Everything you need to know about the Marriott and Starwood merger

In my post about Venice hotels that you can book with points, I mentioned the Marriott and Starwood merger.  I wanted to go into a little more detail about that.  I am going to be listing other hotel options in all of the places we visited in Italy.  So I thought it might be helpful to explain the merger in one post rather than trying to explain it everytime I post about hotels.

Update 4/17/18: SPG and Marriott Rewards will be integrated into one loyalty program beginning August 1, 2018.  Current SPG and Marriott redemption charts will be eliminated and one award chart will be implemented.  The chart has been released, but we do not yet know which properties are assigned to each category.

This post will cover the following:

  • You can transfer points between Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards
  • Each program will automatically match your status if you have it with the other.
  • How to earn Starwood and Marriott points
  • The merger allows for some great deals on Marriott properties booked with points transferred from Starwood
  • Examples of high-value redemptions

Marriott and Starwood merger

A few background details about the Marriot and Starwood merger:
  • Last year Marriott announced the acquisition of Starwood.
  • The merger has been finalized, but both programs continue to operate separately
  • According to Marriott, the anticipated date for full integration of both programs will be sometime in 2018.  An exact date has not been specified.
  • Marriott does plan to keep all Starwood brands.  This will bring Marriott’s portfolio to a total of 30 brands!

You can find more information about the merger on Marriott’s website.

You can transfer points between Starwood and Marriott

Please note that this is a unique situation, and you generally cannot transfer points between different hotel chains.  For example, there is no way to transfer Hyatt points to Hilton.  Or Hilton to Starwood.  Or Marriott to Hyatt.  You get the picture.

At the time of publishing, both programs continue to operate separately, but you have the option to transfer points between the two programs.  Currently, the transfer ratio is 3 Marriott Rewards points for every 1 Starpoint.  This means for every 1,000 Starpoints, you can get 3,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Point transfers are instant and there is no limit on how many points you can transfer.  Also, unlike most point transfers that I talk about which are permanent, you can transfer points back and forth between the two programs as many times as you need.

You cannot use Marriott Rewards points to book Starwood hotels.  Likewise, you cannot use Starwood Starpoints to book Marriott hotels.

  • So, to book a Marriott hotel with SPG points, you would need to transfer your SPG points to Marriott Rewards.  Then use your Marriott account to book.  If you do not have a Marriott Rewards account you can click here to sign up for free.
  • If you want to book an SPG hotel with Marriott Rewards points, you will need to transfer Marriott points to SPG.  Then you would use the SPG points to book the SPG property.  If you do not have an SPG account, you can click here create one for free.

Click here to link your accounts.

Marriott and Starwood merger
Interested in Hawaii? Keep reading for some sweet deals!

Marriott and Starwood will match status if you have it with either program

This is another perk that came with the Marriott and Starwood merger.  If you have status with Marriott, once you link your account with SPG, your SPG status will update to reflect you Marriott status.  The same goes for SPG.  If you have SPG status, you will automatically receive the same status with Marriott once you link your accounts.

Gold status is nothing to write home about with Starwood.  But, Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status can save you money with the lounge access/breakfast benefit*.  The good news is that now, if you have Gold status with one, you have it with the other.  The same goes for Platinum status with either program.

*At most Marriott brand hotels (but particularly excluding Ritz-Carlton properties), you will have access to the lounge if there is one.  If there is no lounge, you will receive free daily continental breakfast for 2.  This can save lots of money as breakfast at hotels can be pricey!

How to earn Starwood points:

  • sign-up bonuses from the SPG credit card from American Express.
  • everyday spending on the SPG credit card from American Express.
  • Starpoints can be transferred from Marriott Rewards
  • Hotel stays at SPG properties

Starwood Award Chart:

SPG award chart
SPG award chart

Remember that for categories 3-7, Starwood gives a 5th night free when you redeem Starpoints for 4 nights!

