The SPG to Marriott Points Transfer Ratio Is Fantastic

The news that Marriott was purchasing Starwood Hotels was not positive news for those in the points community because it meant a good program, SPG, would likely be destroyed by combining it with a large company, Marriott, that already has a poor rewards program. SPG points are widely considered to be the most valuable points currency, while Marriott points are an afterthought for most people. How the points would transfer between the programs was a primary question for anyone that takes their loyalty programs seriously.

Marriott has had plenty of time to hear the negative comments from loyal Starwood customers, and the acquisition process has been so drawn out that I was very curious to see what the final decision would be. It was just confirmed overnight that the transfer ratio from SPG to Marriott points would be 1 SPG point to 3 Marriott points. Furthermore, points can be reciprocally transferred, meaning you can transfer your Marriott to SPG at 3:1 (rare would be the reason to do so, as I’ll explain below).

Is a SPG to Marriott Transfer Ratio of 1:3 A Good Ratio?

In my opinion, I would say it absolutely is. Of course there will be plenty of people that disagree (mostly the hardcore SPG fans/Marriott haters), but in my opinion this transfer ratio between SPG and Marriott is more than fair. And really, that’s all we could have hoped for.

The high end of the chart (i.e. luxury properties) are usually the rewards that people care about most, so I’ll compare those first. Starwood’s redemption rate for their top tier (Category 7) is 30,000 – 35,000 points (a select few properties are double that amount). Marriott is also a bit complicated – they have a separate chart for Marriott hotels and Ritz Carlton hotels. Marriott hotels top out at 45,000 points for Category 9 and Ritz Carlton Tier 5 properties are 70,000 points.

If you have SPG points and enjoy redeeming at top tier properties, the 30,000 points you would normally use for a Category 7 would now transfer to 90,000 Marriott points. That’s enough for two nights at the best Marriott properties and you’ll have points left over if you redeem at the most expensive Ritz Carlton properties.

On the low end things are less exciting, but still better than I initially expected when I heard about the acquisition. If you transfer your SPG points to Marriott to redeem for lower tier properties, you’ll be left with somewhere between about 20% to 33% more points than you would need to use for an equivalent SPG property. For example, one would expect an SPG category 4 hotel to be roughly equivalent to a Marriott category 5 (both mid-category redemptions on their respective rewards charts). A category 4 SPG property costs 10,000 SPG points, and that would transfer to 30,000 Marriott points. A category 5 Marriott hotel costs 25,000 Marriott points. The extra 5,000 points can be looked at as a 20% bonus.

Potential Strategy for Transfers

I thought there was something I’m missing, because Marriott is usually pretty terrible when it comes to their rewards program. It seems Marriott is really making an effort as they likely don’t want to lose the loyalty of current SPG-loyal customers. I had already burned quite a few SPG points on recent redemptions, my honeymoon included, in anticipation of a bad transfer ratio, but still have just under 100K SPG points left. With this news I think I may hang on to the rest for now, because 300K Marriott points could be quite useful when considering their Flight & Hotel Packages.

Remember that Marriott’s Flight & Hotel packages offer 7 nights in a Marriott hotel in addition to airline miles, and there are plenty of ways to get great value out of them. Take, for example, the Southwest packages. I could easily get the Southwest Companion Pass and 7 nights in a hotel for those same 100K SPG points. Not too shabby!

Additional strategies could exist as well. If there happens to be another transfer bonus between Amex and SPG (there have been several in the past) then there may even be a play there for good value from your Membership Rewards points.

I don’t think there are very many cases in which it would be better to transfer your Marriott points to SPG, except to top up your account for a particular award. A couple of cases where you might consider it:

  1. You are just a few thousand points away from your SPG reward and have some “orphaned” Marriott points that are otherwise useless to you. Transferring your Marriott points into SPG points could help you book a particular reward.
  2. You REALLY need some airline miles that only SPG can help you get. For example, Alaska Airlines or American Airline miles. You can now transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards > Marriott > SPG > AA/Alaska/dozens of other airlines.

