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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Motivation: Using Passwords to Achieve Goals

Daily focus / self actualization towards goals is something that has long been studied and debated.  Though many find it hard to keep the habit up and soon life gets in the way.   How to keep my focus on my goals?

I have to type my password in multiple times a day.  For years, I have been using my passwords to remind me to focus on goals.  Personal, family, financial, fitness, travel, etc. There is no limitation on what you can have as a goal.

Now what about security? Most organizations require you to change you password every 90 days. That means you can have your goal a quarter at a time. Perfect.

Will it be easy to guess? I mean aren’t you giving away your password strategy on the internet? Not really. I’ll let this xkcd comic explain it: https://xkcd.com/936/

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Summary: In short changing your password frequently and using it to set goals or remember those you have lost might actually help you exceed your goals.

Happy 2017!

Travel without a Real ID in 2018 will be challenging for 10 states

REAL ID Federal Enforcement Act passed by Congress in 2005 “set standards for issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses”.  This is going to be enforced in early 2018.  I am sure these 10 states will do something.. just no idea what yet?

Source: Home Land Security – https://www.dhs.gov/federal-enforcement

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January 22, 2018

All non-compliant states/territories will be subject to REAL ID enformcement at TSA checkpoints

I have started to see posters pop up in airports.  Basically you are going to have a bad day (I’m sure something will be done) if you try to use a drivers license from these states

tsa20states

  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Pennsylvania
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Washington

REAL ID compliant Alternative IDs

This assumes your states haven’t gotten with it

  • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

Source: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification

Travel: Marriott new renewal expiration date

I just got my status renewal email for Marriott Platinum Elite.  Yes, I hit 75 nights already this year. Lots of travel.   What I found interesting is the expiration is June of 2019 not Jan 1st of 2019.  I wonder if this is due to the planned SPG integration next year.

As with all the travel and uptempo business year my apologize for the lack of posting.  I have a huge backlog that I will start hitting publish on soon.

 

Travel: Thanks Again – More points for zero change

Hi all,

As many of you know I like to earn points for things I already do while traveling.

While chatting I realized that many of you have not heard of Thanks Again.   Short version is any money spent at airports can earn you frequent flyer miles.  All you have to do is signup (link below) add in credit cards select airline rewards program… then get points.

Most frequent earning for me is airport parking.  Secondarily, if I have points on an airline that is expiring I switch my redemption to show activity 😊 United, Jet blue, virgin, American points expire after XX months of inactivity.  Delta miles don’t expire.

 

Referral Link

https://member.thanksagain.com/web/guest/member-enrollment?inviteRefId=C67B551E0204488523C81CE33E753FAE

American Airlines: Upgrade Policy for domestic flights changed March 10 to use Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD)

Hi all,

Just a quick note.  American Airlines changed the domestic upgrade policy on March 10 2017.  Previously, it was Status followed by date of booking.  So book first and get upgraded first.  This didn’t really reward the late booking business travelers who spent the most.  As of March 10th Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) now take a roll in figuring out where you land on the upgrade list.

I do not have all the details yet but I am sure those will leak out on the awesome travel blogs soon enough.

Marriott.com Too Many Redirects and Access Denied on landing page

From time to time the http://www.marriott.com website appears to die.  The errors may show for login or on search.

marriott-redirect-1

Google, Firefox, and Chrome all state “Too Many Redirects”.   This means the cookies have become stale and are causing issues.

The easiest solution is to remove the cookies for the effected website.

Chrome

  1. Open Chrome
  2. chrome://settings/cookies
  3. Search for the website that is having issues
  4. marriott-redirect-2
  5. Remove all shown
  6. Done
  7. Reload the page .. should still give you the error. Reload forced CTRL+F5 (this reloads without using local cache)

Chrome Cookies Location

Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Privacy > Content Settings > Cookies > All Cookies and Site Data
%localappdata%\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cookies

Safari: “Could not open the page, too many redirects”

This might happen if you visit a page that’s been set to open another page, but the next page is instructed to go back to the original page.

This issue can be caused by the website you’re trying to view. Safari might be able to open the website at a later time, when the website’s redirect problem has been corrected.

This issue can also happen if redirect information has been cached after it’s no longer needed. In some cases, removing related cookies and cache in Safari can resolve repeated redirects:

  1. Safari, choose Safari > Preferences.
  2. Click the Privacy icon to view Privacy settings.
  3. Click the Details button that appears under the Remove All Website Data button.
  4. Search for the name of the website that you are trying to view.
  5. Click the Remove button.
  6. Close the Safari Preferences window.

If the issue continues, repeat the steps without searching for a specific website. Click the Remove All Website Data button to remove all of your cookies and cache files. If this does not resolve the issue, contact the owner of the website you’re trying to view for additional help.