Marriott Choice Benefit Valuations. Which to pick?

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Update 1/6/22: The deadline for picking Choice Benefits based on 2021 activity is 11:59 pm ET on January 7, 2022.

If you have earned 50 elite qualifying nights with Marriott 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.  Here’s the website for selecting your benefit: choice-benefit.marriott.com/en-us/marriott-rewards/benefits.

Note that if you acquired Platinum status through a status challenge, credit card spend, etc., you won’t get to pick a Choice Benefit unless you also complete 50 nights within a calendar year.

Selection Deadline: January 7th, 2022

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

50 Night Choices

  • 5 Elite Night Credits: These add to your prior year total if you wait until January to make your selection.  In other words, 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 2020, 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.
  • 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.
  • Gift Silver Elite Status
  • $100 Charity Donation: Make a $100 (USD) donation to UNICEF.
  • 40% off a Marriott bed: Get 40% off retail prices for Westin Heavenly Beds, St. Regis beds, etc.

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 2020, the certificate will be valid through the end of 2021.
  • 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

How much is each choice worth?

What follows are my estimates of the value of each choice. Please note that the valuation assumes that you’ll actually make use of the benefit.  For example, getting 40% off a bed doesn’t do much good if you don’t intend to buy a new bed or if you don’t particularly want a hotel bed in your house.

Frequent Miler’s Choice Benefit Value Estimates:

  • 5 Elite Night Credits: $140
  • 5 Suite Night Awards: $250
  • 40% off a Marriott bed: $200
  • $100 Charity Donation: $80
  • Gift Silver Elite Status: $25
  • Gift Gold Elite Status: $75
  • 1 Free Night Award (Up to 40K Points): $250

Where did I get the above strangely precise valuations?  Below you’ll find my thinking about each…

5 Elite Night Credits: $140

This choice makes the most sense for those who are just short of earning Titanium Elite (75 night) status.  For example, if you have completed 70 nights at the end of the year, I think it’s a no-brainer to pick this choice to move you up to 75 night status.  With 75 nights, you’ll be able to pick another choice plus you’ll get extra benefits over regular Platinum:

  • 75% point bonus on stays (vs. 50% with Platinum 50)
  • United Silver Status via RewardsPlus

Note that the elite night credits aren’t worth much if you’re trying to get to 100 night status unless you’ll also complete $20K in spend at Marriott properties since $20K spend is an extra requirement of that status.

Value: Let’s assume that you could have alternatively earned 5 nights by booking a category 1 Marriott off-peak award for 5 nights at 5,000 points per night with the 5th night free.  Total cost: 20K points.  Given our current Marriott point valuation of approximately 0.7 cents per point (see our Reasonable Redemption Values), that translates to $140.

5 Suite Night Awards: $250

If your heart is set on a suite and you don’t want to pay the full cash rate, some Marriott properties let you pay a surcharge over the standard award rate in order to book the suite from the get-go.  For example, the US Grant in San Diego (which I stayed at previously) charges either $350 per night or 70K extra points per night for a standard suite:

Similarly, the Playa Largo resort in Key Largo Florida charges $175 per night or an extra 35K points per night for a suite (I’ve stayed at this resort too — it’s very nice):

Since there isn’t one standard rate for upgrading to a suite, we can’t use these prices directly to estimate the value of the suite night awards.  Plus, the above bookings are more valuable because they are guaranteed.  When you apply a suite night award certificate you may or may not actually get the upgrade you hoped for.  This can be a big problem if traveling with a family where the extra space is really needed.

Another issue with Suite Night Awards is that you may get upgraded to a suite even if you don’t use the certificates.  So you may use your certificates and not know whether they actually helped.

Value: To calculate a value for these certificates, let’s assume that a standard suite upgrade price is $250 per night.  And let’s further decide that the certificates are worth 20% of that amount since they are not confirmed at the time of booking and they’re not available to use at all Marriott hotels (you can’t use them at Ritz properties, for example).  20% of $250 = $50.  Since you get 5 certificates: 5 x $50 = $250.

