Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Bonnie Burke For Bonnie & Lauren
Loyalty programs are becoming more extensive and more user-friendly these days, and Marriott's program is no exception. When the hotel brand merged with Starwood, which includes such properties as Westin and Sheraton, Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott's global chief commercial officer, said she knew that "when travel companies merge, the number one thing on a consumer's mind is what's going to happen to my points?" But Linnartz pointed out that when the merge happened a few months ago, members were immediately able to link their accounts and take full advantage of Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz Carlton rewards, and while the rewards programs aren't completely merged yet, they will be in the future. "Our goal is to ultimately create the most amazing, incredible hotel loyalty program - 30 brands, unprecedented choices, any price point, any place you want to go," Linnartz said of the program Marriott is working on.
Marriott's and Starwood's rewards programs include a lot of benefits, but below are the six key things that I think should convince you to sign up to be a member sooner rather than later.
1. The more points you earn, the faster you earn them
Because Marriott understands the importance of loyalty, it rewards members who stay more frequently with points that multiply with your stay. In layman's terms, that means if you're a Silver Elite member, you earn 20 percent bonus points, 25 percent for Gold Elite members, and 50 percent for Platinum Elite members.
2. It's free to join
It will cost you absolutely nothing to sign up for Marriott's rewards program, and you get access to the whole program, which includes Starwood and Ritz Carlton. If you're already a member of Starwood or Ritz Carlton, you can link those accounts to Marriott.
3. There are no blackout dates
When it comes to using your points to book a hotel stay, Marriott promises no blackout dates.
4. WiFi is free
This needs no explanation but it's important to note. If you're a rewards member and you book your hotel directly through Marriott, your in-room WiFi is complimentary.
5. Your points can buy you so much more than just travel
Marriott offers a vast selection of experiences and products for sale with rewards points. Sure, you can use your points to book a stay at a hotel, but you can also buy amazing, one-of-a-kind experiences. For example, this year, Marriott offered a package in its Experiences Marketplace where rewards members could use their points to bid on suite tickets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which I got to experience firsthand while learning more about Marriott. Rewards members can also bid on sports, cooking, and other entertainment experiences.
Image Source: Getty / Mike Coppola
6. You can combine points across accounts
When Marriott merged with Starwood, rewards members were immediately able to combine their accounts from either side, including Ritz Carlton. Like Linnartz said, "There are so many more Marriott properties than SPG properties, so you can transfer your SPG points to Marriott and go to a city maybe you couldn't have used your points before," which is amazing news for rewards members.