Posted by William Charles on September 29, 2016
Hotel Rewards

Published on September 29th, 2016 | by William Charles

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Best Uses Of Marriott & SPG Points

As you should know by now, Marriott has completed it’s acquisition of SPG and you can now transfer points between the two programs (1 SPG point is worth 3 Marriott points and vice versa). We already had a look at the credit cards both programs offer, but I suspect some people aren’t familiar with the sweet spots/benefits of both programs and there are some good opportunities out there.

Marriott

I’ve never found Marriott’s program to be particular valuable due to the fact that a lot of their hotels are in the higher categories. You can view their award chart here. There are two things worth considering:

  • They offer your 5th night free
  • They offer flight and hotel packages

The 5th night free benefit is self explanatory, but let’s take a look at their flight and hotel packages in a bit more detail.

Flight & Hotel Packages

You can redeem your Marriott rewards points for seven free night certificates and airline miles. There are basically four different packages and each package lets you redeem your points for seven free night certificates and airline miles with specific airlines. United gives you the best value with an additional 10% in miles compared to other programs.

You also basically get the best value when you redeem your Marriott points for more miles, as after the lowest level you’re basically just trading your Marriott points to miles at a rate of 1:1. For example you could pay 200,000 Marriott points for a 7 night category 1-5 package with 50,000 Southwest points or pay 270,000 Marriott points and get 120,000 Southwest points (in this case you’re paying an extra 70,000 Marriott points for 70,000 Southwest points – something pretty much everybody would be happy to do).

rewardsplus-hotel-and-more

Airlines in package 2 and 4 don’t provide nearly as good value as those in 1 & 3, so I’d avoid those. This leaves you with the following airlines:

  • United (10% bonus)
  • Southwest (companion pass)
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways,
  • Copa Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • GOL/Varig
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

I’ve bolded United due to the 10% bonus you get on miles (maximum of 132,000 miles instead of 120,000 with the other programs) and Southwest airlines because these points do count towards the companion pass. If you do want to go for the companion pass I’d recommend waiting until the start of next year as you earn the pass for the remainder of the calendar year and the following calendar year as well. You can read more about the companion pass here.

SPG

SPG also has two main things to keep in mind:

  • They also offer a 5th night free benefit. I think this is better than the benefit offered by Marriott because they seem to have more hotels in the lower categories and they cost less points
  • Ability to transfer to airline partners

Let’s talk about the ability to transfer to airline partners in a bit more detail.

Airline Partners

SPG allows you to transfer to a huge number of airline partners at a rate of 1:1.

SPG Airline Transfer Partners (1:1 unless otherwise specified)  
AeroMexicoAsiana AirlinesKorean Air
Aegean Miles+BonusBritish Airways Executive ClubLAN Airlines LANPASS Kms
Aeroplan/Air CanadaCathay Pacific Asia MilesLufthansa Miles and More
Air BerlinChina Eastern AirlinesQatar Airways
Air China CompanionDelta Air Lines SkyMilesSaudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan
Air France KLM Flying BlueEmirates SkywardsSingapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Air New Zealand & Air Points (65:1)Etihad AirwaysThai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus
Alaska Airlines Mileage PlanGol SmilesUnited MileagePlus (2:1)
Alitalia MilleMigliaHainan AirlinesUS Airways Dividend Miles
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage ClubHawaiian AirlinesVirgin Atlantic Flying Club
American Airlines AAdvantageJapan Airlines (JAL) Mileage BankVirgin Australia Velocity
Avianca LifeMiles

In addition to this if you transfer 20,000 or more miles they’ll add an additional 5,000 miles (basically meaning you get a transfer rate of 1:1.25).

spg-transfer

Our Verdict

As you can see both programs are already quite similar. Let’s take a quick look at what airline transfer program is better. To get the maximum amount of airline miles with Marriott we need to use 270,000 points, that would cost us 90,000 SPG points. If we are generous and say all of those transfer across at a rate of 1:1.25 (you’d actually need to transfer another 10,000 points to do this) we’d end up with 112,500 airline miles. If we did that with Marriott we’d get 132,000 United miles and 120,000 with a lot of other programs (in addition to the 7 nights as well).

