Here’s Which Marriott Choice Benefits You Should Select

Marriott Bonvoy lets members select ‘choice benefits’ when they reach 50 and 75 nights. You need to select your benefits earned in 2021 by January 7, 2022. So if you haven’t done so yet, clock is ticking. Here’s what you should do.

I should note that I’m a Titanium (75 night elite) for 2022. I did not stay 75 nights with Marriott. Instead,

  • They gave everyone 50% of the elite nights required to re-up their current level this year, in my case Platinum which requires 50 nights (25 free nights)
  • I received 15 nights each from my Marriott personal and small business card (30 nights)
  • I then selected 5 elite nights as my 50 night choice benefit (5 nights)
  • So I had 60 nights and I stayed 15 nights, split about evenly between paid nights and award nights. One of these was a cheap paid mattress run a few days ago to get my 75th night.

At 50 nights you can choose:

  • Five Elite Night Credits to your 2021 total. Even if you choose these at the start of 2022, they count as 2021 elite nights not as a head start earning status next year.
  • 5 suite night awards. These rarely clear but may get you a better room.
  • 40% off a Marriott-branded bed which are priced too high to start with, years ago I liked the W beds – my 2007 purchase was great but a 2014 purchase seemed much lower quality.
  • Gift Marriott Silver status “to a family member, friend or colleague” although I’m not sure someone would consider you a friend for this, maybe it’s for a family member you don’t like much – there’s no real benefit promise other than 10% extra points earned for your spend during stays but if you aren’t already Silver you don’t stay much.
  • Charity donations, $100 to either the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund, UNICEF, or World Wildlife Fund (WWF). They replaced WE Charity earlier this year, I had pointed out when choice options launched for 2021 that they were in the midst of a scandal in Canada.

I chose 5 elite nights because it would help me get Titanium. It’s usually a good idea to wait to decide what benefits you want until you know what will serve you best. At this point with only a couple of weeks left to pick you probably have a good handle on that.

For most – assuming 5 elite nights won’t push you over the top to the next level (Titanium, or Ambassador if you’ve also hit this year’s $14,000 spend requirement) then the best option for most is Suite Night Awards even though you shouldn’t be too optimistic about your chances of using them especially on U.S. hotel stays.

For the 75 night choice benefit, Gold status replaces silver and they add a free night option.

  • Five Elite Night Credits to your 2021 total. Even if you choose these at the start of 2022, they count as 2021 elite nights not as a head start earning status next year.
  • 5 suite night awards. These rarely clear but may get you a better room.
  • Free night award up to 40,000 points. This becomes easier to use with Marriott starting to allow topping off a stay with extra points for a more expensive room redemption (you’re gonna need it).
  • 40% off a Marriott-branded bed which are priced too high to start with, years ago I liked the W beds – my 2007 purchase was great but a 2014 purchase seemed much lower quality.
  • Gift Marriott Gold status. This is better than a hole in the head.. 2pm late checkout, probably avoid the room over the HVAC, and you don’t pay extra for faster internet speed.
  • Charity donations, $100 to either the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund, UNICEF, or World Wildlife Fund (WWF). They replaced WE Charity earlier this year, I had pointed out when choice options launched for 2021 that they were in the midst of a scandal in Canada.

There are 2 potential reasons a 75 night elite would want to add 5 elite nights,

  1. To push them over the top to Ambassador (they’ve stayed 95-99 nights but have spent $14,000+)
  2. Credit towards lifetime status (which is based on years at a status lifetime and total nights stayed)

I value all of the non-charity options at over $100. And I’m never quite confident that selecting a charity for a $100 donation really means that the travel company gives $100 more than they otherwise would have donated. I do my charitable giving directly, though I do not talk about that much for reasons outlined the 12th century.

The relevant options here are Suite Night Awards and a free up to 40,000 point reward night. I’ve dithered a bit between the two and ultimately I think I’m going to go with Suite Night Awards.

  • The free night is the ‘sure thing’ and I value 40,000 points at $240

  • On the other hand I have 3 free night certificates in my account already and a seven figure point balance

  • For break-even five suite night awards, if I use them all, need to be worth more than $48 per night. I’m not sure that they are or that I’ll successfully use them.

The truth is that I enjoy a better room, find a harder time getting one with Marriott than Hyatt, and stay with Marriott when there’s not a comparable Hyatt option and when the better room doesn’t matter as much. I just think I’ll get more joy out of possibly getting an upgrade from Marriott, something I basically never get at check-in based on status alone in any meaningful way (maybe a marginally better view or a slightly bigger room).

So I’m going to ignore the math here and just say I don’t need the free night and I’ll enjoy the possible upgrade more if it comes through. In other words I’m going to waste money, perhaps frivolously, on something I’ll enjoy.