40% off a Marriott bed: $200

The Westin Heavenly Bed is available through Marriott, but it’s also sold by Pottery Barn for the exact same retail price (I checked).  And at the time that I checked, a 30% off coupon (SAVEMORE) was available at Pottery Barn.  This Choice Benefit therefore gives you an additional 10% off.

Value: If you were to buy a king sized Westin Heavenly Bed and box spring from Pottery Barn at 30% off, it would cost $1676.50.  Via Marriott, the same bed would cost $1,437 after the 40% discount.  If we further assume that shipping and handling charges are the same, we can then say that this Choice Benefit would save you $1,676.50 – $1,437 = $239.50.  I rounded down this amount to a more reasonable valuation: $200 (and only if you would have bought this bed anyway).

$100 Charity Donation: $80

I don’t think that you can declare this donation on your taxes, so lets discount the value to $80.

Gift Silver Elite Status: $25

Silver status offers a 10% bonus on points earned per stay and an undetermined “late checkout”.  That’s about all.  Maybe this adds up to about $25?

Gift Gold Elite Status: $75

Gold status offers the following perks:

  • 2pm late checkout
  • 25% point bonus
  • Welcome gift (points only)
  • Room upgrade when available
  • Enhanced internet
  • Ability to transfer points to others for free.

None of the above benefits are super valuable, but they’re better than nothing.  I’m randomly valuing this at $75.

1 Free Night Award (Up to 40K Points): $250

This award is good for a free night at any hotel costing up to 40,000 points.  This means that you can use this certificate for any category 1-5 property, even at Peak prices, or at category 6 off-peak properties.

Value: I separately determined that 35K certificates are worth about $200 and 50K certificates are worth about $300.  In researching the value of 50K certificates, about 60% of the best uses for those certificates were at properties costing 40K points.  This means that it would not be surprising to get $300 or more value from a 40K certificate.  That said, I believe the best way to value them is to take the average value between $200 and $300: $250.

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Buzz

I think your important points are to not just use the valuations but make them a part of an overall strategy.

I knew I was going to easily hit Platinum this year and had a decent shot at Titanium. My Platinum choice was 5 qualifying nights and when I hit Titanium, I took the 40k cert and booked the Westin in Ft Lauderdale which is currently going for about $800 a night during the air show.

sunny_ewr

I gave Gold status to my sibling out of Asia. He is planning to use it for family and business trips. I think Gold status in Asia is worth more than $75. Why? With fewer Gold or higher level members in Asia, its easier to get better upgrades, access to breakfast etc. Just my $0.02

Tim Grable

Love the blog, on this one I think you are way overvaluing the suite nights. Since they have started doing them, we have yet to have one clear. To say they are worth $250 is as good as saying your $1 lottery ticket is worth 200 billion. Maybe…

Lukas

There is a glitch where if you select the free night as Titanium Elite, it will expire in TWO years (12/31/2023). DP – myself and others.

Jacinto

I just barely achieved 75 night 2021 Titanium status: 30 nights for holding two Bonvoy credit cards, 25 free nights deposited by Marriott for having Platinum status, 20 nights from stays (including 8 no-show).

Assuming I still have 2 CCs and a similar pattern of stays in 2022, do you think Marriott may give me Titanium status again for 2022, without achieving 75 nights? For the Annual Choice Benefit, is it better to get the 40K free night certificate or 5 more Elite Night Credits to help hit 75 again. When is the deadline for the annual choice?

Thanks.

Nate

I’m at 71 nights for 2021. Is there a reason why I couldn’t/shouldn’t choose the 5 night credit to get to Titanium in December 2021 and do that in January ’22?
Thanks!

Greg The Frequent Miler

No reason not to choose the 5 nights right now.

Tom

Well….I obviously missed the deadline by 5 days. So I assume they must have given me the 5 nights of suite awards. I cannot seem to find where in my account they would be located. Does anyone know where they put them ?

