Marriott’s New Elite Status Program: Will You be Better Off?

In a previous post, we’ve already deep dived into how the Marriott and SPG merger is about to create the largest hotel rewards program on the planet. This is exciting news for us points lovers as there will be a new way to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points and airline miles.
 
If you prefer to keep your hotel rewards for your hotel stays we now look at how the Marriott Elite Status Program will work going forward and explore in more detail each of the Elite Status levels and where the winners and losers are in each instance.
 
If you aren’t already aware, as of August 2018 three existing hotel loyalty programs, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guests joined forces to become one program. The Marriott has provided some background info on the changes to come.
 
For loyalist of either the current Marriott or SPG program, you can rest easy knowing that overall the changes to the program and the Elite Status levels are overwhelmingly positive. While there are a few instances where you could be worse off, overall the perks of the elite status are a good step forward.

Marriott Hotel

How will the elite status levels work?

By just signing up for the free hotel program you will get access to a few great perks. Including free Wi-Fi, member-only rates and the ability to check in and check out on your phone.

Additional benefits start after just 10 nights. SPG members will be introduced to a silver status which was not available to them before. Meaning after just 10 nights stays you can start earning elite benefits sooner.

Current Marriott Rewards members also benefit because Gold and Platinum status will become easier to reach.  Marriott members used to have to stay at least 75 nights to earn the equivalent of platinum elite status but starting in August 2018 the program will adopt the more lenient SPG stay requirements.
 
So as per the chart below:

  • Silver elite status is reached after 10 nights
  • Gold elite status after 25 nights (Currently 50 nights for Marriott Rewards members)
  • Platinum elite status after 50 nights (Currently 75 nights for Marriott Rewards members)
  • Platinum premier elite status is reached with 100 nights and $20,000 of spending

 
Plus, you can earn points in more ways by spending money at the hotel on things such as a meal in the restaurant, a spa treatment, or room service.

A look at how the status levels will look in the future

For most people, the new program ends up being better. Some lower level SPG members will lose some of their benefits such as free breakfast and lounge access. But on the flipside, more brands will offer breakfast, including Courtyard and resort properties. Ritz-Carlton's will still not offer a free feed.

SPG Gold members will see a reduction of guaranteed late check-out time down from 4 pm to 2 pm and will only get bonus points as an arrival gift instead of being given the choice between that and a welcome drink.

If you’ve previously achieved Lifetime Elite status in SPG or Marriott Rewards you will keep that Lifetime access to the new program. And if you have not quite made it there yet you could get one step closer, because if you have achieved elite status in the two separate rewards programs in a single year, it will count as two years towards lifetime status.

Here is a look at what you will need to achieve the lifetime status.

Marriott lifetime membership benefits

Let’s break it down for each Marriott Elite Status Level

So what’s actually included in each level? Let’s take a closer look at each level and what changes impact you might see to your status level come August.
 
Silver Elite
The first level in the new program is the Silver Elite. The benefits of Silver Elite are earned after 10 qualifying nights and include:

  • Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
  • 10% points bonus
  • Priority late checkout
  • Dedicated elite reservation line
The only real disadvantage here is that the points bonus has been reduced from 20% to 10%.



Gold Elite
The second level is Gold Elite, which is like the current SPG Gold, not Marriott Gold. To earn this, you’ll need to stay 25 nights in a calendar year, which is the same requirement for SPG Gold (except for the option to qualify on stays).

The benefits of Gold Elite include:

  • Complimentary enhanced internet
  • Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
  • 25% points bonus
  • Priority late checkout (2 pm, subject to availability) 
  • Welcome gift of points
  • Upgrades to enhanced rooms

The only disadvantage here is the priority late checkout is now 2 pm instead of 4 pm which isn’t a major deal but could be a bit frustrating for some who rely on that late checkout time.

Marriott Hotel

Platinum Elite

The next level is Platinum Elite, which will require 50 nights stay. This is the new level for existing Marriott Gold and SPG Platinum members, and it keeps most of the benefits:

  • Complimentary enhanced internet
  • Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
  • 50% points bonus
  • Priority late checkout (4 pm)
  • Welcome gift of points, breakfast offering or amenity
  • Room upgrades (including suites)
  • Lounge access
  • Guaranteed room type
  • Choice benefit (5 suite night awards or gift option) 

 Again, the new program has carried over nearly all the current benefits offered to Marriott Gold members and SPG Platinum members, and in some cases has increased the benefits (higher point bonuses and Suite Night Awards for Marriott Golds).

The only disadvantage is the removal of stays as criteria for qualifying and the drop in the number of Suite Night Awards for SPG Platinum members. However, it’s somewhat balanced out by the higher earning rates and greatly expanded number of properties from which you can choose to stay.

 
Platinum Premier Elite
The fourth elite level is Platinum Premier Elite, earned after 75 nights and is comparable to current Marriott Platinum and current SPG 75 night Platinum.

 The benefits of Platinum Premier Elite include:

  • Complimentary enhanced internet
  • Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
  • 75% point bonus
  • Priority late checkout (4 pm)
  • Welcome gift of points, breakfast offering or amenity
  • Room upgrades (including suites)
  • Lounge access
  • Guaranteed room type
  • Choice benefit (10 suite night awards or gift options): The new program awards Platinum Premier Elite members two sets of Choice Benefits; one when you reach 50 nights and the second when you reach 75 nights
  • 48-hour guarantee
  • United Premier Silver status through RewardsPlus

Reaching 75 nights and qualifying for Platinum Premier Elite status will be very similar to current Marriott Platinum and SPG 75 night Platinum, with a few added or enhanced perks. The only item missing is the Your24 perk currently offered to SPG Platinum members who reach 75 nights — this benefit is moving to the next level.

Marriott Interior

Platinum Premier Elite (100 nights + $20k in spending)

The peak level in the new program is like what SPG currently offers. It’s basically a different level of Platinum Premier Elite status for members who reach 100 nights and $20,000 in qualifying spending in a year.

The benefits include everything offered to regular Platinum Premier Elites, plus the following:

  • Ambassador Service: New for Marriott Platinum members, same for SPG 100-night Platinum members
  • Your24: New for Marriott Platinum members, same for SPG 100-night Platinum members

 This level is an enhancement for current Marriott Platinum members, as there aren’t any added perks for those who surpass the 75 nights in the current Marriott Rewards program. And if you’re currently a 100-night SPG Platinum member, this won’t be any different than what you’re currently enjoying apart from the spending requirement.

What about Lifetime Status?

If you’ve already earned Lifetime Status in Marriott’s or SPG’s program, you’ll continue to have your status recognised in the new program. And, when the two programs were officially combined in August, your lifetime activity was also combined, improving your chances of reaching lifetime status sooner.

Marriott hotel

Our verdict

There really isn’t much to be negative about in terms of the Elite Status levels. While there are a few minor disadvantages seen in some of the tiers we think they are more than offset with the broader portfolio of properties that will open up to members of each program.