Marriott Rewards Levels: Choosing Benefits

Credit Card Disclaimer

As a Marriott Bonvoy Elite for many years, and a frequent traveler from consulting days until now, I seriously did not think it could get any better. If you’ve been following my story, in January I realized I have the chance for simultaneous status on 4 U.S. airlines (Delta – earned, American – offered, Southwest – can request, United – can request). I was beside myself. It was the ultimate discovery for a (recovering) consultant.

Well, today I got more news that…even though it’s not quite as sweet…has a suite element to it.

I received my first chance to pick a Marriott Choice Benefit for achieving Platinum Elite status.

PS: Want to earn Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status without ever having to stay a night in a hotel? The Platinum Card® from American Express gives you complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Gold status. Apply now and start scoring free upgrades!

Why Marriott Platinum Elite Now?

No doubt the fortuitous merger of my two most frequented hotel chains – Starwood and Marriott – benefitted me (as it has many frequent travelers who are consultants). And no doubt this won’t last – my assumption is that Marriott will move the Platinum goal posts at some time in the near future.

But for now, I’m going to revel in the options, and ask you to weigh in.

How I’m Thinking About My Marriott Platinum Elite Choice Benefits

Here are my (ultimate first world problem) Marriott Platinum Elite choices:

  1. Five Suite Night Awards™
  2. The ability to gift Silver Elite status for a friend or family member
  3. Five Elite Night Credits
  4. $100 (USD) donation to charity
  5. 40% off your favorite hotel bed

Let me walk you through my thought process, and what I’m planning.

Before I do though – weigh in! The award select has to happen by next weekend, and I don’t have much time – benefitting from those of you who have had this choice to make before would be amazing.

Five Suite Night Awards™

This is the default choice for a Marriott Platinum Elite member, and for good reason. These upgrades are not something you can get in any other way (that I’ve found so far – correct me if I’m wrong) – and can make the difference between a normal stay at a standard location and an elevated stay experience.

Because I’m now carting around two kids (plus my spouse and another baby on the way), this is the most attractive surface-level option to me. When I’m traveling for business – invite me to come speak at your university or company, by the way – I don’t need a suite just to dance around. But when my family comes with me, as they often do, I can think of nothing more delightful than having enough space to have an all-family dance party.

So, at first glance, the Five Suite Night Awards™ are an easy choice.

The gift of Marriott Silver Elite status for a friend or family member

Silver Elite at Marriott doesn’t come with the same perks I have enjoyed as a Gold, or now, as a Platinum. There is NOT a huge leap between Member and Silver, but a huge leap between Silver and Gold in terms of benefits.

Sure, Silver Elites get Priority Late Checkout (but it’s basically just the same as if a member requested it – maybe with a little extra oomph, and nothing guaranteed).

Silver Elites get a dedicated reservation line – but unlike the Delta Medallion line, it’s a miserable experience to call the hotels at all – an experience I avoid at all costs.

Silver Elites get free WiFi. But with free tethering, and many brands in the portfolio that offer it for free anyhow, I don’t know how huge of a benefit this really is.

And finally, Silver Elites get a 10% bonus on point earnings. At Marriott, point earnings take forever, and 10% isn’t a big deal.

Ultimately, when I thought about this, I didn’t get the “wow” vibe. So, then I thought practically. Who would I give it to?

My spouse – already travels with me most of the time, so no benefit to him (he’d just stay with me under the higher category benefits).

My colleagues – already travel with me most of the time, so ditto to the above.

My family – okay, maybe, but I have multiple family members that could use it, so how to choose just one?

Ultimately, this got the toss. Not that valuable, and not that easy to choose who to give it to.

Five Marriott Rewards Elite Night Credits

Okay, now we’re talking. I’m tasting the sweetness of Platinum Elite Status, and I want to keep it. I think I will, based on the excessive travel itinerary I have planned this year (Madrid and Morocco this month, and then LA, DC, Canada, Dallas, NYC, Orlando in March and April – and that’s in our quiet season!).

Now, the actual application of these seem like they should be in 2019 for 2019, but honestly, the fine print is a little confusing.

Any lawyers out there want to help me out to make sure I’m interpreting this correctly?

“Elite Nights that are awarded to an eligible Platinum Elite or Platinum Premier Elite Member as the Member’s Annual Choice Benefit will be awarded in the Eligible Status Year for which the Elite Nights were earned, regardless of when the 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.”

I’m reading that as 2019 Choice Benefits and 2019 Earning Status – but it could technically be 2018 Status (when I earned it) and 2019 where it’s applied.

If it’s like I think it is – five elite nights to give me a jump start toward this year – this is a serious contender for #2.

$100 (USD) donation to charity

This is fine, but it’s not worth the value of any of the other options.

Plus, I love to give on my own – why let someone else choose where to give for me?

This one was a pretty quick no.

40% off your favorite Marriott or Starwood hotel bed

Oh man…I do love me Westin’s Heavenly Bed. And the Ritz Carlton beds. Look at the options of beds I have to choose from:

    • The Westin Heavenly® Bed
    • The Marriott Foam Bed
    • The Marriott Innerspring Bed
    • The Ritz-Carlton Bed
    • The W Hotels Bed
    • The Sheraton Signature Bed
    • The St. Regis Bed
    • Courtyard Foam Bed
    • Courtyard Innerspring Bed
    • The JW Marriott Bed
    • The Renaissance Bed
    • The Bed by The Luxury Collection
    • The Fairfield Foam Bed
    • The Fairfield Innerspring Bed
    • EDITION Hotel Bed
    • Gaylord Hotels Mattress & Box Spring

I mean – wowzers.

But then again, look at the PRICES of these beds.

40% off is a good discount – but I am a King Size or bust kind of woman, so we’re talking $1k+ as a discount, but still leaving a ~$1,000 cost to buy the bed as well. And that’s just the mattress – when you get what you really want (the full set of linens and everything else), you’re looking at $3,000 and upwards – after the discount.

Plus, I already have a bed. And it’s nice to stay in them in hotels, but that’s part of the fun, right?

So I think this is a no. But if I have a bad night’s sleep in the next week, you might find me Instagramming my new bed’s arrival. I keep this one as an open option #3.

If you decide the bed is for you, use The Platinum Card® from American Express to purchase and earn Marriott Bonvoy points toward your next free stay.

Choice To Be Made: What Do You Recommend?

So now I have 4 days to choose, and I have it narrowed down, but am I making a mistake?

Are the Suite Nights impossible to redeem?

Will my Elite Nights feel like a waste?

Do I really NEED a new hotel bed in 2019? Will it make all the difference in my life?

Comment below or email me, and please…help me choose!

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