Ever since Marriott took over SPG in 2016, diehard Starwood loyalists like myself have been anxiously twiddling our thumbs, waiting to see what would happen. So far the changes have been incremental, and mostly involved making Marriott Rewards more like Starwood (eg adding guaranteed late checkout, trialing an ambassador service, adding experiences packages) rather than vice versa, which is good.
It’s no secret that Marriott eventually wants to merge Marroitt Rewards, SPG, and Ritz Carlton Rewards into one program, but thankfully they’re not rushing this. We now have received confirmation that the three programs will continue to operate separately for 2018.
There are some changes to take note of, none of which raise any red flags
- Starwood Hertz partnership: SPG members can now earn points with Hertz rentals. SPG and Marriott Platinum members will get Hertz Five Star status. SPG 100 night Platinums and Marriott Platinum Premiers (Marriott’s top tier, invite-only status) will get Hertz President’s Circle
- Starpoints don’t expire for Life Members: If you hold Lifetime SPG Platinum or Gold status, your Starpoints will never expire. That’s good to have, but really, you shouldn’t be holding onto your points for so long
- Marriott will end status buybacks and rollovers: Whatever nights at Marriott you earned in excess of requalification will roll over to 2018, but from 2018 this will cease. Marriott will also stop offering members who fall short of requalification the chance to buy their status back
There’s very little here to dislike. It’s nice that SPG Platinum members now have elite rental car status, which can probably be used to status match to another chain like National or Sixt.
It remains to be seen what will happen to other SPG Platinum privileges especially the highly-valued suite upgrades. Presumably they’re still working this out in their loyalty department, but from any rational point of view it’s going to be difficult to preserve what with the huge number of top tier elites in the combined program.
These changes mean that if you’ve been thinking about giving the SPG Platinum status challenge a try, 2018 is still a possibility for you.