Playing the Starwood-Marriott Game

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Credit Cards' started by Steven Schwartz, Sep 29, 2016.  |  Print Topic

  1. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    I had a realization that I'm sure others have thought of but that no one has posted yet. My most frequently used cards now are the Starwood AMEX and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Other than the massive sign-up bonus, the Sapphire is great as it gives you 3 times the points for dining and travel.

    But--- if you really crave Marriott points, it seems you can now use the Starwood AMEX and basically get 3 Marriott points for ALL spending as you can transfer one Starwood point for three Marriott Rewards points! One of the complaints about the Starwood card is that there are no bonus categories but for Marriott lovers, now everything is a bonus category!

    Am I missing something?
     
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  2. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    :)Since the exchange is now as a result of the merger it appears on the face of it a good idea to do what you say... if you desire to stay at a Marriott.

    Personally I have always maintained that besides the bonuses given at signup the Marriott cards were not that great compared to the SPG Amex..

    With the exception of the travel and dining bonuses it takes sometimes triple (or more) the amount of charges as compared to the SPG card to redeem a Marriott award versus one at a comparable SPG property. This particularly true for mid to high properties.
    There will be of course always anomalies to the above.

    AND of course the usual suspect will surely come along and submerge us in data telling us how much greater the HH program is than both these two.:rolleyes: :)
     
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  3. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    I love Starwood and have been Platinum for years and gotten some amazing suite upgrades. That said, the St Regis in NY is 30-35,000 points per night while the Ritz Carlton Central Park is 70,000. So for the higher end hotels, it is certainly not triple the points and can represent a great transfer. Even more valuable for those who don't have Platinum status.
     
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  4. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    The 3:1 ratio is what it is due to the difference in points value between marriott and SPG. Because it's generally equitable, they can offer the transfer in both directions. Marriott previously did not have a competitive everyday spend card. Now they do.

    And of course there are arbitrage opportunities for e.g. ritz. properties vs. st Regis.
     
  5. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    I did say there are some anomalies :)

    I have seen the triple points comparative ratio for rewards often enough.
    and will quote two examples not quite that ratio but close enough I just happened to look at fairly recently.

    a) Barcelona: the Marriott Hotel Arts Marina 1 night 60K the two comparable SPG
    properties the Le Meridian 20k and the W 25k/night.
    b) Rome: the Marriott Grand Florida 45k and the two SPG properties IMHO both better than the Grand, the Westin Excelsior and the St Regis are both 20k per night.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
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  6. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Funny you should mention, newbluesea! We just got back from the Hotel Arts in Barcelona. Yup - 60,000 per night. We contacted the hotel and asked if we could pay a daily upcharge for Club access and they agreed for only $200/day.. We would have had free breakfast at the Meridien or the W but the Hotel Arts, at least in our experience with the Club, was beyond extraordinary. We got a personalized level of care I have rarely seen. We did see the W from a cruise and it truly looks magnificent - wish we had to time to go see it in person.

    Really not trying to argue the point and I don't think you're taking it that way. Almost at my 25 SPG stays this year and, as I say, I love SPG and my suite upgrades. But for Marriott people, I still think that right now, the SPG AMEX is a better way to accumulate Marriott Rewards points. Who knows how long this will last!

    Peace!
     
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  7. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Not arguing at all :D
    We stayed at the W last time and really enjoyed it .
    Not everybody loves Ws however

    Believe it or not on our previous trip we stated at the Hilton Diagonal al Mar and would stay there again if using points mainly because of the short walk to the subway.(it was bit of a trek from the W)

    I too like the SPG program best and I do agree with the current exchange we are in some sort of sweet spot for exchanges. I hope it takes them a long time to completely integrate the programs.:)
     
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  8. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    I agree - use the Chase Marriott card for stays at Marriott properties and SPG AMEX for all other charges (whether at Starwood or not) to maximize Marriott Rewards points.

    I had speculated they'd do a 3 for 1 exchange ratio because that's about the "buying power" difference between MR points and Starpoints, and was happy to see they agreed.

    I'm lifetime Plat with Marriott and lifetime Gold with Starwood, so linking the accounts gives me Platinum (although not lifetime) with SPG. Best of both worlds.

    There's one more interesting arbitrage play you can make. Remember that Starpoints can convert to most airline programs at the rate of 1 Starpoint = 1.25 miles when converting 20K Starpoints and a lot of folks think that's great. Remember, too, that Marriott has the Hotel + Air travel package that allows you to redeem 7 nights, and then gives you 1 airline mile per Marriott Rewards point (in groups of 50,000, 70,000, 100,000 and 120,000 miles for that many Marriott Rewards points) on many carriers.

    http://www.marriott.com/rewards/usepoints/morepack.mi

    So, if you can use the 7 nights and redeem for those, you could convert Starpoints to Marriott Rewards points 3 for 1, use them for the Hotel + Air package, and get 3 miles per Starpoint! Sweet.

