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Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are officially coming together, and the first change is that you can now transfer points back and forth between your Marriott and Starwood accounts anytime, with no limits or fees. And if you have status with Marriott Rewards or Starwood it will be matched.
All you have to do is link your accounts here to enable transfer and automatically match any status you’re eligible for.
But once you’ve done that, you’re ready to take advantage of the golden window of this merger, with all kinds of other great things you can now do thanks to the transfer and match options. It’s only a matter of time before Marriott or Starwood try to change the price of rewards, so if you have Starwood points there’s never been a better time to start taking advantage of them while the transfers flow freely.
Starwood is legendary for charging fewer points than most other hotel programs for hotel nights. But with 1 Starwood point getting you 3 Marriott Rewards points, many Marriott Rewards hotels become an even bigger bargain with points than the Starwood hotels you’re used to. That’s because many Marriott Rewards hotels don’t cost 3x as many points as comparable Starwood hotels.
For example, in Maui, the Westin resort will set you back 20,000 Starwood points a night…
But you can get the Wailea Beach Marriott for 40,000 Marriott points, which only costs 14,000 Starwood points when you transfer.
Or, you can turn the same 20,000 Starwood points into 60,000 Marriott points and upgrade yourself to the Ritz Carlton.
This is probably the most exciting part of this change, and you can learn more about Marriott Rewards redemptions in our guide here.
All but the highest end tier 5 Ritz Carlton hotels are available for 20,000 Starwood points or less when you convert them to Marriott at the 3x rate. And many Marriott hotels are available for less than 10,000 Starwood points a night when you convert to Marriott Rewards.
|Hotel Category||Marriott price||Starwood points needed|
|Ritz - 1||30,000||10,000|
|Ritz - 2||40,000||14,000|
|Ritz - 3||50,000||17,000|
|Ritz - 4||60,000||20,000|
|Ritz - 5||70,000||24,000|
So if you’re thinking about booking a Starwood hotel with points, make sure you check a site like HotelHustle.com that lists prices in points for both Marriott and Starwood to see if there is a similar Marriott hotel that costs less when you take advantage of the 3x transfer rate.
You’ll get a chance to sample some fantastic Marriott properties for fewer points than you’d pay for a similar Starwood hotel. Take advantage of them before Marriott decides to redefine categories and raise award prices.
And remember at both Starwood and Marriott, your 5th night is free when you use points to pay for 4 nights.
Marriott lets you upgrade both cash and rewards bookings for just 4,000 points a night, and that works out to 1,700 Starwood points transferred over to Marriott. An upgraded room like one with a better view, or a small suite would often cost about $30 – $50 extra a night, so getting that for just 1,7000 points is a great deal for very few points.
Starwood has lots of 1:1 airline transfer partners, but a weak spot has been United and Southwest. Now that you can turn 1 Starwood point into 3 Marriott points there are some great options with Southwest and United.
It’s been years since you could transfer Starwood points into Southwest points, but now that you can turn 1 Starwood point into 3 Marriott points, you can then transfer from Marriott to Southwest. If you transfer at least 10,000 Starwood points at a time you’ll get a 1:1 ratio or better when you transfer from Marriott to Southwest.
|Starwood points||= Marriott points||= Southwest points||Transfer ratio|
|Air + Hotel - Get 7 nights in a Category 1-5 plus the miles|
Marriott also has special Air and Hotel packages. These turn your Marriott points into airline miles at the most favorable ratio, and give you certificates that let you book 7 nights at a Marriott hotel. If you transfer 90,000 points via a Marriott Air and Hotel package you’ll get 120,000 Southwest points, which is a great 1.3x transfer rate. That’s more than the 110,000 points you need to earn Companion Pass each year, and you get to keep the 120,000 Southwest points and use them for free flights. To get the most out of this, do the transfer in early January and you’ll get Companion Pass for almost all of 2017 and 2018.
If you transfer at least 10,000 Starwood points at a time to Marriott, and then from Marriott to United, you’ll get an even 1:1 ratio or better to United miles, which unlocks a lot of travel opportunities with United, Star Alliance and more. Plus, if you take advantage of an Air and Hotel package, you can get 1.5x United miles per Starwood point by transferring 90,000 Starwood points into 270,000 Marriott Rewards points. Then, turn the Marriott points into 132,000 United miles. You also get 7 nights at any Marriott Category 1 – 5 hotel, and you don’t have to use those hotel nights at the same time as your flight.
|Starwood points||= Marriott points||= United miles||Transfer ratio|
|Air + Hotel - Get 7 nights in a Category 1-5 Marriott plus the miles|
Now that Starwood points and status convert freely to Marriott points and status, you can take advantage of ways to earn even more points from your spending, and status without meeting hotel stay requirements.
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express earns one point per dollar on just about everything you spend. And since 1 Starwood point turns into 3 Marriott points anytime, you can be earning 3 Marriott points per dollar on just about everything when you use the Starwood Amex.
That beats the Marriott Rewards Premier card that earns just 2x points at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, and car rental agencies, and just 1 point per dollar on regular spending. You can also get 6x Marriott points per dollar when you use a Starwood Amex for Starwood stays.
But you’ll want to keep using your Marriott Rewards Premier for Marriott purchases, because it earns an unmatched 5 points per dollar on Marriott purchases.
If you can manage to put $75,000 a year on a Ritz Carlton Rewards Card, you can earn Marriott Platinum status, which in turn gets you Starwood Platinum status, though not including the suite upgrade certificates offered to Platinums who stay 75 nights or more.
With Marriott and United’s Rewards Plus, Marriott Platinum level elites get free United MileagePlus Premier Silver status, which gets you free Economy Plus seating within 24 hours of departure and on the waitlist for upgrades. So after you match your Starwood Platinum status to Marriott Platinum, head here to match that to United Silver status.
Starwood Platinums get priority boarding, priority checkin, a chance at upgrades, and a first free checked bag when flying Delta via the Crossover Rewards program. So when you match your Marriott Platinum to Starwood Platinum, head here to start enjoying perks when flying Delta.
Marriott and United’s Rewards Plus also lets United’s Premier Platinum and 1K members get Marriott Gold status. And you can turn that status into Starwood Gold via the Marriott / Starwood match program.
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