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Your guide to using Marriott Suite Night Awards for upgrades

Jan. 03, 2023
10 min read
Westin Anaheim
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Editor's Note

This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.

Like many loyalty programs, Marriott Bonvoy offers its top-tier members their choice of annual benefits. One of the choices at both the 50- and 75-night milestone is five Suite Night Awards (commonly referred to as SNAs).

On the surface, Marriott Suite Night Awards are simple: Book a standard room at a participating property and use Suite Night Awards to confirm an upgrade ahead of check-in.

Unfortunately, some TPG staffers have had difficulties using Suite Night Awards. Meanwhile, other TPG staffers argue that Suite Night Awards are a valuable Choice Benefit.

There's a lot of confusion about how Suite Night Awards work, how easy they are to use and how much they're worth. So today, we'll discuss what you need to know about Marriott's Suite Night Awards, so you can decide if they're the right Annual Choice Benefit for you.

What is a Suite Night Award?

The Hermitage, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Jakarta. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members have two ways to secure suite upgrades.

The simplest option is to wait until you arrive at the hotel and hope for a space-available upgrade at check-in. Space-available upgrades at check-in include suites at most brands, although only Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members are eligible for suite upgrades at Ritz-Carlton properties.

But if you're traveling for a special event or looking to make your stay even more memorable, you might want to use Suite Night Awards to increase your odds of getting an upgrade and confirm an upgrade before you arrive.

As mentioned above, Marriott Bonvoy members can select Suite Night Awards as a Choice Benefit after reaching the 50- and 75-night milestones. However, Suite Night Awards aren't the only choice at these milestones. In particular, once you accrue 50 elite nights in a calendar year, you can choose one of the following:

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And once you accrue 75 elite nights within a calendar year, you can choose one of the following:

  • Five elite night credits.
  • Five Suite Night Awards.
  • Free night award worth up to 40,000 points.
  • 40% off a mattress.
  • $100 charity donation.
  • Gift of Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for a family member, friend or colleague.

While the 40,000-point free night award after 75 elite nights in a calendar year is appealing, some members may opt for Suite Night Awards at both levels.

Surprisingly, Marriott doesn't offer additional Choice Benefits for Ambassador Elite members who earn the 100 elite qualifying nights and spend $20,000 (increasing to $23,000 in 2023). And that's one of several complaints I have about the Ambassador Elite program.

If you fail to select your Choice Benefits by Jan. 7 of the year after you earn them, Marriott will automatically select Suite Night Awards for you.

How to use Marriott Suite Night Awards

Suite at the JW Marriott Bogota. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

You can use Suite Night Awards to confirm a room upgrade before you arrive at some Marriott hotels. Suite Night Awards are valid on paid stays, award stays and Cash & Points reservations, but not on advance purchase rates. According to the program's terms and conditions, you can use Suite Night Awards for "standard suites or other Premium Rooms as designated by the Participating Property."

To use your Marriott Suite Night Awards, navigate to an upcoming reservation using the Marriott Bonvoy app or website. Within your upcoming reservation, you might see a section asking whether you'd like to use Suite Night Awards for an upgrade. If you see this section, your reservation is eligible for Suite Night Awards.

MARRIOTT.COM

You need to redeem one Suite Night Award per room per night. You can only request a Suite Night Award upgrade if you have enough in your account to cover the entire stay. If you have two Suite Night Awards, you can't use them to request an upgrade on a three-night stay.

There's a lot of variance across properties regarding Suite Night Awards. You can only request premium room choices (not suites) at some properties. Marriott encourages you to select multiple room types when requesting Suite Night Awards by stating, "The more rooms you select, the more likely you are to be upgraded."

Using a Marriott Suite Night Award at the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa. MARRIOTT.COM

Once you've requested an upgrade, Marriott Bonvoy will check its upgrade inventory starting five days before arrival. If your upgrade hasn't been confirmed by 2 p.m. local time the day before your arrival, Marriott will automatically return your Suite Night Awards to your account.

While you can't transfer Suite Night Awards to other Marriott Bonvoy members, you can use them for friends or family traveling with you in different rooms. If you have enough Suite Night Awards for an upcoming stay with two or more rooms, these must be on separate reservations to request upgrades booked with your Marriott Bonvoy number.

Can you use Suite Night Awards at all Marriott hotels?

