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Update 11/15/16: Marriott has confirmed that this new benefit is now also available to cardmembers in Canada, the UK, the United Arab Emirates and Japan.
At least so far, the Marriott-Starwood merger has been quite customer-friendly; members of the respective hotel loyalty programs can link their accounts and transfer points between them, and if you have elite status in one program, you can be matched to an equivalent in the other one.
Overall, the integration of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest hasn’t eliminated any significant value for travelers — in fact, it’s added some. But to be honest, we were originally a bit bummed that when the merger first closed, you couldn’t earn bonus Starpoints if you used your Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express at a Marriott property (and vice versa with the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card).
Luckily, though, there’s been a positive change on that front: You’ll now earn 2 Starpoints per dollar spent at Marriott hotels when you use your Starwood Amex (and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express), and 5 points per dollar when you use the Marriott Card (including both business versions) or the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card at Starwood properties!
This is great news for Marriott or Starwood loyalists looking to explore the opposite hotel program’s portfolio without sacrificing bonus points in the process. Now, you’ll just need to decide which travel rewards card makes the most sense to use for paid stays at these properties. And to make that easier, we did the math.
Below is a breakdown of the earning rates you’ll get with the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Starwood co-branded cards when you stay at Marriott or Starwood properties — including a calculation of the return on your spending based on TPG’s latest valuations. The chart also includes the return you’ll get with two other great travel rewards cards, Citi Prestige and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which are go-tos for hotel spending for many award travelers.
|Card Name||Points Per Dollar at Marriott/Starwood Hotels||Return on Spending|
|Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express||2||5.4%|
|Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express||2||5.4%|
|Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card||5||4.5%|
|Marriott Premier Rewards Business Credit Card||5||4.5%|
|Marriott Rewards Business Credit Card||3||2.7%|
|The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card||5||4.5%|
|Citi Prestige Card||3||4.8%|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve
As you can see, even though the Marriott cards earn you 5 points per dollar on spending at Marriott (and now Starwood) hotels, due to the higher value of Stapoints, earning 2 points per dollar with the Starwood Amex at Starwood and Marriott properties still gets you a better return. And technically the Sapphire Reserve Card gets you the highest return of all these options — and you can transfer the Ultimate Rewards points you earn with it to both Marriott (and on to Starwood Preferred Guest if you’re so inclined) and Ritz-Carlton — however it’s important to note that you can only expect to receive a 2.7% return if you transfer your UR points to Marriott.
The ability to earn 2x Starpoints at Marriott hotels when you use your Starwood card and 5x points at SPG properties when you use your Marriott card is great for members of both programs. The bonus earning rates across both hotel chains will likely encourage members to start exploring both brands’ portfolios more extensively, since they won’t be limiting their points-earning potential by stepping across the aisle to Marriott from SPG or vice versa.
Featured image courtesy of the Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel (Design Hotels) and the JW Marriott Los Cabos.
If you’re a Marriott/Starwood loyalist, will you be staying at the opposite brand’s properties now that you’ll earn bonus points from the credit card at an equal rate?