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Back in July, United and Marriott announced they were launching a new partnership called RewardsPlus in the vein of Starwood and Delta’s Crossover Rewards that provides reciprocal benefits to elites of the airline and hotel chain. To participate, you can register at either the Marriott Registration Page or United Registration page.
RewardsPlus offers Marriott Rewards Platinum Elite and Platinum Premier Elite complimentary MileagePlus Premier Silver status, and United Global Services, Premier 1K, Premier Platinum and Premier Gold members all of the benefits of Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status. The status offerings will be effective until January 31, 2014.
Also starting this month, MileagePlus Premier members can convert their MileagePlus miles into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio, up to 50,000 miles per year, and Marriott Rewards elites can convert their hotel points to MileagePlus miles at a 20% discount, so instead of ratios of between 5 points : 1 mile to 2.8 points : 1 mile, the new conversion rates will be between 4 points : 1 mile to 2.1 points : 1 mile depending on how many points you transfer.
Marriott Rewards members (open to all, no registration required) will also get 10% more MileagePlus miles when redeeming Marriott Rewards points for flight and hotel Travel Packages.
Why I Registered
As a United Premier Platinum, I decided to register today – it took about 30 seconds, and my new Marriott Gold status should be effective within a week (though I expect it’ll only take a day or two).
I don’t think I’ll be taking advantage of the partnership to convert United miles (which I value among the highest mileage currencies) to Marriott points since I get much better values from them with premium redemptions on their partners like Lufthansa and Singapore. Nor will I likely be converting Marriott points to United miles since the new ratios, though better, still aren’t great and you need to convert 140,000 points to get that 2.1 points : 1 mile ratio, so I generally use my hotel points for hotel stays.
Every so often, though, I do book stays at Marriott or Ritz-Carlton and that Gold status will come in handy. It usually requires 50 qualifying nights per calendar year to qualify, and includes benefits like:
- Free Internet Access
- Complimentary Room Upgrade (based on availability)
- Guaranteed room type at certain properties
- Continental breakfast, light snacks and beverages in the Lounge for members and one guest
- Free local phone and free local fax
- Discounted long-distance phone calls
- Hertz #1 Gold membership
- 25% bonus on earned points
So whereas now I tend to stick to my main chains of Starwood and Hyatt where I have top-tier elite status, having those elite benefits under my belt will definitely make staying at a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton on future trips more attractive – especially since Marriott has about twice the hotels worldwide as Starwood and Hyatt combined, so it’s sometimes easier to find one of them depending on the destination.
If you’re not a Marriott elite or a United Premier member but are interested in Marriott Gold status, by the way, you can always sign up for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa, which confers automatic Gold status on cardholders for the first year, and then every year thereafter that you spend $10,000, among other benefits.
All in all, I think it’s exciting that hotels and airlines are teaming up to improve the travel experience for their best customers. Because the two partnerships so far seem to be based, perhaps loosely, on a shared credit card issuer (Amex for Delta and Starwood, Chase for Marriott and United), I’m interested whether we’ll see any more pairings this year with other brands including Hilton and American possibly since both issue cards through Citi.