RewardsPlus Offers Reciprocal Benefits between Marriott and United

United Airlines sent me a reminder this week that I qualify for Marriott Rewards Gold status due to my Premier 1K status with MileagePlus. And while I still have yet to stay at a Marriott hotel — ever — the RewardsPlus program may be of interest to some of you. (FAQs and Terms and Conditions are available online.)

Status Matches

Premier 1K, Premier Platinum, and Premier Gold members can receive instant Marriott Rewards Gold status. Marriott Rewards Platinum members can receive MileagePlus Premier Silver status. I think United customers get the better deal here because there is a significant challenge getting an upgrade as a Premier Silver member, and your odds of getting EconomyPlus pretty much rely on someone else being upgraded and leaving an open seat. Meanwhile, Marriott makes it difficult to get almost any elite tier, and Gold status normally requires 50 nights.

RewardsPlus Match

Gold status with Marriott provides:

  • Lounge access and/or continental breakfast
  • Complimentary upgrade (based on availability)
  • Late check-out (based on availability)
  • Free Internet
  • 25% bonus points

Silver status with United provides:

  • EconomyPlus at check-in (based on availability)
  • Complimentary upgrade (based on availability)
  • One free checked bag
  • Priority check-in, security, and boarding
  • 25% bonus miles

Note: To move up to a higher elite tier, you will need to earn that status as you would normally, i.e., 75 qualifying nights for Platinum status with Marriott. United is not giving you 25,000 PQMs, nor is Marriott giving you 50 qualifying nights.

Transfer Miles & Points

You can also register through this program to get a discount on the transfer of miles or points. Normally it requires 140,000 Marriott Rewards points to get 50,000 United miles. Through RewardsPlus, the cost is only 112,000 Marriott points. I generally don’t recommend hotel to airline transfers since hotel points are easier to use without blackout dates (in my experience). However, a discount is always nice.

Normally it is not possible to transfer in the reverse, from miles to points, but RewardsPlus makes this possible. At a very, very bad rate. You can convert miles to points at a one-to-one ratio, meaning 50,000 miles becomes 50,000 Marriott Rewards points. Let’s see… I could use 50,000 miles to book two economy class tickets to my in-laws in Amarillo, normally about $500 each. Or I could use 50,000 points to get one night at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, normally about $400 + taxes. I think transferring from miles to points loses half their value in many circumstances.

Oh wait. Not anymore. Because Marriott devalued their award chart this week, and the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua is going up in price along with another 20% of Marriott properties. You can read more about it in this excellent post by Loyalty Traveler.

Does RewardsPlus Matter?

Some of you are going to get useful benefits from RewardsPlus. I know people who are staying at hotels all year long but rarely fly enough to earn elite status, so at least they’ll get a checked bag on United. And if I do happen to stay at a Marriott hotel some day, I’ll be covered.

But the program puzzles me from a marketing standpoint. I generally don’t value elite status I don’t earn. The fact that Marriott and United have teamed up to give me status for free doesn’t make me more likely to stay at Marriott vs. other properties, nor do I see it as a selling point of earning status with United. I had my reasons for earning status at Hyatt and Starwood before, and I continue to go out of my way to stay at those hotels because I earn (1) elite benefits and (2) credit toward elite status. With Marriott, I get elite benefits and no credit toward elite status until I hit night 51.

Marriott, Hilton, and IHG are just backup programs for me. Usually I book such hotels through Hotwire, Priceline, or other discounted third parties because I already have the status I need through other channels and I’m unlikely to accumulate many points (or I can transfer or buy the points I need).

So I don’t know why Marriott and United promote this program. It’s not as valuable as Crossover Rewards is for Delta and SPG members, and I doubt it is driving significant business to Marriott. Anyone who had significant business to move over could just request a status match from an existing loyalty program. But maybe some clever MBA out there has the answers.

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  • Ally & Steve TGA

    Very convenient in my opinion

  • Robert

    Last year Marriott denied my status match/challenge request, so after getting back to United Gold I signed up for this program, it is an incentive to stay in Marriotts, I was glad to get lounge access for breakfast at a full service Marriott this week. Most of my business travel is to smaller towns without SPG and Hyatt hotels, so my points will never amount to much with just the big city airport hotels for the first and last night. [Little off topic] Despite the Hilton devaluation I stay in them more often that Marriotts and just noticed I got 29 points per dollar on a one night (including 1000 pt My Way bonus) stay while for a Marriott only got 12.5 points. On a January 4 night Hilton stay I got 47 points/$ with a 4X bonus.

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