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I’m sure that this past Saturday, August 18 was circled on many of your calendars — I know it was circled in red on mine. That was the day the fully unified Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and SPG loyalty program was set to launch as one. While it did (technically) happen, it hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing, or really smooth sailing at all.
We’ve written about various angles of the integration over the weekend, including the status of booking high-end resorts for 60,000 points per night and the announcement of conversion rates for existing travel package certificates, which was further updated earlier today as we’ll explain in a moment. However, there are still several details left to be ironed out, so we wanted to give a quick round-up of where things stand after just a few days, in case you’re trying to make use of your accounts now rather than just wait until the dust settles.
1. You still have separate SPG and Marriott accounts (but hopefully not for long).
One of the most important remaining changes to be implemented is the ability to combine your legacy SPG account with your legacy Marriott account. The ability to combine accounts is being rolled out to customers in batches today and Tuesday, according to a statement from Marriott:
“…we are planning to rollout Account Combine functionality in batches to our members to ensure site stability and a seamless user experience. When members log into their account and see the prompt, they can then manually combine their accounts to view joint activity and merged balances.”
When it launches, you should be able to visit this page to combine your accounts, which as of now still has a “Coming Soon” grayed-out icon. We’ve also been able to access the account merging tool directly at this link but it was still erroring out when we tried it.
In the meantime, you still need to login separately for both Marriott and SPG, and can still see your separate reservations, point balances and elite status nights in each. Your Marriott information is visible by going to Marriott.com and logging in with your pre-integration Marriott credentials:
To access your old Starwood activity, visit spg.com and login in with your SPG credentials. Even though this will redirect you to a Marriott.com URL, you should still see your SPG details:
You may even see pop-up boxes reminding you that your Starpoints have been multiplied by three, and the site may also direct you to visit the profile section of your account to see your new Marriott number. Note that this is different from your old separate Marriott number, and your old Starwood number should be listed underneath.
If you’re having trouble accessing either or both of your accounts, here are a few tricks the TPG team has stumbled upon that may prove helpful:
- Click on “Clear remembered user” on the login page before entering credentials
- Use a different browser for each
- Clear your cookies
- Open private/incognito mode
2. You may be able to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott.
One bit of functionality that appears to be live (though buggy) is the ability to transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio. If you have a card that accrues Membership Rewards points like The Platinum Card® from American Express, login to your account, select “Explore Rewards,” click “Transfer Points” and then “View All.” You should then see “Starwood Preferred Guest” listed in the Hotels section with the new conversion rate:
Unfortunately, we’ve had trouble when trying to link new account numbers. When I completed all of the fields and clicked “Link Account,” I got the following error message:
I’ll chalk this up to a simple bug, though I’d love to hear your experiences, so please comment below if you’ve been able to successfully set up your Marriott or SPG account for transfers.
3. Marriott award reservations without points attached are updating automatically.
One bit of good news involves pre-integration Marriott awards booked with the program’s “points advance” feature. It appears that reservations booked without enough points attached are being automatically updated to the lower point values. For example, a reservation for next month at the Residence Inn Portsmouth Downtown/Waterfront was booked in July at 40,000 points per night (plus $224.65 by using Marriott’s Cash + Points option to use points for the more expensive night). As of today, it’s showing the now reduced price of 35,000 points per night:
What’s unclear, however, is if this has also been applied to properties that increased in price as of August 18. We have received one report where that’s reported to be the case, so please comment below if you’ve experienced pre-integration Marriott reservations made without the sufficient number of points in the account now displaying a higher price based on the new category levels.
4. Elite status levels still aren’t accurate.
Many TPG team members are seeing inaccurate status levels, and it appears to be a broader issue based on a statement we got from Marriott:
“We are aware and currently working to solve a few known issues impacting some members, particularly issues around status not displaying correctly.”
From our experience, it looks like this mainly affects those who were granted SPG Gold status via the Amex Platinum and then matched that status to Marriott Gold, which has then been inaccurately “upgraded” to Platinum Elite status in the new program. However, I wouldn’t go celebrating yet — this will likely be resolved quickly as Marriott is aware of these issues.
5. The RewardsPlus site is down through Wednesday, but United transfers are working.
I’m sure many of you were interested in the practical impact this integration would have on Marriott’s RewardsPlus partnership with United. Before Saturday, Marriott had indicated there were no planned changes, but unfortunately that’s not entirely accurate.
Platinum Premier members and above (the equivalent of old Marriott Platinum) will continue to enjoy Silver status in United’s MileagePlus program, so that’s a nice added perk for SPG Platinums. However, if you’re United Premier Gold or higher, you’ll only be granted Gold Elite status in the new Marriott program. Marriott has spun this as “no change” simply because of the names, but the new Gold Elite status is comparable to SPG Gold, and thus it’s a fairly substantial devaluation in practical terms for loyal United flyers. It’s also worth noting that the RewardsPlus site is currently offline and will be through at least Wednesday.
However, you’re now able to transfer your Marriott points to United at a slightly more favorable rate than other airlines. While most carriers are available to convert your Marriott points into airline miles at the expected 3:1 transfer ratio (plus a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred), United’s transfer ratio is actually 3:1.1, giving you a 10% bonus. As a result, when you transfer your Marriott points in increments of 60,000, you’re essentially getting 1.35 United miles for every 3 Marriott points (or 1 Starpoint). Considering that United’s ratio was an underwhelming 2:1 under the legacy SPG program, this is a nice enhancement if you want to increase your United account balance.
6. You still can’t book awards over the phone.
As of right now, if it can’t be done online, it basically can’t be done. This means that if you hope that a call center rep at either Marriott or SPG can help book an award you can’t book online (such as at the SPG all-suites properties), you’ll be disappointed. The phone reps seem to have access to even less functionality than you have at your own computer, so for now, do what you can online and wait out the rest.
The brighter news is that the Marriott phone rep I spoke with earlier said they were told that the ability to book awards over the phone should return on Tuesday around noon. Still, everything in this integration has been running behind Marriott’s hoped-for schedule, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.
7. Good news (finally) for Marriott Travel Package certificate holders.
There’s some good news today for those who hold unattached certificates from the old Marriott Travel Packages. Marriott had previously said to expect a month-old blackout on redeeming existing certificates, but “After pressure testing our new system over the weekend, we’re happy to relay that starting today, the blackout period is over.”
Better still, those who purchased a Category 6, Category 8 or Tier 1-3 certificate prior to 8/18 are able to request a one-time exchange for a package one category lower with an associated points refund. To submit a request, you’ll need to use Marriott’s “Contact Us” page and select “Packages – Deals” from the dropdown menu under the “Pick a Topic” section.
8. There are still bugs aplenty.
As you’d expect with a massive integration like this, there are still more than a few bugs you’ll likely encounter. I’ve received error messages when trying to make a new reservation and I’ve also (temporarily) had all of my Marriott stays disappear from my online account, though they reappeared when I logged out and logged back in. We’ve also had TPG staffers who intermittently can’t login their accounts at all, so patience and a sense of humor is required if you’re trying to make use of the Marriott and SPG systems on Day 3 of the integration process.
Marriott is clearly aware of this and continues to have the following notice emblazoned across its websites:
By clicking on the “More Details” link in that message, you’re taken to the status update page of the integration, which you can monitor for further updates. Of course, we’ll continue to monitor the integration, especially with regards to the above issues, so be sure to bookmark our new Marriott hub page for complete coverage, and follow us on Facebook or Twitter for up-to-the-minute information.
Story co-reported by Nick Ewen and Summer Hull.
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