This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

TPG reader Roger sent me a message on Facebook to ask about moving his loyalty to a new hotel program:

“I’m switching from Hilton HHonors to Marriott Rewards, since Marriott has a better presence in my favorite travel destinations. I don’t want to start from scratch with my points and elite status; what’s the best way to make the transition?”

On occasion I’ve made the decision to switch loyalty programs, usually because my old program devalued so much that I couldn’t justify sticking around. Of course, there are other, more pragmatic reasons for making a change, like moving to the hub of a different airline or discovering (as Roger did) that another hotel better serves your top vacation spots. Getting started in a new program can be cumbersome because you may not have as many points to work with and you lose momentum from elite status, but there are some ways to make the change easier.

There’s no simple way to transfer your points from Hilton to Marriott without sacrificing a lot of value, so you should just look for opportunities to use up your remaining HHonors balance. However, you can take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses to jump-start your Marriott account. For example, the Marriott Rewards Premier Card offers 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, and another 7,500 points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase also in the first three months.

You can easily transfer points to Marriott from Ultimate Rewards, so cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus Business Card can also help you accumulate enough for your next award redemption. Ritz-Carlton has also offered some highly lucrative offers on its own co-branded Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (like last year’s monster 140,000-point bonus).

Marriott Rewards could see some improvement when Starwood properties are brought into the fold.
Marriott Rewards could see some improvement when Starwood properties are brought into the fold.

As for elite qualification, there are some shortcuts to gaining status in the Marriott Rewards program so you don’t have to start from square one. For example, the Marriott Visa gives you 15 elite-qualifying nights each year — enough for automatic Silver status. If you have United Premier Gold status or higher, you can get complimentary Marriott Gold status via the RewardsPlus partnership.

Another option is to try a status match or challenge, which may allow you to parlay an existing relationship with Hilton HHonors into elite status with Marriott. Anecdotal evidence suggests that you’re unlikely to have your status matched outright, but your chances of being offered a challenge are fair depending on your current HHonors level.

Roger has picked an interesting time to make the switch, as Marriott’s recent acquisition of Starwood will likely spell changes to both loyalty programs down the line. At this point we don’t know what a combined program would look like, but it’s probably good news for Marriott Rewards members, who will gain access to Starwood’s high-end portfolio.

For more info on Marriott Rewards and hotel elite status, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.