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What is the best Marriott Annual Gift Choice benefit? And what are they?

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As you read this, I am coming to the end of a week in a Marriott Bonvoy property. Once I check out I will – for the first time – trigger a ‘Marriott Annual Gift Choice benefit’ for reaching 50 nights in a year.

As I had to do a bit of research into this for my own use, I thought I would share my findings. What are Marriott Annual Gift Choice benefits for reaching 50 and 75 nights and which is the best option?

What is the best Marriott Annual Gift Choice benefit?

How did I hit 50 elite nights in 2020?!

For clarity, I haven’t actually done 50 Marriott nights this year! I got 15 elite night credits from having the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card – this is a benefit all cardholders receive each year:

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

If you apply for the card now, you should receive your 15 elite nights before the end of 2020. They seem to post within 1-2 weeks of application at the moment. You can apply here.

I was given 25 elite night credits as part of their coronavirus compensation package. This meant that I only needed to do 10 paid nights in 2020 to trigger my ‘choice benefit’.

50 nights would usually be enough to trigger Platinum Elite status too, but I already have this locked in for 2021 due to Marriott’s coronavirus compensation.

What are the Marriott Bonvoy Annual Gift Choice benefits?

On top of your usual elite status tiers – which I am not covering here for simplicity – Marriott Bonvoy offers two additional benefits for people who hit 50 and 75 elite nights in a calendar year.

You should be able to select your preferred benefit online within a few days of hitting the threshold. If you don’t make a choice by end of the first week of the following year, you are given 5 x Suite Night Awards by default.

Marriott does not provide a lot of information about these benefits online. The best page you can find is this one which tells you that you are not eligible (!) but at least does explain in detail what you are not eligible for!

What is the best Marriott Annual Gift Choice benefit?

What are the Annual Gift Choice benefits at 50 nights?

These are what I will be offered next week when I return from holiday, having hit 50 nights:

Five elite night credits

This is an interesting option. If you think you might have a chance of hitting 75 elite nights for Titanium Elite status, taking five elite nights may be worth it to get you on the way. This is highly unlikely to work for me given that we are now almost in November.

(The smart option would be to wait until 31st December to pick your 50 night benefit. You will then be certain whether the extra five nights would make the difference between hitting Titanium Elite or not – if not, choose another award.)

The five elite nights also count towards lifetime status. This HfP article explains how Marriott Bonvoy lifetime status works.

Note that you CANNOT ‘trick’ Bonvoy by waiting until 1st January 2021 and then choosing five elite night credits. They will still credit into your 2020 total.

5 x Suite Night Awards

This is what I will choose. Each award is good for a one-night upgrade into a premium room. Whilst they are called ‘Suite Night Awards’, they will generally book into higher category standard rooms or lower level standard suites. You won’t be getting the Presidential Suite.

Marriott being Marriott, there is small print galore.

Upgrades are not confirmed until at least five days before arrival so you can’t lock them in when booking. Once you have booked a room, you can use the ‘manage my booking’ process to see which room types are offered for SNA certificates and you can select which categories would be acceptable to you.

You need to upgrade your entire stay – you can’t use 5 awards to upgrade part of a 7-night holiday.

Hotels are not obliged to accept your SNA upgrade request just because they have a suitable suite or premium room available.

They expire on 31st December in the following year, so mine will be valid to 31st December 2021.

The following brands do NOT allow Suite Night Awards to be used: The Ritz-Carlton, EDITION, Protea, Aloft, Element, Design Hotels and the long-stay brands.

Give Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status to a friend

I don’t recommend this. Partly because Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status has few benefits (see the Marriott website here) and partly because you can get Silver Elite for free by taking out the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.

(The Bonvoy Amex comes with 15 elite night credits, and that is enough to automatically trigger Silver Elite.)

$100 benefit to WE

WE is a charity in Kenya supported by Marriott Bonvoy. You can learn more about WE on the Marriott website here.

Whilst this is a good cause, you will get more value from the Suite Night Awards. Taking a cold hard look at this, you could make a equivalent charitable donation from your own pocket – and reclaim Gift Aid – and effectively buy the Suite Night Awards for £15 each …..

40% off a mattress from any Marriott International brand

You’re either looking for a new mattress or you’re not …..

What is the best Marriott Annual Gift Choice benefit?

