fbpx

Select Your 2021 Marriott Bonvoy Choice Benefits

Marriott Bonvoy members who achieve 50 or 75 elite qualifying nights during a calendar year are entitled to an Annual Choice Benefit, which entitles them to choose one of several different benefits that may enhance their Marriott Bonvoy experience.

The Choice Benefit is now live for 2021, and members who have already crossed the 50- or 75-night thresholds can go ahead and complete their selection.

I imagine many of us will have reached these thresholds at a faster pace than usual due to Marriott’s generous disbursement of 50% bonus elite nights for all members based on their 2020 elite status, as well as the Double Points + Double Elite Nights promotion that’s currently underway.

If that’s the case for you, let’s take a look at what Annual Choice Benefits are available for you to pick from. 

How to Select Your Annual Choice Benefit

You can head to the dedicated page on the Marriott website to complete your Annual Choice Benefit selection.

You’ll be prompted to log in to your Marriott Bonvoy account, and then you can make either one or two Choice Benefit selections depending on which elite night thresholds you’ve crossed.

visual of all marriot choice benefits

Once your selections are made, they’re final and cannot be changed.

The deadline for making your selection for the 2021 Annual Choice Benefits is January 7, 2022; if you haven’t made your selection by this date, you’ll receive the set of five Suite Night Awards as a default benefit for both the 50- and 75-night Choice Benefits.

However, at least in the case of the 75-night Choice Benefit, it can often make sense to wait until early 2022 (between January 1 and January 7) to finalize your selection, as we’ll discuss below.

Annual Choice Benefits at 50 Elite Qualifying Nights

Upon earning 50 elite qualifying nights in a calendar year, you’ll get to choose one of the following rewards as a Choice Benefit:

  • Five Suite Night Awards
  • Five extra elite qualifying nights
  • 40% off a Marriott hotel bed
  • A US$100 charity donation
  • The ability to gift Silver Elite status to another member

Personally, I think the best choice here is the set of five Suite Night Awards, which allow you to request (but not necessarily confirm) an eligible suite upgrade on up to five nights’ worth of hotel stays over the upcoming year.

After confirming a hotel reservation, you have the ability to apply Suite Night Awards to a select suite that the hotel makes available for Suite Night Award upgrades.

Starting five days before your stay, the system will begin checking with the hotel whether your Suite Night Awards can “clear” into your desired suite upgrade. If so, your suite upgrade will be confirmed prior to your arrival; however, there’s no guarantee that they will clear, and the suite upgrade may still be denied in the end, with your Suite Night Awards being returned to your account.

Fantastic Bund View Suite at the W Shanghai The Bund
Fantastic Bund View Suite at the W Shanghai The Bund, which I booked using a Suite Night Award.

Each night of your booking will require one Suite Night Award, so you could use your set of five Suite Night Awards towards a single five-night stay, five separate one-night stays, a two-night stay and a three-night stay, etc. Certain brands, such as Ritz-Carlton and EDITION, are excluded from Suite Night Awards. Prepaid stays are also not eligible.

Altogether, the value proposition of Suite Night Awards is somewhat lacking, because they can’t be used to guarantee a suite upgrade after all – they’re simply a more official tool for requesting a suite upgrade than the art of “suite-talking”, but the latter could still net you very impressive results when aiming to score some memorable hotel suites.

Nevertheless, I still find Suite Night Awards useful in those circumstances when I really want to confirm a suite upgrade, such as when I’m travelling with Jessy on a special occasion.

In these instances, I apply Suite Night Awards to give myself the best shot at confirming an upgrade five days in advance, and I’ll fall-back on my suite-talking abilities if the Suite Night Awards don’t clear. And if a Suite Night Award request does clear, you can often suite-talk your way to an even bigger suite!

Overwater Bure Villa at the Marriott Resort Fiji Momi Bay
Overwater Bure Villa at the Marriott Resort Fiji Momi Bay, which I booked using a Suite Night Award.

That’s why I think the set of five Suite Night Awards is the best choice at the 50-night level, with the only other potentially useful benefit being the five extra elite qualifying nights.

These nights will count towards your elite qualification for 2021, not for next year’s requalification in 2022. So they’d only be useful if you were gunning for an even higher status than Platinum Elite, such as Titanium Elite at 75 elite qualifying nights.

With the significant bestowal of elite nights that many of us are receiving this year, it might just be worth aiming for Titanium Elite if you’ll be getting close to it anyway, so that you’ll enjoy better treatment than the “masses” of Platinum Elite members that we’ll be seeing over the next few years.

If that’s your plan, then the Annual Choice Benefit here could get you five nights closer to Titanium.

Meanwhile, a 40% discount on a Marriott hotel bed is a great choice for anyone who was in the market for a Marriott hotel bed (especially considering the prices on some of those things), but pretty worthless for everyone else.

Similarly, you’d be better off making your own US$100 charity donation since you’d at least get a tax receipt. And Silver Elite status would be a rather pitiful gift for another member, given the very limited benefits you enjoy as a Silver Elite, not to mention the fact that anyone can earn this status simply by applying for the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card or American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business Card.

Annual Choice Benefits at 75 Elite Qualifying Nights

Upon earning 75 elite qualifying nights in a calendar year, you’ll get to choose one of the following rewards as a Choice Benefit:

  • A Free Night Award worth up to 40,000 Bonvoy points
  • Five Suite Night Awards
  • Five extra elite qualifying nights
  • 40% off a Marriott hotel bed
  • A US$100 charity donation
  • The ability to gift Gold Elite status to another member

Personally, I think the Free Night Award worth up to 40,000 Bonvoy points is the clear winner here.