How to earn Marriott points:

  • sign-up bonuses from the Marriott co-branded credit card from Chase
  • everyday spending on the Marriott co-branded credit card from Chase
  • Marriott Rewards points can also be transferred from SPG.
  • If you have a Chase Sapphire credit card, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Of course, you can also earn Marriott Rewards points for paid stays at Marriott properties
Technically, you can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott Rewards at a 1:1 ratio

It’s slightly convoluted, but it’s possible.  Quite frankly, I cannot think of a situation when I would want to transfer Amex MR to Marriott* since Marriott redemptions usually will not get me 2 cents per point in value.  So I do not know that I have ever mentioned this on the blog.  But in an effort to cover all the bases, I’m going to explain how this is possible!

  1. Transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Starwood.  The transfer ratio is terrbile (1 Amex MR=.33 SPG points.  So for every 1,000 Amex MR points, you will get 333 SPG points.
  2. You can then transfer the SPG points to Marriott after linking your accounts.  If you transfer 333 SPG points to Marriott, you will have 1,000 Marriott Rewards points

*One reason you may consider this is if you already have Marriott points and you’re close to having the amount of points needed for a redemption and you just want to top off your Marriott account.  I do not collect Marriott points because I prefer to collect transferable points.  But for those of you who travel a lot for business, you may have a large stash of Marriott points.

Marriott Rewards chart:

Marriott and Starwood merger
Marriott Rewards chart

Like Starwood, Marriott gives a free 5th night when you redeem points for 4 nights.

PointsSavers availability varies with reference to dates and properties.  You can check current participating properties and dates by clicking here.  PointsSavers redemptions are a great way to use Marriott Rewards points, but if you’re in the beginning stages of planning a trip and trying to plan your points-earning strategy, it is safest to assume that PointSavers will not be available!

Marriott and Starwood merger
Here’s a throwback for you! We went to Boston before we started collecting miles and points and stayed at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf. So I was curious to see how much that hotel costs these days! For 15,000 Starpoints, we can book this hotel for a value of over 3 cents per Starpoint!

Marriott and Starwood merger

Marriott and Starwood merger
Obligatory Fenway Park photo

The merger means you can get some great deals on Marriott properties booked with points transferred from SPG!

The transfer ratio between Starwood and Marriott is favorable to Starpoints.  For example, a Marriott hotel such as the one I mentioned above that costs 45,000 Marriott Rewards points per night will only cost 15,000 Starpoints.  That is because a transfer of 15,000 Starpoints to Marriott yields 45,000 Membership Rewards points.

The point of this section is to show the value that you can get at some of the Marriott properties if you have Starpoints.  Like I’ve stated before, I do not collect Marriott points because I prefer to collect transferable points.  So in order for me to get Marriott points I would have to transfer them from Chase Ultimate Rewards.  But I will list the cost of Marriott properties with Marriott Rewards in case anyone reading this has a stockpile of Marriott Rewards to spend.  Just remember that 2 cents per point with Marriott is rare compared to SPG.  For that reason, I would not transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Marriott to book any of these properties.

If I am going to redeem UR for less than 2 cents per point, I would rather use the Chase Ultimate Rewards booking portal*.  I only get a fixed value of 1.5 cents per point, but at least I have lots of hotel options and I am not limited to Marriott.

*As a general rule of thumb, I consider any redemption value of 2 cents per point or more a good redemption.  There are some currencies (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards) that I will use even if I do not get 2 cents per point.  For example, our hotels in Italy were a redemption value of 1.5 cents per point.  Click here to read more about that.  The fact that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are so easy to earn definitely factors into my occasional decision to redeem them for less than 2 cents per point.

Starpoints are more difficult to earn than my other favorite award currencies, and I value them very highly.  I have to make sure I’m getting a great value if I’m going to redeem them.  In addition to some amazing SPG properties across the world, you can also transfer Starpoints to many airlines at a 1:1 ratio (with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 transferred!).

