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Since Marriott announced its acquisition of SPG in late 2016, many diehard SPG loyalists like TPG began counting down the days to what we assumed was the impending demise of our beloved program. But on Monday, Marriott announced the full details of the new loyalty program, and while there are certainly winners and losers, we can rest easy knowing that many of our favorite perks like generous airline transfers will remain the same.
As you would expect from a merger of two multi-billion dollar companies, people have questions — lots of them. TPG sat down the other day with Marriott’s head of loyalty, David Flueck, to address some of the most pressing questions about the new program…
They were able to cover a lot of topics in the 25 minute interview, but there were still plenty of unanswered questions, so we reached out to Marriott to get some answers. We’ve sorted the questions by topic, starting with the area that still creates the most confusion.
Q: When will the free night certificates be available for SPG cards under the new system?
A: Free nights will be awarded within 8-12 weeks of account renewal for renewals on August 1 or later. That means if your cardmember anniversary is on August 1, your free night will be deposited no later than November 1.
Q: What happens to the existing free night certificates from Chase Marriott cards?
A: There are no current changes to these certificates, but when the new program officially starts in August, the certificates will change from being category-based to points-based. The details of those changes will be shared in July.
Note that while the current certificates are valid at any category 1-5 property, the new ones will exclude category 5 properties at peak pricing, which is 40,000 points. However, Marriott will not be implementing peak/off-peak pricing until 2019.
Q: I have a free night certificate from a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton card. Can I use it at an SPG property in August?
A: Yes, once the new program takes effect, outstanding free night certificates will be converted to a point-based model. At that time, they’ll be valid for use at any of our properties up to the point value displayed on the certificate. This means you can use a Marriott certificate at an SPG hotel, and vice versa.
Q: If I have both personal and business Marriott/SPG cards, can I earn more than one 15-night elite credit?
A: No. Under the new system, members will be limited to one 15 elite night credit per year regardless of how many Marriott or SPG credit cards they hold, including personal and business versions.
Q: Will American Express Platinum and Centurion card members still earn automatic status?
A: Platinum and Centurion card members will continue to earn automatic Gold status in the new program as part of their card benefits.
Q: Will the existing Chase Marriott Business credit card lose the ability to earn 1 elite night credit for each $3,000 in spend?
A: At the moment, no changes will be made to the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card. However, Marriott informs us that in July it will have “some exciting news to share” about both the business and Ritz-Carlton credit cards.
Q: So far in 2018, I have 30 nights with Marriott and 25 with SPG. Will they add up to 55 in the new program?
A: Yes. All stays by members at participating Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood properties before August 2018 will be treated equally and count toward a singular status.
Q: Will award nights continue to count toward elite status in the new program?
Q: Is there a way to check your spending progress towards Ambassador status ($20,000 spend and 100 nights)?
A: Starting in August, once you reach 50 nights, a counter will appear in your loyalty account showing qualifying spend.
Q: What elite status levels will have lifetime options and what will the requirements be for those?
A: Members will have the opportunity to earn lifetime Silver, Gold, or Platinum (50 night) according to this chart:
It also appears that lifetime Platinum members will not earn Suite Night Awards if they stay less than 50 nights in a year, but they will still be eligible for complimentary upgrades at check-in.
Q: How will Marriott determine when to use Off-Peak/Standard/Peak award pricing?
A: This will largely be based on expected seasonal or event-driven demand at a hotel. During TPG’s live Q&A session with Marriott’s head of loyalty, we learned that Marriott expects to have roughly the same number of peak and off-peak award nights available across the entire portfolio at any given time. While this might not help you get a cheap summer getaway to Hawaii, it means you’ll be able to get a good deal on other properties elsewhere in the world during the same time.
Q: What is happening to the 5th Night Free on award bookings?
A: Marriott will continue to offer a fifth night free of equal or lesser value on award bookings. This means that if the first four nights of your stay price out at the standard rate, but your fifth night is peak, you wouldn’t earn a fifth night free. If the fifth night is off peak or standard, you would.
Q: What will happen to the SPG Pro event planning program and the Marriott Rewarding Events program? Will you continue to earn 10 elite nights for meetings at Marriott/SPG properties?
A: SPG Pro will be discontinued in August and Starpoints will become points in the new program at a 1-to-3 ratio. All existing contracts will be honored at the new earning rate, and members can continue to book meetings through the Rewarding Events program. Rewarding Events members will continue to earn 10 elite night credits for their first meeting, plus 1 elite night credit for every 20 rooms booked with a maximum of 20 elite nights per contract.
Q: What is happening to Marriott’s Hotel+Air packages and SPG’s Nights and Flights?
A: Marriott Rewards Hotel+Air packages will become the standard in the new program.
Even with the list above, there are still some questions which we’re working on getting answers for, so we’ll continue to add to this list as we receive additional details. And if you still have questions after reviewing our extensive coverage at “The New Marriott,” leave them in the comments below and we’ll make every effort to get the answers from Marriott.