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Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood closed in September and they immediately made it possible to match status across the programs, and to move points back and forth at a ratio of 3 Marriott points to 1 Starpoint.
They’ve begun to align their programs in some subtle ways. One of the first things, even before the merger, was Marriott offering 4pm late checkout to Gold and Platinum elites, introducing experiential redemptions in the vein of SPG Moments and testing a concierge program for top elites similar to Starwood Ambassador.
Now they’ve come out with their new promotion for earning between January 16 and April 15, and it’s the same across all 3 of their loyalty platforms: double points on your first 3 stays at participating hotels in each program.
- In contrast Hilton has extended their current triple points promotion through January 31 and there’s no cap on earning.
- So this isn’t the most generous promotion imaginable, it’s less generous than much of what we’ve seen out of both Marriott and Starwood in the past, but it’s interesting because they’re aligned and also because it creates something of an incentive to move from Starwood to Marriott or vice versa if you’re motivated by double points
Registration is required between December 15 and March 15, for earning January 16 through April 15. You should always register for these promotions even if you don’t anticipate any qualifying stays with a brand. You never know when a stay will creep up and you won’t ever remember to register later.
You can register with Starwood to earn double points in your SPG account for Starwood stays, and you can register with Marriott to earn double points in your Marriott Rewards account for Marriott stays.
Of course Marriott asks you to choose either Ritz-Carlton Rewards or Marriott Rewards for your Marriott and Ritz-Carlton stays, historically the only real difference between the programs has been the promotion opportunities (and the co-brand credit cards) and this quarter the promotions are the same.
Choosing between Ritz-Carlton and Marriott programs really does come down tot he credit cards for me. For earning status each has a different approach:
- The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card which gives you Gold status the first year and then lets you keep Gold status spending $10,000 each year on the card (or $75,000 for Platinum). However that spending doesn’t combine with the nights you’re already staying to help you earn status. In other words, Gold status is normally 50 nights. Spending $10,000 on that card and staying 25 nights (or earning 15 nights by having the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card and staying 10 nights) wouldn’t get you to Platinum.
- What I like then about the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is that it’s great for people who do stay at Marriotts, they can top off the nights they stay with some spending to earn elite night credit for status.
Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Credit: Ritz-Carlton
My own view is that double points are worth registering for but are not worth shifting your stay decisions for. Pick up double points where offered because they’re better than ‘not double points’ but take this promotion for what it is, the first move towards aligning Starwood Preferred Guest promotional offerings with the Marriott portfolios.