As you can see, transferring across to Marriott makes the most sense in this situation. The upside to SPG is that you don’t need to transfer such a huge amount of points to get the maximum value and they have more transfer partners at good rates. I think we will probably see some devaluation on these hotel and flight packages at some stage due to the fact that they are much more accessible now that you can use Marriott points and transfer across SPG points as well. Fingers crossed this doesn’t happen and it at least continues until the start of next year so people can grab the companion pass.

What do you think the best value is in both programs? What direction are you transferring points in?

 



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Justin
Justin

Nice post, Doc – thanks. Thinking of getting Marriott business card and 2x SPG to get 10 nights in Fiji at a cat4 (after min spends and Marriott–> SPG transfer will have at least 83k SPG points) . Hoping SPG increases one last time so I could do 5 nights at a cat4 and 5 at cat5.

Brady
Brady

I think you’re also missing out on the high-tier Marriott Properties. Category 7,8, and 9 Marriott’s are now very accessible to SPG loyal people. In resort locations like Cancun, Maui, etc. the value of each isn’t even remotely comparable. The Ritz Carltons arent the best SPG Value still but honestly it isn’t bad.

Cancun – Westin Lagunamar for 20k SPG/Night, or Marriott CasaMagna for 35k Marriott (11.7k SPG), JW Marriott for 40k (13k SPG), or Ritz Carlton for 50k Marriott (16.7k SPG).

Maui – Sheraton and Westin are 20k/night, which is the same price as the RC Kapalua (20k SPG/night).

Venice – Starwood are 30k+ a night, JW Marriott on a private island is 40k/night – so 13k SPG.

Basically if you are staying anywhere, JW Marriott’s just became the best value for your SPG points. We are using ours in Cancun – the RC is $586 a night the days we are going, spending 5 days would be ~$2400 assuming 5th night free or some other deal. Spending 66k SPG points for 5 nights (5th night free) for value of 3+ CPP.

Deb
Deb

This is exactly what I did yesterday. Was looking at Cancun but didn’t have enough points for Lagunamar and the other Westin is iffy. Up comes this offer and we got 5 nights at JW Marriott by transferring 54k spg points.

chris p
chris p

does the 7 night package have to be 7 consecutive nights at one hotel?

Brady
Brady

Yes.

Mser
Mser

Can you cancel the 7 night booking and have the points returned to your account? Then rebook fewer nights if needed?

Mser
Mser

Ill answer my own question – apparently if you cancel you only get 75K returned.

mishyq
mishyq

75K marriott points back, if you pick the 270,000 7 nights hotel (cat 1-5) + air package?

presumably, this # points back increased if you pick a higher cat package?

Ben
Ben

So, is this math correct… I start with 90k SPG, transfer to 270k Marriott, redeem for 120K airline miles, cancel the hotel booking to get 75k Marriott back, and transfer back to 25k SPG. At the end I’ve exchanged 65k SPG points for 120k airline miles, that’s a great deal, isn’t it?

Catcat
Catcat

I thought there is 5 nights packages instead you would have to call and ask. Please confirm . Thanks.

Levi
Levi

I thought there was still a 5 night option if you call in as well?

