So, the merger is a done deal and overall, it’s good news for normal folks like you and me. You can see this FAQ on Marriott website for all the details. By now, many bloggers have written on this new development. My goal with this post is to cover only parts that are relevant to my audience. Of course, I’m also going to highlight the best arbitrage opportunities.
So, here are few things you should keep in mind:
1) You can link accounts now and transfer points back and forth as often as your heart desires.
Transfer ratio is 1:3 for SPG to Marriott Rewards conversion, and 3:1 for Marriott to SPG. It’s supposed to be instantaneous. This is actually a pretty decent ratio, but more on that later. You can link both accounts here
2) Your Marriott and SPG points just became more valuable.
How much more valuable? Only you can answer that question. But basically, the fact that you can transfer points back and forth gives you more flexibility, not to mention, opens up many new options.
Are you planning to stay in a relatively small town and can’t find a property where you can burn your SPG points? Check Marriott award chart and see if there is a hotel in the area. In all likelihood, you’ll find something because Marriott has a great coverage in US.
3) This conversion ratio is a fantastic value for low category Marriott properties, especially if you plan on staying 5 nights.
Let’s say you are looking to vacation in Category 2 Marriott (10,000 points per night), and plan on being there 5 nights. You would need 40,000 Marriott points. That means you would have to convert 13,333 SPG points, which works out to 2,667 points per night.
That’s not bad, especially considering the fact that many Marriott properties have suites and include free breakfast. I think paying 13,333 SPG points to cover a 5-night stay for your whole family is a pretty darn good deal.
Redeem for a Category 1 (7,500 points per night) and you will do even better. Marriott has such a large footprint, you should have no trouble finding something if you want to visit relatives who live in a small town, USA.
4) If you happen to have Gold status with SPG, you will now be a Marriott Gold.
What is the big deal? Well, Marriott Gold gives you a decent shot at suite upgrades (based on availability), plus free breakfast at most properties. But how would normal families get SPG Gold status? You may already have it if you got Amex Platinum card when the bonus was temporarily increased to 100K points. That’s one of the benefits of that product.
5) It could absolutely make sense to transfer Marriott points to SPG.
Yes, it’s only 3:1 ratio, but there are many instances where it could be a very good deal. The one that comes to mind is SPG/Virgin America partnership. I just mentioned to one of my readers that it could make sense to dump Marriott points to SPG for inter-island Hawaii redemption.
It costs only 3,000 Virgin America Elevate points to get a one-way ticket between the islands, operated by Hawaiian airlines. Those tickets go for $100 or more. So, by that logic, you would get at least 1.1 cent per Marriott point. Need a Category 2 SPG hotel redemption and plan to stay on a weekend? You can transfer just 9,000 Marriott points to SPG and git-r-done.
There are many other possibilities, of course. It will depend on whether you need hotel points more than miles or vice versa. And the best part is, you don’t have to permanently lock in your points in either program right away. Instead, you can wait till you need them, since transfer goes through instantly.
6) If you have a decent stash of SPG/Marriott points, it’s time to consider redeeming them on “hotel+air” package.
For most folks, the juiciest option is Southwest. And the best part is: it counts towards a Companion Pass (for now). Basically, it allows you to bring a companion for free when you earn 110K Rapid Rewards points within a calendar year.
Let’s dig in:
Let’s say both spouses each have 45K SPG points. You can transfer them to your respective Marriott accounts, and you will each get 135K Marriott points. You can then call and combine them in order to redeem the points for 120K Southwest Rapid Rewards + 7 nights at a Category 5 Marriott property.
You may want to wait till January 2017 to do it, though. That’s because that way you will have two full years to use Companion Pass. Of course, there is always risk that this redemption will no longer count. Update: the transfer no longer counts towards Companion Pass.
Don’t have enough SPG points? If you apply for one of Southwest co-branded credit cards, you’ll get the points from the bonus to count towards Companion Pass. Another option is transferring UR points to Marriott on 1:1 basis. While I normally don’t advocate it, in this case, it could very well be worth it, especially if your family plans to fly a lot on Southwest during upcoming year.
7) You may want to consider applying for Marriott or SPG co-branded credit cards.
You can read about personal versions here Both pay me commission if you apply through my site. Business version of SPG card now comes with two free nights (not worth it), so it won’t help you. Business version of Marriott card is reportedly not subject to 5/24 Chase rule, while personal version is. Direct link to apply Basically, you’ll get 80K points in exchange for paying $99 annual fee. This could give you the points you need in order to get a Companion Pass.
This is good news for families who have Marriott points as well as SPG currency. The instant transfer allows to advantageously leverage both programs depending on the situation. Basically, Marriott currency just turned into flexible points!
Readers, what are your plans?
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.