Marriott Choice Benefit Valuations. Which to pick?

If you have completed 50 nights at Marriott & SPG hotels through the calendar year, then you are eligible to pick a “Choice Benefit”.  A second Choice Benefit is available for those who complete 75 nights.  Here’s the website for selecting your benefit: choice-benefit.marriott.com/en-us/marriott-rewards/benefits.

Note that if you acquired Platinum status through a status challenge, credit card spend, etc., you won’t get to pick a Choice Benefit unless you also complete 50 nights within a calendar year.

Selection Deadline: January 14th

If you don’t make a choice by January 14th, you’ll get the “5 Suite Night Awards” choice automatically.

50 Night Choices

  • 5 Elite Night Credits: These add to your prior year total if you wait until January to make your selection.  In other words, you can use this choice to help you get to the next level of status (75 night or 100 night, but 100 night status also requires $20K Marriott spend).
  • 5 Suite Night Awards: Each Suite Night Award is a one-night confirmable upgrade to a standard suite or select premium room, depending on the hotel’s availability of those rooms. The number of Suite Night Awards used must match the entire length of stay; it cannot be used for part of a stay (e.g., the first two nights of a five-night stay). Once Suite Night Awards are requested to be applied to a stay, Marriott will begin checking upgrade availability 5 days in advance of your stay, up until 2pm on the day of your arrival. If your Suite Night Award request doesn’t clear, you’ll get the awards back to be used later.
  • Gift Silver Elite Status
  • $100 Charity Donation: Make a $100 (USD) donation to UNICEF.
  • 40% off a Marriott bed: Get 40% off retail prices for Westin Heavenly Beds, St. Regis beds, etc.

75 Night Choices

  • 1 Free Night Award (Up to 40K Points): “Must be redeemed for a stay that occurs no later than December 31 of the year following the year in which the additional benefit is selected (e.g. if the benefit is selected in 2019, the deadline for redemption is December 31, 2020).
  • Gift Gold Elite Status

The rest are the same as the 50 night choices:

  • 5 Elite Night Credits
  • 5 Suite Night Awards
  • $100 Charity Donation
  • 40% off a Marriott bed

How much is each choice worth?

What follows are my estimates of the value of each choice. Please note that the valuation assumes that you’ll actually make use of the benefit.  For example, getting 40% off a bed doesn’t do much good if you don’t intend to buy a new bed or if you don’t particularly want a hotel bed in your house.

Frequent Miler’s Choice Benefit Value Estimates:

  • 5 Elite Night Credits: $216
  • 5 Suite Night Awards: $375
  • 40% off a Marriott bed: $239.50
  • $100 Charity Donation: $80
  • Gift Silver Elite Status: $25
  • Gift Gold Elite Status: $75
  • 1 Free Night Award (Up to 40K Points): $252

Where did I get the above strangely precise valuations?  Below you’ll find my thinking about each…

5 Elite Night Credits: $216

This choice makes the most sense for those who are just short of earning Titanium Elite (75 night) status.  For example, if you have completed 70 nights at the end of the year, I think it’s a no-brainer to pick this choice to move you up to 75 night status.  With 75 nights, you’ll be able to pick another choice plus you’ll get extra benefits over regular Platinum:

  • 75% point bonus on stays (vs. 50% with Platinum 50)
  • United Silver Status via RewardsPlus

Note that the elite night credits aren’t worth much if you’re trying to get to 100 night status unless you’ll also complete $20K in spend at Marriott properties since $20K spend is an extra requirement of that status.

Value: Let’s assume that you could have alternatively earned 5 nights by booking a category 1 Marriott award for 5 nights at 7,500 points per night with the 5th night free.  Total cost: 30K points.  Given our current Marriott point valuation of 0.72 cents per point (see our Reasonable Redemption Values), that translates to $216.

5 Suite Night Awards: $375

If your heart is set on a suite and you don’t want to pay the full cash rate, some Marriott properties let you pay a surcharge over the standard award rate in order to book the suite from the get-go.  For example, the US Grant in San Diego (which I stayed at previously) charges either $350 per night or 70K extra points per night for a standard suite:

Similarly, the Playa Largo resort in Key Largo Florida charges $175 per night or an extra 35K points per night for a suite (I’ve stayed at this resort too — it’s very nice):

Since there isn’t one standard rate for upgrading to a suite, we can’t use these prices directly to estimate the value of the suite night awards.  Plus, the above bookings are more valuable because they are guaranteed.  When you apply a suite night award certificate you may or may not actually get the upgrade you hoped for.  This can be a big problem if traveling with a family where the extra space is really needed.

Another issue with Suite Night Awards is that you may get upgraded to a suite even if you don’t use the certificates.  So you may use your certificates and not know whether they actually helped.

