7 Benefits of the Starwood-Marriott Merger
In 2015, the travel industry and much of the traveling public was captivated by the numerous twists and turns as Marriott hotels sought to acquire the Starwood hotels, which includes Westins, Sheratons, and other brands.
But when the merger was completed in September of 2016, members of both the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs were pleasantly surprised to find that their points could immediately be transferred back and forth between both programs, with one Starwood point equating to three Marriott points. In fact, members of both these programs, as well as the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program (a Marriott brand) are already seeing numerous benefits to this merger.
Here are seven Benefits of the Starwood-Marriott merger that you can take advantage of, right now:
1. Starwood Members can Book Marriott Hotels
The Starwood Preferred Guest program is tremendously popular with frequent travelers, but it's always had one major flaw: Compared to other major hotel loyalty programs, there just aren't that many Starwood properties.
As of this writing, there are 1,476 hotels among Starwood's 11 brands. But since Marriott has over 30 brands representing more than 5,700 hotels and resorts, Starwood members now have nearly four times as many properties to earn points at or use their points for free nights. Marriott brands are especially attractive to Starwood members that need budget accommodations, as Starwood properties are heavily weighted towards mid-range and luxury properties.
2. Marriott Members can Book Starwood Hotels
Even though Marriott offers a much larger number of properties, there are still many times when they would want to stay in a Starwood hotel due to its location or because it's a unique property.
3. Marriott Rewards Points can be Redeemed for Starwood Properties Without as Many Restrictions
One of the major flaws of the Marriott Rewards program is that hotels can restrict the availability of rooms that can be booked with points. In practice, this means that you may not be able to redeem your Marriott Rewards points at business hotels during a convention or at vacation properties during the peak seasons. But with the Starwood Preferred Guest program, you can redeem your points for a free night stay at any standard, unsold room.
4. Use Starwood Points for a Marriott RewardsPlus Hotel and Air Package
One of the most outstanding values in the Marriott Rewards program are its RewardsPlus Hotel and Air Packages. These packages allow you to redeem hotel points for both free nights and airline miles. For example, you can stay for seven nights in a Category 6 Marriott property, and receive 132,000 United MileagePlus miles for 300,000 Marriott points, or just 100,000 Starwood points. This gives you not just 1.32 miles per Starwood point, but you also get a seven night hotel stay.
5. Convert Marriott Points to Airline Miles
The Starwood Preferred Guest program has always been valued for the ability to transfer points to miles with over 30 different airlines, most at a 1:1 ratio. The Marriott Rewards program also has this feature, but at far lower ratios of 5:1 or 4:1. Now that you can transfer three Marriott Rewards points to one Starwood point, you can transfer points at 3:1, or better. Keep in mind that when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to airline miles, you get a 5,000 mile bonus. Therefore, the effective rate transferring Marriott points to miles is now as much as 3:1.25 as you can transfer 60,000 Marriott points to 25,000 miles, and with a greater selection of airlines.
6. Earn Three Marriott Points per Dollar Spent on All Purchases
The Marriott Rewards Premier credit card from Chase offers an outstanding five points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels, and 2x points on some other travel spending, but just a single point per dollar spent elsewhere. But if you have the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express, a Credit Cards House advertiser, then you can earn one point per dollar everywhere, which equates to three Marriott points.
7. Enjoy Reciprocal Elite Status
Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards members already receive the benefits of elite status at both hotel chains. In addition, having elite status in either of those programs will now be matched to elite status with Starwood, and Starwood Elite status will now be granted to those with elite status with Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards. You can earn Starwood elite status from spending $30,000 a year on the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express, or just by being an American Express Platinum cardholder. Also, holders of the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card from Chase receive 15 Elite credits after account opening and every year after your account anniversary, giving them guaranteed Silver Elite status every year.
Every time two major companies merge, they issue a flurry of press releases designed to convince customers of the benefits of the combined organization, yet the results often fall short of their promises. But to the delight of travelers, this merger has produced numerous benefits that you can enjoy immediately.
First published , last updated
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