Even though I will make exceptions to my 2 cents per point threshold with other award currencies, Starpoints are too valuable to me to consider any redemption that does not get me over 2 cents per point.  In fact, I’ll sometimes pass on redeeming Starpoints if it’s not closer to 3 cents per point.

Marriott and Starwood merger

Examples of some great redemptions thanks to the Marriott and Starwood merger

All of the properties listed below have a value of about 3 cents per point or more if you redeem Starpoints. Note that the value with Marriott points is totally different.  

Remember that the 5th night is free at Starwood (for categories 3-7) and Marriott so you may end up getting even more value for your points.  If you stay 5 nights, you can add an extra 25% to the cents per point value.  For example, if a room costs 30,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, that is 10,000 Starpoints per night.  Let’s pretend the standard room rate is $300.

  • If you stay 2 nights, that’s 20,000 Starpoints (transferred to Marriott Rewards to yield 60,000 points)
  • $300 x 2=$600
  • 600/20,000= 0.03
  • 0.03 X 100= 3
  • This is a redemption of 3 cents per Starpoint

But, if you book 5 nights, you’re only redeeming points for 4 nights. So,

  • 5 nights would be 40,000 Starpoints (transferred to Marriott to yield 120,000 points)
  • $300 x 5=$1500
  • 1500/40,000=0.0375
  • 0.0375 x 100=3.75 cents per Starpoint!

All of these prices were taken from random dates next summer.  Remember that prices could be more or less depending on when you plan to visit.  Different destinations have different peak seasons which can result in major price differences.  I calculated the value based on a 1-4 night stay, but as I stated above, these redemptions become more valuable if you stay 5 nights so I will also provide those numbers.  I’m going to calculate based on a standard reward, not a PointSavers award.  If you’re fortunate enough to book a PointSavers award, your value is going to be even better!

1. Maui, Hawaii Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui(Marriott Category 8)
  • Cost per night: 35,000 or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points or ~13,300 Starpoints
  • Value: $455
  • That’s 3.4 cents per Starpoint
  • Or 4.2 cents per Starpoint for a 5 night stay

Marriott and Starwood merger maui

2. Maui, Hawaii The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua(Ritz tier 4)
  • Cost per night: 60,000 Marriott Rewards points or 20,000 Starpoints
  • Value: $587
  • This is 2.9 cents per Starpoint
  • 3.6 cents per Starpoint for a 5 night stay

Marriott and Starwood merger Maui

3. Big Island, Hawaii Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection (Marriott Category 9)
  • Cost per night: 40,000 or 45,000 Marriott Rewards points or 15,000 Starpoints
  • Value: $470
  • This is  3.1 cents per Starpoint
  • For a 5 night stay, this is 3.9 cents per Starpoint

4. Florence, Italy Sina Villa Medici, Autograph Collection (Marriott Category 8)
  • Cost: 35,000 or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points or ~13,300 Starpoints
  • Value: 385 Euros per night (~$454 USD)
  • This is about 3.4 cents per Starpoint
  • If you book a 5 night stay, the value increases to about 4.2 cents per Starpoint

5. Venice, Italy JW Marriott Venice Resort and Spa (Marriott Category 8)
  • Cost: 35,000 or 40,000 Marriott points per night or ~13,300 Starpoints
  • Rate: 324 Euros per night (~$390 USD)
  • The value is about 2.9 cents per point
  • For 5 nights, the value is 3.6 cents per point


The examples above are a good demonstration of why I prefer using cards that earn miles and points rather than cash back cards.  Most cash back cards earn about 2% cash back or less.  Redemption values of 3-4 cents per point as in the examples are essentially the same as getting 3-4% cash back!  This is a just personal preference and I understand why some people prefer the flexibility of a cash back card.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned about what’s going to happen to my beloved SPG once Marriott fully integrates them into their Marriott Rewards program.  But the good news is that for time being, you can take advantage of some sweet spots as a result of the transfer ratio between the two programs.

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