Marriott Bonvoy previously introduced Annual Choice Benefit-options for members that reach 50 and 75 nights per calendar year and I want to have a closer look what might be the best pick for the Titanium qualification level (75 nights).
Marriott Bonvoy sometimes doesn’t email eligible members after they reach the night requirements to select the award, but you can do it using the link below. I didn’t get an email for my 50 night choice and it took roughly 5 days after my 50th night posted until I was able to make my selection.
This time Marriott did email me after I reached 75 nights:
You’ve earned an additional Annual Choice Benefit because you’ve stayed at least 75 eligible nights with participating Marriott Bonvoy™ hotels this year. Select your second Annual Choice Benefit from six options,* including one Free Night Award and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for a family member, friend or colleague.
We understand world events have had an impact on everyone’s travel plans, including yours. Please stay healthy, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon.
If a member doesn’t make a choice, Marriott will choose the Suite Night Awards as a default option each January which isn’t necessarily the best option.
You can access Marriott’s page for choosing Choice-benefit here.
You must make the 2019 Annual Elite Benefits Choice by 11:59PM ET on January 15, 2021 for both 50 and 75 nights levels.
Here are the 75 Night Choice Benefit-options offered to me this round:
On the face of it the Five Elite Nights Credits-option is only useful if it helps you to reach the next tier which in this case would be 100 nights (plus $20,000 spend) for Ambassador, otherwise it won’t help you any further in hard benefits.
There is however an extra value proposition with these five nights:
The Terms & Conditions of the Bonvoy program now state that these nights will count towards the lifetime status:
E. Five Elite Night Credits
(1) Upon an eligible Platinum Elite Member selecting the Five Elite Night Credits as his/her Annual Choice Benefit, the Platinum Member will have his/her Member Account credited with five (5) bonus Elite Nights which count toward earning Elite status and Lifetime Elite status. Elite Nights and Elite membership status are subject to the Program Rules in section 4.2.b.
(2) The five (5) Elite Night Credits will be reflected in the Member Account within forty-eight (48) hours of the receipt of the confirmation of the Annual Choice Benefit selection.
(3) Elite Nights that are awarded to an eligible Platinum Elite Member as the Platinum Elite Member’s Annual Choice Benefit will be awarded in the Eligible Status Year for which the Elite Nights were earned, regardless of when the Platinum Elite Member selects the Five Elite Night Credits as his/her Annual Choice Benefit. For the avoidance of doubt, the Eligible Calendar Year in which the Annual Choice Benefit is earned is the Eligible Calendar Year for which the Elite Nights will be credited toward earning Elite membership status.
That moves the value of the five bonus nights into a different dimension, especially if you’re relatively close to Lifetime Status and can’t really use any of the other options.
I already picked the extra five nights for my 50 Night Choice Benefit because at that level there aren’t any attractive awards around.
This time for my 75 level I’m most likely to select the free night certificate for a night up to 40,000 points in value.
There is already a free night certificate from the Bonvoy Amex in my account which is good for a night up to 35,000 points value. I just hope I’ll be able to properly utilize these two certificates within the next 12 months at properties with a decent value, obviously contingent on the opening of countries for traveling.
In the past I’ve been able to get a return value of $150-200 for such a free night. Five lifetime nights are worth approximately the same but of course you could also argue lifetime nights are worth zero if you’re just patient and wait until you get them clocked in anyway. As of this week I’m at 515 with many more coming and an additional 15 from the credit card waiting in January.
People often misunderstand the selection process and believe that the Elite Night Credits apply for the membership year when the choice is made, which is incorrect. It applies for the year when they were earned. The credits that are earned in 2020 will only count towards the status in 2020, even if the actual choice is made in 2021.
The elite night options-are only useful if they allow you to reach 75 or 100 nights level, and the latter one also requires a minimum of $20,000 eligible spend. Lifetime nights could be a consideration too.
Suite Night Awards can be useful for some, but I have found them to be mostly useless and would instead choose something else. They are valid until the end of next year when they were earned (not when selected). All SNAs earned in 2020 are valid until December 31, 2021.
The free night award at the 75 nights level is my preferred choice. The options at the 50 nights level are not great. Previously, SPG members were able to choose a free night award at this level too, but Marriott discontinued that option. The free night award must be used by the end of the following year when it was earned. Again, earned not when the choice was made.