Are People Transferring More Points to Marriott or to Starwood, and How are They Redeeming?

There are some important lessons to be learned from traffic flows. For instance which way traffic went over the Berlin Wall said almost everything you needed to know about socialism.

We’ve got some early indication of which way points are flowing now that members can freely move points between Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest at a ratio of 3 Marriott points to 1 Starwood point.

St. Regis Bangkok

This is an online report of a conversation with I’d assume Thom Kozick of Marriott Rewards and I haven’t verified the information. However,

I started chatting with someone, who turned out to be the head of the Marriott Rewards Program. I was star struck.

…[O]ne billion Marriott points have been transferred to SPG so far. People aren’t spending those as fast.

350 million SPG points have been transferred to Marriott. They are being used much faster, and when I mentioned I was [doing] mine for a nights and flights package, he said a bigger-than-expected number of transfers have gone to this.

I’ve always tried to bank my Starwood points. And I find it difficult to spend them, because they are so valuable with so many options I’ve always found the option value to be the greatest asset. It seems like members like to bank with Starwood, and have done so even with the expectation that they’d continue to be able to make transfers later and that the points will eventually be combined back with Marriott Rewards points.

The first transfer was from Starwood to Marriott, and the points were used for a stay in Osaka.

However it’s interesting that the flow has been more towards Starwood, but those points are being banked. But that transfers to Marriott are strategic, to be used right away, and that people doing so understand the best value in the Marriott program which is travel packages.

Since one billion Marriott points transfer to 333 million Starpoints, and 350 million Starpoints transfer to just over a billion Marriott points (and since these are round numbers being reported) it sounds like Marriott is suggesting that the number of points transferred between programs has been roughly equal. Which also says that the 3:1 ratio they chose was the correct one.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This merger, like AA with US Airways, should never have happened. Love SPG, hate Marriott. Love AA, hate US Airways. Simple math.

  2. They really are very different programs. Part of the issue is lack of breakfast and other elite benefits at resort properties. (Try getting an upgrade as a platinum at a Marriott resort in Hawaii). There is actually talk that Marriott resorts upgrade elites after Costco package customers!

  3. I have never had an issue with getting upgrades at ANY Hawaiian Marriott property. I have been a member since 1985 lifetime PLT quite awhile ago. Now having said that sometimes the upgrade is not a huge ocean front suite but always been happy. I think some people take upgrades as a right and have not fully read the program.

    Over the years I have found that for me at least I just book the room I want that way no issues when I check in. Over the years I have over heard at checkin people booking the cheapest room then demanding an upgrade to a ocean front room, it’s amazing.

    As for upgrading a discount package before Marriott FT I doubt that but hey if you have proof then write Marriott am sure they would be delighted to know.

    Mergers are a part of our world some good some not so good. The real problem is not so much the merger its the “equity capital” people that are sucking the life out of these properties. Case in point Hyatt Waikiki, Japanese businessman sold to GS, who bled it, no maintenance then sold to Blackstone again bled it finally after these two took their toll on the once great hotel it has been sold to a Korean group. The staff is collectively holding their breath waiting for the new owners who all indications will revive this once great beachfront property.

    My two cents worth Gary

  4. @Gary

    I think Cody is talking about the fact that you didn’t clearly state the source as reddit or the user, as you just wrote “online report”. While you may have linked to reddit, that’s not quite the same as giving the source credit.

    I see Cody’s point, because from your writing, I really have no idea who the source is.

  5. @tassojunior “West Germany was socialist”

    Yes, all of Germany was Socialist under the Nazis. The name Nazi is short for: National Socialist Workers Party. Many on the left today want to pretend that Nazism was Fascist, not Socialist. But in fact Fascism is just one variant of Socialism.

    Gary however was referring to the post war period, when East Germany was Communist/Socialist, and the only West Germans who went to East Germany were people who made short trips to visit relatives stranded on the wrong side of the Wall.

    According to Wikipedia, before the Wall was built, 3.5 Million East Germans emigrated to the West. After the Wall was built, @200 people died trying to escape. Unlike most walls, this one was not built to keep anyone out. It’s sole purpose was to keep people from escaping the Socialist prison state. 😉

    A must on any trip to Berlin today is of course to see the Memorial to the Berlin Wall. And especially the fascinating Berlin Wall Museum, near Checkpoint Charlie, which is filled with things East Germans built to successfully escape. Everything from hidden compartments in cars, to a home made Hang Glider, and even a home made submarine. While it’s sad to realize how desperate they were to escape, the ingenuity of their creations is truly inspiring.

  6. @Melissa is correct. The 3-1 ratio gesture was nice, but most likely an anomaly. I’ll move my SPG Plat biz to Motel 6 before I voluntarily participate in Marriott’s inevitable death by 1,000 cuts.

    SPG was for travelers. Marriott is for tourists.

  7. @ghostrdier5408 says:”I think some people take upgrades as a right and have not fully read the program.”

    Ain’t that a fact. Yes ,sir, some people refer to elite upgrades as “guaranteed” or “confirmed” when in reality — i.e., reading the fine print or even the large print — there is no such thing. The host of OMAAT even went as far as saying that elites of some programs (not coincidentally they are his favorite program) are “entitled” (his word) to suite upgrades, which goes precisely to your point that “some people take upgrades as a right and have not fully read the program.” On paper, and even in reality for those to know how to play the game, HH, MR and SPG elite suite upgrade policies are virtually identical, while HGP awards just 4 DSUs that are confirmable at booking (subject to availability like all elite upgrades), but are by far the most restricted elite suite upgrades in the business.

