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Cross-Earning Points Now Available for Starwood and Marriott Cardholders

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Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR) announced the next steps in the move to integrate the Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott loyalty programs. People with with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express can now earn two Starpoints per dollar spent whenever they use their card at Marriott properties (this card comes with a $95 annual fee). Likewise, anyone with one a Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card can now earn five points per dollar when using their card to make qualifying purchases with Starwood hotels. The two programs are not expected to merge completely until sometime in 2018.

These changes come just a few weeks after consumers gained the ability to link their Starwood and Marriott accounts and transfer points between the two. The exchange rate was set up at a 1:3 ration. For every Starwood point you trade in, you can receive 3 Marriott reward points, and vice versa. Marriott’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Stephanie Linnartz, told the New York Times that the hotels worked with a consulting firm to come up with the exact exchange rate. She said “each company submitted their data independently for this company to look at to determine what would be a fair exchange rate.”

Indeed, from a pure dollar perspective, moving points from Starwood is favorable for consumers. They are gaining approximately 44% more in value. The major cost of the move is the loss of Starwood’s multitude of airline transfer partners.

Program

Exchange RatioProgramExchange Ratio

Aeromexico Club Premier

1:1Etihad Airways1:1

Aeroplan / Air Canada

1:1Flying Blue1:1

Air Berlin

1:1Gol Smiles2:1

Air China

1:1Hainan Airlines1:1

Air New Zealand & Air Points

65:1Hawaiian Airlines1:1

Alaska Airlines

1:1Japan Airlines1:1

Alitalia MilleMiglia

1:1LAN Airlines1:1.5

All Nippon Airways (ANA)

1:1Miles and More (Lufthansa)1:1

American Airlines AAdvantage

1:1Qatar Airways1:1

Asia Miles

1:1Saidi Arabian Airlines1:1

Asiana Airlines

1:1Singapore Airlines1:1

British Airways

1:1Thai Airways International1:1

China Eastern Airlines

1:1US Airways1:1

China Southern Airlines

1:1United Mileage Plus2:1

Delta Air Lines

1:1Virgin Atlantic1:1

Emirates Skywards

1:1Virgin Australia1:1

Marriott International acquired the Starwood brands after a fierce bidding war at the turn of the year for $12.2B. In September of this year, the hotel giant got final approval by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce to proceed with the merger. Regulatory bodies needed to review the acquisition for fears of a monopoly, due to the sheer size of the Marriott’s new reach. The company has become the world’s biggest hotel chain with 1.1 million rooms worldwide.

Marriott has argued that the merger will give consumers of both rewards programs more options. Those with Marriott reward points can now book stays in locations their company previously had no reach in, such as Bora Bora.

Consumers, on the other hand, have worried this move will mean Starwood points would be devalued. The American Express (NYSE:AXP) co-branded card has long been heralded as one of the best hotel and travel credit cards by enthusiasts. A large part of the card’s appeal has been the high value of Starpoints that currently stands at about $0.024. That is more than twice the worth of other leading travel points. Marriott points, on the other hand, are valued at roughly $0.0115 when used towards hotel bookings. The aforementioned 1:3 transfer ratio has temporarily put frequent travelers at ease, due to its favorable nature.

Others continue to await news of what will happen to the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express as negotiations continue. Marriott maintains a credit card contract with JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), while Starwood has long maintained a partnership with American Express. Starwood made up 8% of Amex’s global billed business in 2015. The partnership between the two brands has allowed cardholders to move transfer their points to the above-mentioned airlines, giving consumers a lot of options for international travel bookings. JPMorgan Chase has a far more limited number of airline partnerships. If the bank were to acquire Amex’s Starwood portfolio, it could spell the end of these lucrative transfers.

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Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).