Marriott Annual Choice Benefit: Everything You Need to Know [2019]

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Marriott Bonvoy has two annual milestones that allow you to choose a benefit after reaching 50 and 75 nights in one calendar year. With Marriott Annual Choice Benefit, you can choose some unique benefits that can push you to the next elite status tier, and offer suite upgrades, or even a free night.

In this article, I will go over the options for Marriott Annual Choice Benefit explaining each choice benefit offered and which ones I think are the best. Then I will explain when and how to choose your Annual Choice Benefit.


What is the Marriott Annual Choice Benefit?

The Marriott Annual Choice Benefit is a milestone benefit for elites that reach 50 and 75 elite nights. 

Benefits include Suite Night Awards (SNAs), elite night credits, a free night certificate, gifting elite status, 40% off a hotel bed, and UNICEF donation. Each benefit will give you a certain amount of value back and in my eyes, there are few that stand out.

I explain more below.


How to reach Marriott Annual Choice Benefit milestones

Marriott Annual Choice Benefit milestones are based on the number of elite nights you earn within a calendar year.

The two Annual Choice Benefit milestones are at:

  • 50 elite nights
  • 75 elite nights

Any elite nights you earned between January 1st and December 31st will count towards the nights needed for the Annual Choice Benefit milestones. 

You might also notice that 50 nights is the requirement for Platinum Elite status. While 75 nights is the requirement for Titanium Elite status. So, once you reach Platinum Elite or Titanium Elite status through nights, you have the ability to pick one of the Annual Choice Benefits.

Ways to gain elite nights

The best way to gain elite nights is by staying in Marriott Bonvoy properties. Stay one night in a Marriott Bonvoy property on cash or points, you would earn an elite night for each night you actually spend at the property.

If you want short cuts, you could hold one of the three premium Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. 

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

  • Complimentary Gold Elite status
  • Spend $75,000 on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Platinum Elite status
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year (not stackable with other Marriott cards)
  • $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit
  • Annual free night certificate valued up to 50,000 points
  • 6X points per dollar spent at Marriott properties
  • 3X points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • $450 annual fee

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Chase Card

  • Automatic Silver Elite Status
  • Spend $35,000 on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Gold Elite status
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year (not stackable with other Marriott cards)
  • Annual free night certificate valued up to 35,000 points
  • 6X at Marriott properties
  • 2X on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

 

  • Automatic Silver Elite Status
  • Spend $35,000 on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Gold Elite status
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year (not stackable with other Marriott cards)
  • Annual free night certificate valued up to 35,000 points
  • 6X at Marriott properties
  • 4X at US restaurants, US gas stations, US telephone services, and US shipping purchases
  • 2X on all other purchases
  • $125 annual fee

Each of these cards offers 15 elite nights each calendar year that counts towards the Annual Choice Benefit milestones.

So, holding one of these cards will only require you to spend 35 nights in Marriott Bonvoy properties a year. However, the elite night credits aren’t stackable when having more than one of these cards. Therefore, if you hold all three of these cards, you will not get 45 elite nights, you will only get 15 elite nights as it’s capped at 15. 

Other great benefits included in these cards would be the annual free night certificate. That annual free night certificate will also earn you an elite night when redeeming it. It also pays for the annual fee of these cards, sometimes even more as a category 5 property can cost more than $300 a night sometimes. 


Marriott Annual Choice Benefit milestones

Marriott has two milestones, one at 50 nights and another at 75 nights. At those two milestones, you have the opportunity to pick your Annual Choice Benefit.

Marriott 50 Nights Annual Choice Benefit milestone

Once you reached 50 elite nights in a calendar year, you will have the following Annual Choice Benefits to choose from:

  • Five Elite Night Credits
  • Five Suite Night Awards
  • The ability to gift Silver Elite status
  • 40% off a hotel bed
  • A $100 UNICEF donation

You can only choose one of the benefits above when reaching 50 elite nights.

Marriott 75 Nights Annual Choice Benefit milestone

Once you reached 75 elite nights in a calendar year, you will have the following Annual Choice Benefits to choose from:

  • Five Elite Night Credits
  • Five Suite Night Awards
  • A free night award (valid at a hotel costing up to 40,000 points)
  • The ability to gift Gold Elite status
  • 40% off a hotel bed
  • A $100 UNICEF donation

You can only choose one of the benefits above when reaching 75 elite nights.

75 nights Annual Choice Benefit

Which Annual Choice Benefit is the best?

As there are six Annual Choice Benefits, some might be more valuable than others.

Five elite night credits

This Annual Choice Benefit is available at 50 and 75 nights.

These five elite nights work just like elite nights you get from staying at a Bonvoy property. When you select this benefit you will only receive the five elite nights in the year you reached the milestone. 

For example, if you reached your Annual Choice Benefit in 2019 and selected your choice benefit in 2019, you will only get those elite nights for the 2019 qualifying year. Same if you select your benefit before January 15, 2020, you would still only get those elite nights for the 2019 qualifying year, not for the 2020 qualifying year.