What are the Annual Gift Choice benefits at 75 nights?

If you hit 75 nights, you get another pick at an Annual Gift Choice benefit.

The options are the same as those above, with two differences:

You can now gift Gold Elite status to a friend instead of Silver Elite

This is a more valuable offer than giving away Silver Elite. However, the benefits of Gold Elite, which are explained here, are still slim – no free breakfast, no lounge access.

You can take a free night voucher valid at a hotel costing up to 40,000 points

This isn’t a bad deal, given that 40,000 points should get you a hotel selling for around £200. In Marriott speak, this is any hotel in Categories 1-5 or a Category 6 hotel on an off-peak date.

You cannot top up the voucher to get a more expensive hotel. The voucher lasts until 31st December in the following year (or the same year if you wait until the first week of January to pick your award).

To some extent, the option you choose at 75 nights may depend on what you took at 50 nights. If you took the 5 extra elite nights as your ’50’ award – to ensure you hit 75 nights – you might want the Suite Night Awards at 75. If you took the Suite Night Awards at 50, you might think that five is enough and that the free night voucher has more value at 75.

There is little value in taking five additional status night credits at 75 nights unless you are chasing lifetime status. Ambassador Elite status, the level triggered at 100 nights, also requires $20,000 of annual Marriott spend which you are unlikely to have achieved if many of your nights came from the credit card or the covid extra nights bonus.

Conclusion

In a normal year, the most important thing about hitting 50 nights or 75 nights would be acheiving or renewing your Platinum Elite or Titanium Elite status.

In 2020, the game is different. Anyone who already had status has had it rolled over. The only reason to push on to hit 50 or 75 nights in such circumstances is to trigger your extra Annual Gift Choice benefit. I hope this article has helped you decide whether it is worth it.

Comments (13)

  • riku says:

    I have found the suite night awards a waste of time. If you have platinum status they will probably upgrade you to a suite at check in anyway (without needing to use the award). I have even had my suite night request declined a few days before but when I checked in they upgraded me to a suite and the SNA’s didn’t have to be used.
    I think they are impressive on paper to those comparing the loyalty programs but if you have had platinum status a long time you will know that you don’t need a suite night award to get upgraded to a suite.

    • YC says:

      Interesting comment. I’m a few nights short of 50 but already platinum till March 2022. Weighing up pushing a few mattress runs/staycations for the 5SNA

      • Rich says:

        How can you see when your platinum status expires? Thanks

        • YC says:

          Feb22* as marriott had extended all status to this date earlier in the year. I don’t think I’ve seen a way of seeing expiry date for marriott. Happy to be proven wrong!

  • Dave says:

    With everybody getting their status extended, are we likely to see any further benefits to those of us who actually managed to achieve 50+ nights in 2020?
    For example could Marriott offer a further year of status or again give them half the qualifying night credits for 2021?

    Other than the SNAs it seems the benefits of doing 0 nights in 2020 is the same as doing 50.

    With Hilton recently announcing further beneficial changes I would expect Marriott may do something soon.

    • Harry T says:

      I suspect Marriott may dish out free nights in 2021 based on status earned in 2020. One of the reasons I’m pushing for Titanium this year, other than the various avenues Marriott have used to make Plat easy to obtain.

      • YC says:

        Similar thinking which may push me to do a few more nights this year – although this is for 50 rather than 75

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        Yes, ditto I’m at 69 so may or may not need to use the 5 elite night credits but either way aim is to use the freebie nights they gave based on last years status as base to reach titanium

        Question – do the 5 elite nights count towards lifetime?

    • Hassan says:

      I have asked Marriott Twitter Account on this same matter, and they replied that currently status would not be extended for a further year or any other perks, except for your annual gift choice. Whether or not they change their minds probably depends on ability to travel in the next coming months. Hope this helps.

  • Berneslai says:

    Good luck in using your SNAs. I’ve never managed to use more than 2. Either you get rejected or upgraded anyway.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      The upgraded anyway thing is probably true. However, sometimes you don’t want to just leave it to probably. I think they’re powerful tools in normal times but the next year you’ll probably end up with a decent upgrade anyway

  • ChrisC says:

    O/T fot this thread but it is Marriott related.

    They have been fined £18.4m for their data breach, IIRC the potential fine was approx £100m

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-54748843