Disclaimer: The following passage is the author’s sole interpretations of Marriott’s policy and may not reflect the opinions held by US Credit Card Guide or Marriott International and its affiliates. The author bears no responsibility for the inaccuracies/inconsistencies of such interpretations and any consequences arising from such inaccuracies/inconsistencies.
Everyone in the game of points-and-miles by now should have probably heard the details of Marriott’s new loyalty program, following yesterday’s big event in New York. In case you’ve missed the big news, you could check out this facebook page.
First of all, I think Marriott deserves lots of kudos in executing the merger. A lot of SPG loyalists feared the cutback in the elites benefit. Looking at the new chart of elite benefits, however, such benefits do not get completely hammered, albeit they are not as generous as they were before.
That being said, the announcement leaves a number of unresolved questions to the audience. Particularly, one central question is the fate of current Marriott Gold member. Per Marriott, current Marriott Gold Elite will become Platinum Elite in August:
However, for SPG Gold Preferred Guests, they will become the new Gold Elite starting August.
Here comes a paradox: if I am a SPG Gold, now I can automatically link the two Programs and become Marriott Gold. Wouldn’t that mean virtually anyone can retain Marriott Platinum Elite starting August, given how easily one can reach SPG Gold (e.g. Amex Plat)?
Indeed this is what Lucky claims. But I have to respectfully disagree on him this time.
Firstly, in an interview by TPG with David Flueck, Marriott’s SVP on Global Loyalty, David Flueck said (beginning at 09:24) the following with regard to the Marriott Gold matched from SPG Gold:
“… For members who have matched, they will be getting then the Gold Status, which is really more equivalent to the SPG Gold …”
To me this is the most compelling evidence from Marriott supporting the claim that not every Marriott Gold will become Platinum starting August. You won’t get Marriott Platinum merely based on Amex Platinum card.
Secondly, let’s discuss if this is practical. How would Marriott know if your current Marriott Gold comes from SPG Gold or not? Information is very limited, but my speculation is that Marriott can delink the current SPG and Marriott on the back end. Then you would lose Marriott Gold if that was achieved by linking your SPG Gold.
Finally, some people would counter my argument above by pointing out a question in Marriott’s FAQ, which says this:
What will my Elite status be in August?
In August, we will introduce new Elite tiers providing members with the best benefits from the combined programs. Elite levels include Silver Elite (10 nights), Gold Elite (25 nights), Platinum Elite (50 nights), Platinum Premier Elite (75 nights) and Platinum Premier Elite with ambassador (100 nights and $20,000 in qualifying revenue). Existing Elite members continue to be Elite and will simply be mapped to a new, but similar tier level (see below) in August. Members who combine Rewards and SPG accounts could also receive a higher Elite tier, as mapping will be based on combined activity starting from January 1, 2018 across Rewards and SPG.
They claim that, because “a higher Elite tier” and “based on combined activity” are mentioned, then Marriott will be basically taking the highest tier you current hold.
I think this is a misinterpretation of “the combined activity”. It does not equal to the higher status of either Programs. Let’s imagine a current SPG Gold with 12S and 20N and a Marriott Silver with 35N. Starting August he would have become Marriott Gold based on his individual membership status, but the combined activity means he will have 55N and thereby shall become Platinum.
However, I think if you gain complimentary Marriott Gold Status through United (by being a MileagePlus Gold and above) you should be fine in securing new Platinum Elite for additional six months. Beyond that we shall wait and see how the reciprocal benefits across Marriotts and United (as well as Delta, Emirates, and China Eastern) turn out.