Well, to most of us they don’t really mean a whole lot. If you take one or two trips each year and are not loyal to any hotel chain, then all of this stuff probably falls into a “non-event” category. There is one area that you should pay attention to, namely: what will happen to chain’s co-branded credit card? Let’s consider recent developments one by one:
1) Marriott takeover of Starwood
A big deal? Yes. In all likelihood, Amex SPG card will not longer be offered at some point in the future. Chase and Marriott are married for life (I think). How soon will it happen? Nobody knows. But we do know that Amex is also thinking along these lines due to recent increased offer on Amex SPG product. They are trying to get as many cardholders as possible while they still can.
One recent development which I consider to be a game-changer is the addition of Virgin America as a transfer partner with 1:1 ratio. I wrote a post on it, so won’t repeat myself. It’s a terrific value proposition, especially if you want to fly on Virgin America to Hawaii. You’ll get the best deals from LAX and San Francisco, but there are other options if you are willing to take a connecting flight. Take a look at the price on points for one-way flight from Newark to Maui on March 12th 2017:
You don’t have to worry about award availability because Virgin America program works in the same manner as Southwest. Except, it’s better because each point is worth roughly 2.2 cents. Transfer from SPG with 5,000 points bonus per each 20,000 points, and you can potentially get an awesome deal.
Your strategy: when the offer on Amex SPG is increased to 35,000 points, I recommend you sign up for it if you’ve never had this product before. SPG currency is extremely valuable, and this could be the case of “use it or lose it.”
If you love SPG properties and regularly redeem your points on them, it could also makes sense to consider Marriott co-branded credit card, especially if you are worried about 5/24 Chase rule. Not too long from now, you will be able to redeem Marriott points on SPG hotels.
2) Accor takeover of Fairmont
A big deal? For most families, no. Fairmont footprint is super tiny and yes, size does matter when it comes to hotel chains. That said, there are some extremely nice Fairmont properties, so if your plans take you where there is one, consider getting Fairmont credit card sooner rather than later. In al likelihood, it won’t exist much longer unless Accor partners with Chase (a possibility).
One of my readers stayed at Fairmont in Maui and really enjoyed it. A huge plus is that you can redeem your bonus nights on suites, which makes a big difference when you are traveling as a family. Read my post on this card and decide for yourself.
3) Chinese investor firm’s buyout of Club Carlson
A big deal? No. It doesn’t look like Club Carlson program will change right away because another hotel chain isn’t involved. That said, I wouldn’t hoard Club Carlson points because it’s very unlikely they will be worth more in a year or so. But that is my policy with or without a buyout. Honestly, this currency isn’t all that valuable anyway due to its somewhat small footprint in US and lack of resort properties.
However, I do believe there is value left in their co-branded credit card sign-up bonus. It’s not the hottest hotel offer out there, but could make sense for those looking to redeem points for Cat.1 or Cat.2 properties. Read my post on our recent stay at Radisson Oceanfront hotel in Melbourne, Fl. which could be a good deal for some.
It’s hard to say what, if anything, will happen to Club Carlson co-branded credit card. It could make sense to consider getting it at some point, but I wouldn’t go out of my way right now. I believe you have some time to think about it. Also, read my post on why it may be worth it to renew this card.
4) The trend for increased hotel sign-up bonuses will probably continue this year
What all of these mergers have done is put pressure on banks to up their offers in order to recruit new customers. We’ve recently seen it happen with Hilton co-branded credit cards. BTW, the bonus on those is supposed to go down tomorrow, read my post for details on three available HHonors offers. As of now, non-affiliate link for Citi Hilton card is still working, but who knows how long it will last.
It’s possible that after consolidation is complete, the sign-up bonuses will go down as well because there won’t be as much competition. It’s really hard to say for sure, but personally, I wouldn’t speculatively invest in hotel points at the cost of foregoing miles and cash back offers. However, everyone’s situation is different, so do what works for you. One thing is for certain: hotel cards in general aren’t going anywhere.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.