Marriott Bonvoy Choice Benefits. Which to pick?

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If you have earned 50 elite qualifying nights with Marriott Bonvoy within a calendar year, then you are eligible to pick a “Choice Benefit”.  A second Choice Benefit is available for those who complete 75 nights.  The question then, of course, is which benefit to pick.  You’ll find my recommendations below.

Note that if you acquired Platinum status through a status challenge, having the Bonvoy Brilliant card, Ritz credit card spend, etc., you won’t get to pick a Choice Benefit unless you also complete 50 nights within a calendar year.  Nights given automatically or through spend from Bonvoy credit cards do count towards Choice Benefits.  For example, most Bonvoy cards automatically give you 15 elite nights each year (and the Brilliant card gives you 25).  If you pair a consumer Bonvoy card with a business Bonvoy card, you’ll automatically get 30 nights (or 40 with the Brilliant card) towards Choice Benefits each year.

Selection Deadline: January 7th, 2023

If you don’t make a choice by January 7th, you’ll get the “5 Suite Night Awards” choice automatically.

Here’s the website for selecting your benefit: choice-benefit.marriott.com/en-us/marriott-rewards/benefits.

50 Night Choices

  • 5 Suite Night Awards: Each Suite Night Award is a one-night confirmable upgrade to a standard suite or select premium room, depending on the hotel’s availability of those rooms. The number of Suite Night Awards used must match the entire length of stay; it cannot be used for part of a stay (e.g., the first two nights of a five-night stay). Once Suite Night Awards are requested to be applied to a stay, Marriott will begin checking upgrade availability 5 days in advance of your stay, up until 2pm on the day of your arrival. If your Suite Night Award request doesn’t clear, you’ll get the awards back to be used later.  Caution: some Marriott brands and many individual Marriott hotels do not allow you to use Suite Night Awards and so these can be frustratingly difficult to use.
  • 5 Elite Night Credits: If you earn a Choice Benefit selection in 2022, then this choice adds 5 elite nights to your 2022 total even if you wait until January 2023 to make the selection.  The only good reason to select this choice is to get to the next level of status (75 night or 100 night, but 100 night status also requires $20K Marriott spend).  For example, if you earned 70 elite nights in 2022, this selection would bring you to 75 nights and you’d get Titanium status plus the opportunity to get another Choice Benefit.  Unless you are trying to earn lifetime status, there’s no other reason that I can think of to make this choice.
  • 40% off a Marriott bed: Get 40% off retail prices for Westin Heavenly Beds, St. Regis beds, etc.
  • Gift Silver Elite Status
  • $100 Charity Donation: Make a $100 (USD) donation to UNICEF, the Arne M Sorenson Hospitality Fund, or the World Wildlife Fund.

75 Night Choices

  • 1 Free Night Award (Up to 40K Points): Certificate is valid through December 31st of the year after the elite nights were earned. For example, by picking this Choice Benefit based on having earned 75 elite nights in 2022, the certificate will be valid through the end of 2023.
  • Gift Gold Elite Status

The rest are the same as the 50 night choices:

  • 5 Elite Night Credits
  • 5 Suite Night Awards
  • $100 Charity Donation
  • 40% off a Marriott bed

Which Marriott Choice Benefits are Best?

50 Night Choice: Elite Nights or Suite Nights

In my opinion, the two most valuable 50 night choices are 5 Suite Night Awards and 5 Elite Night Credits.  If you are close to 75 Night Titanium Elite status and if picking the 5 Elite Night Credits would get you there, then that is the better choice.  Once you get to 75 nights, you’ll get another Choice Benefit selection plus you’ll have a higher level of elite status which includes (among other things) free United Premier Silver elite status.

If the elite night credits won’t make the difference in getting you to 75 night status, then choose 5 Suite Night Awards.  Yes, these can be frustratingly difficult to use, but when they work out, they can be extremely valuable.

75 Night Choice: 40K Night or Suite Nights

The best 75 night choice, in my opinion, is the 40K Free Night Award.  That has tangible value and can often be used at a hotel that would have cost more than $300 for the night.  The Suite Night Awards, meanwhile, are a gamble.  If you value suites, the potential upside of getting upgraded to a suite for a 5 night stay (or multiple shorter stays) can be much more than getting a free 40K night.  However, there’s a very real possibility that you won’t be able to use the upgrades at all before they expire.