Greg The Frequent Miler

They should show up under Activity. I forgot to pick my 75 night choice (doh!) but I don’t yet see those in my account either. My guess is that Marriott will sweep through to update these by the end of the month.

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[…] you reach 50 elite nights, you’ll earn Platinum elite status plus a Choice Benefit selection.  I suspect that most will choose to take the 5 Suite Night Awards which can be used to increase […]

ktc

Per 5 Elite Night Credits” – per Rapid Travel Chai, this now counts toward “earning Elite status and Lifetime Elite status”. This could be great for those close to a LTP. Any thoughts?

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[…] with Marriott. After completing 50 nights, Marriott grants a “choice benefit”. Greg has covered which you should choose before. I thought for sure I was going to choose 5 elite night credits, but Simon Mall has made me […]

[…] once you’ve completed 50 nights in a year, and again at 75 nights.  In the post “Marriott Choice Benefit Valuations. Which to pick?” I argued that the choice of 5 Suite Night Awards was the potentially most valuable choice […]

[…] See also: Marriott Choice Benefit Valuations. Which to pick? […]

David

Not working again.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Ugh. You’re right

Bryan

Just FYI…selections are available now (11:00 a.m. CST on 1/15)

Bryan

Was able to select the free night without issue. It is already showing in my Unused Certificates on my account about 5 minutes later.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Thanks! I’ve updated the post.

TMount

The issue is that it states it expires 2019, not 2020 as we had hoped

Bryan

I did see that when I made my selection, but in the T&C on the landing page after you’ve made your selection, it states: “The Free Night Award (up to 40,000 points) must be redeemed for a stay that occurs no later than December 31 of the year following the year in which the additional benefit is selected (e.g., if the benefit is selected in 2019, the deadline for redemption is December 31, 2020).”

Realistically, I’ll use the free night before Dec. 31 2019, but I have a screenshot if something changes.

TMount

I did the same. My certificate posted within minutes of selection, states expiration 12/31/2019.

Greg The Frequent Miler

The website is down again. Maybe they took it down so they could update the terms to be more clear about the expiry of the free night cert.

Susan

Ok, I need some help. I just made Platinum Elite for the first time. When my accounts were combined, I was only a few nights away from 50, so I went for it. Last summer, I bought a cat 8, 7-night travel package and will be staying in Paris at the Renaissance Paris Republique for 7 nights this spring. It seems that the 5 Suite Nights could NOT be used, since it’s a 7-night stay. Is that correct? Also, when I made the reservation I was Silver. I reserved a paid room upgrade (just one level up to a slightly larger room). Should I cancel that and assume that, with Platinum status, I’ll get a room upgrade anyway?
And, can the 5 elite nights be credited for 2019? I don’t need them for 2018: I’m nowhere near 75 nights. Someone else asked this, but I am still confused on this issue.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Correct: you can’t apply your 5 suite night awards to your 7 night stay.

Platinum room upgrade: there’s no guarantee that you’ll get upgraded if you remove the paid upgrade feature. So, it depends how important that upgrade is to you. If you can stand the thought of not getting upgraded just in case, then yes I’d recommend gambling on the free upgrade.

5 elite nights: Can only be credited for 2018. It would be a waste unless you had 70 nights in 2018

Gwen

I would love to pick my benefit but the stay that pushed me over 50 nights for the year ended December 28th and has not posted to my account. I hope it posts soon because my account still shows gold and I have a stay in two days and I would like take advantage of breakfast and late checkout.

Matthew Harlan

I had nights not posting from this timeframe too. I called Marriott and a knowledgeable rep had them posted within minutes. I’d say it’s worth a call.

BigMac

This 5 elite nights credit is confusing. I reached 50 nights in 2018 about the middle of November. If I select this option now – before the 14th -then they credit to last year? What the heck good does that do? So I tried to take the SNA option – tried this morning but the site said I wasn’t qualified to have an award. Assume eventually this will get straightened out but my question is if say I only get 45 nights by the end of December 2019 can I get the additional 5 nights in January 2020?

