Posted by William Charles on April 18, 2018
Hotel Rewards

Published on April 18th, 2018 | by William Charles

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Potential Opportunities Due To SPG/Marriott Merger

In case you didn’t know SPG will formally merge into Marriott Rewards on August 1st, 2018 (with a new name coming in 2019). Overall I think the changes are mostly negative but they do present a few interesting opportunities. Let’s discuss what they are.

Platinum Status

If you currently have gold status with Marriott, you will receive Platinum elite status in August. If you currently have SPG Gold status you will receive Marriott Gold status in August. The thing is that if you’re currently SPG gold and you link your accounts you’ll automatically receive Marriott gold status and that should convert to Platinum status come August. The only issue is that during an interview with TPG Marriott’s SVP on Global Loyalty, David Flueck said (via US Credit Card Guide):

“… For members who have matched, they will be getting then the Gold Status, which is really more equivalent to the SPG Gold …” – 9.24

Personally I don’t really see this as an opportunity as it looks like Marriott won’t be giving anybody with matched Marriott status Platinum status. Marriott should have made this clearer in their matching charts in my opinion, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up. This would obviously affect people with SPG gold status from the Platinum cards.

Top Tier/Award Properties

The new award chart will look like this:

As you can see the most expensive property will cost 60,000 Marriott points until the end of 2018. That’s more than top tier Marriott properties cost, but less than what top tier SPG properties currently cost.  For example category six properties cost 20,000-25,000 SPG points (60,000-80,000 Marriott points) and category seven properties cost 30,000-35,000 SPG points (90,000-105,000 Marriott points). Useful links:

There are some SPG properties that are suite only and don’t appear in the standard award chart. View From The Wing was told these will not be included in the standard Marriott award chart either. Ritz-Carlton tier 5 (highest tier) properties cost 60,000 points so no savings there.

There’s definitely some value to be had here if you wanted to book category six/seven SPG properties. Personally I don’t find them to be the best use of points, but I also don’t highly value expensive hotel rooms so that will vary from individual to individual.

Credit Cards

Along with the new loyalty program changes, there are significant changes coming to the Marriott & SPG credit cards issued by Chase & American Express respectively. We’ve already covered those changes in detail here. We also answered the two following questions:

In addition to that we are also seeing a number of reports of higher than normal retention offers. In particular on the Chase Marriott Business card and the American Express SPG personal card. I suspect this is due to the fact that Chase/American Express will no longer be able to issue those cards after August 1st (they can still maintain the current cardholder base). If you haven’t already then read our guide to retention offers here.

Final Thoughts

There are some limited opportunities here. I guess we won’t have a good idea about some of them until August 1st comes along (e.g the all suite properties). Still it’s important to try and find the silver living in these types of changes.

 

 

 



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John

Ritz Tier 5 is 70k points per night currently so there is a 10k points per night savings.

Frequent Miler discussed the all suite hotels with Marriott and they said they were working to ensure that all hotels had a standard room so they could be booked with points. Obviously this isn’t a sure thing but some hope.

IDK if you want the link to that blog on here but I have it if you want it?

Tall T
Tall T

That final thought makes you think….

philco1941
philco1941

Yeah it was deep, very deep….

Travis
Travis

I think he’s trying to make an existential point. We shouldn’t have final thoughts. That all thoughts should be in flux, ever-changing. That life isn’t final, except in death, and even then, who knows.

Benny
Benny

Haha. We can’t have final thoughts on a future we have no way of knowing. Very, very deep….

Ryan
Ryan

I think if you are having the Ritz-Carlton Card, then technically, you are the “real” Marriott Gold and will get the platinum in the new plan after August.
However, this merge actually reduced some value from the AMEX Platinum, since only get a Hilton Gold and Marriott Gold with the AMEX Platinum. These status doesn’t value as much as it was in the past..

KG
KG

Just looking for a bit of advice. Opened my SPG personal December 2017. I’m thinking that I could move the retention discussion forward by leveraging the changes when August gets closer, as opposed to waiting until December. Anyone think this is a terrible idea or, conversely, anyone had luck doing something similar?

