Marriott Bonvoy will be overhauling its Suite Night Awards for 2024.
The changes are generally positive, I think, but the change of name to ‘Nightly Upgrade Awards’ gives you a clue about a potential downside.
You can find full details on the Marriott website here.
Let’s go back to first principles, however.
How do you get Marriott Bonvoy Nightly Upgrade Awards?
Nightly Upgrade Awards are one of the ‘Marriott Annual Choice Benefits’ for reaching 50 and 75 nights in a year.
Marriott does not provide a lot of information about these Annual Choice Benefits. The best page you can find is this one.
You should be able to select your preferred benefit online within a few days of hitting the 50 or 75-night 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.
This HfP article looks at the different options you can choose. For most people the five Nightly Upgrade Awards are the best option.
Here a few bits of small print to bear in mind:
- you need to upgrade your entire stay – you can’t use five awards to upgrade part of a 7-night holiday
- hotels are not obliged to accept your NUA upgrade request just because they have a suitable suite or premium room available
- They expire on 31st December in the following year. Note that if you wait until 1st January in the following year to choose them, you only get them for that year. Marriott is onto that little trick!
How do Marriott Bonvoy Nightly Upgrade Awards work from 2024?
Each award is good for a one night upgrade into a premium room or suite.
Change No 1:
From 2024, upgrades will not be confirmed until at least three days before arrival. This is a change from the current five days before arrival.
The plan appears to be that Marriott wants to encourage hotels to put more rooms into the upgrade pool by maximising the window they have to sell them for cash.
Change No 2:
You will be able to use your Nightly Upgrade Awards at more hotels.
The Ritz-Carlton, EDITION, Aloft, Element and Protea hotels will now be included. Element is very small, Protea is mainly in Africa and Aloft hotels don’t have many suites, so the real benefit here is from The Ritz-Carlton and EDITION.
The only brands which are now excluded are Design Hotels and the long-stay and ‘vacation club’ brands.
Change No 3:
Once you have booked a room, you can use the ‘manage my booking’ process to see which room types are offered for Nightly Upgrade Award certificates. You can select which categories would be acceptable to you.
In my experience, the ranges of rooms varies widely. Some properties will offer you five potential upgrades including their top suite. Others only offer smaller suites or even just premium rooms.
From 2024, more room types will be included BELOW suite level. This is not necessarily a problem because you can select the upgrades you are willing to accept. If only a suite will do, then you can just tick the boxes for full suite upgrades.
How do Nightly Upgrade Awards work in practice?
Here is an example of what I saw at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport for a stay I had last year. The ticks show the options I was willing to accept. In the end, it cleared into the Club Suite, the best option.
Here are some of the upgrades I got in 2022 with my Nightly Upgrade Awards. I had 10 to use during the year.
Courtyard London Gatwick Airport
I used two SNA certificates here on two separate stays. Both cleared into a Junior Suite (below). This would probably be seen as a ‘waste’ of a SNA but as I had so many to burn ….
The University Arms, Cambridge
I had three SNAs clear here across two separate stays – it seems that if you book two rooms you can upgrade both. The results were OUTSTANDING.
On one occasion we got a rooftop suite with a huge terrace and a bathroom in the ‘turret’ on the roof (below) and on another I got the Stephen Hawking Suite which is the biggest in the hotel.
Le Meridien, Hamburg
I reviewed my Le Meridien Hamburg stay here so I won’t repeat myself. I got a Prestige Lake Suite which is as good as it gets.
The St Regis, New York
This was an example of a hotel which doesn’t make much available via the SNA route. The best I was offered despite booking well in advance was a larger standard room, which I took and which cleared.
On check-in, I was upgraded to a full suite as a Titanium Elite member of Marriott Bonvoy. It was actually smaller than the suites I had been given on my two previous stays at the same hotel where I hadn’t used an SNA. Did the SNA even make a difference?
The St Regis, Venice
I can’t remember what I was offered here when I picked the upgrades I was willing to accept. I ended up in a ‘Venetian Suite’ which was selling for €1,700 per night vs the €1,000 standard room which I’d actually booked on points.
I didn’t like the room or indeed the hotel as my St Regis Venice review shows, but the upgrade did clear.
Sheraton Frankfurt Airport
As I mentioned earlier, my SNA cleared into a huge Club Suite which I reviewed here. Again, I had issues with the hotel but the upgrade worked out OK.
Le Meridien Paris Etoile
This is a hotel that I would never have chosen if it wasn’t for the fact that I had a Marriott Bonvoy free night voucher to use, but only up to 40,000 points of value. This was my only Paris option at that level.
I reviewed Le Meridien Paris Etoile here. My SNA cleared into a full suite, albeit this was actually two bedrooms which had been merged together. This meant two bathrooms, two wardrobes etc and a generally odd feel to the space. Look at the picture below – there is a headboard above the sofa!
On balance – trading off the ability to use the Nightly Upgrade Award certificates at more brands, vs the move to only confirm them from three days out – I think these changes are an overall improvement.
What could change my view is if we see hotels offering up additional ‘premium’ rooms whilst removing suites for the upgrade options.
Of course, you also need to remember one key thing. Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador members of Marriott Bonvoy are meant to get decent upgrades, including suites, WITHOUT using vouchers. It’s an elite benefit.
On this basis, you could argue that the Nightly Upgrade Awards should be far more generous. Perhaps they should be confirmed at the time of booking (as Hyatt does with its suite award certificates) or at least confirmable 14 days out (as IHG now does). Importantly, Hyatt and IHG also guarantee that your upgrade will clear if an eligible room is available for cash, which Marriott does not.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (December 2023)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)