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Strategizing Before the August 1st Combined SPG and Marriott Program

May 27, 2018
6 min read
Strategizing Before the August 1st Combined SPG and Marriott Program
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The SPG and Marriott loyalty programs don't fully combine until August 1st, but we will hit some 'last chance' deadlines before then. In fact, we may have already passed the point of no return with some SPG and Marriott points opportunities. A perfect example can be seen in the SPG Amex credit cards now only offering statement credits as welcome bonuses right now instead of offering SPG points...though Amex says welcome bonuses of points will return at some point.

Strategize on whether you should book pre or post-August 1st

We know what the combined Marriott award chart will look like on August 1, but we don't yet know where all of the current Starwood and Marriott properties will fall on that new award chart.

We got a sneak peek at how some properties will price in destinations including Mexico, Caribbean, Paris, Dubai, New York City, and Bali. I imagine we will get the full list before much longer, but we know enough now to start the strategizing. In general, it seems that the top tier SPG hotels and resorts that are currently pricing at 30,000 - 35,000 SPG points per night are the ones you want to wait to book beginning on August 1st since they will top out at the equivalent of 20,000 SPG points per night (60,000 Marriott points per night) until early 2019. Note this will not apply to the non-standard SPG properties such as the ones located in the Maldives, Bora Bora, etc.

In contrast, some of the properties that currently represent an outsized award value of sorts will likely be the ones that take a hit on August 1st. This will likely include some of the top Marriott properties that are currently 45,000 points per night. One example on the SPG side of things that we already have confirmed to be increasing on August 1st is the Westin Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. This property will go from the current equivalent of 36,000 Marriott points per night (12,000 SPG points) to 60,000 Marriott points per night beginning on August 1st. You will absolutely want to book that property by July 31, 2018, for travel as far out as the schedule will allow, which will be about mid-July 2019 by the end of July 2018.

You may also wish to book the SPG Nights and Flights sort of packages before August, since we don't know exactly what those opportunities will look after that time. In contrast, stockpiling Marriott and SPG points until August 1st to book the high-end resorts that will temporarily top out at 60,000 Marriot points per night is a very strong strategy. For families, I can highly recommend the St. Regis New York, the St. Regis Punta Mita in Mexico, and the St. Regis Princeville on Kauai. Some other current Category 7 SPG properties that will temporarily cost fewer points beginning in August are:

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Gather up Marriott and SPG points as quickly as you can

Whether you want to book before August 1st, or have everything in place to book once August rolls around, you probably want to get your hands on as many SPG and Marriott points as you can as quickly as possible. One opportunity that is scheduled to end on May 31, 2018, is the ability to purchase SPG points with a 35% discount.

If you purchase a minimum of 5,000 SPG points, they will cost you 2.275 cents each during this discount. This is the same discount we have seen a few times before, but I don’t know if they will run it again before the programs combine on August 1, 2018. At that time, your Starwood points will transfer to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, meaning that with this discount you are effectively purchasing points at about 3/4 of a cent each for the new program. You can purchase up to 30,000 SPG points, but remember that SPG allows for free transfers between household members, so your partner with the same address could do the same and you could combine your points down the road.

If you don't want to purchase your SPG points, a solid option is to get the new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card that was released earlier this month. It is currently offering 75,000 bonus Marriott Reward points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card is also still available, and it is awarding 75,000 bonus Marriott Reward points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Obviously, with either of these offers, the sooner you get the card and hit the spending requirements, the more likely you will have the points in place before August 1st.

We still have some time and a few things to learn before the August 1 cutover to the combined program, but the deadline for some actions is creeping up, especially with the 35% bonus on purchased SPG points scheduled to end on May 31, 2018. Personally, we are trying to stockpile as many SPG points as we reasonably can so we can lock-in some high-end SPG resorts come August 1st while they are temporarily "just" 240,000 Marriott Rewards points for a five-night award stay where the fifth night is free!

Where do you stand with your family's pre-August 1st SPG and Marriott strategy?