Whereas Suite Night Awards offer potential value that’s not guaranteed, the Free Night Award can be cashed in for a one-night stay that would’ve otherwise cost you either your hard-earned cash or your hard-earned points.

You can redeem this Free Night Award at a Category 5 hotel on any date. Alternatively, if you wanted to maximize its usage, you could aim for a Category 6 hotel on an off-peak date, which would otherwise cost you exactly 40,000 Bonvoy points.

outside view at Wailea Beach Marriott Resort Maui
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort Maui, where I had redeemed a 40,000-point Free Night Award.

Note that the Free Night Award you get from the 75-night Choice Benefit will carry an expiration date of December 31 in the year after it was selected. So unless you have immediate plans to redeem the Free Night Award for its maximum value, it would make sense to wait until early January 2022 to officially make your selection.

This way, your Free Night Award would have an expiration date of December 31, 2023, rather than December 31, 2022. You’d be giving yourself an extra year’s time to redeem the Free Night Award in optimal fashion.

(Of course, if you do plan to use your free night in 2021, then you should plan ahead – the Free Night Award can take up to two weeks to show up in your account after making your selection.)

Similar to the 50-night level, the other 75-night Choice Benefits are rather uninspiring.

Five extra elite qualifying nights may be useful if you’re gunning for Ambassador Elite status at 100 elite nights. Of course, Ambassador Elite also requires spending US$14,000 with Marriott to qualify for this year (temporarily lowered from the standard spending requirement of US$20,000), which I imagine is out of reach for most of us.

The only other distinct benefit at the 75-night level is the ability to gift Gold Elite status to another member. But again, Gold Elite isn’t the most useful elite status level in the first place, and it can easily be earned as a perk of signing up for the American Express Platinum Card or American Express Business Platinum Card.

My Strategy for 2021 Marriott Bonvoy Choice Benefits

Given my thoughts as outlined above, I’ll be going ahead and choosing a set of five Suite Night Awards for my 50-night Choice Benefit.

Since I’m still sitting on six Suite Night Awards that have been extended through 2021 due to the pandemic, I’ll have a total of 11 Suite Night Awards in my account – six expiring at the end of 2021, and five expiring at the end of 2022.

graphic of how suite night rewards work

Meanwhile, I’ve yet to earn 75 elite qualifying nights for 2021 just yet, but I expect to do so very soon (having earned 68 elite nights without completing a single stay, thanks to my US-issued personal and business Marriott Bonvoy credit cards and the 50% bonus elite nights this year).

Even after crossing the 75-night threshold, however, I plan to wait until early 2022 to make my Choice Benefit selection and choosing the Free Night Award worth 40,000 Bonvoy points. This way, my Free Night Award will be valid through to the end of 2023, giving me ample time to decide on the optimal redemption.

(Of course, I might always stumble upon a great use for the 40,000-point Free Night Award sometime this year, in which case I would select the Choice Benefit earlier. But I think it’s unlikely, since, as I’m sure is the case with many of you as well, I’m still sitting on a good handful of Free Night Awards that have been extended into 2021 due to the pandemic.)

Conclusion

Marriott Bonvoy‘s Annual Choice Benefits for 2021 are now live, and those of us who have already crossed the 50- or 75-night thresholds can go ahead and make our selection. 

Among the Choice Benefits that you can choose from, I would personally pick the five Suite Night Awards at the 50-night level and the Free Night Award at the 75-night level, and I’d consider delaying my selection for the latter benefit in order to extend its expiration date through to 2023. 

I must say that I would’ve loved to see Marriott mixing things up a bit and offering new Choice Benefits this year (perhaps as a way to incentivize members to book upcoming travels with greater enthusiasm), but I suppose that would’ve been too much to ask of the Bonvoy program after all. 

11 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Stephane Delisle-Lavoie

    This is a follow up to Al’s question…I now have 56 nights and 14 more are coming up, so I can choose the 5 extra nights as a platinum member right now to reach 75 nights by the end of April until Feb 2023? The assumption is that the 5 nights post right away.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      That’s correct.

  2. Avatar
    Duane

    Thanks Ricky for the update! Taking the 40% of a bed this year, moving! Did you get your years with status updated yet? Seems to be taking forever this year.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Mine hasn’t updated either, so I’m still patiently awaiting that sweet sweet Lifetime Gold…

      1. Avatar
        Duane

        Well, this is promising…

        Thank you for contacting Marriott Bonvoy™.

        I regret to inform you that we have not been notified when the 2020 tenure year will be added to accounts. It may be added late March or early April or early 2022.

        Thank you for being our guest and a valued member of Marriott Bonvoy™.

  3. Avatar
    Al

    If I understand correctly, you can choose 1 benefit when you reach Platinum and if you reach Titanium in the same year, you can choose another benefit? That means as Titanium you can have 5 suite night award and the Free night award? Mistakenly, I though Titanium only entitles you for more choices for award, not addition awards. Thanks

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Correct. One Choice Benefit at 50 nights and another one at 75 nights.

  4. Avatar
    Max

    Ricky, I obtained Plat status via US Brilliant promo and its not allowing me to choose benefit even though I am Plat. What is going on?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      You need to earn 50 elite qualifying nights first.

  5. Avatar
    Jay*

    Great to see you most likely making the 75 night Choice Benefit selection later this time 😌.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Got called out for it on here a while back, so now I’m paying more attention. 😉

Ricky

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have an Account? Click here to Login