Remember that SPG transfers to many airlines includes a bonus when you transfer 20,000 miles. For example, your ideal transfer would be something like 60,000 Chase/Marriott points > 20,000 SPG points > 25,000 airline miles. It’s not a very good ratio to book an award flight outright, but it’s definitely worth looking into if you’re short on airline miles and have plenty of Ultimate Rewards laying around.

The many possibilities are intriguing!

18 thoughts on “The SPG to Marriott Points Transfer Ratio Is Fantastic

    1. EXACTLY. all this is is not being a completely offensive ratio of 1:2. the bar was set so low (because it’s awful Marriott), that 1:3 is being hailed as a win- it’s not. go to the Marriott chart and see what hotels buy you.

    2. I don’t think anyone is recommending you manufacture Marriott points. Still, spending on your SPG card gives you 6 Marriott points per dollar, which isn’t bad.

      But it’s definitely fantastic value for those with SPG points already. You unlock so much flexibility.

  1. I think this is pretty terrific either way, and there can be value going in either direction. I was looking at the St Regis in Puerto Rico for February break 2017 that was $1,887/nt -or- 24,000 points a night (in 5 night increments). That’s 7.8cpp of value per Startpoint, or 2.6cpp of value per Marriott point when transferred 3:1. I think that’s a pretty good Marriott redemption. Ultimately, the value here is unlocking redemption flexibility.

    Well done, Marriott! Just be sure to keep the airline transfer option when the programs combine.

  2. I think you’ll be surprised at just how many properties in major cities, even sometimes Courtyards and Fairfields and such, are categories 7 and 8 (and even 9!). As someone who mostly books SPG Categories 2-4, with an occasional 5, I’ve been surprised by great SPG redemption values, especially on cash and points. I think this will now be harder. I agree that higher end is nice, but I would never shell out 20-30K points a night for SPG. They are just too valuable elsewhere. This is better than I expected, though.

    1. I agree some Marriott properties are in high categories. A category 5 SPG hotel can be 12k points, just a 2k premium over SPG category 4. That would transfer to 36k Marriott, good enough for category 7 in Marriott’s program, and almost enough for a category 8. It may not be a high end brand but the location would be great at that end of the chart.

      1. True. I just think a lot of the SPG 2 through 4’s that I’ve tended to book with points recently will be worse off under Marriott. Way too many of their (not high-end brand) properties are at very high ends of the chart. And, who’s to say they won’t keep devaluing those properties year after year, as they’ve done, or add new categories, as they’ve also done. Many properties have gone up a category a year for the last 3-4 years.

  3. Scott, you have a misguided vision of what lower category means by definition. Citing a SPG Cat 4 as ‘LOW” misses said definition. VIRTUALLY ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about the SPG program KNOWS that outsized value of SPG is Cat 1 and 2. Cat 3 (and some 4) can be as well, but to a much lesser extent. THUS… when you look at the ratio impact on Cat 1&2, it is the opposite. Citing a Cat 4 as an example of low level, shows you know next to nothing about SPG and that you’re not really qualified to comment.

    1. I cited SPG category 4 as “mid-category” if you check again. The value in the lower categories are still there – no one took them away from you. In fact, they gave you another avenue in which to access them. For just 6k-12k Marriott points, which are easily obtained, you get additional access.

      I’m not even sure what’s angering you. We’re mostly on the same page here.

  4. For the reasons you may want to transfer Marriott to SPG, even your point #2 doesn’t hold water. Unless someone needs a small amount of AA/Alaska miles, you’re much better off spending 90k SPG = 270k Marriott on a 7-night cat 1-5 Marriott + 120k AA/AS miles. Transferring directly from SPG yields 112.5k AA/AS miles (assuming optimal transfer blocks of 20k which is merely theoretical in this example). So even without using the free nights, you come out 7.5k miles ahead. And you have 7 free nights in a low cat Marriott (math works pretty well for higher categories as well if you actually will use the hotel cert).

  5. SPG account users got totally screwed over in the buyout.
    Is there anything we can do about it?
    We lost about 300% of value on average.
    It now takes 3 times (after conversions) to receive the same night stay for free.
    WE SHOULD ALL DO SOMETHING!

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