Ritz-Carlton, Starwood now fully integrated as one Marriott Rewards
Updated: Aug 23, 2018
by James Shillinglaw, August 22, 2018 Inside Travel Report
Exciting changes for members of the Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty programs. Marriott International said a new era is beginning for the more than 110 million members of those programs.
For the first time since Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016, all three programs will now operate under one set of unified benefits and one currency spanning the entire loyalty portfolio of 29 brands and more than 6,700 participating hotels in 130 countries and territories.
Members are able to earn and redeem across the entire loyalty portfolio and achieve Elite status faster with new Elite tiers. They can now combine their separate program accounts into one at Marriott.com or SPG.com to take advantage of everything Marriott's loyalty programs offer worldwide.
Together the unified programs are richer. Members now earn on average 20 percent more points per dollar spent and have their Elite status recognized consistently at every hotel. In addition, members now have the added convenience to book stays throughout the portfolio on Marriott.com, SPG.com, and the Marriott and SPG apps, or by contacting customer engagement centers.
"This is an exciting time for our loyalty members who now have endless inspiration to travel and experience the world to create memories that will last a lifetime," said David Flueck, senior vice president, global loyalty for Marriott International. "We merged the incredible earning and redeeming power of Marriott Rewards with the phenomenal Elite benefits of SPG to create one of the richest travel loyalty programs with the most extraordinary global portfolio of hotels—from overwater bungalows, to mountainside ski resorts, to iconic urban landmarks."
As a result of the unified, single-currency programs, when members combine their accounts, their points balances will also combine, ending the need to transfer points between programs. For SPG members, their SPG points balance multiplied by three. All members earn 10 points for every dollar spent at all brands except Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element, which earn five points per dollar spent and Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay properties which earn 2.5 points per dollar spent.
In addition, for 2018 nights earned at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels will also combine, potentially helping members achieve Elite status faster. Under the unified programs, all SPG members receive a new account number to align with the Marriott Rewards system. Members with multiple program accounts can choose to combine under their preferred account. Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) will continue to live on as separate brand names until early 2019 until they are combined under a new name to be revealed next year.
Under the unified programs, members now earn Silver Elite status after just 10 nights annually, Gold Elite status after just 25 nights, Platinum Elite status after 50 nights and Platinum Premier Elite status after 75 nights. All Platinum Premier members surpassing 100 nights and $20,000 annual spend will enjoy the highest level of personalized service—the popular ambassador program—along with all the other benefits in that tier. Members who have achieved Lifetime status will continue to have their status recognized under the new Lifetime Elite tiers that will apply across the unified programs.
The unified programs also introduce a new Free Night Award chart for redemptions across the entire loyalty portfolio. Nearly 70 percent of hotels now require the same or fewer points for a free stay than before. Furthermore, members can save 25,000 points per night by redeeming for future category eight hotels priced in category seven until 2019, including coveted all-suites properties. The new Free Night Award chart launched with standard pricing, adding off-peak and peak pricing in 2019.
With the new programs comes an array of credit card options. In 2018, Marriott and its U.S. credit card partners, JPMorgan Chase and American Express, will offer new co-branded credit cards that provide card members with more benefits across the entire loyalty portfolio. The recently launched Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card, launching August 23, offer valuable perks and more ways to earn points when using the cards.
The new Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card offers card members six points per dollar spent at 6,700 participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels, two points per dollar spent on all other purchases, an anniversary free-night award for any property up to 35,000 points, and automatic Silver Elite status and path to Gold Status when spending $35,000 on purchases each year. Plus, in 2019 cardmembers will receive 15 Elite Night credits each calendar year.
The new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card will offer card members six points per dollar spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels, three points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and on airfare when booked directly with the airlines, and two points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. Card members also will receive up to $300 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels, a free night award up to 50,000 points, automatic Gold Elite status, a $100 fee credit for Global Entry, Priority Pass Select membership and more.
Members of all three hotel loyalty programs in Canada, Japan, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates can also take advantage of refreshed co-branded credit cards with world-class banking partners and new benefits offered within their respective regions.
Marriott's loyalty programs offer members a holistic travel experience encompassing much more than hotel stays. Members have access to the wide collection of nearly 120,000 irresistible experiences in 1,000 global destinations on the company's expanding Moments platform—Marriott Moments, Marriott Rewards Moments and SPG Moments. These range from destination tours and day trips to exclusive member-only events such as Super Fan Experiences during the Keith Urban Graffiti U World Tour, including autographed merchandise and backstage access, VIP access to popular sporting events like the Super Bowl, music festivals like Coachella, and master classes with superstar chefs like Daniel Boulud in intimate settings.
In addition, other new benefits to highlight include: All members now earn points for food and beverage, spa and other qualifying incidentals charged to their folio, rather than just the room rate. Hotels throughout the loyalty portfolio now have no blackout dates for points redemptions. Booking direct on any of Marriott's digital and mobile channels means members can take advantage of exclusive member-only rates and free Wi-Fi (something that might worry travel advisors). In addition, both the Marriott and SPG apps offer mobile check-in and check-out and send members alerts when their room is ready. Members also can chat directly with hotel associates before, during, and after their stays using Mobile Requests, and use their smartphones as their room key at more than 1,000 hotels.