There's a New Way to Get Qantas and Virgin Australia Points

Do you get your fair share of airtime ✈️ and hotel stays? Well then, something BIG is coming that you're going to like. There will soon be a new way to top up your Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer account.

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, joining forces come 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 points to airlines miles just got better.

Introducing the largest hotel loyalty program on the planet

Marriott's new combined program
With a huge range of hotels, there is no shortage of options to redeem your points
www.marriott.com.au

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. 🙌

W Hotel Bali
Pool side at the W Hotel in Bali
Simon_Sees from Australia [CC BY 2.0]

Currently, Marriott Rewards members can book from 18 Marriott brands when logged into their account. Similarly, SPG members can only see and book Starwood’s 11 legacy brands.

Come August this year, post-merge, customers will be able to earn points across all 29 hotel brands. And with 6500 hotels to choose from, there is a good chance for your next trip that you can earn points on your stay, 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.

90,000 bonus Qantas Points*
when you spend $4,000 on everyday purchases in 60 days.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card

90,000 Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 on everyday purchases in 60 days.

0% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers. (2% balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to cash advance rate.

Up to 44 days on purchases.

Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on everyday purchases up to $5,000 per statement period.

Reduced Annual Fee of $295 in first year. (reverts to $395 after first year).

Seven complimentary insurances when you make an eligible purchase.

24 hour, 7 day Platinum Concierge Service.

Fast 60 second instant approval process.

Promotion. Credit criteria, fees and charges apply. Read the terms and conditions before making a decision.

*NAB may vary or end this offer at any time.

Transfer Marriott points to Qantas and Virgin Australia

Qantas and Virgin
Your hotel stays will be able to earn you points with both 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 where 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.

Marriott brands
Take your pick from 29 hotel brands and 6500 hotels
www.marriott.com.au

This is where it gets interesting...

Members will 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 made Starpoints even more valuable. You have flexibility to choose where to send your points, which you'll appreciate if you've ever tried redeeming points for flights on a popular route.

In many ways, SPG operated like an alternative to American Express Membership Rewards. And, thankfully, the new combined Marriott Rewards will carry this on. Except with more than 40 airline partners to choose from, it is even more flexible.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel
The Ritz-Carlton hotel
NoRud [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https-//creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Changes to earn rates and status

Here’s the rundown on what is changing.

  • Those with SPG Starpoints will receive a 3 x bonus and have their points converted to Marriott Rewards Points.
  • You will 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 will be introduced.
  • Status levels and moving up elite status levels will be streamlined into one system.

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Deluxe Room
A Deluxe Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia in Singapore
Cherylsh.ng [CC BY-SA 3.0]

While the base earn rate of 10 points per dollar remains the same as the current Marriott Rewards program, there are some changes to elite status levels. Therefore, bonus points will change.

  • 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 will be 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 will 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...

Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort Honolulu
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Honolulu, United States

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.

What 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 Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas, Australia
Sheraton Mirage at Port Douglas, Australia
Bahnfrend [CC BY-SA 4.0]

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 will be starting in August. 

Category 8 rates will not be used for bookings before February 2019 and peak and off-peak pricing won’t be implemented on February 1, 2019 too. 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.

New Marriott Rewards award chart
The new free night award chart from Marriott Rewards.
www.marriott.com.au

At this stage, they have not disclosed which hotels will fall under what categories yet.

So it’s impossible to tell whether this new approach works out better or not. Marriott is expected to begin publishing a list of properties for each redemption category on its website from June 2018.

A number of point hackers and chasers have suggested you should book high-end Starwood stays between August and the end of the year get the best deal, and Marriott gold members should also book between this time to enjoy platinum status.

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 until August.

If you have an SPG account, come August you will need to combine it with a Marriott Rewards account, even if you’ve already linked them in the past.

Marriott resort, Hawaii.
Marriott Resort & Spa, Honolulu, United States
www.marriott.com.au

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.

Between now and August 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.

Our verdict...

The coming 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.