    Edited to add -- if you're redeeming for United Mileage Plus miles you currently get a 10% bonus, so 50K points = 55K Mileage Plus miles, etc., up to 132K United miles for 120K Marriott Reward points (which is 40K Starpoints which would otherwise have been worth only 50K miles under Starwood's conversion rate). Even sweeter.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2016
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  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Starwood suffered financially (lack of growth), in part, because starpoints became more popular for transferring to airline miles to redeem for free tickets than they ever were for redeeming for free hotel stays. This seldom-considered angle to Starwood's demise simply means that people were getting the SPG AMEX just to earn starpoints from general spend that they would use to get free tickets, without ever setting foot in a Starwood hotel. No stays, no revenue! In addition, all the starpoints that were transferred to airline miles represented lost revenue for individual Starwood hotels, totaling the cash equivalent of transferred starpoints that did not get redeemed for free stays for which Starwood would have reimbursed the hotels in hard currency. So, if Marriott is smart, they would encourage the transfer of starpoints to MR points for redeeming free stays at Marriott properties, rather than continuing to bleed revenue with every starpoint that's transferred to airline miles.

    The primary reason starpoints' claim to fame became their "transferability" to airline miles is that SPG awards, especially at their top "aspirational" tier properties, were generally ridiculously expensive, making redemption of starpoints for free stays less "valuable" than transferring them to miles and getting a value of 1.25cpp toward redeeming free tickets. Anyone who has ever done the modeling has found that SPG awards are generally more expensive than MR awards for Starwood vs. Marriott properties of approximately equivalent categories. We did the comparison [see: Chart 3] among the major programs' highest category hotels, and others have done the same comparison across the award charts. It was not even close: SPG awards, especially at the top end properties, are by far the most expensive in the hotel loyalty business.

    Bottom line: The idea of transferring starpoints to MR points makes sense if one is interested in redeeming free stays at top category Marriott hotels, because they will almost invariably be much more affordable. One could even say that this would yield better "value"....
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
  10. Pizzaman
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    Definitely not sure how long it will last, and I also wonder if they will "normalize" some of the point values when they combine to one award chart.

    Since I rarely stay at Marriotts now, I'm wondering how many stays I need to justify carrying the Marriott credit card until they pry the SPG AMEX out of my hands.
     
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  11. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Well it didnt take too long did it?:D
    Surely by now you all must be totally convinced that SPG is worst program out there? :rolleyes:
    ( Nooooo says I to myself :))
     
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  12. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    First, it was this:
    Then, when the prediction did not materialize and there was no mention of HHonors, it is this:
    That is a known cowardly defensive mechanism , often adopted by folks who tell tall tales, to avoid being challenged. They set things up so that they can turn around and say "what did I tell you!?"

    There is a sense of surreality among SPG loyalists that is bordering on the pathological. Starwood and, by extension, SPG are gone because they were based on a structurally flawed model. SPG did not go belly up because it was the great program that it was made out to be, unless you believe in the survival of the weakest or reverse Darwinism. SPG (r.i.p) is gone because the entire enterprise was flawed. Get used to it.

    Please address anything you disagree with in my post and let's duke it out, or say nothing. The puerile taunts are the stuff of FT. I want to believe that IF still maintains some of the nice characteristics that made it better than TOBB.
     
  13. Pizzaman
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    I don't see anything that resembles taunting here. Let's keep the discussion on the questions at hand as opposed to telling others how they should/shouldn't respond.
     
  14. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Well, I do and it's there, complete with grinning and rolling eyes emoticons. It is a long story with the poster that started eons ago over at FT and he's never let go. I will provide links if you care but I have said all I cared to say on that.

    I am all for keeping the discussion on the questions at hand and that's what I did.
     
  15. Pizzaman
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    Right, except that nobody called you any names. And, I couldn't give a darn what started on FT. Let's keep the name calling to a minimum. Preferably zero.
     
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  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    What is this? I thought you wanted to stick to the questions at hand? I have no time to waste with you on this. I already pointed out to you what the comment was really about. You either believe that or you don't. That you failed to see the poster's taunt, even after I told you that there is a "history" is not my problem.

    Look at my very first post in the thread. It stuck to the issue at hand. Just as you stated we should.

    G'day.
     
  17. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I have SPG Gold status through the Business Platinum card from American Express, and MR Gold status through the MR/UA RewardsPlus JV as a UA 1K. I did not need any encouragement from MR to transfer my starpoints to MR points because I do believe in what I preached above. As soon as it became possible to transfer points between the accounts, I did it, converting starpoints to add to my stash of MR points that I intend to redeem for at least 1 stay in Asia later this year:

    upload_2016-10-2_11-28-4.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
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  18. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    Well, I don't know about that, but I use my Starpoints primarily for hotel stays. I may (just "may") change that sometime in the future now that converting them to Marriott Rewards points and using those MR points for the travel package can give me 3 or 3.3 airline miles per Starpoint, but right now I don't particularly need airline miles.

