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Marriott and Starwood Combined Program FAQs

July 09, 2018
5 min read
Marriott and Starwood Combined Program FAQs
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With the Starwood and Marriott joint program and award chart launching just a few weeks from now in August, there are still a few question marks and loose ends to sort through to be sure you are getting as much value as possible out of your points, awards, and elite status levels. While many questions have already been answered, today I wanted to focus on recent most frequently asked questions surrounding the merger to clarify as much as possible.

When does the combined Starwood and Marriott program launch?

This site and several others had been reporting the go-live date of the new combined program as August 1, 2018, but the reality is that may or may not be 100% correct. It could launch on August 1, but at this point, Marriott is just saying that it will launch in "August", presumably to give themselves some wiggle room to work out last minute issues.

Can you get a Marriott Rewards points refund for properties that drop in award price in August?

Some Starwood and Marriott hotels are getting pricier on points when the combined award chart takes effect in August, but many properties are getting less expensive, sometimes dramatically so. For example, the St. Regis Maldives normally prices at 90,000 SPG points per night, but beginning in August it will (temporarily) price at the equivalent of just 20,000 SPG points per night. This is an extremely dramatic example, but you would be able to get the 70,000 points per night difference refunded once the new chart launches in August by calling Marriott Rewards. This will not be an automatic credit, but I was told that if you ask, they will be able to reprice your reservation even if the hotel is now sold out of standard award rooms.

St. Regis Maldives and other high-end resorts are going down in award cost

If the hotel has ample standard awards available, you can save yourself a phone call and just cancel and rebook the award online. If you are concerned about availability, or want to keep your current award reservation intact for some other reason, then you will need to call. For what it is worth, I fully anticipate hold times to be an issue, so just prepare for that reality.

What happens to Marriott Category 1 - 5 certificates when the new program launches?

The new Marriott Rewards award chart and the current Marriott Rewards award chart don't perfectly align with their categories and points prices. Because of that, beginning in August, I was told that "the current Marriott Rewards Category 1 - 5 certificates will be converted into points at the current conversion rate. For example, the Free Night Award for the existing Chase Marriott Card will be worth 25,000 points once the programs combine."

What I think that means is that you will be able to use the certificates to book properties that cost up to 25,000 points per night on the chart below, rather than getting 25,000 points deposited into your account...though the wording is admittedly confusing.

What happens to Marriott Travel Package certificates issued before August?

The Marriott Travel Packages are changing pretty dramatically (for the worse) once the new program launches in August. Just like how the Marriott Category 1 - 5 awards will have an adjusted value when the program combine, the hotel stay portion of the travel packages might as well. There has been a ton of speculation about what will happen with existing travel package certificates, but unfortunately, I still wasn't able to get a solid answer from Marriott.

I was told, "Travel Packages Certificates are still under review from the program, we’re working through those details now." I will continue to inquire about the plans around these certificates and will update as soon as there is a firm answer to share.

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For those curious about the travel packages, they are a great way to stretch your points and get a seven-night stay at a Marriott or Starwood property (beginning in August) along with some airline miles. There are also unpublished five-night packages out there, but those are supposed to only be available to Marriott Vacation Club owners. There are some successful reports of non-owners booking these packages over the phone, but not enough recently for me to feel comfortable telling you it is possible, though you can always try.

Current Marriott Travel Packages
New Marriott Travel Packages launching in Augus

What outstanding questions do you still have about the combined Starwood and Marriott program? Do you have any 'last minute' agenda items to take care of before the new program rolls out next month?