Latest posting on Starwood Preferred Guest Program (SPG®) Facebook page revealed that the fate of this popular hotel loyalty program will soon be announced this Monday, April 16, 2018 at 4.30pm EDT!
Are you ready for it? ?
Starwood Preferred Guest Program® fate has been hanging since 2016
Ever since Marriott International, Inc. bought Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. in September 2016, the travel blogosphere has been buzzing on what’s going to happen to its darling Starwood Preferred Guest Program®. SPG is certainly my favorite hotel loyalty program. I’ve gotten so many benefits by staying loyal to SPG like fantastic suite upgrades, free breakfast, better views; the list go on and on.
As a SPG Platinum member, this acquisition worries me. Why? First I was worried about my thousands of SPG points I’ve accumulated over the years. Then I was worried (and still am) about what’s going to happen to the fabulous SPG Platinum benefits I’ve accustomed to all these while? Are they going to stay? Are they going away? The uncertainty is seriously unnerving!
Starwood Preferred Guest Program® is to combine with other Marriott programs
Many predicted that that Marriott will combine SPG with its own Marriott Rewards® hotel loyalty program. That could either mean something really good for SPG hotels loyalists… or not!
The thing is, the current Marriott Rewards hotel loyalty program can’t even compare with Starwood Preferred Guest Program®. There’s a main reason why frequent hotel guests prefer SPG® over any other programs out there. Starwood gives special focus to its preferred guests by treating them so good, that’s why many of us keep coming back to stay at SPG hotels time after time.
A press release on December 5 2017, confirmed that this is totally happening in 2018, I quote, “In late 2018, Marriott expects to launch a single technology platform for Marriott Rewards, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG. This should enable the company to synch the technology-dependent components of each program, further reducing costs. The new technology platform will also take Marriott one step closer to the goal of having a single loyalty program for the company’s 100+ million members in the current Rewards and SPG loyalty programs.”
So there you have it, it is confirmed that Starwood Preferred Guest Program will indeed combine with Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.
Starwood Preferred Guest Program link to Marriott Rewards®
Now it’s not all doom and gloom. The acquisition of Starwood Preferred Guest Program® by Marriott has been good actually (so far). You can interlink your Marriott Rewards® account with your Starwood Preferred Guest Program®. You can transfer your SPG® points to Marriott Rewards® at an excellent 3x rate. Your SPG® points redemption capacity now expands to Marriott’s portfolio of more than 6,400 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 126 countries and territories. That includes top-tier J.W. Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton hotels like the fantabulous Ritz-Carlton Tokyo I stayed recently. The points transfers goes the other way too!
Furthermore, your elite status is reciprocated in both programs meaning if you’re Starwood Preferred Guest Program® Platinum like me, you’re instantly Marriott Rewards® Platinum too. For example since now I’m also Marriott Rewards® Platinum guest, I get dibs on standard suite for my stay if there is one available. I also get access to Marriott hotels club lounges for free food and drinks like the fantastic Marriott Bangkok Sukhumvit Executive Lounge where they do food presentations 5x a day!
What about American Express SPG® credit cards?
American Express currently issues a personal Starwood Preferred Guest Program® co-branded credit card and as well as the business versions. If you own both cards, you get 10 nights credits and 4 stays credit that helps you towards Starwood Preferred Guest Program® elite qualifications.
What’s going to happen to current Starwood Amex cards when the new Marriott hotel loyalty program gets introduced then? A press release on Dec 5 2017 stated “Marriott expects to introduce new, co-brand products starting in 2018 with enhanced member benefits – super-premium consumer and small business co-branded products from American Express and mass consumer and premium consumer co-branded products from JPMorgan Chase.”
Since the current Amex personal Starwood Preferred Guest Program® co-branded credit card is not exactly “super-premium”, will this card be converted to a Visa and handed over to JPMorgan Chase? That to me is highly unlikely. I think Amex will stop promoting this card and offer current customers to upgrade to the new “super premium” version. The small-business version would probably stay the same with a change of brand name to reflect whatever new hotel loyalty name that Marriott will adopt.
Single Marriott loyalty program rumors
All nights and stays count towards Elite Re-qualification – GOOD! ✅
One gripe I had about the linkage between Starwood Preferred Guest Program and Marriott Rewards® is that nights and stays does not count for status re-qualification for both programs. For example, if I’m trying to re-qualify for Starwood Preferred Guest Program Platinum, my stays and nights at Marriott or Ritz-Carlton hotels does not count towards my SPG® status re-qualification. With this rumor, it totally makes sense for all my stays and nights now will count towards elite status under the new single hotel loyalty program.