Alicia

It counts into 2018, the only usage for picking 5 SNA that I can tell is when you are 70 nights in 2018 and 5 nights short to reach Platinum Premier.

UAPhil

Late evening on January 1, I tried to select the free night certificate for my 75 night award. The Web site allowed me to log on, but did not allow me to choose – it just gave me the 5 suite upgrades. I’ve EMAILed Customer Support to get this corrected – wish me luck :-).

TMount

I suspect what you saw was your 50 night selection. At least that is what appears for me. When I go to the link it will show my 50 night selection – I erroneously thought it had selected that for 75, but in the upper left you can see your choice history.

Amos

What counts towards the Platinum 50 choice and 75 choice? I can’t select my 75 choice from last year. I called Marriott and they said only paid nights count. Free night, or credit card nights don’t count. Does anyone have more information on this?
Thanks

Greg The Frequent Miler

The Marriott rep was wrong. All “qualifying nights” count. Qualifying nights do include award nights, credit card free nights, and paid nights. Not counted are nights booked through online travel agencies

Donnie .D

Re-qualified for platinum this year, with exactly 50 nights. 40 from actual stays and 10 for having the Amex SPG cards. Do you know if the 10 Amex nights counts?

Jeff

I’m having the same issue. I had 120 nights at the merger, and the vast majority of those (over 80) were Marriott. They made me an Ambassador for about 3 days, then quickly dropped me back down. I never received my choice either (was hoping to receive it twice since technically I qualified both before and after Merger).

When I called the support line, I was told that they had never made me ambassador (which is false, because it even showed me all the benefits etc) and that they didn’t know how to make my 50 and 75 night choices show up (but just wait and they’ll show up soon). That was a couple months ago…

Julie

I am trying to help a friend with this. Is there an easy way (since the redemption site is down) to see how many nights they earned last year? If I had been asked a few days ago, it would have been easier. I want to help her make the best choice for her situation, and she has no clue about any of this.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any way to see it. The best they can do is wait until the site is working again and log in to see if they are offered any choice benefits.

Marc

Do you know if the elite night credits count towards lifetime status? Thanks!

Greg The Frequent Miler

I don’t think so, but I’m not 100% sure.

Josh

I think they do, based on my experience

Platinum

I chose my 50 nights benefit in August when programs were combined and i had a combined 53 nghts. I don’t get another choice do I? I ended up with 64 nights in 2018.

Greg The Frequent Miler

No, you don’t get another choice unless/until you get to 50 nights in 2019

Blue

Given the complaining about SNAs not clearing/only triggering when you’d get the upgrade anyways I think that’s a pretty generous valuation.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yeah, I may have over valued those. I guess I’ll find out when I try to use them

Christopher

I haven’t even been notified about making a selection, I hit 50 nights last week

Greg The Frequent Miler

I wasn’t notified either, but if you log into the site (once it’s working again), you should be able to choose.

CaveDweller

Be Happy Folks with what we get from the Banks and Hotels too . FBN (Fox Bus. Network) just reported CC perks are down 13% year over year .The banks are tired of the ball and chain around their earning (Chase $300m in one quarter) so more downgrades are coming . Will the banks or hotel chains ever make it easy or transparent I don’t think so ..They love to ” Just say NO ” .HaHa on us…

CHEERs

Jeff

Can anybody add some details to how the “upgrade certificates” work? I get that many have reported they didn’t work, but when do you find out? Is the hotel required to confirm by a certain date?

I tend to be very comfortable flying by the seat of my pants with reservations, but if you don’t…can’t even find out whether or not the certificates work until day-of I already have my own process that is no worse than using the certificates.

Christopher

Jeff, you request an upgrade from the website, by clicking on the view/modify next to the reservation in your trips. They can be honored by the hotel(and thus notify you) up to 3 days before check-in. You can cancel your request up until this time if it hasn’t cleared, there are more details about canceling timeframe but I don’t know from memory and it’s not really necessary to give you the general idea. You can’t request a SNA if you make a reservation same day or day before. Some hotels have really great upgrade options, some are really lame, like an upgrade to a room that your platinum status would have already put you in(or better). Yet, they still might be the best option from the choices.

