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a group of camels walking by a pool

After yesterday evening’s announcement about the future of the Marriott/SPG/St. Regis loyalty programs, I spent a few hours pouring over everything I could find. Between reading the information from the Marriott website, Dan’s post about the things you should know, posts on Doctor of Credit, Mommy Points and other blogs, and haring what a number of you think over on the Points With a Crew Facebook page, I feel like I have a decent handle on the situation. Even after all of that research, there are still a few things we are waiting to find out.

Which Hotels in Which Category?

With the new changes comes a new award chart. Hotels will now fall within the category 1-7 range with category 8 being added in 2019. As of now, we don’t know where any specific hotels will land.

a screenshot of a screenshot of a screenshot of a screenshot of a screenshot of a screenshot of a screenshot of a screenshot of a screenshot

I enjoyed reading this article from the New York Times regarding the changes.  mentions that Marriott’s SVP of Global Loyalty, David Flueck made the point that, “There are more properties where standard award pricing will fall than there are where they will rise.”

Booking Sweet Spot?

If you aren’t familiar with the current SPG or Marriott/Ritz Carlton free night award charts, you might be particularly interested to know that the highest category in each program is as follows:

  • SPG: Category 7 for 35,000 SPG points or 105,000 Marriott Rewards when transferred at a rate of 3 Marriott Rewards per 1 SPG point
  • Ritz Carlton: Category 5 for 70,000 points
  • Marriott: Category 9 for 45,000 points

If you take a look at the new combined chart above, you can see that the highest category between August and December will be category 7 which can be redeemed for 60,000 points per night. There is some real potential for saving points if you will be booking stays at higher end luxury properties like the W Bali – Seminyak (pictured below) that regularly goes for 35,000 SPG points (or 105,000 Marriott Rewards points).

a swimming pool with palm trees and a beach

Peak and Off-Peak Awards?

Personally, this is the aspect of the program that I dislike the most. At this point, we don’t know if all hotels will have peak/off-peak times. We also don’t know how broad “peak” might get. Will the full summer season have peak redemption rates? What about spring break or Christmas?

In the same New York Times article I mentioned above, Flueck pointed out that, “There will be roughly the same number of peak and off-peak nights.” It’s unclear if that will be overall or for each property. For some reference, you can take a look at the current peak season dates for SPG properties here.

SPG Flights Program Sticking Around?

SPG members have the option to book flights directly through SPG. This program doesn’t seem to be as popular as the Marriott Nights & Flights program (which IS sticking around) but it still has some value. If nothing else, it can help give a base value to your points. So far, there is no word about if the new program will allow the same ability.

Here is a segment of the redemption chart. You can find the chart in full here.

a screenshot of a white and black ticket

Earning Elite Status Through SPG Stays

On the main page for the new Marriott program, they suggest combining SPG and Marriott Rewards accounts by August. They also mention that the new program will allow members to earn elite status through nights instead of stays.

The current SPG program lets you earn platinum status after 25 stays. According to this page, SPG members can continue to earn status with 25 stays at SPG-associated properties. This New York Times article suggests that all members can earn status through the new or old program.

It’s somewhat unclear to me exactly how this will shake out. If you combine your accounts in August, will that impact your ability to earn stay based status? What about if you are currently only a Marriott Rewards member, can you still earn status with 25 stays at SPG properties?

How Long Will Status Last?

In the past, both SPG and Marriott Rewards have given status for 14 months after the year in which the status was earned. That means that status earned in 2018 would continue through the end of February 2020.

So far, there hasn’t been an announcement regarding the new elite status expiration date. I think it would be likely that they will keep it at the same 14 month period since both programs have operated that way.

What are your thoughts on the new SPG/Marriott Rewards program? Do you have any questions that you haven’t been able to find an answer to? Leave them in the comments and hopefully we can help answer them!


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