    I, for one, do not wish to have my perks “guaranteed” because all it means is that a program wants to be able to deny aspects of a perk that fall outside of the purported “guarantee”. You wish to have a 4pm late checkout “guaranteed”? No problem, you got it. But then when you request a 6pm checkout out EZE because your flight back to IAH leaves at 9pm, your request will be denied because, remember?, your late checkout “guarantee” is only to 4pm!

    Back on topic, I transferred my whole stash of 9K starpoints to MR points, getting 27K of the latter that I just used to top off the points in MR account to be able to book OUTRIGHT a 3-night stay in a JW SUITE (150K points) at JW Marriott Bangkok 😉

  8. DCS is a hero for getting a late checkout in EZE, when the hotels are used to flyers leaving late at night as accommodating accordingly. News flash, my 4pm at the Park Tower was guaranteed, and 7pm was no issue. A guarantee is a baseline, not a restriction.

    Intellectual dishonestly at its finest as usual.

  9. Such nonsense — Hilton Buenos Aires is located in Puerto Madero (look it up), which is in the heart of the city and let checkout I got was not once but 3 times in as many years. How about Hilton’s iconic hotel in Chicago, the “Drake”, which is the last place where I requested a late checkout (5pm) and was approved without a fuss? The only dishonesty I see here is people making demonstrably bogus claims that can be easily debunked in the internet age.

  10. This was my first year really trying Marriott and I am totally unimpressed. The yearly free night can’t be used at any hotel I have ever checked. At every hotel I checked in Italy, you don’t get free breakfast as a gold. They didn’t honor their “no hassle’ price guarantee. You can’t contact them any way except by 800 number; all the other chains I was able to email the hotel directly with questions, and the website doesn’t have enough information about the hotels so you really need to contact them often. And in one hotel I stayed at, they showed two different rooms, a standard and a deluxe for 15 euros more. But at the hotel they said every room was identical. Once I had the room I can see they just show photos taken from different angles so they look different. This should be illegal, but regardless it doesn’t endear me to Marriott.

    I am going to transfer my points to airlines (either directly or through SPG) and be done with Marriott. I’m just pissed I wasted a “new card” chit on this and now I can’t get a Sapphire Reserve.

  11. Well, hopefully the rush is over and they’ve ridden out the storm with the travel packages. Because if not, their surprise may lead to a devaluation with those sooner than later. And I worry about how many are waiting for just after the new year for the companion pass…

  12. I transferred a bunch of spg over to MAR to book a week at the JW Marriott Essex house and a bunch of UA miles. If/when I get enough I’ll do something similar again, it’s an awfully good deal.

  13. For every DCS who claims to play with a “full deck” (i.e., by harassing FDCs), there are legions of Hilton Golds & Diamonds who beg for 2pm and can’t even get it.

    Of course, all of this is avoided w/SPG/MR and a 4pm guarantee (which isn’t hard to get extended IME)

  14. I can’t speak for anyone else, nor do I care to, just as I do not care to have my perks “guaranteed.”

    Rules are what they are, inflated or misinterpreted as most are. To each his or her own; just do not claim a program’s “superiority” based on perks that I take for granted because I have never been denied as a top HH elite. A program that can find standard award or room availability at oversold properties for their top elites through “Diamond Force”, where others fail their elites, certainly should be able accommodate late checkout requests if they are made in advance as is required (no need to play with a “full deck” to be able to make a timely request, but you’d be surprised and, in fact, it might explain some or most of the denials.)…

  15. I guess DCS would be perfectly fine with UA only electing to honor GPU upgrade ability for available R space IF the airline felt like it (versus it being “guaranteed” as a part of the program T&Cs). Would have made his int’l MR a lot more enjoyable if he only knew at the gate if they’d honor it or not.

    Funny how a double standard works…

  16. LOL. What passes for enlightened retort is to present an example that contradicts one’s claim. GPUs are NOT “guaranteed” by any stretch of the imagination. If GPUs were “guaranteed”, I would not be on a waitlist right now for my January 2017 HKG-ORD flight — a long TPAC flight I am praying gets upgraded, but might not be precisely because the GPU IS NOT “GUARANTEED”! No elite upgrade ever is. If there is a contingency, like that that little thing called AVAILABILITY, and there always is, then it is NOT “guaranteed.” I am not sure how that simple concept can be made any clearer.

  17. Idiot, my example was IF R space was available. Currently you apply, that upgrade IS guaranteed.

    IF open R just meant you MIGHT get it at the gate, at the GA’s whim (a la Hilton late upgrade requests) I bet you’d be b!tching up a storm. LOL.

  18. Now his is throwing puerile insults. Get lost. Anyone who has followed your total lack of “logic” knows just who id the real idiot. I am suspecting that you are not there all mentally when you can just come out of the blue and insult. It’s a personality defect. There is a moron like that who even believes that he can be president of the United States.


  19. Hey I’d expect nothing more intellect-wise from someone who can’t even keep the two Shanghai airports straight

  20. @DCS:
    Somewhere there is a tree working overtime to produce enough oxygen to account for your existence. I think you should go find that tree and apologize to it

  21. @losingtrader — First part of the moniker says it all. Do I know you sir/madam? If not, then how does disparaging me without provocation possibly advance your cause, whatever it maybe, other than to give yourself futile gratification for being obnoxious?

    The “Trump Effect” is unmistakable.

    Have a good life.

  22. Were MR and SPG about the same size (points issued-wise) before the merger? Assuming not, then I think the conclusion that the exchange ratio was right because equivalent volumes have been exchanged is based on bad logic. I happen to think that the 3:1 ratio was right, but the trade flows suggest SPGers did better, it seems largely driven by the package deals.

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