Marriott vs. Starwood

Below is a rewards program comparison between Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. For both programs, platinum status is used for comparison. While the hotel classifications are different (Category 6 vs. Category 4), I have stayed at both locations and consider them to be comparable.

Date: August 2011
Showdown: Scottsdale, AZ

In the red corner:
Marriott Rewards
JW Marriott Camelback InnĀ® Scottsdale Resort & Spa
Category 6

In the blue corner:
Starwood Preferred Guest
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
Category 4

For the following one night comparison, actual hotel rates were used.

Results: One Night Marriott Starwood Notes
Room Rate $135.00 $126.65
State Tax $12.31 N/A Approximately 9.12%
City Tax $6.82 N/A Approximately 5.05%
Room Tax N/A $16.81 Approximately 13.27%
Room Rate + Tax $154.13 $143.46
Base Earnings 1,350 254
Platinum Arrival Gift Bonus 500 500
50% Elite Bonus 675 127
Points Earned 2,525 881
Points Required For 1 Free Night 30,000 10,000
Paid Stays Required For 1 Free Night 11.88 11.35
Credit Card Bonus 771* 287 5 points for every $1 not awarded for paid stays at Ritz-Carlton hotels
Points Earned 3,296 1,168
Paid Stays Required For 1 Free Night 9.10 8.56

For the following one night comparison, I normalized both rates to $150/night.

Results: $150.00/Night x 1 Marriott Starwood Notes
Room Rate $150.00 $150.00
State Tax $13.68 N/A Approximately 9.12%
City Tax $7.58 N/A Approximately 5.05%
Room Tax N/A $19.91 Approximately 13.27%
Room Rate + Tax $171.26 $169.91
Base Earnings 1,500 300
Platinum Arrival Gift Bonus 500 500
50% Elite Bonus 750 150
Points Earned 2,750 950
Points Required For 1 Free Night 30,000 10,000
Paid Stays Required For 1 Free Night 10.91 10.53
Credit Card Bonus 856* 340 5 points for every $1 not awarded for paid stays at Ritz-Carlton hotels
Points Earned 3,606 1,290
Paid Stays Required For 1 Free Night 8.32 7.75

For the last comparison, I used a normalized rate of $150/night over a typically travel schedule (three nights).

Results: $150.00/Night x 3 Marriott Starwood Notes
Room Rate $150.00 $150.00
State Tax $41.04 N/A Approximately 9.12%
City Tax $22.73 N/A Approximately 5.05%
Room Tax N/A $59.72 Approximately 13.27%
Room Rate + Tax $513.77 $509.72
Base Earnings x 3 Paid Nights 4,500 900
Platinum Arrival Gift Bonus 500 500
50% Elite Bonus 2,250 450
Points Earned 7,250 1,850
Points Required For 1 Free Night 30,000 10,000
Paid Stays Required For 1 Free Night 4.14 5.41
Credit Card Bonus 2,569* 1,019 5 points for every $1 not awarded for paid stays at Ritz-Carlton hotels
Points Earned 9,819 2,869
Paid Stays Required For 1 Free Night 3.06 3.49

Surprisingly for me, the Marriott Rewards program comes out slightly on top. Once you factor in the seasonal promotions, e.g., the quarterly Marriott MegaBonus, Marriott has a clear edge here. The biggest advantage to note is having possession of a hotel credit card provides a fairly significant boost to accumulating points.

This analysis is still very much a work-in-progress, and I will update it to try and accommodate some of the more frequent promotions.

Hopefully, in the future, I will be able to add the Hilton HHonors program.

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