Marriott Confirms Date for New Program and Award Chart Launch
Mark your calendars for August 18! That's the date Marriott's new combined loyalty program will launch, and when you'll finally be able to book award stays at the new redemption rates.
To recap, here's what's changing when Marriott flips the switch:
- SPG balances will be multiplied by 3
- The new combined award chart will become available
- New elite status tiers and benefits kick in immediately
- Elite-qualifying nights will be combined
- Lifetime-qualifying nights and years will be combined
- Stays can be booked at all 6,500+ hotels through any website, app or reservations line
- New earning rates kick in:
- 10 points per US $1 on qualifying charges at most hotels
- 5 points per US $1 at Element, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites
- 2.5 points per US $1 at Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay
- A new SPG app will launch with the same functionality as the current Marriott app
- Both apps will support keyless room access at all participating hotels
While benefits will be identical, customers can choose to maintain either an SPG, Marriott Rewards or Ritz-Carlton account — for now. If you choose SPG, you'll be issued a new nine-digit number, while Marriott or Ritz members will either keep the number they're currently assigned, or be issued a new one if necessary — Marriott and Ritz members will receive an email or phone call with a new number, should one need to be assigned.
Regardless of which program you choose to maintain for the rest of the year, you'll be migrated to the new combined loyalty program in 2019 — if you already have a Marriott account today, I'd pick that one, since there's a much better chance you'll be able to hang on to your existing account number. Your password should remain the same regardless of which account you select.
Marriott chose to launch the new program on a Saturday to minimize the impact on customers — the entire chain's websites and apps will be down at times, while award redemptions will be unavailable for much of the day. While even paid reservations will occasionally be unavailable, it should be possible to make a credit card booking later in the day. If you anticipate needing to book on the 18th, be sure to make your reservation at least a day in advance.
Marriott will make exceptions for customers inconvenienced by the downtime, however — for example, if the reservations system is unavailable leading up to a booking cancellation deadline, you should be able to have a change or cancellation fee waived as long as you contact Marriott once the system is back up and running. Still, I'd plan to make changes before the 18th, if at all possible.
Additionally, since elite-qualifying nights will be combined on the 18th, many members will have their accounts bumped up to a higher tier. If you happen to reach a new elite level during a stay as a result, your new benefits should be available after the 18th — just be sure to ask the front desk to update your reservation, and add benefits like free breakfast, lounge access and upgrades, if available.
For more on what to expect from the program merger, see: