Well, today it looks like we have some updates to the loyalty programs of both Marriott and Starwood.
While both hotels finalized their mergers in 2016, it has been a slow drip of information on how both programs are going to develop into going forward. We do know that Marriott intends to develop a unified program eventually, but we do not have any material detail as to how the Marriott program is going to look like, as well as what the credit card partnerships may become as well.
Today, Marriott and SPG announced some small changes to their programs that is moving us to the unified direction:
- Marriott and Starwood will be offering Hertz Five Star status for Platinum members of both hotel programs. For the top elites of Starwood Ambassadors and Marriott Platinum Premiers, they will be eligible for Hertz President's Circle as well. You will also be earning Starwood or Marriott points when you rent a car with Hertz.
- Starwood will no longer expire points if you qualify for a Lifetime Elite status. This simply matches the existing Marriott policy.
ROLLOVER AND BUYING BACK STATUS
- 2017 will be the final year Marriott will allow nights in excess of status requirement to be rolled over to the next, so your 2017 night excesses will credit for 2018, but 2018 will not rollover into 2019. And you can still buy back status using points at Marriott for 2018, but this will be the last year you may be able to do so.
Overall, these are not major changes. They simply align both the Starwood and Marriott programs to act and behave more like each other. These 2 hotels are behemoths on their own right, and the integration into 1 singular corporate entity will be a mammoth task.
Many suggests that 2018 would be the year we will finally see the final plan to merge these two chains into a singular entity. However, we have yet to see Marriott or SPG announce plans concerning their credit cards, nor have we seen more substantial information being released yet concerning status membership in either hotels' programs that indicated the direction these chains are going with their intergration efforts. I suspect it will most likely be late 2018 and maybe perhaps into 2019 before we see real movement in this merger.
Personally, I don't mind where we stand with the program being separate entities. Marriott has done a good job linking SPG into their network, and it is extremely easy to transfer points between programs that I never felt it was too much a hassle. On top of that, SPG continues to offer one of the most valuable and generous credit card programs out there that I can generate a lot of value using SPG cards and then spending it on Marriott redemption programs.
However, at the end of the day, it would be great to have some clarity, and I am hopeful Marriott appreciates the draw SPG offers with their aggressive credit card reward program. Until then, I will be piling up my SPG points to spend on Marriott.
What would you like to see with these programs? Do you think they will announce anything substantial before 2019? Comment below!