Marriott Nightly Upgrade Awards: TPG’s ultimate guide – The Points Guy

Until early 2024, Marriott Bonvoy members could select Suite Night Awards as Annual Choice Benefits. When I selected my Marriott Choice Benefits on Jan. 2, I selected five Suite Night Awards as my 50-night Choice Benefit.

However, I knew Marriott would convert Suite Night Awards to Nightly Upgrade Awards in early 2024. So, I wasn’t surprised when the Marriott Suite Night Award changes went live around Jan. 11. Here’s what you need to know about the new Nightly Upgrade Awards, including what they are and how to use them.

What is a Nightly Upgrade Award (formerly Suite Night Award)?

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Nightly Upgrade Awards — formerly known as Suite Night Awards — let you confirm an upgrade before your stay to a standard suite or premium room at most Marriott Bonvoy hotels and resorts. The room types you can obtain with Nightly Upgrade Awards are designated by each participating hotel or resort but may include suites or premium rooms with better views, balconies, patios or extra space.

You must apply one Nightly Upgrade Award per night of your stay. So, if you have a five-night stay, you must use five Nightly Upgrade Awards. However, it’s important to understand that Nightly Upgrade Awards can only be applied to existing reservations for which you’ve paid an eligible Marriott Bonvoy rate or redeemed Marriott points (including Marriott points-and-cash rates).

You can request to use Nightly Upgrade Awards until 2 p.m. the day before check-in for your stay. But, even if you submit your Nightly Upgrade Award request months before your stay, your request won’t be considered until three days before check-in (Suite Night Awards used a five-day window for confirmation). And there’s no guarantee that your request will be approved.

Additionally, the Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions note you can’t use Nightly Upgrade Awards at the following:

  • Ritz-Carlton Reserve, The Ritz-Carlton Club, The Ritz-Carlton Residences and The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
  • Design Hotels
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • All-Inclusive Resorts
  • Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy
  • Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, Sheraton Vacation Club and Westin Vacation Club
  • The Phoenician Residences, a Luxury Collection Residence Club, Scottsdale
  • Properties that do not participate in Marriott Bonvoy

Luckily, this means you can use Nightly Upgrade Awards at some brands where you couldn’t use Suite Night Awards — including The Ritz-Carlton, Edition Hotels, Aloft, Element and Protea Hotels.

TPG Director of Content Nick Ewen checked his upcoming stays at some of these previously excluded brands, and he was pleasantly surprised to see a wide variety of room choices for his Nightly Upgrade Rewards. This included the option to request full suites at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes; Element Miami Brickell; The New York Edition; and Aloft Chicago Mag Mile. And at the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Cape Town in South Africa, he could request some interesting bi-level lofts with his Nightly Upgrade Awards.

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Related: How to redeem Marriott points for upgraded rooms

How to earn Nightly Upgrade Awards

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You can earn Nightly Upgrade Awards as a Marriott Choice Benefit once you reach 50 and 75 elite night credits within a calendar year. You can also earn Nightly Upgrade Awards as an Earned Choice Award when you spend at least $60,000 on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card in a calendar year. Nightly Upgrade Awards are the default option at these three milestones, but you can choose a different option at each milestone if you prefer.

For activity within the 2023 calendar year, five Suite Night Awards (not Nightly Upgrade Awards) were available at these milestones. But these Suite Night Awards were converted to Nightly Upgrade Awards around Jan. 11. So you’ll now see Nightly Upgrade Awards in your account if you selected Suite Night Awards at any of these milestones based on your account activity in 2023.

In addition, any previous requests to use Suite Night Awards prior to the transition to Nightly Upgrade Awards remain in effect. In that case, Marriott’s help page states, “Existing Suite Night Award™ requests will still be honored and approved based upon availability.”

However, a Marriott spokesperson confirmed to TPG that the new, three-day window for confirming these requests will apply.

Related: Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex worth the $650 annual fee?

How to use Marriott Nightly Upgrade Awards

You can see how many Marriott Nightly Upgrade Awards you have and when they expire by logging in to your online account, clicking on your name in the upper right-hand corner and selecting “Overview” from the dropdown menu. Doing so will take you to your default account homepage. Scroll to the “Watch your rewards add up” section, and you’ll see Nightly Upgrade Awards listed in a box if you have any in your account.

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Click “View Awards” under your Nightly Upgrade Awards to check the expiration dates. However, know that Nightly Upgrade Awards expire Dec. 31 of the year following the one in which you earned them. So if you choose five Nightly Upgrade Awards as a Choice Benefit for reaching 50 elite night credits in 2023, your Nightly Upgrade Awards will expire Dec. 31, 2024.

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Note that you must use these upgrades for a stay with a checkout date on (or before) the expiration date. So, if you’re checking out from a property on Jan. 1, 2025, you can’t use a Nightly Upgrade Award that expires on Dec. 31, 2024.