More About Suite Night Awards

Sometimes Suite Night Awards can be extremely valuable.  Nick scored this amazing suite at the St Pancras hotel in London by using a Suite Night Award.
5 Suite Night Awards are available as a Choice Benefit when a member earns 50 or 75 elite qualifying nights within a calendar year.  These have the potential to be extremely valuable because they allow the possibility of upgrading to an expensive suite on a stay booked with points or cash at base-room rates.  Before selecting this benefit, though, it's important to understand Suite Night Award limitations:
  • Many Marriott brands do not allow the use of Suite Night Awards: The Ritz-Carlton®, Protea Hotels®, Aloft®, Element®, Design Hotels™, all-suite hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments®, Marriott Vacation Club®, EDITION®, The Ritz-Carlton Reserve®, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club®, and Grand Residences by Marriott® properties.
  • A frustratingly large number of individual hotels within participating brands do not allow the use of Suite Night Awards.  The only way to find out for sure is to call and ask Marriott Member Services or to book a stay and try to apply your upgrades (but even that approach isn't foolproof).
  • You must use a Suite Night Award for every night of your reservation.  If you have 5 awards, for example, you cannot apply them to a 6 night reservation.
  • Once you've applied your Suite Night Awards to a reservation, Marriott begins checking for suite upgrade availability 5 days before your stay.  If you are not upgraded 5 days beforehand, Marriott will check again each day up until the day before your stay.  If the upgrade isn't successful, the Suite Night Awards will be credited back to your account.

FAQ

I have the Bonvoy Brilliant card which gives me Platinum Elite status, do I get to pick a Choice Benefit?

Not automatically.  Platinum status alone doesn’t qualify you for a Choice Benefit.  In order to earn a Choice Benefit, you have to acquire 50 elite qualifying nights within a calendar year.  The Brilliant card automatically gives you 25 elite qualifying nights but you’ll still have to get 25 more nights to get a Choice Benefit.  You can get 15 more nights automatically every year by signing up for the Bonvoy Business card and then you’ll only need to stay 10 nights each year at Marriott hotels in order to get a Choice Benefit each year.

I have Lifetime Platinum Elite status, do I get to pick a Choice Benefit?

Not automatically.  Platinum status alone doesn’t qualify you for a Choice Benefit.  In order to earn a Choice Benefit, you have to acquire 50 elite qualifying nights within a calendar year.

I earned Platinum Elite status from a status match, do I get to pick a Choice Benefit?

Not automatically.  Platinum status alone doesn’t qualify you for a Choice Benefit.  In order to earn a Choice Benefit, you have to acquire 50 elite qualifying nights within a calendar year.

Why don’t you recommend gifting Silver or Gold elite status?

With Marriott, only Platinum status and above offers meaningful benefits, in my opinion.  Plus, it’s easy to get Silver or Gold status simply by having a Marriott card or an Amex Platinum card.

Here’s a summary of elite benefits by elite level:

Elite Status Level Requirements Per Year Key Benefits
Silver Elite 10 Nights Late checkout, 10% point bonus
Gold Elite 25 Nights 2PM late checkout; 25% point bonus; welcome gift (points only); room upgrade; enhanced internet
Platinum Elite 50 Nights 4PM late checkout; 50% point bonus; welcome gift w/ breakfast option; room upgrade includes suites; lounge access; Choice benefit (such as 5 suite night awards) when you achieve 50 nights.
Titanium Elite 75 Nights All of the above, plus: 75% point bonus; United Silver Premier status via RewardsPlus; Ritz-Carlton suite upgrades; Additional Choice Benefit (such as 40K free night certificate) when you achieve 75 nights.
Ambassador Elite 100 Nights + $20K Spend All of the above, plus: Ambassador Service (dedicated Marriott agent); Your24 (Choose the 24 hours of your stay. For example, choose to check in at 9am after an overnight flight).
 
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Buzz

I’ve used both strategies at Platinum. Last year at 50 nights I took the Elite night credits to help get to 75 where I chose the 40k. This year I knew I wasn’t going to be close to 75 so I took the suite nights.

we just used the 40k cert plus 15,000 points to stay at the Austin Proper. Beautiful hotel and rooms were going for close to $700 a night.

Lee

Quick edit: Going forward, Ambassador will require $23k in spend.

Christian

@Greg – I’m about to hit 7 years at Platinum or higher wit Marriott, partially earned by having 30 nights through business and personal credit cards. The problem is, it’s getting extremely tough to muster enthusiasm for Marriott when they continually make lots of customer-unfriendly moves. The lifetime Platinum sounds nice but I’m not sure I’ll even recognize Platinum in a few years. Any thoughts?