This is a bit long, but details are important. This probably affects you!
I earned the Platinum Elite and Platinum Premier Elite status in the Marriott Rewards program in 2018, which was later converted to Titanium Elite in the new Bonvoy program in 2019.
I was then given the opportunity to select my Annual Choice benefit for achieving both Platinum Elite and Platinum Premier Elite status in the Marriott Rewards program in 2018. I selected the Five (5) Suite Night Awards and the One Free Night Award, respectively, in early 2019 before the February 7th deadline.
After making my selection and checking my account online, I learned that the Suite Night Awards had an expiration date of December 31, 2019. I reviewed the Terms and Conditions of every Marriott source document in various internet links and not one of them (including the new Bonvoy Terms and Conditions published later in 2019) state an expiration date to use the Suite Night Awards, particularly in the same year that they are selected.
In essence, the Suite Night Award benefit is only beneficial to a Bonvoy member when an Elite status is no longer able to be used. That is, if a Bonvoy member achieves a status of Platinum Elite or higher, the automatic upgrade benefit makes the use of a Suite Night Award almost unnecessary. For that reason, the lack of an expiration date is significant since the benefit would not be required/used the year after achieving the Platinum Elite or higher status.
Additionally, there is conflicting guidance regarding the One Free Night Award. Again, when I logged into my Marriott account and read the guidance for using the One Free Night, the terms and conditions state that the benefit must be used no later than the year following the year the benefit is earned. However, the published Terms and Conditions for both the Marriott Rewards and Bonvoy programs state that the benefit must be used no later than the year following the year the benefit is selected. I earned the benefit in 2018, but selected the benefit in 2019. As a matter of process, selecting the Annual Benefit choice early the following year makes sense since some Rewards/Bonvoy members may achieve a higher program status towards the end of the calendar year.
Nevertheless, the conflicting guidance is very concerning. Whether referencing the Suite Night Awards or the One Free Night Award disparities, the Terms and Conditions should be the reference document when it comes to the Loyalty Program policy. Yet, after making the selections and checking My Account, different deadlines are posted.
To summarize, the conflicting guidance, depending on what a program member reads, is as follows:
- The Suite Night Awards either must be used in one calendar year or it has no expiration date.
- The One Free Night Award must be used in either one or two calendar years, a difference of 365 days.
How does Marriott explain the expiration differences between the Loyalty Program Terms and Conditions, and the information published in customers’ accounts? What is the prevailing guidance? How can customers trust the Loyalty Program administrators if the rules are not followed by the company or are arbitrarily changed once a benefit selection choice is made?
Given that Marriott expects their customers/members to abide by the subject Terms and Conditions, I would expect that the company would also adhere to the same rules. I must also assume that I am not the only Rewards/Bonvoy member affected by the arbitrary deadlines published in My Account.
I have all of the aforementioned Terms and Conditions and other references saved as a .pdf file on my computer and can produce them easily.
As a final thought, although I have stayed at several Marriott properties in 2019, none of the hotels where I stayed either allowed for a Suite Night Award upgrade because of the limited choice of rooms offered or my Titanium Elite status automatically upgraded me making it unnecessary for me to use the benefit. It appears the Suite Night Awards are most beneficial to members who are below Platinum Elite status.