In September of 2016 Marriott International acquired the Starwood Hotel brand. Since then Marriott has let Starwood operate as its own entity with plans to eventually merge the two giants under one umbrella. The merger is set to be complete at some point in August of this year. Marriott has released a ton of information with regards as to what the new brand will look like and how you can earn loyalty status with them. A lot of what they have written can be overly complicated, here are some quick facts, which is all you really need to know.

How Big Is the New Marriott?

Marriott’s brand now has 6500 properties with over 1,200,000 rooms available for sale in 127 countries/territories on a nightly basis

When Will The Merger Be Complete?

Some time in August. An official date has not been released. Plan to not have access to your Starwood account as of August 1st.

What Is This August Date Really About?

Marriott and Starwood have been “merged” since September of 2016. The August deadline is really about merging the loyalty programs and updating credit card offerings and benefits.

Who Does The Merger Affect?

The merger mostly affects SPG members. They see the most negative impacts. They will only earn 2x the points for every dollar spent vs the 3x the points for every dollar spent that they were earning. Marriott Rewards members and Ritz Carlton members will largely have the same benefits and will gain access to use their points at more properties and redeem their points for more opportunities.

What happens to my SPG Starpoints?

All Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints will be converted to Marriott rewards points at some point in August. You will earn 3x more points when they get converted. Make sure your accounts are linked.

What is changing with redeeming points for hotel stays?

Currently Marriott has 9 different redemption categories,Starwood has 7, and the Ritz Carlton has 5 that you can see below. They will be simplifying their awards chart. As of August 1 there will only be 7 categories. Coming as of February 1, 2019 there will be 8 categories and they will introduce off-peak and peak pricing introduced for each category. The changes to hotel award categories can be found here.

Will I still be able to transfer my points to airline miles?

Yes! Marriott will be continuing the Starwood airline points transfer. They will be bringing some airlines that they work with as well. The new program will allow you to transfer to 45 different airline frequent flyer programs. Marriott will also be continuing the bonus miles program that Starwood had. Under the new program for every 60,000 Marriott Reward points that you transfer you will get 25,000 airline miles. Below are the new airline transfer partners

What happens to the Hotel+Air packages?

One of the most lucrative uses of Marriott Rewards Points has been the 7 night Hotel+Air packages. With the packages you earn up to 120,000 airline miles and a 7 night stay. As of August the new awards chart will look like this:

With the changes, the Hotel and Air packages will no longer be a good use of Marriott Rewards points. The Points Guy, Nick Ewen explains why the new packages aren’t worth while, better than I can .

What happens to my existing hotel voucher if I already purchased a 7 Night Hotel + Air package?

We do not know. Marriott has been very secretive as to what they will do with existing vouchers. There has been speculation on flyertalk that existing vouches will either be grandfathered into the new categories, which would be very generous, or that Marriott will be refunding points equivalent to the value of the nights. Regardless your better off purchasing one of this packages today as come August 1, they will not be a good value.

What will happen to my current Marriott/Starwood status?

Under the new program there will be 6 tier’s for elite status. General members will earn 10 points for every $1 spent at Marriott properties and top-tier elites will earn up to 17.5 points for every dollar spent.

What benefits come with my status?

There are no new benefits that come with the program merger. Marriott members will gain access to programs such as Ambassador service and You24 which allows you to stay for a select 24 hour period outside of traditional check in times. New Marriott gold members will also lose breakfast as an amenity but existing gold members will be converted to Platinum members for this year.  You can see a larger version of the chart below here.