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If you are into traveling for cheap (or free) using points and miles, there is nothing more frustrating than points you’ve earned that you can’t use. I sometimes find that I have points in multiple loyalty accounts that aren’t quite enough to put to any good use.
But the Marriott-Starwood merger that happened last year can help put those lingering points to good use! Thanks to the merger, you can now easily move points between Starwood and Marriott accounts, making it easy to combine points for free nights. In this post I’ll show you how to pool your points and top off your balance to get just enough points for a free hotel stay!
I didn’t have enough points in either account to earn anything close to a free night. But I was able to pool my points and top off my account for only $12.50 to have enough points for a one night stay. We will redeem these points for a one-bedroom suite that includes complimentary breakfast and dinner (regularly $235 per night) while we watch the total solar eclipse this August!
Step 1: Link Your Accounts & Know Your Point Balances
The first step you’ll have to take it to link your Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts (if you haven’t already done that). You can link your accounts here with your account number from both programs.
Next, find out how many points you have in each account. I had 2,081 points in my SPG account and 8,365 in my Marriott Rewards account. As I already mentioned, neither of these balances would get me a free night anywhere I actually want to stay!
And of course, a point in one program is NOT the same as a point in the other program – because life isn’t complicated enough. 😉 Starpoints transfer to Marriott Reward points at a 1:3 ratio, meaning that you’ll receive 3,000 Marriott points for every 1,000 SPG points you transfer. Vice versa, you can transfer Marriott points to SPG at a 3:1 ratio. Also, it is important to note that you can only make transfers between accounts in increments of 1,000 points.
Where you decide to move your points will depend on where you want to stay, so deciding on that is the next step.
Step 2: Research Your Hotel Options
Next I suggest deciding when and where you want to use your points. This strategy works best if you have researched and found exactly where you want to stay BEFORE moving points around.
I frequently use the Award Mapper site to find hotels I can book with reward points. You can narrow the results to just SPG and Marriott hotels within your targeted point range. I was on the lookout for Marriott properties under 15,000 points per night and Starwood properties under 7,000 points per night in South Carolina. I easily narrowed it down to an excellent hotel option for our family for 15,000 Marriott points.
Step 3: Transfer Points & Top Off Your Balance for the Least Amount of Money
We were going to be a little short of the 15,000 points we would need for our stay even after we pooled our points. When transferred my 2,000 Starpoints will add 6,000 points to my Marriott balance, but I’ll still be a little bit short of the points I’ll need.
In order to top off my account I can buy 1,000 additional Marriott points for $12.50 here. Since I can only transfer Starwood points in increments of 1,000, I would have to buy an additional 1,0000 Starwood points for $35.00 to top off that account.
Though the price per point is slightly higher when buying Marriott points ($37.50 versus $35 per thousand points), it makes sense to buy the least amount of points to reach your goal so as not to have MORE lingering points in your account!
After I transferred my 2,000 Starpoints to my Marriott account, I bought the Marriott points we needed for our stay for $12.50 and made our reservation. Hooray!
I hope this post helps you take advantage of the Marriott-Starwood point transfer options to use up any lingering points in your accounts. You can also transfer Ritz-Carlton points among these three programs, but I haven’t dabbled in this program yet.
Are you planning any upcoming travels for which you might be able to use hotel points? Please leave a comment below and let me know where you are going!