The Cards You Need for the Starwood-Marriott Merger

Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners, including American Express and Chase.


The merger between the Starwood and Marriott hotel groups has opened up some new opportunities for you to max out your credit card travel benefits. Now that the deal is officially signed and sealed, here’s what you need to know… and which credit cards will help with your merger travel strategy!

1.Merge your accounts.

If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to link your Starwood and Marriott accounts. The process is easy: simply have your award numbers in each program handy and complete the form at this link. Voila. You can now move your Starwood points to Marriott and your Marriott points to Starwood. The rate is a 3:1 (SPG to Marriott) transfer, which is pretty fair based on the value of the points. Additionally, your highest status within the two programs will be matched across both programs. Here’s what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 10.40.08 PM

2. Leverage Free Status!

With the new status reciprocity benefit, several cards just became way more beneficial to help you fast track your way to hotel elite at more properties.  The Platinum Card® from our partner American Express, and the comparable American Express Business Platinum® both offer free Starwood Gold Status for members (note: even though it’s free, you have to request it after getting the card). Now, when you merge your Marriott account with your SPG account, you’ll be granted this same level of Marriott Gold status and access to all the elite benefits of a Marriott Gold–even if you’ve never stayed a single night! That’s especially nice since Marriott Gold status requires 50 nights. This doubles the value of the elite status benefit on your Platinum card!

If you aren’t a Platinum card holder, you can also get SPG gold status if you have the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express and meet an annual spend threshold of $30,000.

If you have Marriott status, it will also be reciprocated by Starwood.

3. Move your points where you want them

One of the things that makes your SPG points so valuable is the ability to transfer them to 36 different airline partners in addition to being able to use them at hotels. While we don’t know what will happen in the future when the two programs finally become one (probably in 2018), this airline transfer benefit isn’t going away for now—and it’s definitely something that can be leveraged during the transition period.  While Marriott also has airline transfer partners, some of the rates are much higher than the 3:1 transfer rate being offered by SPG.

In some cases you might find it is valuable to you to move your Marriott points to SPG, and then transfer them to one of the Starwood transfer partners–and of course take advantage of Starwood’s 5,000 mile bonus for transferring 20,000 points to an airline.

Of course you can use your Marriott points at a Marriott, but you can also transfer them 3:1 to SPG for a value of 29,000 SPG points—and then transfer to the airline of your choice 1:1 for 34,000 miles! And of course, you can do the same thing with points you earn on your personal SPG American Express. It’s time to start thinking creatively.

And while you’re thinking creatively, remember that points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred card also transfer to Marriott at a 1:1 rate. While this isn’t a very good value for Ultimate Rewards points, in a pinch it gives you another avenue to get points to SPG and nearly every airline program that might need a little boost.

Header Image: Marriott Media