Marriott International, Inc. has concluded its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, adding 30 brands to its worldwide portfolio. The acquisition creates the world’s largest hotel company and for Canada specifically, there are now 211 hotels under the Marriott umbrella across the country.
The acquisition adds to Marriott’s Canadian portfolio the Ritz, Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Aloft and others. Marriott also bought Canada’s Delta hotels in 2015, rounding out its dominant hotel portfolio in the country.
Free Point Transfers and Status Matching Between Marriott Rewards and SPG Starpoints
Marriott has announced, that effective immediately, members of the Marriott Rewards, SPG and Ritz-Carlton Rewards programs will be able to link their rewards programs. Other than that, the programs will continue to operate separately.
Linking the programs will give you the ability to:
- Transfer points from one program to another, free. This allows you to redeem for any participating hotel in the Marriott, SPG or Ritz-Carlton portfolio, regardless of which membership you have.
- 3 Marriott/Ritz points = 1 SPG point
- Match status. Linking your accounts will give you the ability to achieve the appropriate status in each program as follows:
- MR Platinum = SPG Platinum
- MR Gold = SPG Gold
- MR Silver = SPG Preferred Plus
- MR Basic = SPG Preferred
You can link your programs to transfer points and match status at members.marriott.com.
What The Acquisition Means for Marriott and SPG Credit Card Holders in Canada
This is great news if you already have a Marriott or SPG credit card, or are looking to accumulate rewards for a free nights stay. You now have two credit card programs with which to accumulate Marriott or SPG points.
If you already have a Chase Marriott Rewards Visa Card, you can now get the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express, which offers a welcome bonus of 20,000 points! With the ability to transfer points from SPG to Marriott at 3:1, you’ll receive 60,000 Marriott points for 20,000 SPG points!
Likewise, if you already have the American Express SPG card, you can now get the Chase Marriott Visa Card and get a 30,000 point welcome bonus, with no annual fee in the first year. That’s the equivalent of 10,000 SPG points when transferred.
Get both cards and that’s a total welcome bonus of either 90,000 Marriott Rewards points or 30,000 SPG Starpoints!
To give you an idea of how valuable that is, you can get one free night stay with 50,000 Marriott points at the Ritz Carlton worth $489 – perfect for a staycation! Or you can get 2 nights for 70,000 points at the Downtown Marriott in Toronto, worth $550.
Marriott Rewards & SPG Will Continue To Operate Independently
Other than the ability to transfer points between programs, Marriott has indicated the programs will continue to be run independently, at least until 2018. That means:
- You cannot Marriott points at Starwood hotels, or SPG points at Marriott hotels. To earn points from either program, you still need to be a member of that hotels loyalty program for now. As a result, it is recommended to get a membership in both hotel loyalty programs. You can transfer and consolidate points thereafter.
- Likewise, for the credit card program, you will not earn 5 Marriott reward points per dollar spent at Starwood hotels with your Chase Marriott Visa card. Similarly, you will not earn bonus SPG points using your Amex SPG card at a Marriott hotel. To earn bonus points you will need to use the credit card matching the hotel brand.
- You cannot use your anniversary e-certificate from the Marriott credit card program at a Starwood hotel
- You will only see your points balance in the Marriott Rewards and SPG points program in their respective apps. You will not see your Marriott Rewards points balance in the SPG app, or vice versa. That will only change when the programs merge some time after 2018.
Great News For Canadians
This is great news for Canadians. We’ve already listed the Marriott card in our best travel credit card rankings. We believe the acquisition and the method in which Marriott kept the loyalty programs separate, but connected through points transfers works in the consumers favour for now.
By keeping two separate credit cards out in the marketplace, it allows cardholders two opportunities to earn welcome bonuses and consolidate points. You can get 30,000 points from the Marriott Rewards Visa card and 20,000 points from the Starwood Amex card. That’s the equivalent of a total of 90,000 Marriott Rewards or 30,000 SPG Starpoints, on welcome bonuses alone.
Once the programs merge, apparently no sooner than 2018, we have no idea if one issuer will emerge victorious, or if Marriott will split-up the credit card program amongst multiple issuers the way Aeroplan has with TD and Amex.
Other than that, the merger of both companies, gives cardholders and loyalty members the ability to earn and redeem points from more hotels than any other program in the world, with virtually any class of hotel you aspire to, in any location.