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The Marriott and Starwood programs combine next month in August 2018, but there are still some lingering questions that we are working on answering. Here are some of the answers from Marriott to the most recently asked Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards questions…
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.
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.
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.
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?
Earn 75,000 Marriott Rewards points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months - worth up to $675 in value based on our most recent valuations. On top of the sign-up bonus you'll earn 6x points at participating Marriott and Starwood properties and 2 points on everything else plus a free reward night (worth up to 35,000 points) every year after your account anniversary.
- Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
- Earn 6X points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels.
- 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Guaranteed Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year.
- Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
- Coming in 2019, 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
- Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get Free Night Stays faster.