Starpoints to United, The New Way

Starwood has always had one of the best loyalty programs out there. The hotel company has partnered with over 30 airlines to give really great points transfers to many of those airlines. Almost all airline partners have a 1:1 point transfer rate, nothing quite beats the 1:1 transfer rate when it comes to points and miles. 

Up until the merger with Marriott though, Starwood did not have a good transfer rate to United. Transferring to United came at a soul crushing 2 Starpoints to 1 United mile. When almost every airline that Starwood partnered with was offering a 1:1 transfer rate, the idea of transferring to United was terrible, you'd have to spend twice as many points to get the same number of miles that a rival airline would give you.

Now that has changed with the linking of accounts between Marriott and Starwood since Marriott has a very good partnership with United.

Using Marriott points, you can convert 112,000 Marriott Rewards points to 50,000 United miles, this is quite good for Marriott hotel rewards. However, when you look at the SPG points to Marriott rewards points conversion, things look even better. 

SPG points now convert to Marriott rewards points at a 1:3 ratio, for every 1 Starpoint you transfer, you get 3 Marriott Rewards points. That means for 37334 Starpoints, you can transfer those to Marriott Rewards points and then to United MilagePlus miles. So for 37,334 Starpoints, you get 50,000 United miles! That's better than the 1:1 ratio that is offered by SPG to most other airlines, even when you factor in the free 5,000 miles SPG gives for every 25,000 points transferred. 

This is the best way to use your Starwood points toward United. It might very well be one of the best redemptions possible on SPG all together now. If you have a trip you are planning on united, this may be a great way to boost your miles. 

Marriott Elites Miffed At Status Match

Yesterday Marriott and Starwood hotels officially linked their reward programs almost immediately after gaining merger approval. Now the largest hotel chain in the world, the two loyalty programs will stand alone for a while, but can be linked together. In linking your accounts, each program will match the other if you have Gold or Platinum status.

Many Marriott elite customers have been a little miffed about the status matching. Their issue with the status match is that Gold Status on Marriott requires 50 nights, where on SPG it only requires 25 nights.

On the surface this is true, but throw us a bone on the SPG side of the equation, our program is getting eliminated in 2018, theirs isn't. Giving us status for a year is little to ask for, and honestly is probably how Marriott is attempting to win us over. Really, I'm not interested in spending 50 nights just to get mid level status. I'm likely going to Hyatt after SPG goes away, Marriott bores me and I don't see them making too many changes to keep me loyal with them.

Lets dive a little deeper though. Marriott Gold status and SPG Gold status are pretty equal in terms of what is being offered to each of their status levels. While SPG Gold may be easier to reach, Starwood properties are also much harder to find. I can throw a stone in any direction and hit a Marriott, they are almost everywhere. Starwood hotels are not everywhere like Marriotts. For a real world example of this, when I search Marriott's website for hotels around Cape Town, it returns 12 hotels. If you search Starwood, you find 1 hotel. Marriott is easier to be loyal to, plain and simple.

Really in the end, it's not going to matter. Come 2018, those of use who love the SPG program will be left without a program. We'll either have to switch to permanently using Marriott, which I won't do, or go to a competing company. In my case, I like the looks of Hyatt. Fingers crossed someone doesn't buy them before that point.

Link Your Starwood and Marriott Accounts

Marriott did not waste a second from when the merger was approved to when their loyalty programs were able to be linked. It's fairly impressive given how long merged accounts on American Airlines and US Airways took. Don't freak out though, Starwood's SPG program is still here to stay for a while, in the meantime you are able to take advantage of some great reciprocal perks.

The ability to link your SPG and Marriott Rewards accounts is now live. I went through the process this morning and it was quite easy. I will give you advice, if you plan to link your accounts, I suggest doing this from your computer. My attempts to link from my phone caused some errors and I had to resort to my computer.

