples in a few days and expect to have a list of most properties released within about 4 weeks.
  • Q: Will travel packages still be available to purchase with points?
    A: Yes.  Marriott knows that guests get a lot of value from them and they do not want to take away any of the things that guest like.
  • Q: Will travel packages still offer the same value for those who are primarily interested in point transfers to airline miles?
    A: It will be similar, but not the same.  Today Marriott has many different travel package charts depending upon which airline miles you want.  In the new program they hope to standardize across most if not all airlines.

Other stuff

  • Q: What will happen w/ Delta & United partnerships?
    A: The United partnership will remain in place pretty much as it is today.  Just as it is today, those with 75 night elite status with Marriott will get United Silver status. The Delta partnership is still being worked out.
  • Q: Will Marriott’s refer-a-friend program continue?
    A: Yes
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[…] in April when Greg and I attended the “new” Marriott launch event in New York, we reported that we were told that all properties would define a standard room under the new award […]

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Christopher Tamayo

So if I just got the Ritz card which comes with Gold the first year, after Aug the status would be Platinum Elite?

Tim Kozlow

I’m done. I redeemed my SPG points to airline miles getting the 5000 bonus. I was never interested in hotel points. I’ll go back and keep building my chase points. I’m close to 400000. The only reason I got the SPG card was because of the high value of the star points. Now I don’t care anymore.


For 2019 and beyond, will the “15 nights credit” you receive from having a credit card count towards your lifetime total? I know they do on the Marriott visa today but they don’t on the SPG Amex, so am wondering what will happen for 2019. I’m not seeing this covered on any site. Thanks!

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So I’m due to complete a MR platinum 9 stay challenge in May… I know I’ll get Plat Premier on Aug 1 for the rest of 2018, but what about 2019? My main goal of getting back to platinum was getting United Silver in 2019. If I drop to platinum in 2019, I just walked across the street to a new hotel 3 times for nothing.

I’ll likely be around 65 nights for the year (including CC nights), but not sure it’s worth the work to get to 75.

Not all bad for me though, MR dropping the points req for lifetime means I’ll be lifetime plat. And I’ve been using the new guaranteed 4pm checkout super frequently. MR benefits still on 3rd party bookings? With no lifetime tier above Plat as incentive for more nights, I’m going use a lot more of those!

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So we will get less than 1 airline mile per dollar maximum on the SPG card starting August 1?

Devaluation of 1/3 of value?

Same with points now transferring 1:2?

If true this is a huge devaluation.


Greg: Can we book the SPG St Regis Points reservations now and then “pay” after August 1st to guarantee the space?


You said “Q: Will a member’s Marriott Rewards nights and SPG nights combine to determine their elite level? A: Yes” Does that mean that marriott nights I stay in Jan will combine with my spg nights from Jan for 2018? Or is it only those that are booked AFTER aug 1?


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Any clue on the Lounge access Platinum Premier Elite? Say you spend 75K on the new SPG card, will you be able to access Ritz Carlton Lounges?


Not Ritz Lounge.

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Greg, what happens if someone qualifies for SPG Platinum on stays before August 2018? Would they be considered Marriott Platinum as well and map to the new Platinum premier 75k?

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Silver Kung

Hi, I am life time Marriott Platinum. so that will make me life time new platinum premier. My question is that old platinum premier get to match with UA Gold. Will this new platinum premier get to match with UA Gold as well? Do you have any clue on this?


Is the current Chase Marriott Business card going away as of August based on available info? I guess it would be a good idea to get it now for the bonus points and to grandfather another annual free night card.


Related question: Are the 15 elite night credits from the personal and business credit cards stackable for earning status this year, or did that change take effect immediately?


They just kill daily SPG user and SPG biz user with this. I hope that they would upgrade Ritz to at least earn 3 MR per regular spend.


I use my spg biz for $$ every month, then use that for travel. This definitely kills it. Greg: do u know if spg biz card still gets auto sheraton lounge access? And what about spending thresholds for status? Whats the best card for that now? Thanks!


No lounge access on the AMEX business card. Only way is to spend $75k on the premium business card coming out in August.


Agreed, this takes my SPG Amex from daily workhorse to only occasional use at best, maybe cancel.


Hold on! Are you telling me that I could book a room at the St. Regis Maldives in 2018 for ONLY 20k SPG points?!?! Thats INCREDIBLE compared to the current 90k SPG.

