Members of the Marriott Rewards program, as well as those enrolled in the Ritz-Carlton and Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) rewards programs, have some new travel perk changes. Fortunately, most travel rewards experts think those changes are good.
What types of changes? The programs are merging into one colossal program, though the three rewards program names will be sticking around until sometime in 2019. However, since August, members are now able to combine their Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts, which combines all points and Elite-night balances while making it easier to access rewards through one unified account and profile.
The program also offers a bevy of new elite status levels and benefits, and for American Express Platinum Card users, Marriott Gold Elite Status is an automatic perk, allowing cardholders to unlock travel benefits for all three properties.
This new perk sweetens the overall rewards program offered by the long-time travel-savvy card, as the Amex Platinum Card typically only earned users SPG Gold status, among other travel perks and rewards.
What to Expect From New Amex Platinum Rewards
The new Amex Platinum Rewards card will come with many of the same perks and benefits as the existing card, with the main difference being the migration from SPG Gold status to Marriott Gold Elite status.
In addition to the Marriott Rewards enhancements, the Amex Platinum Card currently offers five Membership Rewards points per dollar spent when booking flights directly with the airline or flights and hotels booked through American Express Travel, which is competitive, even if booking methods are restricted.
With the Marriott Gold Elite option added in, many frequent travelers who enjoy staying at Marriot, SPG, and Ritz-Carlton properties will find that they can double down on rewards program benefits.
What Do You Get From Gold Elite Status in the New Marriott Rewards Program?
The Gold Elite status is the second tier for elite membership—the first being Silver Elite, and the proceeding being Platinum Elite. Marriott Rewards members who do not carry an American Express Platinum Card must book 25 nights or more to obtain the Gold Elite Status, but cardholders can automatically unlock all the Gold Elite perks, which include the following:
- 25 percent point bonus, which offers a boost from 10 points per dollar to 12.5 points per dollar.
- Enhanced in-room internet, which was a standard from previous rewards programs.
- Gift upon arrival (bonus points, air miles, or food and beverage amenities)
- 2 p.m. late checkout (subject to availability). Unfortunately, this is a two-hour downgrade when compared to the existing Marriott rewards program.
- Ultimate Reservation Guarantee, which ultimately means that Marriott will pay for guest accommodations if they are unable to accommodate your reservation request.
If you already have an American Express Platinum Card and are a frequent traveler who really enjoys the properties included in the Marriott merger, then utilizing your Marriott Rewards program can unlock enhanced rooms and rewards points for both your Amex Platinum and your Marriott Rewards programs.
Keep in mind that the Platinum Card, though full of perks, does come with a hefty annual fee ($550), so if you’re considering signing up for the card due to the new Marriott Rewards program, be sure to weigh the perks and your usage patterns against that annual fee.
Many frequent card users find that the card can certainly work in their favor. However, if you’re not one of them, you might want to consider the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card, though you’ll need to work towards the Gold Elite status.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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