Last Hurrah? Starwood Preferred Guest Promotion, and Merge with Marriott Rewards
By now we’ve already highlighted a few Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) promotions. Regardless of their impending merger with the Marriott Rewards program, SPG is conducting yet another sale lasting until May 31st.
Given the far-reaching effects of the SPG-Marriott merger, we’ll highlight both the latest promotion and the noteworthy changes to the program taking effect soon.
Latest Starwood Preferred Guest Promotion
As with their usual promotions, SPG is offering 35% off their standard rate ($35 for 1000 miles) when buying 5000 or more miles. You get this special rate as long as your account is 14 days as of the date of purchase. Just remember the program’s 30,000 Starpoints purchase limit per calendar year, and any miles bought do not count towards elite status.
You can convert Starpoints into many other airline loyalty programs’ miles. In most cases, they give you 5,000 extra miles for every 20,000 Starpoints converted.
As you can see, 30,000 Starpoints cost you US$682.50 or 2.275 cents per mile (cpm). If you convert 20,000 of those into 25,000 airline miles (includes the bonus 5,000), then you purchase falls further to 1.82 cpm. This way, you get to pay for miles close to some of our AMP valuations.
Of course you can always buy Marriott Rewards points and convert accordingly. But we don’t recommend it unless you really need to as you’d need to convert 3 MR:1 SPG, and Marriott sells 1000 points for $12.50 each.
But then you don’t have to buy or convert any Marriott Rewards points because…
About the Starwood Preferred Guest-Marriott Rewards Merger
The Starwood Preferred Guest program is popular amongst loyal travelers for the value of their elite status privileges. Marriott’s customers, on the other hand, like it for the program’s earning and redemption possibilities. By bringing these two programs together, they aim to incorporate the best features of both.
But as a proponent of SPG Starpoints, how does the Asian Miler see these changes?
Elite Status, Qualification and Benefits
The new program will be divided into six status tiers for elite qualification, depending on the number of nights you spent at a property. This differs from Starwood’s rules where you could also gain elite recognition based on the number of stays (consecutive nights at one hotel counts as one stay).
The status tiers and corresponding qualification conditions and benefits are as follows:
If you happen to be an SPG Elite as of August 2018, you’ll automatically be designated into one of the mentioned tiers, like so:
Furthermore, you’ll be awarded Lifetime Gold Elite or Lifetime Platinum Elite if you have already obtained SPG Lifetime Gold or Platinum status, respectively.
Earning and Redeeming
If you have linked your SPG with your Marriott Rewards and/or Ritz-Carlton Rewards accounts, all your points will be pooled together. By August 2018, all of your current SPG Starpoints will be tripled into this new points program. This falls in line with their 1:3 conversion rate since the inter-program transfers started a few years back.
The earning rate under the new program is more points-based, depending on your status and spending:
- Member: 10 per US$ (2 in SPG, 10 in MR)
- Silver Elite: 11 per US$ (12 in MR)
- Gold Elite: 12.5 per US$ (3 in SPG)
- Platinum Elite: 15 per US$ (3 in SPG, 12.5 in MR)
- Platinum Premier Elite: 17.5 per US$ (4 in SPG, 15 in MR)
This is very similar to the trend going on with revenue-based US airline program earning model. All in all, this marks an improvement for SPG when you factor in the new conversion rate.
But there are changes to redemptions of free nights as well. Hotel properties under either program originally fall under a number of categories. The new programs re-rates a number of existing properties into a different category, so it is best to review the required points when the changes take effect.
The concept of peak and off-peak rates are introduced under the merged program. These rates would only take effect in 2019, so the standard rates would still apply starting August until the rest of the year. This should offer some interesting opportunities to book that dream vacation at the luxurious property you have been eyeing…
Now this is the key question as far as we at Asian Miler are concerned. We’ve already highlighted the Starpoints promotions that SPG offers every year. Normally, 1000 Starpoints sell US$35, and Marriott Rewards, $12.50.
Under the merged program, Marriott rules will largely remain (but applying the conversion rate for Starpoints). Even without the new promotion, SPG already sells more cheaply than Marriott Rewards does, at US$11.67 factored at 1:3.
But it is likely that only point purchases at Marriott rates may remain. And, that is if the new program will even be selling points at all. Will we still get 35% discount promotions? Will the these opportunities still be offered many times in a year?
The new program will retain the airline transfer partnerships of both SPG and Marriott Rewards. Furthermore, the program would adopt the same transfer bonuses from SPG.
The only difference is that the new program currency converts at a rate of 3 points for 1 mile. Since Starpoints will be converted at 1:3 this effectively retains the current SPG transfer rate. Just as you convert 20,000 Starpoints to get 25,000 total airline miles, you would similarly need 60,000 of the new program’s currency to get 20,000 miles plus the bonus 5,000.
The Final Word
The merger of Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards programs brings changes, both good and bad. But for the most part, the changes from the SPG side’s perspective are not so bad, while bringing along the benefits of Marriott Rewards.
SPG is offering a limited-time points purchase promotion, probably even the program’s last ever. Would you consider jumping on this opportunity as SPG’s last hurrah? Will you stick around for the new loyalty program? We’d like to hear from you!