Jake from MSP

Do we know if the cutoff dates are “travel by” or “book by”? Because if it’s just book by, I’m going to have start moving hoarding every SPG point I can get my hands on…


How about United status holders will UA gold and above get Gold or Plat with the new program?


Greg — do you get a sense whether the Ritz $10k spend for platinum will continue on in future years or just this year only?


If current 40-45k Marriott properties don’t go into standard 35k and go instead into the 50k then it’s a devaluation. Doesn’t matter what this guy says.


Of course they could put them in 35k then raise them up in 2019 instead.


I see airline partners remain, any word on if Amtrak is still a transfer partner? Not seen anyone mention it anywhere yet and I’m curious.


This new lifetime program is a major blow to Marriott rewards members that have not yet reached lifetime platinum. Under the new program SPG member that had 25 stays or 50 nights the past 10 years will receive lifetime platinum. While Marriott members needed 75 nights, and higher brands didn’t matter since points are no longer a factor.


I think they could have kept it a little more fair had they just made it 10 years or a certain number of points which is what Marriott rewards was based off of in their current lifetime program. Much less incentive for staying at higher end Marriott’s that give more points.


I agree – I would have liked to see a points qualifier rather than a year qualifier; i.e. 10 years or 2 million points. 2 mm points was the cutoff on the old program and it would seem fairer to have provided two routes in merging lifetime, rather than just adopting SPG standards.


SPG Elites seemed to be getting the short end of the stick. Currently SPG gold maps to Marriott gold. Come August, SPG gold maps to the new program gold. This is the same for lifetime elites…


So, if I’ve already matched my status from SPG Gold to Marriott Gold, will that Marriott Gold status convert to the new Platinum level. Does it make a difference that I earned the SPG Gold status by reaching $30k SPG AMEX spend? If It does convert, I’m assuming I’d be eligible for the enhanced gift (breakfast, for example), but not the suite night awards because I didn’t earn on nights. Is that correct?


That’s fantastic news. Any idea whether breakfast would be available at a place like Scrub Island (we’re staying there in November)?


[So, if Bob was right about this, Amex Platinum cardholders will continue to get free breakfast until the elite year resets in 2019 as long as they use the card to get SPG Gold status AND link their Marriott & SPG accounts before August 1] is this confirmed?


Does Marriott soft land to the next lowest tier if you don’t requalify?


United Premier Gold members currently get matched to Gold Elite status with Marriott — I’m guessing that will remain the same? (Seems reasonable, though I’d still be a bit sad about losing breakfast and lounge privileges)


I thought it was said that if you currently had Marriott Gold status that it would convert to Platinum automatically in August. So wouldn’t my Marriott Gold status (achieved by being United Gold) convert in August to Platinum? A question would be what happens next year – but surely they would not take away Platinum status once they have already given it.

al K

Greg, do you think it’s the best time (now until year end 2017) to get the old version Marriott Chase Visa for its 15 nights credit for THIS year? I’m not subjected to 5/24 and I’ve already possess both AMEX SPG.


Hi Greg – could you please clarify the lifetime status requirements when the programs consolidate in August? Specifically: will my SPG nights and points add to my Marriott nights and points to qualify me under the OLD Marriott program? Or does this combined points/nights deal only count towards the new lifetime requirements? Thanks!


Dan – I have the same question. If they convert everything then assess new program lifetime based on the legacy MR 750 night/2 million point rule, I will be grandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite. However I’ve not earned Marriott PLT or SPG PLT for a sum of 10 years and only have ~1.6M lifetime MR points, so converting my SPG balance to MR and then applying the old rules is my best hope for reaching Lifetime PPE (in a timely fashion).


This is probably the most frustrating part of this announcement. I stopped staying at Marriott earlier last year as I was so far from any lifetime status (besides Silver) that I didn’t want to commit. But if they’re including SPG … well, I might take a run at earning something 😉 Good luck, I hope you get the Lifetime Plat Premier – that would be a major coup with lifetime status in that program only available this one time!


Greg, Dan, and Kevin,
I have a similar question and a new one. I would also like to know how spg activity impacts my current MR lifetime progress, if at all. In addition, what is the deadline for achieving LT plat in the old program to obtain LT premier plat going forward…august 1 or December 31?