Pat S
Pat S

Worth a try for sure!

PoorChurner
PoorChurner

I opened mine in May 2017. I’ll be doing this as well but I have a feeling they’ll be trying to sell it on the anniversary night.

Tony
Tony

DELETED

Wop
Wop

Opened SPG personal April 2017. Called to cancel today and received retention offers of 7k SPG points for 1k spend in 30 days or $75 statement credit for 2k spend in 30 days. I took the 7k SPG points.

Jake
Jake

My SO and I both received those same retention offers back in January 2018 as well.

Ben
Ben

View From the Wing mentioned that the SPG Amex cards would get annual free nights added, but I haven’t seen that corroborated anywhere else. Do you have any idea?

JohnFromATL
JohnFromATL

It is on the Marriott and SPG announcement … you can check the benefits here http://credit-cards.marriott.com/en-us/starwood-preferred-guest-us/?EM=VTY_CCMarriott_US_SPG_EN

Tony
Tony

“Personally I don’t really see this as an opportunity as it looks like Marriott won’t be giving anybody with matched Marriott status Platinum status.”

I believe current Marriott gold status, however obtained, will be matched the new platinum for a few simple reasons:
1) These members may have booked reservations (some of them may have prepaid) with the assumption they’ll enjoy the current gold elite benefits.
2) It’s way too complicated for Marriott IT to sort out the issue (figuring out the origin of the current gold status AND whether combined nights in the two programs wouldn’t qualify the member to the new platinum level) without potential costly errors.
3) The current wording in the Marriott announcement is too vague and Marriott could face lots of complaints and even legal challenges.

DEVGRU
DEVGRU

I certainly hope so! Also we are seeing some self-contradictory voices from Marriott by different VPs. I guess time will tell the fate of SPG-Gold-turned-Marrriott-Gold.

JJ
JJ

If we have the SPG personal/business cards with anniversaries after August, do you think we will be able to get the free night banked to our account once it hits and then cancel the card if we don’t get a good retention offer?

Ender
Ender

The retention offer I got was 7k pts after 1k points. Don’t think they are increasing the retention offer. Might be just me though

JC
JC

I called for a retention offer today as I am not happy about the 33% reduction in earn on everyday spend coming 08/01/18 along with no official communication from American Express yet and was offered absolutely nothing as a cardmember. I voiced my complaint and a ticket was supposedly opened but I doubt anything will come of it. Been a cardmember for about 10 years now. Likely just going to close my card when annual fee comes up in September unless a decent offer is provided at that time. Have never received a retention offer on this card and only called last for one about 4 years ago even though annual fee has steadily increased from $30 to $45, then $60, and now $95 with barely any benefits added that I find useful.

Lady in retentions tried to sell me on the benefits of Marriott Silver including extra points per dollar earned on all hotel spend and the free night certificate good for up to 35,000 points. Told her not interested in Marriott Silver as it is barely offers any benefits and the free night as the categories currently stand would exclude any property I am interested in visiting even in second tier cities.

PoorChurner
PoorChurner

Are you calling the retention line or the number on the back of the card?

Apple
Apple

I received a 10k SPG for 2k spend, so yes it does exist.

WR
WR

The mobile pull down banner ads (or whatever they are called) are becoming really annoying.

I did SPG plat status challenge last year, but this year I wasn’t really going to try to keep plat given uncertainty in merger. Now it seems since they are gutting Gold benefits, maybe worth going for Plat.

I wonder how Amex feels about Marriott gutting the benefits that Amex is asking their customers to pay $550 for.

sloebrake
sloebrake

Agreed about ads.

I use Adguard to block all mobile ads and save a GB of data monthly.

I use uBlock Orgin on desktop and DoC and other good sites get whitelisted. But now ads are appearing in the comments and I strongly feel that if it keeps going within a short period I’ll have to block.