Value: To calculate a value for these certificates, let’s assume that a standard suite upgrade price is $250 per night.  And let’s further decide that the certificates are worth 30% of that amount since they are not confirmed at the time of booking.  30% of $250 = $75.  Since you get 5 certificates: 5 x $75 = $375.

40% off a Marriott bed: $239.50

The Westin Heavenly Bed is available through Marriott, but it’s also sold by Pottery Barn for the exact same retail price (I checked).  And at the time that I checked, a 30% off coupon (SAVEMORE) was available at Pottery Barn.  This Choice Benefit therefore gives you an additional 10% off.

Value: If you were to buy a king sized Westin Heavenly Bed and box spring from Pottery Barn at 30% off, it would cost $1676.50.  Via Marriott, the same bed would cost $1,437 after the 40% discount.  If we further assume that shipping and handling charges are the same, we can then say that this Choice Benefit would save you $1,676.50 – $1,437 = $239.50.

$100 Charity Donation: $80

I don’t think that you can declare this donation on your taxes, so lets discount the value to $80.

Gift Silver Elite Status: $25

Silver status offers a 10% bonus on points earned per stay and an undetermined “late checkout”.  That’s about all.  Maybe their thankfulness is worth $25?

Gift Gold Elite Status: $75

Gold status offers the following perks:

  • 2pm late checkout
  • 25% point bonus
  • Welcome gift (points only)
  • Room upgrade when available
  • Enhanced internet
  • Ability to transfer points to others for free.

None of the above benefits are super valuable, but they’re better than nothing.  I’m randomly valuing this at $75.

1 Free Night Award (Up to 40K Points): $252

This award is good for a free night at any hotel up to category 5.  The standard rate for category 5 hotels is 35K per night, but once peak award prices are introduced sometime in 2019, the same hotels will cost 40K points during peak dates.

Value: At most, this award is worth up to 40K points.  Let’s assume though that the usual use will be with a 35K per night property.  Given our current Marriott point valuation of 0.72 cents per point (see our Reasonable Redemption Values), that translates to 35K points x 0.72 cents per point = $252.

Last updated on March 26th, 2019

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Sophia
Guest
Sophia

Just to clarify, a platinum 75 night elite can request 2 choices such as the 5 night suite awards and the free night award? Also, I didn’t see you mention which benefit you are choosing.

TMount
Guest
TMount

The problem is with Marriott IT not allowing us to make a selection as of 1/1/19. Hopefully this gets resolved soon.

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

+1. Not able to make a selection yet, either.

Nick
Guest
Nick

+1

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Can anybody add some details to how the “upgrade certificates” work? I get that many have reported they didn’t work, but when do you find out? Is the hotel required to confirm by a certain date?

I tend to be very comfortable flying by the seat of my pants with reservations, but if you don’t…can’t even find out whether or not the certificates work until day-of I already have my own process that is no worse than using the certificates.

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

Jeff, you request an upgrade from the website, by clicking on the view/modify next to the reservation in your trips. They can be honored by the hotel(and thus notify you) up to 3 days before check-in. You can cancel your request up until this time if it hasn’t cleared, there are more details about canceling timeframe but I don’t know from memory and it’s not really necessary to give you the general idea. You can’t request a SNA if you make a reservation same day or day before. Some hotels have really great upgrade options, some are really lame, like an upgrade to a room that your platinum status would have already put you in(or better). Yet, they still might be the best option from the choices.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Thanks for the clarification. This feels like such a tease. I would foresee myself leveraging these for some big family vacation trips (I’ll get 2 choices) to “guarantee” upgraded suites and justify coughing up 40,000+ points for a high-Category hotel, but if they’re just kind of at the whim of the hotel, and if the hotel decides what an “upgrade is” (Like, could they give me a “Corner Room” when I was really hoping for the “2-Bedroom”?) I feel like I might do better (or just as well) to continue rolling the dice with my Status and take the one “Free night” for each of my 2 picks.

If you only have to book the Upgrade online 1 night out, could I call the hotel say…2 nights before, tell them what I’m planning to do, and ask if I book right there on the phone could they lock in the room I want? Or will they tell me it’s all automated and it’s whatever the computer does?

These are really appealing as an option to get an upgrade if I can get some certainty out of them (even with a little legwork), but if it’s all a big gamble and these things just nudge me a little closer to getting a better room I think I’ll probably go with the free nights…

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

Well, you get to see and pick your options for the upgrade when you choose to apply it. Real world example I just had a stay I used a SNA for. This hotel had about 7 room options to choose from. You can check as many boxes as you want to increase your chances for an upgrade. I checked about 4 boxes, and ended up getting the nicest room offered. Don’t expect to see many 2 bedroom room options tho, unless it’s a town place suites or similar.
Do note that the free room is only an option after 75 nights, not after 50 nights. If the free night was an option I would take that all day.
Also note if you do choose the 5 SNA I would request your upgrade as soon after booking as possible. Once you get into that 48 hour range the option starts to go away. It may also be first requested first upgraded, tho I couldn’t confirm that.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

That helps a lot, thank you again so much for helping me understand the process. This is likely a one-and-done scenario for me as I kinda gamed the meetings right before the program merger to qualify for Lifetime Platinum and don’t expect to reach 75 (or even 50) again in the near future. Sounds like I might as well do the 5 upgrades for the 50 level, and then the free night for the 75 level. I’m guessing the reason there is no mention of choosing again at 100 is that the bonuses cap out at 75?

