Recent Marriott/Starwood Rumors Have Given Me Two Big Dilemmas


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There have been a lot of rumors floating around this week surrounding a possible announcement regarding the merger of Marriott Rewards and Starwood’s SPG program.

Almost all the rumors are very negative for Marriott and Starwood loyalists and they’ve left me with two big dilemmas on my hands.

Dilemma 1 – What To Do Regarding Marriott Lifetime Platinum Status?

The rumors affecting me here are the following:

  1. Marriott will introduce minimum spend criteria for all status levels above Silver
  2. Marriott will introduce two tiers of Platinum status – one at 50 nights and one at 75 nights
  3. Only Platinum 75 status holders will have suite upgrades
  4. Only Platinum 75 status holders will have suite upgrades
  5. Changes to the Lifetime status program are coming
  6. New lifetime level above Platinum is coming in 2019

[HT: Doctor of Credit for these rumors]

Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons

While all of these points are unconfirmed rumors they’re enough to cause me serious concern.

I hit 75 nights a year with Marriott right now but I doubt I’ll hit whatever spend threshold Marriott will impose for Platinum status at that level and that will make having lifetime status all the more important.

With changes rumoured to the Marriott Lifetime program it’s also very possible that it will be important to achieve Lifetime Platinum status before any changes are actually implemented.

Now here’s the problem….

I will hit the necessary number of nights for lifetime Marriott Platinum status at the end of this week but I’m still going to be over 200,000 points short of the 2,000,000 point target that Platinum status also requires.

There’s no point in transferring Starpoints into my Marriott Rewards account as they don’t have any affect on the lifetime status counter so that leaves me with the option of transferring over Chase Ultimate Rewards points to make up the 200k difference.

But that’s such a poor use of Ultimate Rewards Points.

I prefer to use Ultimate Rewards Points for stays at Hyatt properties

Ultimate Rewards Points convert over to Marriott in a 1:1 ratio but, while I value UR Points at 1.5 cents each, I value Marriott Points at no more than 0.7 cents – I would essentially be halving the value of my  points just to get Marriott Platinum Lifetime status.

That may not be such a terrible idea if there weren’t the other rumors to take into consideration.

If Marriott creates two tiers of Platinum status it’s almost certain that Lifetime Platinum will be relegated to the lower of the two levels and, realistically, is that going to be any good?

Probably not.

If Platinum 50’s don’t get guaranteed lounge access that’s a huge loss (especially when visiting location outside of the US) and I don’t like the idea of being a second-rate Platinum after years of loyalty to Marriott.

JW Marriott Hong KongIt’s great having lounge access in regions like Asia where the lounges can be of a very high standard

Having said that, Platinum 50 status will still be better than Silver or Gold and, if a spend requirement is likely to stop me from earning any status higher than Gold (which is likely to be the case), that puts a decent value back on getting Lifetime Platinum status.

Aaaargggghhh…..

What to do?

I love my Chase Ultimate Rewards Points and it would really, really hurt to have to “waste” them on Marriott Reward points…..but then Lifetime Platinum status does have a real (if not great) value.

Dilemma 2 – What To Do With My Starpoints Balance?

Starpoints are one of my favourite currencies because, when transferred correctly, I can get 1.25 airline miles (in various airline loyalty programs) per Starpoint…but there’s a negative rumor going around surrounding this current benefit.

The rumor says that, as of 16 April 2018, the ability to transfer Starpoints to Airline loyalty programs will go away.

I find this rumor harder to believe that the other rumors I’ve already discussed as I don’t think (possibly naïvely) Marriott would push through such a negative change without at least a little notice.

Buy Starpoints Starwood

Still….

There’s a very good chance that the ability to convert Starpoints to airline miles will go away, if not on the 16th, possibly in August (another rumoured date for Marriott/SPG changes to come into effect).

I never convert my Starpoints to airline miles until I’m ready to book an award (you never know when an airline loyalty program will devalue without notice) and I have no need to book an award right now.

Do I convert my Starpoints to an airline program I consider to be least offensive now or do I wait and hope that (a) nothing happens on 16th and (b) that I find a use for airline miles sooner rather than later?

I’m actually reasonably comfortable with not doing anything before the 16th because, as I’ve already said, I don’t expect anything to change then….but that doesn’t answer my question about what to do if changes are coming in August?

I suspect I’m going to have to bite the bullet and pick an airline program whose miles I’m most likely to be able to use economically (that rules out AAdvantage!) and transfer my Starpoints over there.

The Westin Sydney looks nice but I prefer to convert Starpoints to airline programs

The alternative would be to allow my Starpoints to be converted to Marriott Rewards points but, as there are rumors of dynamic pricing coming to Marriott Rewards, I don’t think that would be a particular good use of a currency I value quite highly.

Bottom Line

A lot of the things we’re hearing right now may not come to fruition but I suspect that a good number of the rumors have serious substance behind them.

What this means is that Marriott Rewards and SPG are heading for a big devaluation and it’s a devaluation that’s likely to affect a lot of people.

I’m going to continue trying to work out what the best course of action is for my particular situation(s) and, if you hold Marriott Rewards points/Starpoints or if you’re close to reaching Lifetime Status I would do some serious thinking too – better to work out a course of action now so you’re ready when the hammer falls.

Anyone else in a similar situation to me? Any thoughts on the rumors and on what may be heading our way?

5 COMMENTS

  1. i’m 100,000 points away from lifetime platinum but don’t have any way of getting those points other than staying/spending on my marriott visa. you’re lucky you have the option of converting UR points. hopefully they’ll give a few months’ warning before dropping the hammer. watching closely …

    • I guess I am lucky to have the UR option but the question of how good of an idea it is to convert UR to MR still remains. Would you convert if you were in my position?

  2. I think Marriott could really shoot themselves in the foot here. I have been achieving 50+ nights a year for several years, and only recently achieved 75+. It would really make me consider taking my 1.2 million points elsewhere if Marriott doesn’t show me the loyalty I have given them. I’m already a Hilton Rewards member; is IHG my next acquisition?

    • There are suspicions that not all the negative changes we’ve seen rumoured will actually happen but Marriott is now a mega-giant in the hotel industry and, whether we like it or jot, can pretty much do as it pleases. If that means killing value for the likes of you and me there isn’t all that much we can do except to vote with our wallets…..but where would we go? It’s not like IHG/Hilton/Hyatt have stellar loyalty programs nowadays.

Comments are closed.