You can't use Suite Night Awards at Ritz-Carlton properties. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

So can you use your Suite Night Awards at every Marriott hotel? Well, not exactly. Here is what the terms and conditions say about Suite Night Awards:

Not all Participating Properties participate in Suite Night Awards. Suite Night Awards are not redeemable at the following brands: The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, The Ritz-Carlton Club, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, EDITION, Protea Hotels, Aloft, Element, Design Hotels, all-Suite Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments, All-Inclusive Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, Sheraton Vacation Club, Westin Vacation Club, and at The Phoenician Residences, a Luxury Collection Residence Club, Scottsdale. In addition, Suite Night Awards are not redeemable at select Participating Properties. Contact a Customer Engagement Center for individual Participating Property Suite Night Award participation.

Not being able to redeem Suite Night Awards at Ritz-Carlton and Edition hotels is consistent with Marriott's policy of restricting elite benefits at those brands. But suggesting that Suite Night Awards aren't redeemable at "select Participating Properties" is alarmingly vague.

We haven't confirmed which properties don't participate in Suite Night Awards. But, when you look at an upcoming reservation in the Marriott app or on the Marriott website, you'll see whether your reservation is eligible. If you see a message noting "Suite Night Awards cannot be used for this reservation," it's likely because you:

  • Don't have enough Suite Night Awards in your account.
  • Booked a rate that doesn't qualify for Suite Night Awards.
  • Made a reservation at a property that doesn't participate in Suite Night Awards.

Related: How I'm spending over 5 million Marriott Bonvoy points

My experience using Suite Night Awards

Suite at the Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

As mentioned, some TPG staffers have had a negative experience with Marriott Suite Night Awards this year.

Unfortunately, Marriott doesn't allow you to explore room upgrade options using Suite Night Awards until you've made a reservation. So you might miss that while a Marriott only has a high-floor standard room available as a Suite Night Award choice, the Westin around the corner would let you upgrade to a penthouse suite using Suite Night Awards.

As a result, it isn't easy to plan an effective Suite Night Awards redemption strategy — especially if you don't want to spend significant time on the phone with Marriott or booking flexible stays to check Suite Night Award options.

I routinely check my upcoming stays, and if there's a special suite (better than what you normally get with the complimentary elite upgrade), I'll request an upgrade using my Suite Night Awards.

Earlier this year, I found a stunning 1,000-square-foot beachfront grand suite at the JW Marriott Mauritius Resort as an option using my Suite Night Awards. As I was traveling with my father, I thought having a comfortable beachfront suite would be ideal after two back-to-back 11-hour red-eye flights.

I requested an upgrade from the standard room to this suite. A few days before arriving in Mauritius, I received an email confirming the upgrade.

Email from Marriott Bonvoy. GMAIL.COM

Steps from the beach, the suite was significantly better than the standard room we had booked.

While there's no way of knowing for certain, we speculated that it would have been unlikely to have received a complimentary upgrade to this suite without Suite Night Awards.

Related: 8 tips to help you upgrade your hotel room for free

Tips for using Marriott Suite Night Awards

KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Only you can decide which trips are worth using Suite Night Awards. But if you want to get the best value possible, it helps to think about why you want a suite in the first place.

For example, if you need the extra space to host friends or family, you might not care what brand you're staying at and instead want to find the best Suite Night Award options. But remember: There's no guarantee your upgrade will clear. So if you need the extra space, consider booking the room you want outright.

Alternatively, you might consider saving your upgrades for stays at luxury brands like JW Marriott, Luxury Collection, Autograph Collection, Westin, W Hotels and St. Regis. These hotels typically offer multiple categories of suites and might subsequently be the best use of Suite Night Awards, as these awards can help you get a better room than you're likely to be offered at check-in.

Related: How to redeem points with the Marriott Bonvoy program

Bottom line

Suite Night Awards represent one example of the Marriott Bonvoy program lacking cohesion, as the benefit varies significantly across the combined portfolio of properties (much like Marriott's elite breakfast benefits).

While I've largely had positive experiences with Marriott Suite Night Awards, not everyone has. Given the inherent lack of transparency with Suite Night Awards, some members find this benefit more valuable on paper than in practice.

Still, most members find five Suite Night Awards the best Choice Benefits option at the 50-night threshold. However, at the 75-night threshold, some members find more value in the 40,000-point free night award certificate.

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg.

Featured image by SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
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  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
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