Thanks again for the perspective, this really helps a ton.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Be Happy Folks with what we get from the Banks and Hotels too . FBN (Fox Bus. Network) just reported CC perks are down 13% year over year .The banks are tired of the ball and chain around their earning (Chase $300m in one quarter) so more downgrades are coming . Will the banks or hotel chains ever make it easy or transparent I don’t think so ..They love to ” Just say NO ” .HaHa on us…

CHEERs

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

I haven’t even been notified about making a selection, I hit 50 nights last week

Blue
Guest
Blue

Given the complaining about SNAs not clearing/only triggering when you’d get the upgrade anyways I think that’s a pretty generous valuation.

Platinum
Guest
Platinum

I chose my 50 nights benefit in August when programs were combined and i had a combined 53 nghts. I don’t get another choice do I? I ended up with 64 nights in 2018.

Marc
Guest
Marc

Do you know if the elite night credits count towards lifetime status? Thanks!

Julie
Guest
Julie

I am trying to help a friend with this. Is there an easy way (since the redemption site is down) to see how many nights they earned last year? If I had been asked a few days ago, it would have been easier. I want to help her make the best choice for her situation, and she has no clue about any of this.

Amos
Guest
Amos

What counts towards the Platinum 50 choice and 75 choice? I can’t select my 75 choice from last year. I called Marriott and they said only paid nights count. Free night, or credit card nights don’t count. Does anyone have more information on this?
Thanks

UAPhil
Guest
UAPhil

Late evening on January 1, I tried to select the free night certificate for my 75 night award. The Web site allowed me to log on, but did not allow me to choose – it just gave me the 5 suite upgrades. I’ve EMAILed Customer Support to get this corrected – wish me luck :-).

TMount
Guest
TMount

I suspect what you saw was your 50 night selection. At least that is what appears for me. When I go to the link it will show my 50 night selection – I erroneously thought it had selected that for 75, but in the upper left you can see your choice history.

BigMac
Guest
BigMac

This 5 elite nights credit is confusing. I reached 50 nights in 2018 about the middle of November. If I select this option now – before the 14th -then they credit to last year? What the heck good does that do? So I tried to take the SNA option – tried this morning but the site said I wasn’t qualified to have an award. Assume eventually this will get straightened out but my question is if say I only get 45 nights by the end of December 2019 can I get the additional 5 nights in January 2020?

Alicia
Guest
Alicia

It counts into 2018, the only usage for picking 5 SNA that I can tell is when you are 70 nights in 2018 and 5 nights short to reach Platinum Premier.

Gwen
Guest
Gwen

I would love to pick my benefit but the stay that pushed me over 50 nights for the year ended December 28th and has not posted to my account. I hope it posts soon because my account still shows gold and I have a stay in two days and I would like take advantage of breakfast and late checkout.

Matthew Harlan
Guest
Matthew Harlan

I had nights not posting from this timeframe too. I called Marriott and a knowledgeable rep had them posted within minutes. I’d say it’s worth a call.

Susan
Guest
Susan

Ok, I need some help. I just made Platinum Elite for the first time. When my accounts were combined, I was only a few nights away from 50, so I went for it. Last summer, I bought a cat 8, 7-night travel package and will be staying in Paris at the Renaissance Paris Republique for 7 nights this spring. It seems that the 5 Suite Nights could NOT be used, since it’s a 7-night stay. Is that correct? Also, when I made the reservation I was Silver. I reserved a paid room upgrade (just one level up to a slightly larger room). Should I cancel that and assume that, with Platinum status, I’ll get a room upgrade anyway?
And, can the 5 elite nights be credited for 2019? I don’t need them for 2018: I’m nowhere near 75 nights. Someone else asked this, but I am still confused on this issue.

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

Just FYI…selections are available now (11:00 a.m. CST on 1/15)

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

Was able to select the free night without issue. It is already showing in my Unused Certificates on my account about 5 minutes later.

David
Guest
David

Not working again.

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[…] See also: Marriott Choice Benefit Valuations. Which to pick? […]

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[…] once you’ve completed 50 nights in a year, and again at 75 nights.  In the post “Marriott Choice Benefit Valuations. Which to pick?” I argued that the choice of 5 Suite Night Awards was the potentially most valuable choice […]