Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG loyalty programs are merging – Good, Bad, How can I take advantage?

Lots of news and articles are posted about the merger of Marriott Rewards, Ritz Carlton, and SPG loyalty programs.  Here is the primary link for details about the announcement and the impending effect in August of 2018.

https://members.marriott.com/

During the live announcement Marriott stated they read a lot of blogs from the fiercely loyal.  Even after all of that Marriott still makes the best business decisions they could…

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The Good

SPG and Ritz Carlton top tier hotels cost in points will be lowered to level 7 in August through the end of the year.  A nice window for you to book hotels at a virtual discount.

The new rewards chart (below) is only 8 categories for all Marriott, SPG, and Ritz Carlton hotels!  With only 8 levels to pay attention to and a single chart down from 3 this should be easier to plan.  One would hope that a Tier 5 Ritz Carlton would imply most other hotels don’t reach that level… that said I would guess that RC Tier 5 will be Cat 8 in 2019… which actually costs more (see bad section)

Free Night Award Chart

CATEGORY STANDARD Effective August OFF-PEAK Coming 2019 PEAK Coming 2019
1 7,500 5,000 10,000
2 12,500 10,000 15,000
3 17,500 15,000 20,000
4 25,000 20,000 30,000
5 35,000 30,000 40,000
6 50,000 40,000 60,000
7 60,000 50,000 70,000
8Coming 2019 85,000 70,000 100,000

SPG Platinum status can still be earned this year by 25 stays.  That sounds like a lot but the same status requires 75 nights at Marriotts.  Your status would be good through Jan 2020.  Last chance!

There are now 5 new levels of status to earned based on nights stayed.  At 100 nights you now get an ambassador.

Lifetime status is now based on years at status level and nights.  No more points!  This means butts in beds is more important than credit card holders.  That said see my bad below about needing credit cards to get nights for status.

Lifetime status Marriott Rewards Platinums will be Grandfathered into Platinum Premier Lifetime status.  Sorry SPG lifetime plats but you will only get Platinum in the new schedule.

The website in August should allow you to search all hotels from one website instead of the 3 currently required – Marriott.com, SPG.com, and RitzCarlton.com

 

The Bad

The new night redemption schedule includes peak point costs.  Everyone knows this will be used to abuse the system so just plan on all nights you want to use points being Peak.  Just set your expectations and you won’t be grumpy 🙂

Also the new awards chart Standard levels are HIGHER than current marriott rewards points for lower levels.  One would assume most hotels will be put into a higher level to cost more points than they do today.  The only upside is a Tier 5 Ritz Carlton has to fit on this schedule so one would assume that most Marriott hotels would be a lower level.

Tier 5 Ritz Carltons will almost certainly be Category 8 in 2019 which is 15,000 to 30,000 more points per night than this year.

Free Night Award Chart New vs Old

CATEGORY STANDARD Effective August Current Marriott Rewards Current Ritz Carlton
1 7,500 7,500 30,000
2 12,500 10,000 40,000
3 17,500 15,000 50,000
4 25,000 20,000 60,000
5 35,000 25,000 70,000
6 50,000 30,000
7 60,000 35,000
8 Coming 2019 85,000 40,000

Rollover nights were killed in 2017.  The new requirements in 2018 means you have to start from Zero every Jan 1st forevermore.  The only way to truly earn status is to get a credit card that gives nights on spend.  This in partnership is how you will be able to get status.  Please check the new credit card offers.  Some give you a one time number of nights while others provide you nights per $3,000 in spend.

The new levels are Member, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Premier, Ambassador.  Is Platinum Premier the best name for 75 nights a year?  Really?  In the old Marriott days Platinum Premier were people with the top 3% of spend in a year… but it came with ZERO benefits.  So the status name has been a joke for a long time for being a name only.

Delta Crossover rewards dies July 15th, 2018.  I wonder if United status will also die?

The Crossover Rewards program with reciprocal benefits for SPG and SkyMiles elite members is coming to an end on July 15, 2018.

Summary

This is about as good as you could expect.  SPG is being neutered and Marriott Rewards is getting more expensive.  However, you can still get free breakfast at 50 nights or more just the same as today!  Some good, some bad, a bit of both.

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Author: shauncassells

Shaun Cassells, Senior Solutions Engineer, 1E Shaun is a Microsoft MVP Windows Insider MVP and executive at Central Texas Systems Management User Group (CTSMUG). Shaun is a frequent speaker at conferences like MMS, Gartner, TechEd Europe, TechEd North America, IT Dev Connections, System Center Rallies, and Systems Management User Groups (SMUGs). Shaun is an award winning blogger syndicated from www.shauncassells.com. Shaun specializes in analysis, optimization, and design of Tactical Solutions to Strategic Business Goals. Prior to joining 1E in 2010, he worked for a Global 100 company as the Configuration Manager Service Owner and Architect. Recently as a Principle Consultant at 1E, he accomplished design, review, and improvements to a variety of Configuration Manager environments from the very small to sites with a half million seats. He provided leadership that created a patented automated application rationalization and usage based OSD mapping solution in use by multiple fortune 500 companies. These days you can find Shaun traveling to help discover, review, and improve business productivity across the world.

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