Airline Frequent Flier Programs Delta Airlines Marriott Hotels Marriott Rewards (replaced by Marriott Bonvoy) Starwood Hotels Starwood Preferred Guest United Airlines

Crossover Rewards and RewardsPlus: Airlines and hotels embed reciprocal elite loyalty

Major changes happened this year with two innovative hotel and airline partnerships expanding the nature of hotel and frequent flyer loyalty membership. Crossover Rewards is a partnership between Delta Skymiles and Starwood Preferred Guest and offers reciprocal benefits for elite members of either program. Marriott Rewards and United Mileage Plus announced RewardsPlus in July 2013. In some ways the Marriott partnership is more egalitarian with enhanced benefits for all members, yet even more benefits on the table, including breakfast, for high elite Mileage Plus members.

The target demographic in these two programs is high value elite members. Matching a legacy airline with a major global hotel chain is bound to move some market share in consumer spend between airlines and hotel brands. This looks like an exciting expansion and fragmentation of loyalty as the stakes get higher for the consumer choosing airline and hotel combinations for better travel value.

Crossover Rewards – Starwood Preferred Guest and Delta Skymiles

Starwood Preferred Guest and Delta Skymiles began Crossover Rewards March 1, 2013. The unique value of Crossover Rewards is additive benefits for elite members via SPG or Delta elite status who earn both miles and points for Starwood hotel stays and Delta flights.

SPG Gold and Platinum members earn one Starpoint per $1 spent on Delta tickets. SPG Platinum members receive priority check-in, Zone 1 boarding and one free checked bag for member and up to three other passengers on same Delta reservation.

Delta Skymiles Diamond and Platinum elites receive access to SPG elite check-in line at hotels, complimentary internet access, 4pm late checkout and potential for room upgrades similar to SPG Gold elite members.

All Delta Medallion elite members earn one mile per $1 in room rate at Starwood Hotels. The loyalty benefits are additive. Elite members earn points and miles when buying a Delta flight or a Starwood Hotel night.

RewardsPlus – Marriott Rewards and United Mileage Plus

RewardsPlus is a partnership loyalty program for Marriott Rewards and United Mileage Plus members. Exclusive benefits include a reciprocal elite status offer, yet even members without elite status in either loyalty program have access to better hotel points to United miles transfer rates.

Mileage Plus Gold and higher elites get the best side of this deal with complimentary Marriott Gold membership. This Marriott elite level normally requires 50 paid nights in a calendar year. Lounge access, breakfast, free internet, 25% elite bonus points and potential room upgrades make Marriott Gold a high value hotel perk for Mileage Plus Gold and higher elites.

Marriott Rewards Platinum elites (75 nights in a calendar year) receive complimentary United Mileage Plus Silver status. Mileage Plus Silver elite benefits include one free checked bag, priority lines, access to Economy Plus seating and 25% bonus miles on United flights.

All RewardsPlus members get a 20% discount when converting Marriott Rewards points to Mileage Plus miles. RewardsPlus members can redeem 56,000 Marriott Rewards points for 25,000 United miles. Normally this requires 70,000 points for 25,000 miles with 12 other airlines including Alaska, American, Delta and US Airways.

Marriott Hotel + Air travel packages offer one of the best values in loyalty programs with 7 hotel nights and air miles. These packages offer hotel nights at the regular points rate for the hotel category and improve the transfer rate for Marriott points at 1:1 for airline miles in 12 major programs. These are a high priced reward starting at 200,000 points for 7 hotel nights at a category 5 hotel + 50,000 miles. Since 7 nights in a category 5 hotel is normally 150,000 points, the additional 50,000 points exchange 1 to 1 into 50,000 miles. These packages are available for 7 nights at any hotel category level, including Ritz-Carlton. Hotel and Air Packages allow up to 120,000 points in 1:1 transfer to air miles above the standard reward rate for the 7-night hotel stay alone.

RewardsClub members get an extra 10% United miles on Hotel + Air Packages for 55,000 to 132,000 miles. Marriott Hotel + Air Packages are available for 7 hotel nights + 132,000 miles starting at 270,000 points for a category 5 hotel and up to 540,000 points for a Ritz-Carlton Tier 5 hotel package.

United Mileage Plus Premier members may convert miles to Marriott Rewards points at the rate of 1 mile to 1 point. The best scenario for exchanging United miles into points is when redeeming a Hotel + Air Package and getting air miles back. Assume the member has sufficient points for a 7-night Marriott hotel only reward. Transfer 50,000 to 120,000 United miles to Marriott points, then redeem for a Hotel + Air package to get a 7-night hotel stay and 55,000 to 132,000 United miles deposited back. Or exchange 50,000 to 120,000 United miles into Marriott points and redeem a Hotel + Air Package for 1:1 miles in another program like Alaska, American, Avios or Delta.


Crossover Rewards SPG and Delta Airlines

RewardsPlus Marriott and United Airlines

This Loyalty Traveler article originally appeared in InsideFlyer magazine October 2013.