    I do like the fact that Starpoints are the "stem cells" of the miles and points universe because they can be converted into miles (directly) or points (albeit a bit circuitously) and thus can come in handy if one needs a few miles/points to top off an account to get an award. Indeed many years ago, back when Skymiles actually had some value, I did convert 2,000 Starpoints into enough Skymiles to bring my Delta account to the point that I could redeem an award, but as I say that was over a decade ago and I haven't done so since.

    I do like the fact that Starpoints can be converted if one needs to, but that's not why I collect them.

    You seem to think ("No stays, no revenue!") that SPG gave those Starpoints to AMEX for free, and thus they did not represent revenue to SPG. I rather think SPG sold the points to AMEX and thus received revenue for each point AMEX awarded their cardholder.

    Whether those were redeemed for airline miles (which SPG could buy from the carriers using some of the money they received from AMEX) or for "free" stays (for which SPG would reimburse the property at a reduced rate), any redeemed Starpoint would cost SPG something, but I seriously doubt they lost money on any Starpoints they sold AMEX. They've been doing this for years, you know, and I doubt they'd continue a money-losing practice for any length of time.

    I strongly suspect the pricing for the sale of Starpoints to AMEX was calculated to assure SPG made something on the transaction no matter how they were redeemed (while also taking advantage of any breakage from Starpoints that weren't redeemed).

    Do you have any reason to believe otherwise?
     
  19. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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  20. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Starpoints sold to AMEX were one thing. The revenue pissed away by not generating revenue and activity at their own properties with those and other points was a completely different thing, which I believe made their loyalty model fundamentally flawed. Other programs advertise heavily to have their members spend the bulk of their points on redeeming award stays, but also offer other outlets (shopping) for folks who travel very little as a way to decrease their financial liability. Moreover, e.g., no one would get the Chase Marriott visa card as a general spend card for earning MR points because the points are good primarily for redeeming award stays at Marriott hotels. If one wishes to earn significant MR points one must stay at Marriott properties, which are the focal point of all MR points earning and spending activities. In their 2015 SEC Filing 10K Annual Report Hilton credited HHonors with driving the bulk of their revenue [it is why not a single Hilton property has been allowed to opt out of HHonors quarterly "global" promos for the last 2-3 years and counting]:
    Starwood, by contrast, seemed to work very hard to avoid all those tried and true methods to decrease their liability: They made their award ridiculously expensive at the top ("aspirational") end, making them less valuable to redeem with starpoints, while encouraging the transfer of starpoints to miles by providing a favorable transfer rate to many airline partners. The result was starpoints becoming, essentially, an "airline currency" rather than a hotel currency that it was created as and should have remained to be the focal point and interface for all hotel/loyalty program activities. Starpoints became disconnected from SPG.

    Bottom line: Starwood did not put themselves up on the auction block because they were financially sound. A CEO was canned due to lack of growth, then his replacement abruptly quit to go lead AMC, shareholders bitched and on the auction block Starwood found itself. Clearly a company that was not structurally sound...

    *post edited for clarity and syntactic errors.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2016
  21. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Not completely accurate with SPG points converted directly to UA miles. 20K Starwood points can transfer into 25K airline miles with dozens of airlines. That used to include Continental and United, but as the AMEX and Chase co-brand battles heated up, the Starwood transfer ratio to those airlines was chopped to a measly 20K:12.5K transfer ratio, so the 40K SPG points would net you 25K UA miles.

    Agreed, however, that the better deal is with Marriott’s miles+nights packages. 270K Marriott Rewards points would give you 132K United miles and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel. A transfer of 90K Starpoints into 270K Marriott Rewards points will make that happen. Even if you don’t use the 7 night hotel certificate being able to transfer 90K Starpoints into 132K United miles is an effective ~46.7% bonus!
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
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  22. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    It was definitely the hardest to hack into for the following reasons:

    - No status match (it was stopped around 2011 or 2012).
    - Not a good fast track - 18 nights in 3 months without benefits.
    - Lowered tiered Platinum not as rewarding as the upper tiered Platinums.
    - Many targeted offers and promos directed at Platinums only and thus no double dipping (motivation) for travelers aspiring to achieve the status. Last year Hyatt offered many stackable promos whereby many were able to achieve Diamond with $600-$700 out of pocket spend.
    - Higher room rates.

    SPG growth was phenomenal with at least 25% more properties in the last 5 or so years going from under 1000 properties to over 1200. But again, the program was geared to the deep-pocket corporate expense account or the high spenders.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
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  23. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Starwood shareholders definitely did not agree that growth was "phenomenal" because in early 2015 they canned the CEO who'd led the company since 2007:

    The Wall Street Journal: [bits and pieces provided below]
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
  24. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Nice try you should be running for public office:)

    But surely you must know that we know that transfer ratio to CO and UAL (not airlines as per se) was the only SPG/airlines transfer with that poor ratio.
    And that was put in place when the merger was eminent and both airlines' close affinity to Chase (previous to that the ratio was similar to most other airlines)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
  25. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Tadaa "and as the horses come around the bend into the homestretch its the favorite Hilton who has taken the lead..." :D
     
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