Jeff

Thanks for the clarification. This feels like such a tease. I would foresee myself leveraging these for some big family vacation trips (I’ll get 2 choices) to “guarantee” upgraded suites and justify coughing up 40,000+ points for a high-Category hotel, but if they’re just kind of at the whim of the hotel, and if the hotel decides what an “upgrade is” (Like, could they give me a “Corner Room” when I was really hoping for the “2-Bedroom”?) I feel like I might do better (or just as well) to continue rolling the dice with my Status and take the one “Free night” for each of my 2 picks.

If you only have to book the Upgrade online 1 night out, could I call the hotel say…2 nights before, tell them what I’m planning to do, and ask if I book right there on the phone could they lock in the room I want? Or will they tell me it’s all automated and it’s whatever the computer does?

These are really appealing as an option to get an upgrade if I can get some certainty out of them (even with a little legwork), but if it’s all a big gamble and these things just nudge me a little closer to getting a better room I think I’ll probably go with the free nights…

Christopher

Well, you get to see and pick your options for the upgrade when you choose to apply it. Real world example I just had a stay I used a SNA for. This hotel had about 7 room options to choose from. You can check as many boxes as you want to increase your chances for an upgrade. I checked about 4 boxes, and ended up getting the nicest room offered. Don’t expect to see many 2 bedroom room options tho, unless it’s a town place suites or similar.
Do note that the free room is only an option after 75 nights, not after 50 nights. If the free night was an option I would take that all day.
Also note if you do choose the 5 SNA I would request your upgrade as soon after booking as possible. Once you get into that 48 hour range the option starts to go away. It may also be first requested first upgraded, tho I couldn’t confirm that.

Jeff

That helps a lot, thank you again so much for helping me understand the process. This is likely a one-and-done scenario for me as I kinda gamed the meetings right before the program merger to qualify for Lifetime Platinum and don’t expect to reach 75 (or even 50) again in the near future. Sounds like I might as well do the 5 upgrades for the 50 level, and then the free night for the 75 level. I’m guessing the reason there is no mention of choosing again at 100 is that the bonuses cap out at 75?

Thanks again for the perspective, this really helps a ton.

TMount

The problem is with Marriott IT not allowing us to make a selection as of 1/1/19. Hopefully this gets resolved soon.

Bryan

+1. Not able to make a selection yet, either.

Nick

+1

Greg The Frequent Miler

Well, of course it’s broken. I should have expected that before scheduling this post. I’ve put a notice into the post about it. Thanks for letting us know!

Sophia

Just to clarify, a platinum 75 night elite can request 2 choices such as the 5 night suite awards and the free night award? Also, I didn’t see you mention which benefit you are choosing.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yes, you get one choice when you get to 50 nights and another when you get to 75. I’m leaning towards 10 suite night awards, but I’m a little hesitant because some have reported that they rarely work.

Jake from MSP

I have picked SNAs for at least one of my benefits for probably 6-7 years in a row.

To date, I have had ONE clear in advance, and it was in freezing Minneapolis in January a couple years ago…. AKA I probably got the same room I would have had I just waited for the complimentary upgrade in the ultra empty hotel.

Despite being Titanium, most of those nights came from the card and their issuance of “half” the number of nights needed to obtain status, and thus, I didn’t requalify for Titanium (ending with 61) and so I will only have one gift this year. Nevertheless, I’m 95% sure I’ll be choosing the 5 additional nights simply because it will bring me that much closer to the lifetime Plat status I’m seeking, which requires 10 years and 600 LTD “nights”. Looking right now, I’ve got 8 years and a little over 460 nights.

Something tells me I’d stupidly waste money if I was on the cusp of clinching 600 nights, so I kinda figure picking 5 more nights will mean I won’t blow money on a nearly pointless mattress run.