Why is it a waste? Because I’m probably better off taking the free night, saving $240 in cash I’d otherwise spend on a room, and using that cash for a better room on another stay or indeed on something other than a Marriott upgrade I’ll enjoy more. I’m going to do the thing that’s irrational because I’m rational enough to know that I’ll enjoy the irrationality.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It is beyond pathetic that elite status customers who legitimately qualified for 2021 status in 2020 and again qualified in 2021 for 2022 status are basically receiving nothing from Marriott. Meanwhile, they gut the value of the program by removing award-redemption charts. I don’t even want to know what upscale hotels in London, Paris, etc. will cost. I suspect the Courtyards and lower-end brands will see a boom in business because there’s no way I’m paying 100,000 or more points per night for a Marriott, Renaissance or Sheraton just to sleep.

  2. Thanks for posting the article on giving. I believe Aquinas had a rather lengthy section on giving as well that was pretty good (if I remember correctly).

  3. Gary thank you for promoting the charity rules of Maimonides.
    If only people would rise to at least level 7. Level 8 is my dream…..

  4. So if you made a selection when you were platinum elite (50 nights) and then became a titanium elite do you get to keep what you picked when you were platinum elite and then get to add on another benefit after hitting 75 nights?

  5. @Gary, I’m surprised (but also glad to hear) that you too have a hard time at getting a bonafide room upgrade from Marriott, which promises “Enhanced room upgrades” in their program rules. “Enhanced room upgrades” is a bullshit PR term that has no definition and is not backed up by Marriott headquarters. I feel better now. Thanks.

  6. If you choose the free night in room up to the 40K points as the second gift, How Long or When does the free night expire?? 6 months or 1 year?

  7. @WG – 12/31/22, regardless of when you select it.

    @garyleff – hotel programs have mostly been silent about 2022 qualification for 2023, does that means they have made up their minds and things are back to as published or that they haven’t made up their minds. If CES cancels, that may start the dominoes for 2022 business travel.

  8. @Stefan Krasowski – They were taking a wait and see attitude towards all of this, many businesses were planning return to work in January and even with the emergence of Omicron it’s not clear how long lasting it will be. Hard to imagine we will not be seeing promotions in 2022 to accelerate status earn. Published criteria are back where there’s been no announcement otherwise but we’ll see it easier to hit those targets.

  9. I have 103 nights this year. And I’m having a hard time choosing my next benefit. Wish they had just another free night. Thanks for posting this I think you’re right, should try and get the lifetime nights in so I might just get the 5 additional nights!

  10. I’m at 63 nights at the moment. I kept my Platinum selection open, expecting to use it to bump up my nights count but then Marriott pushed all current statuses into 2022 thus extending my Titanium. At this point the only reason to strive for 75 nights would have been the 40k cert and clearly I gave up on it.

    Now the most logical choice to make is suite award but those don’t clear much and I already have 5 anyways.

    I am in search of a new mattress though so I’m leaning towards the 40% off coupon. I used to have a W mattress but over time my wife started feeling uncomfortable on it. I’m thinking about most expensive stuff they have – Ritz mattress. Those go over $3K but with 40% off they’d be much more reasonably priced. Any experience with those? My biggest question, if we end up not liking it and have to return, do I get the 40% coupon back to try another Marriott-brand mattress or do I only have one time to make the right choice? Any idea?

  11. I have a bunch of suite nights and I have NEVER had one clear. Well, that’s not strictly true as I have had a seven night stay at the Walnut Creek Marriott confirmed, with a confirmation email which was show at checkin and they simply shrugged their shoulders. The regular room with a view of a stucco wall 10 feet away was, I am assured, a decent substitute.

    Now I see that, for example, an upgrade to a king room is presented when I try to use a suite upgrade, or a room with a view instead of a suite. In fact, I haven’t found a suite offered on ANY recent checks.

    Which is why I’m writing this from the Oakland Marriott, which is on a whole other level by comparison to Walnut Creek – though they, too, offered a view of the city as a suite upgrade.

    Marriott has become the high cost, low service, poor relative of the family. As a Lifetime Titanium Elite, I thought I was set with Marriott for ever. After the recent history, not so much.

    Back to rewards, I want something that Marriott cannot wriggle out of, finesse, or downgrade after I’ve chosen it. So, I’ll take the free night.

  12. I won’t take the Suite Awards again, I’ve never needed to use them and I get upgraded anyway.

  13. @Gary,

    Hope you can help. I had a stay at a hotel where I checked out on December 27, 2021 for 6 nights which has not posted to my Marriott Bonvoy Account. All stays since then have, however. I spoke with the hotel manager and he says they processed the points transaction and elite nights on December 29, 2021 and he actually looked up my folio and spent a good 10 minutes on the phone with me thus I am inclined to believe what he has stated. These 6 nights will exactly qualify me for Titanium Status and a choice benefit of which I would like to choose the free night. However, I can’t file a claim with Marriott until after January 7th since they require 10 business days after checkout. Since the Titanium elite choice benefit has to be chosen by January 7, 2022 and I likely will not have this issue resolved by then, how would I go about selecting the choice benefit I actually would like since through no fault of my own Marriott has bungled the process of posting the stay which would qualify?

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