Mser
Mser

-supposedly only for Marriott Timeshare members. Some have had success but many say no dice. Frequent Miler wrote about this in January.

mishyq
mishyq

not sure what others think, but when i took a quick glance at the marriott hotels (by category level), i noticed the posh(er) hotels are in at least categories 8 or higher. which means it requires a lot of points to get this kind of 7 nights hotel + air package

another ‘downside’ – i rarely spent more than 5 days in the same hotel, or even 4. i think 5-7 days consecutive stay are more associated with AI style vacation or beach vacation

unless there is some way to convert the 7 nights hotel stay back to some liquidated commodity….

so i might be a minority here for preferring to convert all my marriott points and transfer them to airline partners via SPG

Brian
Brian

math says you shouldn’t do that. assume cat 1-5 flight + hotel, and you get the 75k back to cancel hotel. for 195k marriott points, you get 132k united miles, or 120k of any other. if you convert 195k marriott => 65k starwood = max 80k miles.

Brian
Brian

sorry, max 90k

Brian
Brian

i’m bad at math

mishyq
mishyq

it will be worthwhile if you transfer to an airline you really want but has no other way to transfer (e.g., not possible using other CC programs points)

but otherwise i think the flight + air package still come up front i guess.

problem is i just dont see any marriott cat 1-5 hotels that i want to even stay in. and i presume i cannot even sell the privilege of my 7-days hotel stay to someone else.

Andy
Andy

You get more miles for most North American airlines programs (and BA Avios) with the category 5 travel pack, even if you don’t use the nights at all.

90k SPG for the 270k travel pack gets you 120k group 1 and group 3 miles

90k SPG to airlines straight up only gets you 110k (not ideal as the last ten doesn’t get the bonus, but even 100k SPG only gets you 125k airline miles)

The only reason to use SPG to airline is for Asian programs under Marriott’s group 2, or if you only need a few points for topup

mishyq
mishyq

i havent gone to do the whole math yet but i think you “get back less” if you redeem under Group 2 you get less miles for Asian airlines FF program compared to if you transfer via SPG

this is assuming hotel value = $0, which of course is not

http://www.marriott.com/rewards/usepoints/morepack.mi

Wil
Wil

Alaska miles are worth more than united even with 10% bonus I think

mishyq
mishyq

agree. esp when united has new award rules after Oct 6.

though, ultimately it depends where you want to fly and what airline you want to take, i think.

Mark B
Mark B

What is the best way to convert SPG points from multiple accounts into a companion pass? Weasel everyone into the same household, then combine the points into one account? Or would it be easier to combine Marriott points?

Juston Fluckey
Juston Fluckey

I have some Marriott points set to expire soon. Will transferring some SPG to Marriott extend the expiration? I will try to find the answer on my own, but if anyone can chime in before I find the answer, it would be appreciated.

Juston Fluckey
Juston Fluckey

Looks like I found my answer and that answer is “no”. Putting SPG points into Marriott will not extend Marriott expiration. So, follow-up question: If I pull my Marriott points out and put into SPG, will these new SPG points expire when the Marriott points were set to expire, or will they get added to my pool of SPG points and expire based on the SPG’s current expiration? If not, is it worth $12.50 to buy 1,000 points when I am only trying to salvage 7,740 Marriott points?

Mike
Mike

Do those 7 nights certs have expiration? any blackouts? How do you use them in general? (i.e Cat. 5 hotel has 7 nights available for $xyz. You call in and book that roo w/ certs?)

Stephanie
Stephanie

My SPG and Marriott are already linked. Do you know when will be the last date for points transfer?

Steven
Steven

To add a data point, I made a rookie mistake. I booked the Flight and Hotel package for a Cat7 without verifying reward availability at that Cat7 for the nights I wanted. The trip was already planned on account of other factors, so the dates weren’t movable. The first person I spoke to at Marriott told me I would just have to use the Cat7 certificate at a Cat6 hotel and eat the loss. That did not leave me very happy. I was online during the call and found several blogs saying you cannot downgrade after purchase (though everyone says you CAN upgrade). She passed me off to someone else who said it was no problem and quickly downgraded the certificate – which makes sense, since the air reward did not change. The 30,000 point difference was credited back to my Marriott account!
In future, I won’t repeat the mistake, but for those who do, a normal, run of the mill CSR was able to do this without asking any higher ups.

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