On top of your usual elite status tiers, 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.
The cut off for choosing your 2023 Annual Choice Benefit is 7th January – so you need to act now if you haven’t already done so and don’t want the 5 x Suite Night Awards.
How do I hit 50 elite nights?
Frankly, it isn’t possible for me to do 50 elite nights at any single hotel chain in a year. I have managed to trigger Annual Choice Benefits for the last four years, however.
I get 15 elite night credits each year from having the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card – this is a benefit all cardholders receive each year:
If you apply for the card now, you should receive your 15 elite nights within two weeks. Going forward, they appear in the first few days of January. You can apply here. Our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Amex credit card is here.
I am typing this on 2nd January and my 15 nights for 2024 have already arrived:
For clarity, these 15 nights DO count towards lifetime status.
This means that I only need to do 35 nights per year, including reward nights, to maintain Platinum status. In reality the actual figure has been lower in recent years due to ‘double night credit’ promotions and covid mitigation policies.
What are the Marriott Bonvoy Annual Choice Benefits?
You can qualify for two Annual Choice Benefits per calendar year:
- one is triggered for hitting 50 nights
- one is triggered for hitting 75 nights
The options are slightly different for each. To make your strategising more complex, one of the options at 50 nights is ‘5 elite nights’ which you might take if you want to make it easier to get to 75 nights.
Marriott does not provide a lot of information about these benefits online. The best page you can find is this one.
What are the Annual Choice Benefits at 50 nights?
Here are your options:
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.
(The smart option is to wait until December to pick your 50 night benefit, if you are considering the five elite night credits. 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.
However, there is little point in selecting this option now if you haven’t already made your 2023 choice unless you ended 2023 on between 70 and 74 nights. You CANNOT ‘trick’ Bonvoy by waiting until January and then choosing five elite night credits, hoping they will drop into your new membership year. They are always backdated to the membership year in which you earned the Annual Choice Benefit.
5 x Suite Night Awards
This is what I 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 can get lucky and do a lot better, however.
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. You can select which categories would be acceptable to you.
Here is an example of what I was offered at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport for a stay in early 2022. You can see which options I was willing to accept. The upgrade cleared into the top suite.
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 (unless you select them now, in early January, in which case they are only valid for the current year).
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.
IMPORTANT: Change is coming ….
Suite Night Awards will soon be rebranded as Nightly Upgrade Awards. See our article on Nightly Upgrade Awards here.
There are three key changes coming:
- upgrades will not be confirmed until at least three days before arrival compared to the current five days
- 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.
- more non-suite rooms will be added to the rooms you can select as acceptable upgrades
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 charity donation
The charity offered tends to change each year, but you can see some of those supported by Marriott 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 an equivalent charitable donation from your own pocket – and reclaim Gift Aid – and effectively buy the Suite Night Awards for £15 each …..
Get $1,000 off a bed from any Marriott International brand
You’re either looking for a new bed or you’re not …..
What are the Annual Choice Benefits at 75 nights?
If you hit 75 nights, you get another pick at an Annual 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.
You can top up your voucher with an additional 15,000 points from your existing points balance. This will allow you to book a hotel costing up to 55,000 points which opens higher quality properties.
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 five 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 $23,000 of annual Marriott spend which you are unlikely to have achieved if many of your nights came from the credit card.
If you have yet to select your Annual Choice Benefit for hitting 50 or 75 Marriott Bonvoy nights in 2023, you have just four days left.
That said …. if you don’t choose, Marriott will give you the five Suite Night Awards by default, and for most people these are the best option.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (February 2024)
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.
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)
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.)