Link Marriott Rewards on SPG Website

Link Marriott Rewards on SPG Website

Entering SPG Info

Entering SPG Info

Above you can see screenshots from the SPG website. If you are a Marriott Rewards member and prefer to start from their website, you can do that as well. My preferred program is the SPG program, so I started on the website I'm most familiar with.

Using the link on the SPG home page, you'll be asked to log into your SPG account. After that you'll be asked to log into your Marriott account. A few prompts later you're all done. It is an incredibly simple process and very quick. In seconds my accounts were not only linked, but Marriott had already granted me Gold status with the Marriott program, since I have Gold status with SPG.

Once your accounts are linked, you can also transfer points between accounts at any time. The transfer rate is 1 SPG Point to 3 Marriott points. Transferring points will mean options on both sides of the equation. 

SPG doesn't have a great partnership with United, one of the few that SPG doesn't have a great transfer rate for points. Marriott on the other hand does have a good relationship with United, meaning you can actually transfer SPG points to Marriott, then to United and get a better than 1:1 transfer rate from SPG to United. If you were to go directly from SPG to United, you'd get a terrible 2 SPG points to 1 United mile transfer rate.

There will be lots of opportunities to take advantage of now that your accounts can be linked. Go get yourself linked up while it's hot. 

Multiply Your Miles By Flying Delta

In the last few days I've booked a flight to visit family, and booked my final leg of my 2 week vacation in October. This is a total of 5 different segments booked and I will be pushing for a status match challenge to make it to Gold Medallion member in the next few months. There is a little extra bonus that comes with flying on Delta.

Delta partners with Starwood hotels under the Crossover Rewards program. That means for every stay with Starwood, I not only get my normal Starwood points, but I get Delta miles on top of that. The miles will also work in the opposite direction. Every dollar I spend on a Delta flight will transfer to Starwood points as well. It's like double dipping on your points and miles.

Starwood points are some of the most valuable out there and once have 20,000 to transfer back to Delta, you get another 5,000 free of charge from Starwood. Taking advantage of programs like this is essential to flying the way I do. Grab every mile you can, every point you can when it is offered to you for free or very little action on your part. If you can get rewarded for your normal habits, why pass that up.

This crossover rewards program between Starwood and Delta will prove to be very valuable to me in the coming year. As I fly more with Delta this will translate to more Starwood points which are arguably the single most valuable points currency out on the market today.

Make sure to sign up for this ongoing promotion if you have loyalty in both program. Keep in mind that you must have a loyalty status to make this work for you, but if you do it will pay off with no effort outside of your normal flying/sleeping habits.

Leveraging Delta Crossover Rewards

In the past, I've spoken of this benefit briefly, but as my move to Delta begins, there is another advantage to Delta that will help boost my mileage accounts in a few different ways. Crossover rewards is a program with Starwood hotel brands in agreement with Delta, Emirates, and Uber... though Uber may not technically be under the crossover program, it works the same from my point of view.

Crossover rewards are points and miles that are earned while flying Delta, or staying at a Starwood hotel. Since I am a huge fan and big user of Starwood, this is especially lucrative. The way the program works is that for any Starwood member, you will earn 1 point for every dollar spent on Delta flights. In other words, you will gain miles while flying Delta and gaining Starwood points. Starwood points can then be transferred to Delta, or any number of airline partners.

If you are a Delta elite customer, then you get rewards in the reverse direction as well. For every dollar you spend on a Starwood property, you get 1 mile added to your Delta account. So my normal behavior of staying at Starwood properties will earn me more usable miles on Delta.

While this won't be a huge source of points for me on the Delta side, it will likely be fairly significant on the Starwood side of the equation. Since those miles are transferable and carry bonus miles as well, it is a big deal and another added bonus to the switch to Delta.

The move I dive into this change, the more confident I am with the move. Being able to shift your loyalty is a powerful tool as Delta may someday be make things worse again and force another change, keeping flexible is always to your advantage.