@Kevin, make sure you do some more research before making any decisions, because unless something has changed recently, converting your SPG points to MR points absolutely does NOT count towards your MR lifetime point totals. Your best options to hit 2 million before the end of 2018 are probably either transferring Chase UR points to MR points, which definitely counts towards lifetime status but it’s a horrendous value… or alternatively, if you are able to play in two player mode, transfer your SPG points into your partner’s SPG account, have THEM convert their SPG points into MR points, and then transfer the MR points from their MR account into your MR account. MR point transfers DO count towards lifetime totals, but be aware that they will also DEDUCT the transferred amount from your partner’s lifetime totals. The transfer limit is 50k per year, but you can transfer more if you call over the phone and say you need to book a specific award… so call and ask to book like a cat 9 hotel for 7 nights or something insane like that, and they’ll most likely let you exceed the 50k limit. I’ve been successful in getting as much as 250k transferred using this method, haven’t tried more than that. You can also buy up to 50k MR points per year which DO count towards your lifetime totals, but again, it’s a bad value. But hopefully between a combination of these methods you might be able to hit the 2 million point threshold before the end of the year. Good luck!


Thanks, Greg! That was my guess as well, but one can always hope until being told no 😉
Oh well – On the bright side I now get lifetime silver under the new guidelines. For whatever that’s worth … 🙂


Another question would be if the 5 Suite Night Awards are awarded for those attaining Platinum status via $75k spend on their SPG Luxury (or Ritz) card. It didn’t before.


I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand your comment about the Ritz-Carlton card. Are you saying that the Ritz-Carlton card will get you Platinum status after $10,000 spend in 2019 and beyond or just in 2018?


Curious about this too……


Based on the written card terms, Behrens’ suggestion (i.e., $75k spend to Platinum Premier Elite) could apply only to pre-August spend in 2018 for status from August through year end. The new Ritz card terms are clear that $10k spend on the card gets new Gold Elite status, aka a status earned from 25 nights, while $75k spend on the card gets new Platinum Elite status, aka a status earned from 50 nights, and not “Platinum Premier Elite” (75-night status). Those credit card benefit terms are already published.

It is annoying that none of the 15-night credits for the new cards will help with hitting 75 combined nights for status as of Jan 2019, since all the cards explicitly first award 15-night benefits in 2019. And for a current Platinum looking for my options as to keeping Platinum in Jan. 2019, the SPG Lux route annoyingly seems to make spend-based Platinum status unavailable for current Platinums and require $75k starting Jan. 1.

An interesting post would be who won … Chase or Amex.


See These are the new terms, since they have unique features (e.g., “10% Annual Points Premium: You’ll earn a 10% bonus annually on all new Rewards points earned with your The Ritz-Carlton Rewards card purchases.”). Compare The current card does not have the $100 hotel credit (and instead has the $100 Visa Infinite airline ticket discount).

Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but the terms as to what $75k spend earns are fairly clear to me: “To qualify for and maintain Platinum Elite Status your account must be open and not in default. If you do not qualify for this bonus offer, in order to receive Platinum Elite benefits you must qualify for Platinum Elite Status under the terms of The Ritz-Carlton Rewards program.”

In the new program, Platinum Elite means 50-night status. The new credit card terms don’t say Platinum Premier Elite. As with other transitional changes, $75k spend on pre-August Ritz would be like any other Platinum Elite, which as of August 1 would be transitioned to Platinum Premier Elite. But like any other Platinum Elite, 2019 status will be redetermined.


Yeah, I am very curious about this too since I noticed the same thing @esdot is mentioning. On the announcement page for the Ritz card it says 10k for Gold, 75k for platinum. But it does also say that there are more changes coming to the Ritz card, so I wonder if Greg’s Q&A answer is one of those changes being telegraphed early. If so, that is great because then 10k spend on the Ritz card will get you Platinum and 5 suite night awards.


We don’t have that many paid nights. My HIlton Aspire card is looking better after this. Will be losing any meaningful benefits with United gold matched to Marriott gold, which doesn’t seem worth much. Also expecting as the award prices are announced and sorted through, that there will be some really bad realizations.


“Top tier SPG properties will be much cheaper in the new program. If you can wait until August 1 to book that St Regis property you have your eye on, do so.”

How? A currently 25k per night room can now be 80k. With 1:3 that’s still more expensive?


Oh you mean the top most expensive ones. Where does it say they will be 60k after merger?


Are properties like the St Regis Maldives outside SPG category scale?