Marriott-Starwood merger — the latest news

Marriott logoAfter a bidding war and months of regulatory hurdles, Marriott has successfully acquired Starwood after receiving approval from regulators worldwide (China was the last hold-out).

With the merger final, Marriott has been announcing details on points transfer and status matching. We’ve updated this post with the latest news.

What it means for rewards program members/cardholders

First, the big picture — the result of the merger will be one of the largest hotel chains the world has ever seen (data in infographic below provided by hotel chains’ investor-relations documents):

As for the small details, here’s what we know:

The programs are still technically separate: That means you can still hold the Marriott Rewards Premier card and the Starwood Preferred Guest card. You can still use Starpoints to redeem nights Starwood properties and Marriott points to redeem at Marriott properties. Stays at Starwood hotels still earn Starpoints, and stays at Marriott still earn Marriott points.

Point-exchange rate: You can now convert Starpoints into Marriott points and vice-versa. The transfer ratio is:

3 Marriott points = 1 Starpoint

That’s a pretty fair transfer ratio. Starpoints are worth quite a bit more than Marriott Points, according to The Points Guy’s most recent valuation. If you want to get picky, they’re worth even more than 3X the value of Marriott points, so you could lose value if you transfer Starpoints into Marriott points. But you’re also gaining a lot more redemption options via Marriott’s portfolio.

Status-matching: If you spent years on the road earning Starwood status, don’t worry — you won’t lose it. If you have status with SPG, you’ll get the equivalent status with Marriott automatically. Here’s a chart Marriott published, which shows how status-matching will work:

Status-matching for the Marriott-Starwood merger
Marriott Rewards (incl. Ritz-Carlton Rewards)Starwood Preferred Guest
MemberPreferred Guest
Silver ElitePreferred Guest Plus
Gold EliteGold
Platinum ElitePlatinum

That’s great news for members of both programs — your status perks now stretch to many more properties. Starwood Platinum members get a special treat with their new Marriott Platinum Elite status — Premier status with United.

Linking your rewards accounts: To get the status match and ability to transfer points, you’ll need to link your Marriott and SPG accounts, which you can do here.

Both programs’ credit cards still exist: If you’ve been considering the Starwood Preferred Guest card, you can still apply for it, get its sign-up bonus and enjoy automatic progress toward elite status.

See what our forum members think about the impending changes (and join the discussion).

Updated Sept. 23, 2016

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How again is this “great news” for Marriott elites? Especially Plats? You’ll match my 75 night status to SPG plat, but not Plat 75? And you’ll allow the swollen ranks of SPG elites to compete for my upgrades and cried the lounge? Thanks. If I cared about being SPG plat, I would be already because it’s significantly easier to achieve.