Points can’t be transferred anymore to Airlines Partners – BAD! ❌
Currently Starwood Preferred Guest Program® Starpoints can be transferred 1:1 to most airlines partners. Plus, every 20k SPG® points you transfer, you get a cool 5k bonus! That’s absolutely amazing especially when you have a lot of Starpoints available. That way you can top up your frequent flyer miles account to hit that first class or business class redemption. Now the rumor is saying Marriott will no longer allow this. Which would totes suck!
The salvation to this is that Marriott still have the “Hotel + Air” packages where you can redeem points for 7 nights + frequent flier miles. I did this redemption to get a free week stay at Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit last summer + 120k Southwest Airlines® (which also got me Southwest Companion Pass). Do note however that you need at least 200k Marriott Rewards® to even do this. Starwood Preferred Guest Program airline transfers only requires 20k Starpoints (60k Marriott Rewards® points).
Now if they take away this travel package too, that would be super unfortunate!
Tiered Platinum Status – GOOD! ✅
Starwood Preferred Guest Program® actually already have a tiered Platinum status in place. You can achieve the basic SPG® Platinum level at 25 stays or 50 nights per year. If you do all one night stays, that’s only 25 nights required. The next level is SPG® Platinum 50 at 50 nights per year. With SPG® Platinum 50 you get a selection of gifts like 10 suites upgrade certificates. These are actually important if you want to guarantee a suite upgrade before checking in at the hotel like St. Regis Bangkok. After 75 nights (where I am at), you get SPG® Platinum 75 which is 4x points per $1 spent and Your24™. I love Your24™ because if you check in at 6pm, you can checkout at 6pm on the day of departure. Lastly at 100 nights, you get SPG ambassador service, which is a dedicated group of service people to help you with whatever you need, like a special concierge service. I don’t really value this benefit so I’m good with SPG® Platinum 75.
Currently Marriott Rewards® does not have a tiered Platinum status so if the new hotel loyalty program adopts SPG® Platinum tier structure, this is a good thing. Trust me, getting 75 nights requires a A LOT of effort (unless you’re forced to travel and stay at hotels due to your job… kinda like my travel blogger job ?). So the rewards at higher levels should equal to the higher efforts required to achieve that level.
Lifetime status does not mean much anymore – BAD! ❌
If you are a Starwood Preferred Guest Program® loyalist for many, many years, you are probably now a Lifetime SPG Gold or even Lifetime SPG Platinum. According to Starwood Preferred Guest Program®, Lifetime Gold requires “minimum of five years of elite status during your account tenure and 250 eligible nights since joining the program”. Lifetime Platinum requires “minimum of 10 years of elite status during your account tenure and 500 eligible nights since joining the program”. That means you have spent a serious amount of money to achieve this level. Rumors are saying while Lifetime status will be recognized in the new single Marriott hotel loyalty program, it will be significantly devalued. For instance, “maybe breakfast in some properties”, “no suite upgrades”, “maybe lounge access”, and “earlier late checkout”. None of these are good to people who have spent so much time and money with the Starwood hotels. I honestly hope none of this is true. Marriott should be smart enough to make sure these Uber-loyalists do not deflect to other hotel loyalty programs.
Elite status qualifications to match current Marriott Rewards® – BAD! ❌
I’ll give you a quick example. To get Starwood Preferred Guest Program® Gold which gets you lounge access (that usually comes with continental breakfast), you only need 10 stays or 25 nights. Marriott Rewards® requires 50 nights to get Gold. That’s double the effort to get Gold! So if the new Marriott hotel loyalty program adopts current Marriott Rewards® elite qualification levels, it will be much harder for guests to even get Gold.
And if you tell me I have to stay 75 nights to just even get BASIC Platinum (I’m thinking of Lohanthony’s “You’re BASIC!” youtube video as I write this LOL), I’d seriously reconsider staying at Marriott hotels from now on.
Starwood Rewards? Marriott Preferred Guest Program?
Now that I’ve shared with you some of the rumors circulating around the interwebs of Starwood Preferred Guest Program fate and final integration with Marriott Rewards and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, what do you think the new Marriott hotel loyalty name would be? Also did you hear other rumors not listed? Add your thoughts in the comment section below.
Catch the announcement live on Starwood Preferred Guest Program® Facebook page this Monday, April 16, 2018 at 4.30pm EDT! We’ll be watching too! With so much anticipation!!!
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