Marriott and Starwood now let you earn bonus points on each other’s cards

Marriott hotel roomMarriott and Starwood officially announced their merger in Sept. 2016, but their loyalty credit-card programs remained largely separate. That changed today, when the chains announced an intermingling of their respective cards’ rewards:

Chase Marriott card holders can now earn bonus Marriott points at Starwood properties. And Starwood Preferred Guest cardholders can earn Starpoints at Marriott properties.

The earnings will be as follows:

  • Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Cardholders: 5 Marriott rewards points per dollar spent at SPG properties.
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card from JPMorgan: 5 Ritz-Carlton rewards points per dollar at SPG Properties
  • Starwood Preferred Guest cardholders: 2 Starpoints per dollar at Marriott properties

Keep in mind that you can already transfer Starwood points into Marriott’s program and vice versa — that was another term of the merger. So this new cross-earning capability means you really don’t need both programs’ cards. Just stay in either a Marriott or Starwood hotel, earn the bonus points and then transfer if you like. You can get really strategic with those transfers because the Starwood program gives you the ability to transfer to airline partners — and the Marriott program allows you to redeem for Hotel + Air packages (a savvy use of your points if done properly).

However, if you are trying to maximize your rewards, know this: Using the Starwood card at Marriott properties has a slightly higher return on spending than using the Marriott card at Starwood properties. That’s because Starwood points are worth slightly more than Marriott rewards points, according to the most recent valuations from The Points Guy.

Every dollar spent with the Starwood card at Marriott gets you a 5.4-cent return.

Every dollar spent with the Marriott card at Starwood gets you a 4.5-cent return.

That’s a difference of about a cent, though — and probably not enough reason to carry both cards and pay both annual fees, especially because you can already use each card’s superpowers (Starwood’s airline transfer and Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages) by transferring your points between programs.

If co-branded hotel cards aren’t your game, you can get a similar return on spend with a Chase-Ultimate-Rewards earning cards. UR points are worth 2.1 cents each, according to The Points Guy, meaning you’ll get a return of 4.2 cents per dollar spent (at any hotel) with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and 6.3 cents per dollar with the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee). These points can be used in the Ultimate Rewards travel portal (for a 25 percent value boost) or transferred to Chase’s airline and hotel partners.

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