Marriott downgrades elite status for SPG Gold members

By Chris C., May 11 2018
Marriott downgrades elite status for SPG Gold members

Starwood Preferred Guest Gold members hoping to nab Platinum Elite status under Marriott’s new combined hotel loyalty program will be disappointed, with the chain now confirming that these travellers will only be matched to Gold Elite under the new scheme – not Platinum Elite as previously advised.

In April, Marriott International told Australian Business Traveller that SPG Gold members could achieve Platinum in the new program by matching their existing status to Marriott Rewards Gold today, and using that Marriott status rather than their SPG status to parlay Platinum Elite come August.

Read: Five things you need to know about Marriott’s new loyalty program

The idea was that if you were to link your SPG Gold card directly to the new, combined program, you’d get Gold Elite in August, while existing Marriott Rewards Gold members are instead being offered the superior Platinum Elite status: and under today’s rules, SPG Gold can be instantly matched to Marriott Rewards Gold, which in theory, created a savvy ‘status shortcut’.

However, Marriott’s earlier advice and commentary on this was incorrect.

The company now states that the only way an SPG Gold member will achieve Platinum Elite status under the new program will be if they’ve spent 50 nights or more in hotels this calendar year across their combined rewards accounts to qualify for the new tier officially: otherwise, they’ll be stuck at Gold Elite.

The news is a pretty big blow for AMEX Platinum Charge Card holders who currently receive gratis SPG Gold status for as long as they hold their AMEX card, which by extension, currently unlocks Marriott Rewards Gold under today’s linking system.

Read: Instant status match: how to link your Marriott, Starwood accounts

Marriott’s previous advice about the new loyalty program would have seen these members elevated to Platinum Elite by way of that matched Marriott Gold status, but based on this week’s update, their status in the new program will remain at Gold Elite.

Platinum is the new Gold

So, what’s the big deal? Under the new scheme, Platinum is really the ‘new’ Gold, and carries most perks currently offered at the Marriott Gold Elite level, including favourites such as hotel executive lounge access, daily breakfast and a guaranteed 4pm check-out at most hotels.

These are all benefits that SPG Gold members enjoy when staying at Marriott hotels today, courtesy of their linked Marriott Rewards Gold status: but come August, these perks disappear when these members are relegated to the new Gold Elite tier, which is more akin to today’s Marriott Silver.

That means no guaranteed late check-out – instead, an earlier 2pm check-out “based on availability” only – plus no hotel lounge access or free brekky, although other privileges such as room upgrades (excluding suites) and a 25% points bonus on stays will still be available.

How Marriott got it wrong

Marriott has confirmed that the information the company originally provided to Australian Business Traveller was incorrect, but has declined to offer further comment.

Previously, Marriott International’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Asia Pacific, Peggy Fang Roe, told AusBT that “as long as you’re a Gold in Marriott, you’re going to become a Platinum Elite (in the new program)... even if you were to link your (SPG and Marriott) accounts now”.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jan 2015

Total posts 71

The loss of 4pm checkout will hit me the most :( Being lifetime Gold with Starwood this was the perk that held my loyalty.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Nov 2016

Total posts 67

Amex Platinum Charge card changes complimentary hotel loyalty cards on a semi regular basis. Maybe they will look for another alternative to SPG/Marriott now. In the past they offered IHG and Accor. I know I will be emailing Amex to voice my concern over this downgrade of benefits.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

AMEX Australia's partnership has always been with Starwood, not Marriott. Getting Marriott Gold by way of having SPG Gold in recent times as a result of the merger was a nice add-on (especially with the offer of lounge access and breakfast which comes with that tier), but it's in the same camp as getting Taj InnerCircle status or KrisFlyer Silver/Gold via Shangri-La: not 'official' AMEX perks as such but nice to have them as extras.

(That said, as an SPG Gold member myself, I'll certainly miss the higher perks which are currently provided through the Marriott program!)

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 79

SPG gold will feel like IHG gold does. A bit pointless. Makes HH gold look like platinum.

Virgin Atlantic Airways - Flying Club

02 Oct 2018

Total posts 1

I think after 25 years I'll give IHG a go as I am very disenfranchised with the way the idiots at Marriott have destroyed my loyalty benefits.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2017

Total posts 84

I think it makes sense though.

Gold to Gold seems like the logical match

04 May 2015

Total posts 268

Not really. They're the same in name but that's about it. Marriott is basically taking what's currently the Gold level, renaming it Platinum, taking Silver, renaming it to Gold, and telling SPG Gold members they'll still be "Gold" under the new program, despite the fact that SPG Gold currently gives Marriott Gold, so Marriott currently considers them to be equal. From August, SPG is the poor cousin and these members will all get fewer perks across the board.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 360

I do agree with Chris. SPG gold in itself never qualified us for free breakfast and lounge access. Having matched to Marriott Gold was a bonus, as looking at the perks, Marriott gold is more in line with SPG platinum, and Marriott Gold wasn't as easy to attain as SPG gold.

Certainly I'll miss those free breakfast and lounge access but with my work situation there is no way I can achieve 50 nights with Marriott to get the platinum. I just hope there will be some sort of Marriott co-branded credit card in Australia that will get us to platinum by spending, something similar to Macquarie's Hilton Honors card.

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 86

It was always going to happen, Marriott have begun to trash the SPG program,it was a great loyalty program, the only one that moved my spend, but not any more.

I'll only spend on the best and most convenient deal now. Too bad, but that is life.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

14 May 2018

Total posts 2

All these programs are actually cost you. So best to stay clear and get the best price for your money. All should feel insulted and therefore stop using SPG and Marriott. I spend more than

60 nights in various hotels. NOW NO MORE MARRIOTT. I am life Platinum/Diamond with may chains. So Mariottes keep your status to yourself n I give my bookings to others.

