The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, a hotel of the Starwood chain, is pictured in Lombard, Illinois.

The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, a hotel of the Starwood chain, is pictured in Lombard, Illinois. (REUTERS)

Marriott Buying Starwood Hotels: How Will It Impact Your Credit Card Rewards?

By Lifestyle and Budget Credit.com

Marriott International (MAR) announced on Monday that it had agreed to buy Starwood Hotel and Resorts (HOT) for $12.2 billion. The news is noteworthy in that, should it close, the deal will effectively create the world’s largest hotel company, but there is another reason that you may want to pay attention to the merger.

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The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express routinely and, in fact, most recently, tops our list of the Best Hotel Credit Cards in America and is a favorite among travel and credit card gurus. That’s due, in part, to its nice sign-up bonus, a base rewards program that pairs nicely with the chain’s own loyalty program and additional perks like late checkouts and free Wi-Fi. Marriott, too, has a co-branded credit card called the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. (You can see our full review of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card here.) When these two companies become one, many travelers who love their rewards programs are wondering how it will impact their rewards credit cards and points.

Rewards Changes Ahead?

Should cardholders be worried about losing out on rewards? According to all major parties involved, it’s a bit too soon to tell.

“Our programs and portfolios complement each other well and we intend to draw upon the best of both programs to provide more value for our guests and hotels,” a spokesman for Marriott said in an email. “We will be studying the integration of the programs and talking to key stakeholders prior to making final decisions.  We will be undertaking a thorough review of all partners and contracts to determine what is in the best interest of our members and hotels consistent with our agreements with those partners.”

American Express similarly indicated it was too soon to comment on how its credit card might be affected.

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Keep an Eye on Your Mail

Any changes to the credit card terms (more so than the loyalty programs) could take a while to get finalized, given the cards in question are co-branded (and by different networks). However, cardholders shouldn’t expect to be left in the dark and will more than likely be given an opportunity to transition to a new payment method, should one debut.

“In the vast majority of cases, issuers will provide a migration path for loyalty and co-branded cards,” Julie Conroy, a research director at Aite Group, said in an email. “The last thing the acquiring party wants to do is alienate its most valuable customer base through the migration.”

In the meantime, affected cardholders should keep an eye on their mail or inboxes. “Written or email correspondence will be how they will be informed of the change,” Conroy said.

And you may also want to check your credit. Credit card issuers are known to monitor existing cardholders’ credit so, generally, you want to make sure yours is in good shape so you don’t run the risk of your favorite payment method getting canceled or your credit limit being lowered. (You can pull your free annual credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com and see your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Jeanine is an editor and reporter at Credit.com. Prior to joining us, Jeanine's work was featured by TheStreet, Newsweek, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, MSN, Fox Business, Forbes, CNBC and various other online publications. Follow her at @JeanineSko More by Jeanine Skowronski