If you have been accumulating loyalty reward points for Marriott, Starwood or Ritz Carlton hotels, in a few months it will be much easier to use those points for all of those hotel brands.
Marriott International on Monday announced plans to combine the loyalty rewards program for the three hotel brands. A new name for the combined program, to begin Aug. 1, will be announced next year.
The new combined program was expected after Marriott International completed a $13-billion transaction in 2016 to purchase Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. The deal put 29 hotel brands under the Marriott umbrella to create the largest hotel chain in the world with 6,500 hotels in 127 countries and territories.
For now, the names of all three reward programs — The Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest — will continue to live on until a new name and new program is created.
But beginning in August, reward members of all three hotel brands will begin to collect points under a single points currency and a single set of benefits. Starwood Preferred Guest members will see their points balance triple, and those points can be used across all three brands. Starwood guests currently have to link their account to the Marriott reward program and convert points to redeem rewards at Marriott hotels, and visa versa.
But the change means Starwood credit card users will have to spend more to earn the points needed to book a hotel room, according to loyalty reward experts.
"For those folks, it's going to be a bit of a hit," said Brian Karimzad, director of Milecards.com, a website that compare travel rewards cards.
Other impacts of the change are still unknown, he said, because Marriott has yet to publish the chart that names the hotels that are designated for each point category.
Starwood Rewards, Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards members will all earn 10 points for every dollar spent at all brands except for Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element, which will be five points per every dollar spent.
More details of the changes were posted Monday on a Marriott site.