Looks like i better stay at a few Marriotts before August then...

21 Sep 2011

Total posts 71

Do you guys seriously believe they would give you Platinum in the new program when you can hit SPG Gold with just 10 stays? Haven't there been enough complaints from Marriott properties when their lounges are flooded by SPG Gold linked Marriott Gold in the past few months?

17 Feb 2016

Total posts 23

I always thought the Amex Platinum Accor Hotels platinum status was fantastic - it came with one complimentary night, 50% off dining, late check out, complimentary welcome drinks, and lots of hotel choices in the Asia Pacific region.

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 128

Agreed. Accor Platinum was the one hotel status that actually made me shift business and book directly with the hotel. I used to really enjoy my Sofitel stays, but since I lost Platinum I've booked whatever 5* hotel was most convenient on instead.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 476

When my Accor Platinum period expired after they left the AMEX program Accor called me and offered to renew it annually for (I think) $300. So I get the free night, lounge access, and free breakfast - more than pays for itself...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 468

I don't care what they call the various levels, but as someone who has been an SPG (and before that Sheraton Club) Gold for 24 years, I did expect that my benefits wouldn't be downgraded. The 4pm late checkout is the benefit that has always mattered most to me, especially for night flights back to Australia out of the US and Asia. So it being watered down to "2pm if available" is hopeless, as I need certainty to book flights and airport transfers. God knows why Marriott wanted to buy the Starwood business if it doesn't value SPG members.

11 May 2018

Total posts 17

A little annoyed about this as I made bookings at Marriotts after 1 August on the understanding that they gave me lounge access and breakfast. They could have at least have extended the Marriott gold benefits on existing bookings till the end of the year. Just leaves a sour taste. I’ve effective prepaid them via the Marriott hotel and airline packages.

Needless to say I booked Hilton Sydney today for an upcoming stay as we will get free breakfast and possible exec lounge room upgrade on check in on the back of Hilton gold via amex plat. I will be looking at the Hilton site a lot more now.

I suspect many Marriott hotel managers in the mid range properties will suffer a downturn in bookings. Even though these ‘awful Marriott golds’ were clogging their lounges they were also staying at their hotels because of their Marriott gold benefits.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

20 Jun 2013

Total posts 48

Loaylty out the window...Will now be seeking alternative Hotel accommodation other than Marriot.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 187

Urgh i'm finding this Marriott uncertainty really annoying.

Like many, I have Marriott Gold via (UK) Amex Platinum.
The initial announcement was a bit disappointing and with the drop in benefits I thought I would look elsewhere for accommodation for my travels to SE Asia in September.
But then several bloggers reported that Marriott had said there would be an interim period after the launch of the combined program where those on Gold Elite would be boosted to Platinum until end of the year. So I went ahead an booked several Marriott properties based on this info. But now reading this article it seems that won't be the case?

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 79

Can someone explain to me this “merger” that is not a merger? I’m Gold Marriott and I was regular with SPG but when I linked both accounts my SPG becomes Gold at that point… but for what I can hear I still need the Marriott for Marriott and SPG for SPG… or if I stay in a SPG my Platinum would be recognized? Or my Marriott would be downgraded because the SPG? I moved all my points from SPG to Marriott… and probably it would be better to cancel my SPG…

I'm truly confused by all this "yes but no" situation

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 137

I’m a HH platinum (for free brekkie, lounge access and room upgrades) but this offer did get me to sign up to Marriott through my AMEX charge card. Looks like they’ve lost my custom without me ever staying! I’ll stay with Hilton group.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 May 2014

Total posts 3

To say I was happy to receive the following information in an email from Marriott Rewards on Saturday would be the "understatement of the year":

"Lifetime Gold Elite status requires 500 nights and 1,600,000 points earned. To date, your Marriott Rewards account reflects 716 lifetime Elite nights and 1,608,965 total points accumulated.

Congratulations on achieving the Gold Lifetime status! We are thrilled that you have reached this milestone with Marriott Rewards.

Having achieved this status on your Marriott Rewards account will provide you with the Lifetime Platinum Elite status in August."

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Nov 2016

Total posts 67

Point Hacks website have just done a pretty good article on the SPG/Marriott loyalty program merger. Apparently there is a grace period August 1 to 31 December 2018 where you can book and receive a significant discount on hotels. It may assist some travellers.

22 Aug 2018

Total posts 1

Not sure if anyone has seen but my previous Gold status with both Marriott and Ritz Carlton was upgraded to Platinum elite and then today down graded to Gold Elite. Anyone else had the same issue?

11 May 2018

Total posts 17

Same happened to me. Bit of a bummer. I read on TPG that this was going to happen. Has put me off Marriott.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

There have been pretty widespread reports recently about Marriott members seeing the wrong status (some higher than they should have been, some lower), but I believe that's now largely been fixed up.

11 May 2018

Total posts 17

Just an update. I was one of the amex people that got downgraded to Marriott gold which then excluded the lounge access and breakfast. Despite having made the booking prior to the tier status downgrade. I stayed at the Marriott parklane which is fabulous from a central location point of view. However they steadfastly refused to give me any lounge access or breakfast. Following the letter of the law there.

Anyway was still an ok deal even though we got a pretty marginal room that had virtually no light. (See TripAdvisor 3 Star and less ratings for further details on those rooms.) So Marriott points people do have their uses for these Marriott (old category 9) hotels as paying customers would not be happy with one of those rooms. Whereas points redemption customers less likely to complain.

I note that Marriott have upgraded the parklane to new category 7, so even if you had an old category 9 travel package this hotel is not attainable with the old package. Most of the London high end hotels moved up a tier in points cost. No doubt too many hackers aiming for these hotels and clogging their lounges...

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