a deck with a hut and a hot tub on the water with Bora Bora in the background

Can someone make this easy for me, please?

We hear ya, loud and clear. There’s so much info, so many questions, so much potential and come August 1st, a newly combined Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards program, which will solely become Marriott Rewards. The reason people, perhaps such as yourself are so confused, is that the merger is a bit like cooking a complicated recipe. Timings and proportions are everything, and since this is a new recipe, it’s a bit tricky to master. Here are a few simple tips to put your mind at ease, and your Marriott & SPG points to maximum use.

a swimming pool and a bed by a houseMagic Window

If you presently have SPG Points, a magic window will soon present itself. From August 1st thru December 31st, you can potentially save up to 15,000 points per night on the finest SPG hotels, even for stays after those dates. Why? SPG presently charges up to 35,000 points per night, but under the new temporary system which will remain in place from August 1st until December 31st – 20,000 SPG points is the maximum price, since 20,000 SPG will automatically convert to 60,000 Marriott Points in the new scheme. This even includes previously untouchable hotels like the W Maldives, Gritti Palace and St. Regis Bora Bora. That’s outrageous value, considering many go for over $1,000 per night. VFTW has also confirmed that anyone hoping to get in on great availability right now can book rooms at the current higher rates before August 1st, for travel later in the year or next year, and then receive a refund of the difference in points after August 1st and before December 31st.

Takeaway advice: You’ll score unprecedented value four your points if you book hotels which were part of the SPG program between August 1st and December 31st, 2018.

two glasses of wine on a tray by a windowTransfers To Airlines

Long story short: nothing is changing. Even after August 1st, anyone with SPG points will receive the exact same transfer ratio to airline miles as before, and you’ll still get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 you transfer – it’ll just look different. Your 20,000 SPG points will convert to 60,000 Marriott Rewards Points, and when you want to transfer them to airline miles, you’ll get a 15,000 point bonus, so 75,000 points will create 25,000 airline miles of your choice. If you currently have Marriott Points, your points will convert 3:1 into airline miles, with the same 15,000 point bonus for every 60,000 you transfer. And here’s why transferring SPG or Marriott Points to airline miles can be absolutely fantastic.

Takeaway advice: Nothing changes here in reality. No need to move points before or after any date, so it’s business as usual here.

a pool with umbrellas and chairs and palm treesFlight + Hotel Package Devaluation

Unfortunately, one of the few, but significant downsides to the new merger and new charts for using points is a devaluation for travel packages. Historically, Marriott Flight + Hotel Travel Packages have been one of the very best ways to redeem points, but come August 1st, they’ll sadly take a significant hit, requiring up to 210,000 more points, and giving you 20,000 fewer airline miles. If these packages, which give you airline miles and enough points for multiple nights in great hotels, are something you’d like to take advantage of, your best play is to book before August 1st. After that date, you’ll see a lot less value. And hey, with options well into 2019 bookable now, there’s still silver lining for sure.

Takeaway advice: If you want to use these packages to maximum benefit, book before August 1st, 2018.

a bedroom with a bed and a chairPlaying The New Marriott Chart

Marriott has released the official new chart for all bookings until December 31st, which will be effective August 1st. It’s easy, intuitive, shows what’s up – and what’s down and how many points you’ll need for any stay. You can check out the chart here. There are rumors that Marriott may add an 8th tier, where some hotels will require more points after December 31st, so if any of the current Category 7 hotels are of interest, consider getting your bookings in during this magic window. That’s about it – now go win!

Takeaway advice: Look at your favorite hotels on a case by case basis, and decide whether to book now or after August 1st. With the rumor of a new higher category, the most luxurious hotels might be best to book before December 31st.

a plate of food on a white surfaceMoments Are Still Magic

Marriott Rewards Moments has taken off this year, offering exponential value for your points. Many of these opportunities allow you to bypass standard hotel rates, or experiences resembling anything standard, in favor of outrageously cool moments and meet ups. How about a stay at the Ritz Carlton with private Michelin starred dinners? Or a hangout with your favorite band before their big gig? The options are endless, and for some reason, people haven’t quite figured out how valuable they are, so they’re going for absurdly good value.

Takeaway advice: You’re crazy if you’re not stalking these packages on a daily basis.

How will the new changes affect you?

Featured image courtesy of St. Regis Bora Bora.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I purchased an air/hotel package about a week ago. I cashed in 100,000 SPG points which turned into 300,000 Marriott points for at category 6 award, plus will get 120,000 Alaska miles. One thing to consider for any other first timers is that the miles are supposed to take 6 weeks to post, so don’t do this if you need the miles quickly. Also, with the new levels, I have absolutely no idea what my category 6 hotel certificate will translate to in the new program. As a Starwood Platinum who just stayed in his first Marriott ever (yes, really), I must admit that I’m very far from happy with the new program.

  2. Hello, can we book the St. Regis in Maldives under this 20,000/night deal? St. Regis Maldives looks far nicer than the W hotel?

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