Do you get your fair share of airtime ✈️ and hotel stays? Well then, something BIG is here that you're going to like. There is now a way to give your Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer account a boost.
If you haven't heard already it’s all thanks to three existing hotel loyalty programs, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, who joined forces on 1 August 2018 to become one program that will rival them all.
So, how does this result in more points for you?
Let’s take a look at how transferring hotel points to airlines miles is now better than ever.
Introducing the largest hotel loyalty program on the planet
Back in 2016, Marriott Hotels merged with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Sounds great? Well, not really. Here's why. Points are essentially a private currency, with the value of the point dictated by the company issuing them. And they tend to have an inflationary approach, i.e. changes typically mean more points required for the same redemption. So you could be diligently earning points with the intention of redeeming them for a family holiday, only for the program to devalue them by 25%. Ouch.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) held a special place in the hearts of many points enthusiasts because of their generous earn rates, relatively easy redemptions, and excellent choice of properties. But there is one thing that was of particular interest to frequent flyers, and that was the popular and very useful option to transfer SPG points to a range of airline miles.
Thankfully, with the merge of the three programs into one officially announced in April 2018, there was a collective sigh of relief since the unified program still retained the large majority of SPG benefits. 🙌
Previously, Marriott Rewards members could only book from 18 Marriott brands when logged into their account. Similarly, SPG members could only see and book from Starwood’s 11 legacy brands.
Since August this year, post-merge, customers can earn points across all 29 hotel brands. And with 6500 hotels to choose from, there is a good chance that you can earn points on your next trip, wherever in the world 🌏 you are.
For the remainder of 2018, there will be a transition period where all three programs still exist but will be linked together, before a new combined program will launch in 2019.
Transfer Marriott points to Qantas and Virgin Australia
They say change is as good as a holiday 🏖 and in this case, it might just well be true!
One of the most valued features of the SPG program is that you can transfer Starpoints to a range of airline partner loyalty programs.
Before the announcement, many were dreading 😰 having this potential benefit removed when the programs were combined. The good news is that Marriott Rewards opted not only to keep the airline transfer component, but they are keeping the same transfer ratio for just about all of the airline partners.
The 1:1 transfer ratio of SPG Starpoints to airline miles is effectively remaining the same.
The difference is that now you’ll be using the new Marriott Rewards points. So you’ll transfer 3 points of the new points for one airline mile.
But since all SPG points are getting converted to the new currency at a 1:3 ratio, the value of your existing SPG points effectively remains the same.
This is where it gets interesting...
Members now have access to more airline partners than ever before, with Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Air New Zealand all coming into play.
Qantas is not currently an SPG partner, but is available through Marriott. Velocity is currently an SPG partner, but not a Marriott Rewards partner. The fact that both Australian airlines will be included in the combined hotel loyalty program is a big win for us Aussie travellers.
It makes the combined hotel loyalty program a bit like American Express Membership Rewards in some ways.
This ability to transfer to a range of airline partners has made Starpoints even more valuable. You have the flexibility to choose where to send your points (with more than 40 airline partners to choose from), which you'll appreciate if you've ever tried redeeming points for flights on a popular route.
Changes to earn rates and status
Here’s the rundown on how it works now:
- Those with SPG Starpoints now receive a 3 x bonus and have their points converted to Marriott Rewards Points
- You earn 10 Marriott Rewards points per $1 on most hotel stays across all brands, with the exception being stays at the Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element earning 5 points per $1
- A new 8-category award chart with bands for standard, peak and off-peak stays has been introduced
- Status levels and moving up elite status levels are now streamlined into one system.
While the base earn rate of 10 points per dollar remains the same as the old Marriott Rewards program, there are some changes to elite status levels. Therefore, bonus points are now different.
- Silver Elite: 10% points bonus
- Gold Elite: 25% points bonus
- Platinum Elite: 50% points bonus
- Platinum Premier Elite: 75% points bonus
The main winners in this new scheme are SPG members who are able to earn free nights at most properties at a faster rate than the current SPG rate of Starpoints for every dollar spent.
Current Marriott Gold members go from a 25% point bonus currently to a 50% bonus, meaning an additional 2.5 points for every dollar spent helping them to reach their Points target much quicker.
There's a simple hack to get even more points...
SPG ran a 25% bonus that was triggered when transferring 20,000 Starpoints to an airline partner. So if you transferred 20,000 points, SPG would add on 5,000 additional points.
This bonus will continue in the new Marriott Rewards program.
For every 60,000 points transferred to airline miles, you’ll get a 15,000 point bonus which provides you with a total of 25,000 miles to transfer to your airline program of choice (I know right...🤯).
This makes a transfer to Qantas Points even more lucrative as you’ll be able to transfer your combined points at a 3:1 ratio to Qantas, with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred. The maximum transfer ratio will be a much better 2.4:1. This represents a 60% improvement against the current 4:1 Marriott ratio.
Want to see where those points can take you?
Check out our points destination explorer tool and start planning your next escape. 🗺
Don’t want to fly? Book a luxury hotel instead!
The consolidated offering provides more choice than ever if you want to use your points towards a hotel stay.
Come 2019 the revised program will see the introduction of the below award nights chart. Only categories 1-7 started in August.
Category 8 rates will not be used for bookings before February 2019 and peak and off-peak pricing won’t be implemented before February 1, 2019 either. Anything booked in 2018 will be at the standard existing pricing for a free night.
There will be NO blackout dates 🛑 but we will see the introduction of different prices for peak, standard, and off-peak pricing.
Currently, it takes 3,000 SPG points or 7,500 Marriott points to get a free night at a Category 1 hotel.
In general, off-peak will cost you about 20% less in points for a free night while the peak season will see a 20% increase.
Check out this link to find out which hotels fall under what categories.
You'll need to link your existing account
If you haven’t already linked 🔗 your Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts, do it now so you can get a status match and transfer points.
If you have an SPG account, you will need to combine it with a Marriott Rewards account, even if you’ve already linked them in the past.
By combining the accounts you will be given a single account and profile so that your points and elite-nights balance will be aggregated.
Meaning your points and nights will help get you elevated to the next level faster than before.
Your Starpoints will automatically become Marriott Rewards points with a one-time conversion multiplying your balance by three.
Be sure to have your current email address added in your profile, as that is what will be used to contact you when it is time to take action.
These changes are about the best all you point chasers could have hoped for. With the core offering of the SPG program being kept while expanding to include the largest hotel chain in the world.
For us Aussies, the fact that you will be able to transfer your points to either Qantas or Virgin Australia means there is a new way for you to reach your point targets 🏹 sooner.
P.s You can keep up to date with the latest program changes here on the Marriott website.