Rumors Roundup: Marriott + SPG Loyalty Program Merging, Dynamic Award Pricing, and Airline Partners

In September 2016, Marriott International acquired SPG Hotels & Resorts for $13.3 billion. The merger aims to lower costs by combining their technology to create one reservation system, along with one loyalty program. 

Here's a roundup of the rumors we've seen so far. As a disclaimer, none of this information is official, so it can change at any time. Again, these are rumors and speculation of what could happen to the Marriott and SPG brands in the near future. 

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SPG website

U.S. Credit Card Guide first reported on a rumor a few months ago about the SPG site going down on August 1, 2018. 

Marriott and SPG Loyalty Programs

Flyertalk user coltonatx leaked a screenshot that reveals five different status tiers. 

 via https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marriott-rewards/1903045-leaked-new-combined-marriott-spg-status-tiers.html

via https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marriott-rewards/1903045-leaked-new-combined-marriott-spg-status-tiers.html

  • All members will earn 10 points per dollar spent
  • There will be five status tiers:
    • Silver status at 10 nights
    • Gold status at 25 nights
    • Platinum status at 50 nights
    • Platinum Premier status at 75 nights
    • Ambassador program at 100 nights and $20,000 in spend
  • Free breakfast (unknown which status level) will be "expanded to 25 brands and at resorts."

As a reminder, these tiers might not be finalized, and possibly still a work in progress. From the leaked document, it looks like you'll need to have a high spend at Marriott and SPG properties to earn any status above Silver.

FlyerTalk user OU812 posted more information about the status changes:

 

"FWIW speculation on changes to MR as we currently know it, based on discussion with someone in the know at MR but not privy to final decisions:

  • Names of status levels above Platinum have not been confirmed. MR wants to differentiate status levels above platinum to ensure proper recognition and avoid confusion among front line staff. Working names are Platinum 50, Platinum 75 and Platinum 100
  • Instant recognition of status at all levels upon check-in, with arrival points, free HSI, food & beverage vouchers, and choice of other benefits depending on status level
  • Spend requirement for all levels above silver. If spending level not reached, but nights are, status is at appropriate level based on spend.
  • Gold and platinum 50 upgrades limited to preferred level, concierge floor, higher floors, corner rooms, or view rooms at resorts. (No suites!)
  • Guaranteed suite awards (4) per year for platinum 75 and above
  • Guaranteed lounge access only for levels platinum 75 and above
  • Free breakfast at resorts for platinum 75 and above
  • Guaranteed late check-out, 2:00pm for Gold, 3:00pm for Platinum 50, 4:00pm for Platinum 75, Plat 100; resort and conference hotels subject to availability.
  • Platinum guarantees: 48 room guarantee remains, others guarantees are gone (platinum arrival gift, bed type, room type, lounge access, ultimate reservation guarantee)
  • Lifetime status changes coming. If status level not obtained, lifetime status identified in system. New Lifetime Level above Platinum will be added in 2019! Benefits reduced to upgrade to preferred floor for LTG; upgrade, late check-out for LTP
  • Big changes coming to awards! Dynamic award pricing, points required for award night based on hotel room rates at time of booking. No black-out dates, no categories!

Some the items above may wind up on the cutting room floor or may not be implemented until a later date due to IT integration issues.
Posted as a point of discussion and not a statement of fact."

One of the big negative changes is that lounge access might only be available for Platinum status and above. 

This also brings up a few questions:

  • What will happen to the hotel (Gold) status that comes with the American Express Platinum card?
  • Will the new premium Marriott card automatically earn Platinum Premier status similar to the Amex Hilton Aspire?

Dynamic award pricing

"Big changes coming to awards! Dynamic award pricing, points required for award night based on hotel room rates at time of booking. No black-out dates, no categories!"

Dynamic award pricing would be a negative change because the point price would change based on demand. 

Category vs. Dynamic Example

Use case: Going to Twin Cities for the Super Bowl.

Category Pricing

  • Non-peak season (winter) = 30k points
  • Peak season (summer) = 30k points
  • Special situations (events) = 30k points
  • Dynamic Pricing

  • Non-peak season = 20k points
  • Peak season = 35k points
  • Special situations = 100k points

Transferring SPG points to airline partners

It's rumored that the ability to transfer SPG Starpoints to airline partners will be discontinued on April 16. I'm not sure how true this rumor is, but if it's true, discontinuing airline partners will hurt Marriott's brand (especially without advance notice).

If your plan was to redeem SPG points for flights, I suggest transferring points (at your own discretion) to JAL, Emirates, or Alaska Airlines for the first-class or flexible redemption options.

As a reminder, once you transfer SPG points to an airline partner, you can't reverse it. 

I wouldn't transfer SPG points to American Airlines or United Airlines because you can easily earn those points using Amex Membership Rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Card products

We made a video a few months ago speculating what would happen to co-branded credit cards. 

The Chase Marriott Business card would most likely be product changed to a Chase Ink card since they're in the same category and similar annual fees.

The Amex SPG card might be product changed to an Amex EveryDay card. Watch the video below for more information.