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Cheats To Increase Your Marriott And Starwood
[Image: Starwood-Marriott-01-765x420.png]

When Marriott MAR 1.79% completed its merger with Starwood in September, it announced that the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program wouldn’t be going away. Instead, members of both the Marriott Rewards and SPG programs are now able to link accounts and match elite status, as well as transfer points between programs at a 3:1 ratio; or 3 Marriott Rewards points for every 1 SPG Starpoint.
At first I was suspicious that this would result in a devaluing of my points. But to my delightful shock: nothing was being taken away. I actually was able to gain more by being able to earn and redeem points at over 5,700 hotels around the world — the combined number of properties managed by the newly merged company.
As much as I loved the SPG program, there had been glaring gaps in its global hotel footprint. The new Marriott’s combined 30 brands now give me even more options to earn and redeem my SPG points. While there are still some worries that negative changes may come down the road, the program changes thus far were all purely positive. There are some downsides: an influx of elite members in both programs may make it harder to get upgrades, but those concerns pale in comparison to the huge upside of being able to instantly transfer back and forth at a reasonable ratio between the programs.
There are no reasons to not link your accounts, especially if you have elite status. I have Starwood Platinum status, so immediately I got Marriott Platinum (which normally requires 75 nights), but more importantly, since Marriott and United have a program called RewardsPlus, my new Marriott Platinum status also qualifies me for United Silver Elite status.
Note: Even though you get elite status in both programs, you can only credit nights to either Marriott or SPG, and the company has said it does not plan to combine its programs in the near future. So if you stay 60 nights at Marriott and 15 nights at SPG you’ll only qualify for Marriott Gold, since Platinum requires 75 nights credited to Marriott. You also cannot credit a Marriott stay to SPG or vice versa, which is an important consideration if you’re tempted to try out your newfound elite status.
Once your accounts are linked you can transfer between the programs for free as many times as you’d like. When it comes to redeeming points for free nights, Marriott has nine categories of hotels (which cost between 7,500 and 45,000 points per night) whereas SPG has seven, requiring 2,000 to 35,000 points per night. Since SPG has fewer categories, it’s hard to match them up evenly but, in general, Starwood offers better value at lower end hotels and Marriott offers the better value for top tier properties. For example, a free weekend night at a Category 1 Starwood Hotel is just 2,000 Starpoints (or 6,000 Marriott Rewards points) versus 10,000 Marriott Rewards points for a similar Marriott Category 2 hotel.
On the higher end, Marriott’s Ritz-Carlton properties require 70,000 Marriott Rewards points per night versus SPG’s luxury brands (such as the St. Regis or Luxury Collection hotels), which require 30,000 to 35,000 SPG points (or 90,000 to 115,000 Marriott Rewards points).
The differences aren’t huge, so when you’re deciding to use points to stay at comparable Marriott and SPG properties, do the math and look at them using the both points currencies, then choose the one that has the best conversion value.
But the best value in maximizing transfers can be found by redeeming points for either of the program’s specialty redemptions.
Buy a Vacation Package to Get a Hotel Stay and Airline Miles

Marriott has Hotel & Air packages that include seven nights of hotel accommodation and also a deposit of airline miles into your frequent flyer account. The cost of the package depends on the category of hotel and amount of airline miles you want.

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