If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Delta and Starwood must be positively blushing with this announcement by two of their competitors.
As did Delta and Starwood with Crossover Rewards, United and Marriott have partnered to offer RewardsPlus, a package of reciprocal benefits for members of the two companies' programs.
The benefits are as follows:
- United MileagePlus Gold and above elite members receive complimentary Gold elite status in Marriott Rewards
- Platinum and Platinum Premier elite members of the Marriott Rewards program receive MileagePlus Silver elite status
- United Silver members and above enjoy a 1:1 conversion rate when transferring United miles to Marriott points
- All members receive a discount of 20 percent when converting Marriott points into United miles
- All members receive 10 percent more United miles when redeeming Marriott points for flight and hotel vacation packages
The complimentary elite status in both programs is valid through January 31, 2014.
For United elites, free Marriott Gold status (which normally requires 50 nights to earn) is a significant benefit. Complimentary Silver status in United's program has considerably less value, but is still worth having. The special conversion rate for miles-to-points transfers is a decided improvement over the normal rates, but it's a benefit of limited use.
Overall, this seems a notably unbalanced relationship, with United loyalists getting the best of the tie-up. But it's a start, and it could develop into something more substantial.
With the Delta-Starwood and United-Marriott links now in place, it's pretty much a given that American will feel peer-pressured into forging its own special relationship with one of the major hotel chains. My bet: Hilton.
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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.