Every now and then airlines or hotels announce large mergers. It wasn’t long ago that my hometown airline US Airways merged with American. When companies merge, their loyalty programs do as well. This presents unique opportunities to quickly stack points for your next big vacation. At the time, my wife and I each opened Barclays US Airways and Citi AAdvantage credit cards. Since both loyalty programs were combined, we were instantly flush with 100,000+ AAdvantage miles. This brings me to Marriott and Starwood. Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood last year has opened another opportunity to stack sign up bonuses. In this case, stacking Marriott and Starwood bonuses will earn a 70,000+ point SPG sign up bonus.
The Opportunity: SPG + Marriott
The SPG American Express card is running it’s highest sign up bonus in a long time. This offer ends on 4/5, so you’ll need to hurry. You can earn 35,000 points by reaching the minimum spend requirements:
- Spend $3,000 in your first 3 months to earn 25,000 points
- Spend an additional $2,000 in your first 6 months to earn another 10,000 points
Marriott also just launched a huge 100,000 point sign up bonus on the Chase Marriott Premier Rewards credit card. In order to qualify for the bonus, cardholders must spend $5,000 in the first three months of account opening. Additionally, you’ll earn another 7,500 points by adding an authorized user to make one purchase in the first three months.
Stacking SPG + Marriott Points
As you may know, not all points are created equal. SPG has a plethora of airline transfer partners and low cost award redemptions at their properties. Marriott, however doesn’t have such generous airline partners. Furthermore, award nights at Marriott properties tend to cost many more points than SPG would. As a result, Marriott points are significantly less valuable than SPG points. Marriott knew this during the merger and decided to make SPG members whole by offering the following conversion ratio:
1 SPG Point = 3 Marriott Points
3 Marriott Points = 1 SPG Point
Stacked together, both sign up bonuses will leave you with 35,000 SPG points and 107,500 Marriott points. You can easily combine your Marriott and SPG points. Once done, convert your Marriott points to SPG at a 3:1 ratio and voila, you’ve got 70,833 SPG points.
How To Use 70,000 SPG Points
Alright, so you’ve successfully stacked 70,000 SPG points, now what? Well with SPG you’ve got plenty of options. First, you could stick with standard hotel redemptions. As long as there’s standard availability you’ll be able to book SPG award nights at any property. With 70,000 points you could stay five nights at any Category 5 property like The Laguna, A Luxury Collection Resort and Spa.
Alternatively, Starwood has a huge stable of airline transfer partners. Most partners transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Furthermore, for every 20,000 points you transfer, Starwood will tack on an extra 5,000 bonus points. For example, 60,000 SPG points will buy you 75,000 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles. Here’s a complete list of transfer partners with corresponding transfer ratios:
Asiana Airlines 1:1
British Airways Executive Club 1:1
China Eastern Airlines 1:1
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club 1:1
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles 1:1
Emirates Skywards 1:1
Etihad Airways 1:1
Flying Blue 1:1
Gol Smiles 2:1
Hainan Airlines 1:1
Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank 1:1
Jet Airways 1:1
Korean Air 1:1
LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass 1:1.5
LifeMiles® of Avianca 1:1
Miles and More 1:1
Qatar Airways 1:1
Saudi Arabian Airlines 1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1:1
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus 1:1
United Mileage Plus 2:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1
Virgin Australia 1:1
Your stacked 70,833 SPG points would buy you 85,833 points with any 1:1 transfer partner. A great redemption would be a transfer to Korean Air. 80,000 Korean Air miles can buy you a round trip flight to Europe in business class. If you already fly Delta or American, you could turbocharge those accounts as well. I’d advise against United given the poor transfer ratio.
Ordinarily it would take quite a few stays or a large credit card spend to accrue so man SPG points. By taking advantage of the merger, you can use two co-branded credit cards to instantly double your bonus. Furthermore, A case could be made to keep both cards long-term. The SPG American Express card is a great everyday spend card. In fact, it’s been my primary everyday spend card for 3+ years. While I wouldn’t use the Marriott Premier Rewards card for any spending after the bonus, it does come with an annual free night award. That could be incentive to keep it in your wallet. Are you ready to start stacking and have questions? Shoot us a comment below and we’ll help you out.