I think this as a choice benefit is only worth it if you need elite nights to push you from 70 nights to 75 nights as at 75 nights you become Titanium Elite and reach another Annual Choice Benefit milestone. However, if you don’t need a push to the next elite status tier, then selecting this benefit wouldn’t be so valuable.

Five Suite Night Awards (SNAs)

This Annual Choice Benefit is available at 50 and 75 nights.

I did an everything you need to know article about SNAs. I suggest you read it as it will allow you to understand SNAs if you never got or used them before.

However, in summary, SNAs are used to upgrade to a suite or premium room at a hotel or resort. Each SNA is worth one night. So, if you are given five SNAs, you can use them over five nights. Sometimes they can be denied, but also approved. It’s all dependent on the properties you visit.

I think SNAs are worth it when reaching the 50-night milestone. SNA upgrades aren’t always confirmed making SNAs inconsistent. Yet, when an SNA is approved, you could get an upgrade to a room that is double the price of your original booking.

A free night award

This Annual Choice Benefit is only available at 75 nights.

For the 75-night milestone, you have the added benefit of selecting a free night award valued up to 40,000 points. This award is equal to category 5 peak redemptions. So, you actually have quite a lot of flexibility when using this as category 5 properties are all over the world. 

You can find my favorite category 5 properties here. Some could be luxury city hotels while others will be luxury beach resorts or off in the jungle. I believe you can find a category 5 property just for you.

For the 75-night Annual Choice Benefit milestone, this is by far the best choice. Free nights at some of these properties can cost $300+ a night. So, as you can get a free night at a luxury property anywhere in the world, then this one is a no brainer.

The ability to gift elite status

This Annual Choice Benefit is available at 50 and 75 nights.

  • 50-night milestone: gift Silver Elite status
  • 75-night milestone: gift Gold Elite status

I personally think gifting low tier Marriott Bonvoy status as an Annual Choice Benefit is a waste because you can get Silver or Gold Elite status from a credit card. 

While gifting status could be helpful to a friend or family member that cannot get a credit card, it’s also not as valuable as other Annual Choice Benefits.

40% off a hotel bed

This Annual Choice Benefit is available at 50 and 75 nights.

If you love a particular bed from a Bonvoy brand and been meaning to buy a mattress, then this Annual Choice Benefit can actually be useful.

You can get the following hotel brands mattress and box springs 40% off:

You could save over $500 on a mattress and box spring when you apply the 40% Annual Choice Benefit. I for one would probably do this if I ever move back home.

Unfortunately, this Annual Choice Benefit is rather limited in terms of uses. I am sure you or I won’t be buying a mattress every year. So, this might be a one time Annual Choice Benefit that saves you $500+ on a bed purchase.

A $100 UNICEF donation

This Annual Choice Benefit is available at 50 and 75 nights.

If you feel like giving, this UNICEF donation could be a good use of your Annual Choice Benefit on the surface.

However, I would like to argue that the $100 price tag on this UNICEF donation is low. I would personally rather choose SNA or free night award, both could get you well over $100 of value and then personally donate $100 to UNICEF.


When can I select my Marriott Annual Choice Benefit?

Once you reached 50 or 75 nights, you have the ability to select your Annual Choice Benefit till January 15th the next qualifying year.

So, if you reached 50 nights in 2019, you have till January 15, 2020, to select your Annual Choice Benefit.

If you forget to select your Annual Choice Benefit, Marriott will automatically select the five Suite Night Awards (SNAs). Unfortunately, there is no way to trade to another choice benefit once you or Marriott selected your benefit. Once selected, you are stuck with that selection.


Where to select my Marriott Annual Choice Benefit?

You can access your Annual Choice Benefit from this link here

You will then have to sign in to your Bonvoy account.


Do Ambassador Elites have an Annual Choice Benefit?

One frustration I have with Marriott is the lack of milestones after 75 nights. Once you reached 75 nights you have only Ambassador Elite status to qualify for, but that also requires a ton of spend and not easy for a big portion of travelers.

Hyatt and Hilton have milestones beyond achieving its top tier status that encourages elites to come back to their properties. I for one feel less encouraged to stay at a Marriott Bonvoy property after I reached Ambassador status as there are no more milestones.

I think a program like Marriott needs to add a milestone for 100 nights and 150 nights to encourage travelers to keep on staying at their properties. This could be an Annual Choice Benefit or even a small amount of bonus points like 20,000.

Let’s hope Marriott does something to encourage their top tier elites, or I for one will keep turning to other programs for their milestones once I completed all of Marriott’s milestones and achieved Ambassador status.


Final word

Marriott Annual Choice Benefit milestones are well worth it in my eyes. They encourage travelers to stay at Marriott for at least 75 nights, but the lack of milestones beyond 100 nights is somewhat unfortunate.

However, the Annual Choice Benefits for 50 and 75 nights are certainly a good value, but not each choice benefit is worth as much as the others. I think the Suite Night Awards and the free night award would be my go-to as it’s easy to get hundreds of dollars worth of value out of them.

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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