In September 2016, Marriott completed the purchase of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Since then, the two hotel brands have been owned by the same company, but the loyalty programs of Starwood and Marriott have operated independently. There’s been some work to bring the products in line with one another by allowing you to transfer points between programs and matching status earned with one program with the other but you were still earning either Marriott points or Starwood points with each stay. Earlier in 2018, the date for the actual merger of the two programs was announced and the date is finally arrived and it’s only one day away. What should you do to make sure your accounts are prepared for the merger?
Take Screenshots of Your Accounts
This is the easiest thing you can do to make sure your points in the programs are safe. If you have a picture of how many points you have, it’ll be easier to prove it to Marriott if they have any problems merging the programs on Saturday. If you have any free night certificates, lifetime status or existing reservations, it might be a good idea to take a screenshot of those as well. Never hurts to be prepared for the worst.
Transfer Points to the Household Account with the Highest Status
Starwood allows you to transfer points between members of the same household with no charge and no limit. Marriott caps transfers at 50K points a year and charges for transfers if you’re not Gold members or above. It would pay to transfer points to the member of your household with the highest status. Here’s how:
- If you have Marriott points, transfer them to Starwood
- Then transfer those points to the Starwood account of the person in your household who will have with the highest status
- Those points will then transfer to Marriott points
Since Sharon will be a Platinum member when the programs are merged, I tried doing this tonight (Thursday night) and received a message that the Starwood transfer of points might take up to five days. I’d guess if you do this now, the transfers will still work but it might not be a good idea if you need to use the points right away. (Note: the points showed up in Sharon’s SPG account the next morning).
Make Bookings At Hotels That Will Get More Expensive
Marriott makes it easy to see how many points it will cost to book a room with points after the merger at this website:
If you were planning on making an award reservation at a Marriott or Starwood hotel, check to see if the price is going to change. For me, both hotels I am looking at will be going down in price. However, if the hotel you’re looking at is going up in price you should lock that price in now. Marriott will even let you make a points booking if you don’t have enough points in your account.
For example, the Great Northern Hotel in London will be going up 14,000 points a night. We stayed there in 2016 and it was a steal at 12,000 Starpoints a night (the equivalent of 36,000 Marriott points). It will now cost 50,000 Marriott points, which isn’t such a great bargain.
If you tend to do things last minute (like I do), it’s now or never. Some of these tasks are just recommended to make sure you have evidence if something goes wrong. Others will save you points if the hotels you are looking to book are going up in price. If you want a detailed list of what to do before the merger, Frequent Miler has an excellent guide that’s worth checking out.
Most importantly is the need to remember that when a company tries to merge two systems with so many moving parts, things can, and probably will, go wrong. Having proof of your prior balances will protect you from any loss of data. Freaking out over some missing information isn’t going to make it get better any faster. Most importantly, over this weekend we just need to remember one thing:
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary