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I expect the worst from Marriott & SPG merger. Not good for Delta or for AMEX!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

marriott - spg merger

Where do I begin. What a gut punch. And today of all days as today, or tonight that is, I will spend my 25th “stay” of the year in an SPG hotel and re-qualify for SPG Platinum status for 2016.

starwood levels

I am sure you are aware of the news that Marriott will be acquiring SPG. I am not going to get into the wisdom or economics of this as what I care about is points and status and the ability to earn and burn.

marriott elite levels

For now we really have way more questions than answers. From SPG we have a message of how important we are to SPG as well as the SPG program:

message from spg vp starwood

That sounds just peachy but the reality is the reward programs are not similar at all and I have very little interest in Marriott.

Since I do not have answers (no one does as of today) I think it is better to look at questions rather than speculate what I think will happen next. What I want to know is what will happen to:

delta spg crossover rewards points

That is my main list. The big one for Delta folks really is Crossover Rewards. Platinum SPG status does give you “Medallion lite” status after all. Will that be gone?

Then we have AMEX. I so feel for AMEX. First they lose Costco and now they may, again may, lose SPG too including the amazing perks from the Platinum cards?

Then we have transfer partners and especially Delta. Will the 20,000 SPG sent to Delta still yield 25,000 or even be possible at all?

Next we have earning status issues. It really is not that hard for me each year. With two SPG cards (one personal and one business) we would only need 21 stays to be Platinum. Not that hard to do since even award nights count. Don’t expect that to stick with Marriott.

Then we have status levels. If you look at the screen shots above you will notice the programs do not quite match up. Also, just how will Lifetime SPG status translate to Marriott?

Lastly we have UBER. I love and use UBER all the time. I love getting all kinds of bonus points when I stay at an SPG hotel and use UBER. It would stink to see this way to earn points go away.

Honestly folks I am really, at first glance, crushed by this announcement. I have questioned the value of my SPG Platinum status year after year but really like the way SPG takes care of me and rewards me. It has been worth the effort. The idea of Marriott as my primary hotel loyalty program does not thrill me one bit. I guess it is time to reconsider Hyatt and IHG after 2016 – René


Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. How on earth do you know what benefits will survive with the merger?

    Marriott sometimes disappoints but I always get breakfast at mid or top tier, and 20 points per dollar with a Chase card (actually becomes 8 united miles per $ if I want) and a free mid category night per year also.

    JWs are consistently excellent, have superb lounges mostly with free alcohol etc. I don’t think Marriott runs a bad show at all.

    Oh… Marriott nights and flights (travel package) is the best value in the biz if you get to a large balance.

  2. I just got AmEx Platinum and was enjoying the SPG Gold status. UGH!

  3. Marriott award stays count towards elite status as part of the 2016 changes

  4. Rene,
    I could not agree more. I am Platinum with SPG and Diamond with Hyatt and Hilton. I am bupkus with Marriott, (actually Gold with a status match earlier, but it will go away at the end of this year.) I have 70 Marriott reward points and although I can transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards to Marriott, I am still in mourning right now. I wonder what happened with the Hyatt proposition, to buy Marriott.

    I am with you on all your points. Luckily I have nothing to do with UA and CO, so that merger had no effect on me, but for those that did, I feel bad for them and hate to think that their horrible service experience will happen to us. However, giving the benefit of the doubt, I will say that on a couple of occasions at a Fairfield Inn (Arizona) and a Renaissance at LAX, I was blown away by their customer service. That being so, I still am very upset as 75 nights is alot to achieve vs. 25 nights/stays with SPG. I really hope they keep the programs separate, or do something to make our “loss” somewhat palatable.

    I have a Marriott Visa Card and am thinking of cancelling it now so as to have an opportunity to get a new one and sign up points to help me out. Regardless of if I had a million points or not, it is the status that makes the experience just that much better. Whether a free breakfast, extra earned points, crossover rewards, combining points with same household members and just plain unique hotel experiences with SPG, makes my stay and loyalty so much more memorable.

    So I am sending good thoughts out to the universe, to either have the programs remain separate, or that Marriott does the right thing and give us SPG loyalty members a decent bang for our buck when all is said and done.

    So Marriott, this is for you, please do not decimate our SPG program or you will lose potentially millions of loyal customers.


  5. Crushed. That was exactly the way I felt when I read the announcement this weekend. Sigh.

  6. Agreed that it felt like a gut punch. I left Marriott years ago. All I can say is I hope Hyatt doesn’t fall next. Marriott will equate to hub hostages in program benefits- at least we have time to burn points!

  7. Not good for AMEX? This is a disaster. CHASE will aggressively fight to keep Marriott and win. Simultaneously, CITI will be making millions off Costco while AMEX gets $0 since their card will be neither co-branded nor even accepted. And, by the way, I have the feeling that Starwood will soon be getting a slew of 20K airline mile conversions to get the 5K bonus before it becomes yet another memory.

  8. Santastico Reply

    Welcome to the Delta of hospitality. Good bye glamour. Welcome to the era of frugality!!!! I guess this just makes a lot more sense for Delta. They will find in Marriott their perfect partner.

  9. Didn’t Marriott just make changes to allow award nights to count toward status? As to the rest, I completely agree. I ran a Hyatt diamond challenge, mostly through MR’s earlier this year, so I have status through next year. My (cunning, or so I’d thought) plan was to do cheap mattress runs in early 2017 to have SPG Platinum status for 2017/18. Now I’m unsure what to do.

  10. AlohaDaveKennedy Reply

    Look at the bright side – at least you aren’t AMEX going to loose all those SPG customers. And, as a frequent flyer, think of all those airline seats that are going to open up when folks earn 20% less points using a Marriott card.

  11. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    Let’s do some comparisons.

    Starwood’s Westin has a better bed and bedding than Marriott. Marriott’s hotels across the portfolio have better toiletries than Starwood’s brands. Starwood’s SPG provides top-level elites on paper with better benefits than Marriott’s top-level elites. Marriott has a better booking system, including online. Westin has healthier food than most Marriotts, but most Marriotts have Starbucks coffee. Marriott’s lounges are better than Sheraton. Starwood’s SPG points are more valuable but Marriott does have some nice marquee international hotels. Starwood and Marriott both have very old properties in the Marriott and Sheraton brands.

    On the whole, I think you will see a lot of reflagging between the brands. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Sheraton sold off, as it’s largely a duplication of Marriott.

  12. Marriott Platinum here, while I think this change will benefit me more than you, as of Nov 1 2015 all Marriott reward stays count toward elite nights just like SPG. Interesting timing on both announcements. I just benefited from this change last week with 5 status nights on points.

    Also and unlike SPG/AMEX, with Chase/Marriott and $189,000 annual spend you can obtain Marriotts top status level – Platinum. This doesn’t work for everyone but for those who spend more than they travel Marriott is better IMO. There are reason why they are ranked #1.

    Also if you read the PR, Marriott needed to make inroads with millennial generation who like SPGs rewards program better than Marriotts. I can’t see MR alienating the customers they just paid billions of dollars to acquire with really negative changes.

  13. I guess it all depends on whose ox is getting gored. I am a lifetime Plat with Marriott and prefer their hotels and loyalty program. I will end the year with about 180 Marriott nights and about 12 SPGs.
    I too find the JW’s to be wonderful (not as nice as St. Regis, I’ll grant you) and the average Marriott’s I’ve been in lately have way trumped the old, tired Sheratons. And at 60, I’m not hip enough to stand too many more nights in a “W.”
    I get you’re not happy, but for some this is going to be fine. I’ll probably get yelled at for disagreeing, but thought there should be another voice. However as the old saying goes, “Don”t pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel,” so I am ready to take my beat down.

  14. As a Crossover SPG (plus)/Delta DM I get nothing at Starwood when I stay there. As a MR Silver, I also get zip at Marriotts. Plus the Marriott range of options is chock full of worn out hotels which is why I jumped to Hilton years ago.

    As a Hilton Diamond (on stays alone, no credit card), my benefits while staying are much better for my travel than the other two combined.

  15. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    I think it’s easy to sum it up by saying:

    Westin > Marriott, but Marriott > Sheraton. Courtyard > Four Points. Starwood’s Luxury Collection and Marriott’s Autograph Collection are probably a tie.

    I think Four Points and Sheraton are sold off.

  16. There are a number of other questions that will need to be answered.. and they may not all be bad. I am a Plat Marriott person and Gold on SPG through my Plat Amex.

    it will now be easier to get to a status, as there will be more properties to choose from.

    Marriott will want to keep the SPG members happy, as they dont want to lose the revenue of these patrons, as they will now have over 1 million rooms to fill.

    for those with Plat Amex cards, we may now get 5% rebate on some of the cheaper SPG properties like we get now on Fairfield, courtyard, etc.

    now for the interesting part… Plat Marriott people currently get Silver on United, this could be good, as it gives an alternate alrline to DL to check for a cheaper flight and still have early boarding, a possible upgrade and a free bag at checkin.

    I wonder if that will remain or change over to DL. It would be nice if they kept a partnership with both airlines and give us a choice like Amex does with the $200 rebate in spend per year with the airline of our choice.

    As far as Amex goes, they may have lost Costco, but they gaines Sams Club.


  17. As a family that travels a lot with their dogs, there is no better pet policy than SPG. PERIOD. We’ve brought Ozzie and Tipper to Luxury Collection properties, St.Regis and all the way down the line without any problems. Some of the properties might have charged a small stipend, but overall, most of them never charged a pet fee.
    In looking at the Marriott properties, they would be confined to Residence Inns and similar tiers.
    Hyatt isn’t any better.
    And as a socially forward liberal, who has had a wonderful Mormon boyfriend in college, I detest their policies regarding gays.
    I can only vote with my wallet…….I guess we’re staying home.

  18. I align Marriott Gold with SPG Platinum in benefits with pluses and minuses in both. I prefer Marriott because of the concierge lounge access which generally leads to solid morning and evening food options across the Marriott Hotel brand and others.

    Fairly well kept secret is the Ritz Carlton Rewards card. Yes it’s $400, but you get $300 back in airline credits among other valuable benefits. More importantly, $10k annual spend gets you Gold status in the Ritz Carlton (and Marriott) rewards program.

  19. @Lynn,

    Check out the Autograph properties by Marriott, I have seen a lot of them take pets. Of course, you could always classify them as service animals and then they would have to be welcome at ALL properties.


  20. @FNT Delta Diamond

    I heard that they were only selling off the timeshare properties to Interval and that this would be done by SPG before the closing date for Marriott.


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