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Well the speculation can (thankfully) now stop – the United rewards enhancement has been announced and it actually isn’t bad news (though I sure wish they would have handled this announcement differently to avoid panicking the herd). In fact, it actually is good news for some United and Marriott elites. Much like how Delta and SPG partnered earlier this year to provide some reciprocal benefits for elite members of each program, United and Marriott have done the same and called it RewardsPlus.
According to UA Insider on Flyertalk, here are highlights of this new partnership:
- Starting today, MileagePlus Premier Gold members (and higher) can register to receive complimentary Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status, which includes benefits such as lounge access and free breakfast (at select locations), room upgrades (subject to availability at check-in) complimentary internet access, priority late check-out, bonus points, and more.
- Marriott Rewards Platinum Elite (top-tier) members can register to receive Premier Silver status in MileagePlus.
- New Miles-to-Points Transfer: We’re introducing the ability for Premier members (at all levels) to convert MileagePlus award miles into Marriott Rewards points at a 1-to-1 ratio, up to 50,000 miles per year.
- Improved Points-to-Miles Transfer: We’re improving the rate at which all members can convert their Marriott Rewards points into MileagePlus miles by offering a 20% discount off the number of points required for miles. This will be the leading conversion rate for transfer of Marriott Rewards points into airline miles.
- Improved Mileage Earning on Travel Packages: We’re adding 10% more MileagePlus award miles when members redeem for a Marriott Rewards Air and Hotel Travel package using points transferred from a Marriott Rewards account – a bonus of up to 12,000 miles.
- You can register for complimentary Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status starting today, by going to www.united.com/rewardsplus. The enhanced points and miles features are coming in August.
- Elite status through RewardsPlus is effective for the current program year only, meaning through January 31, 2014. Details on RewardsPlus in 2014 will be released at a later time.
I have United Platinum status, so was able to register today for the new promotion – it already associated my Marriott number without me having to add it. Kinda handy, kinda creepy, effective in either case. I was told it will be 7-10 business days for my Marriott account to be updated with the new Gold status.
I am thrilled this is actually an addition to the program and not a change that hurts more than helps. Marriott Gold status is typically obtained after spending 50 nights in a Marriott branded hotel, so I am obviously happy to get it without having to do that. I will now have free internet and potentially free breakfast and lounge access. That will be handy on the occasions that I find myself at a Marriott, though that will still likely be an infrequent occurrence as my hotel loyalty lies elsewhere. Now, for those who earned Marriott elite status the hard way, this is not going to necessarily be great news as there will be even more Gold elites.
In return, Marriott top-tier Platinum elites are given United Silver status. I’ve read some saying this is not very generous, but since I am married to someone who just barely qualifies for United Silver status, I actually think it is not too shabby to be gifted any sort of elite status with United. Silver status is not amazing, but it does get you priority security screening, access to E+ seats at check-in, free checked bag, access to the elite phone line, and a shot at upgrades. Upgrades for silvers aren’t common, but they do happen. I don’t personally care much about the transfer rates for miles/points changing. The big news here is the reciprocal elite status.
If you want more info on this new announcement, you can check out the FAQs here. What are your thoughts on the new RewardsPlus program? Cool addition, royal shaft for Marriott Gold elites, or somewhere in between?
Thanks to View From the Wing for sharing this news this morning!