I’ll still keep clicking on DoC Amazon link to support the site, which I think would be worth more than serving me ~1000 ads/month with no clickthrough. Dunno.

John
John

Unfortunately I had to block them on DoC because of the constant music playing

usernamechuck
usernamechuck

Worth noting that the travel packages haven’t mapped precisely onto Ritz properties because the only option was a package for Tier 1-3 (billed at Tier 3 rates). I imagine using packages for tier 1 and 2 will be cheaper once they’re all part of the Marriott chart.

One potential move, maybe an opportunity, maybe a threat is: what about travel packages for current category 6 (30K/nt properties)? I can’t imagine they’d downgrade to a 25K/nt level, but there will be no 30k level, so it seems likely you’d be at 35K level. I suspect the same might be true for a cat 8 package (40K), which might therefore get converted into a new cat 6 package (50K). I say it’s a threat more than an opportunity, because the gaps at the higher tiers would mean that each step up for the 7 night packages will cost 60K in points. People who aren’t paying attention could get hosed.

Matt P
Matt P

I have cat 6 7 night package I have to burn by end of the year – already extended it once – and I’ll be booking it before the change and them will rebook if it’s more favort after the change.

Dan
Dan

can you not extend multiple times?

HI
HI

Has there been any guidance on how the RC free night certs will be treated after August?

JF
JF

So I have the SPG personal with AF due in June. Since they’re adding an anniversary night to the SPG cards, will I get an anniversary night or will that not take effect until August? Or are the higher retention offers mentioned to make up for not getting the free anniversary night?

Another potential opportunity is in the Air + Hotel packages. If I book a 7 night Cat 7 package now it’s good for a year, and it seems possible that the Cat 7 certificate would stick even when the new award chart rolls out. They could always change it to a lower category but with all the shuffling they’re doing it seems they could get a lot of push-back from that. I’m planning to give it a shot, not much to lose there as it’s one of the best uses of Marriott points anyway.

Jack
Jack

I actually read it differently. When August 1st comes, those spg properties that are the highest end (property with suites only too) we won’t be able to book with points at all. Those are supposedly the new category 8 award which isn’t available until 2019. I highly doubt they would just conveniently let you book those with 60k pts. But I would be very happy if i’m wrong.

John

This was my first impression as well and makes more sense than the 5 month free for all the bloggers are all pushing.

There is evidence from TPG and his contributors that all suite hotels will cost extra points on top of category 8 that seems reputable coming from the interviews and followups with VP or Rewards himself where as the other bloggers seem to have vague q and a with various marriott employees and/or execs with no direct follow up or contact other than answers to their questions.

We’ll see what happens August 1st I guess and am definitely hoping that Marriott is actually planning on all of us going crazy in those 5 months and gaining something out of it – advertising, purging all points earned prior to the new system, s**ts and giggles

Frank
Frank

In this post you say top tier SPG properties aren’t the best use of points and in another post you say you don’t think airline transfers are the best use of SPG points so… what do you think is a good use of SPG points? Cat 1 hotels in Lincoln Nebraska?

Ray
Ray

Marriott nights and flights package gets you more airline miles per SPG point than a SPG -> airline transfer even if you just cancel the hotel certificates (for a partial point refund). The downside is that it requires an insane amount of points.

Colonel Obvious
Colonel Obvious

There aren’t any there, but low-end SPG and high-end Marriott have always been the sweet spots of each program.

Dave P
Dave P

Yeah, category 1 and 2 SPG rooms, where you can find them, are an incredible value. 3,000 points for a night at a Four Points Sheraton? Granted, those usually aren’t top-tier markets, but if I’m looking for a hotel a secondary market city anyway, can’t beat that value. That Four Points in my example is likely one of the nicest hotels in that city, and you might get a $150 room for 3000 points, or 5c per point. Hard to beat, if it fits your needs.

SF
SF

I am looking to book Category 8 Marriott property in Maui for February 2019, currently 40,000 points per night. Which category do you thing this will move to?

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