United Airlines’ and Marriott’s loyalty reward programs now have reciprocal benefits

Today, United Airlines and Marriott announced a deal where frequent fliers or frequent hotel guests will have significant benefits with the other after registering with either one of the companies. United Gold and above automatically become Marriott Gold, and Marriott Platinum become United Silver – potentially bringing significant added benefits to hotel stays, like free Wi-Fi, lounge access, bonus miles, and more.

This is great news for me, as now I have some added choice when booking hotel night stays. Currently, I have Starwood Gold status as a result of having the American Express Platinum Card (though I downgraded back to Gold earlier this year). I’ve stayed enough this year that I’ll re-qualify for Gold status on my own with Starwood, but I’ve often thought it would be nice to have status with another major hotel brand.

What You Get

If you have at least Gold status with United

Not long ago, Delta and Starwood started a similar program called Crossover Rewards like Marriott and United did today, but since I value my United 1K status much, much more than my Starwood Gold status, I wasn’t about to start flying on Delta to earn reciprocal benefits. For me, I love Starwood hotels – and they’ve been good to me – but having another option when looking for hotels will only help me save money in the long run, since sometimes one hotel will have a better deal than the other. Like I mentioned before, you’ll get Gold status with Marriott, granting you access to lounges, upgrades, free Wi-Fi, bonus points, and more.

If you have Platinum status with Marriott

On the flip side, if you often stay with Marriott at the Platinum level (75 nights), you can immediately be rewarded with Silver status on United, which gets you a 25% bonus on miles, better security lines, occasional upgrades, and a free checked bag. That said, if you stay 75 hotel nights a year or more, you probably already are a fairly well-traveled person and already have status with another airline – and Silver status isn’t going to be enough to make anyone switch who’s traveling that much each year.

Personally, I fly more places than I stay (I’ll stay with friends, etc. – the cheapest way to travel!) so the benefit to all this isn’t immense. But as I mentioned before, it’s nice to have additional options!

In August, United’s also saying that you will be able to convert your MileagePlus points into Marriott Reward points – neat since points are usually only convertible from hotels -> airlines, and not the other way around.

From the joint press release:

For United’s Global Services, Premier 1K, Premier Platinum and Premier Gold MileagePlus members, Marriott will offer Gold Elite status*, including:

  • Lounge access and complimentary continental breakfast at participating JW Marriott®, Renaissance Hotels®, Marriott® Hotels and Autograph Collection® Hotels (Resorts are excluded)
  • Room upgrades, based on availability
  • Complimentary high-speed internet access at more than 3,700 hotels globally
  • 25 percent point bonus on all Marriott stays
  • Priority late check-out
  • Gold Elite customized offers and awards
  • One-to-one transfer of MileagePlus miles into Marriott Rewards points, a benefit United’s Premier Silver members will also receive

For Marriott Rewards Platinum Elite members, United will offer Premier Silver status, including:

  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus seating at check-in, when available
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades on domestic flights, when available
  • Premier Access travel services, which include designated ticket counter check-in lines, priority security lines and priority boarding and baggage handling
  • One complimentary standard checked bag
  • 25 percent Premier bonus award miles on United flights

What you have to do

To register, simply make note of your United MileagePlus membership number and your Marriott Rewards membership number and visit either program’s page: marriottrewards.com/rewardsplus or united.com/rewardsplus. They say it’ll take 7-10 days for the changes to my accounts to take effect; we’ll see how long it really ends up taking.