Last week, the takeover of Starwood by Marriott closed, forming a new mega entity. For now, they are remaining as rather separately running entities, but will be integrated over time into one operation.
As part of bringing the two companies together, there have been announcements that the existing loyalty programs will be folded into a new program. In the meantime, members of the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest program have been given the ability to link their two memberships together.
There is a version of the Marriott program call Ritz-Carlton Rewards, so you can link an SPG account to a Ritz Carlton account.
The programs have provided two main benefits in linking the two programs together. Firstly, they will be offering status matching across the programs, and secondly members will have the opportunity to transfer points between the two programs.
While they are the formal benefits, there are some additional benefits that may flow to members of the programs. This occurs due to the two programs providing different benefits, which now become available to members in both programs.
The first step in the process is to link the two accounts together. The programs have been emailing members of the programs links to do this.
If going through the Starwood path, and linking either your Marriott Rewards or Ritz-Carlton account, you first need to log into your Starwood account.
After logging in you are presented options as to which account you wish to link. In my case, I opted to link my Marriott Rewards account.
Selecting the account to link takes you to that programs login page. After entering your credentials, you are then sent back to the original program to confirm the linakge.
At the time of linking your accounts an automatic status match is applied. This will raise your status in the two programs to the equivalent of the highest status you held in the two programs. The basic equivalency between the two programs is
|Platinum Including Platinum Premier||Platinum|
The status match operates by finding the highest status between the two programs, and raising the other to the equivalent level. For example, I was SPG Gold and Marriorr Rewards Member. After linking, my Marriott Rewards level was raised to Gold.
Once linked, you are able to move points between accounts. As the points in the two programs carry different valuations this is not a straight 1 to 1 transfer. It is actually a ratio of 3 Marriott Rewards points for 1 SPG point. This ratio is the same in each direction. So, for example if you transfer 15,000 Marriott Rewards points to SPG, you would have 5,000 SPG points added to your account. Conversely, those 5,000 SPG points could be converted to 15,000 Marriott Rewards Points.
The programs stay separate
It is worth noting, that while the programs can be linked, they do remain separate programs. Status in either program needs to be earned the same way, not as a joint effort across the two programs.
The points balance in the two programs also remain separate, although you can move points between the programs.
Down the track, the programs will merge, but that is probably at least two years down the track.