Now that you know how to see how many Nightly Upgrade Awards you have and when they expire, let’s discuss how to use them. In short, you can apply Nightly Upgrade Awards to existing reservations from within your Marriott Bonvoy account. Click on “My Trips” along the top menu bar when you’re logged in to your Marriott Bonvoy account, expand your reservation (if needed) by clicking “Details,” and then click the “View/Modify” next to the stay for which you want to use Nightly Upgrade Awards.

Scroll down and check whether a section states, “Take an upgrade. You’ve earned it.” If so, click “Start Upgrade Request” to see the room upgrades you could request.

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As noted previously, the room types available for Nightly Upgrade Awards vary by property. For an upcoming one-night stay at a Moxy, I only see one upgrade option that I could request.

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To request this Family Sleeper room for an upgrade, I clicked the check box next to the room type and then clicked “Submit Upgrade Request.” After doing so, a confirmation message appeared, and I received an email titled “We Received Your Nightly Upgrade Awards Request.”

You can also accomplish this via the Marriott Bonvoy app. Pull up an existing reservation and tap the bell icon at the top right. From there, tap Request Upgrade, review the room options, then click Submit to confirm the request.

Once requested, as the confirmation message and email state, the hotel’s system will automatically start checking for upgrade availability three days before your arrival and will continue checking each day until 2 p.m. one day before check-in. If your upgrade isn’t confirmed by 2 p.m. on the day before check-in, Marriott Bonvoy will cancel your request and return the Nightly Upgrade Award(s) to your account.

If you change your mind or find a better use for your Nightly Upgrade Awards, you can cancel your upgrade request and return unconfirmed Nightly Upgrade Awards to your account until 2 p.m. on the day before check-in. However, you can only cancel confirmed Nightly Upgrade Awards by canceling your entire stay. And you won’t get your Nightly Upgrade Awards back if you cancel your stay later than 2 p.m. on the day before check-in.

To cancel an unconfirmed Nightly Upgrade Award, head to “My Trips” in your Marriott Bonvoy account and click “Modify Request” under the note stating “Your Nightly Upgrade Award request is pending.”

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You can select different room types for your upgrade (if others are available) or cancel your request on the page that loads.

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I decided to cancel my request by clicking “Cancel Request” and then confirmed in a pop-up that I did want to cancel my upgrade request.

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After canceling my request, I saw a confirmation of the cancellation on my reservation and got a confirmation email.

When I checked my account after canceling my request to use a Nightly Upgrade Award, it had been redeposited immediately.

Related: How much value does Marriott Bonvoy status provide when you book directly?

My experience using Marriott upgrade awards

A suite at the Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel and Resort in Brazil. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

I’ve historically had good luck using Marriott Suite Night Awards. In 2021 and 2022, my husband and I even used 15 Marriott Suite Night Awards in 10 months with 100% approval.

Perhaps one of my favorite Suite Night Award uses was for a two-story suite at The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa in Phuket, Thailand. That property offered so many different types of rooms through Suite Upgrade Awards that it seemed impossible not to have my upgrade clear.

However, the JW Marriott Hotel Bogota in Colombia assigned me a worse room type after my Suite Night Award cleared in August 2021. A discussion with the manager at check-in — during which I showed my Suite Night Award confirmation email — secured me the suite I’d initially been confirmed into.

Meanwhile, Marriott Bonvoy emailed me five days before check-in to confirm my Suite Night Award request for a three-night stay at Italy’s AC Hotel Milano in November 2023. However, 45 minutes later I received a second email stating Marriott had returned my Suite Night Awards and a note they were “sorry that you were unable to enjoy an upgraded room on your recent stay” (despite the stay being upcoming). Unfortunately, this wasn’t a fluke, as the same happened to my husband’s Suite Upgrade Award request for a stay about a month earlier at the Courtyard by Marriott Kuwait City.

So, although I’ve historically had good luck using Marriott upgrade awards, I don’t put a lot of value in them. I still choose Suite Night Awards — now Nightly Upgrade Awards — as my 50-night Choice Benefit since there’s no better option for me. But I opt for the up-to-40,000-point free night award as my 75-night Choice Benefit. And I try to give myself several options each year to use Marriott upgrade awards at properties that offer multiple room types for awards and aren’t in peak season or high demand.

Related: The best Marriott hotels in the world

Tips for using Marriott upgrade awards

A suite at the Jaipur Marriott Hotel in India. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Here are some tips for getting good value from your Marriott Nightly Upgrade Awards:

Before booking, you can’t see what room types are selectable through the Nightly Upgrade Awards. So, you may be tempted to make several freely cancellable stays in the same destination to determine which offers the best Nightly Upgrade Award options. Of course, just because a hotel or resort offers appealing Nightly Upgrade Award options doesn’t mean your request will get approved. So, I usually book hotels or resorts based on the rates and quality of the base room type. Then, I look at what is available through Marriott upgrade awards and decide whether to put in a request.

Finally, since Marriott Nightly Upgrade Awards are only confirmed at most three days before check-in, you won’t want to rely on using these awards to secure a larger room or suite. For stays where you need an upgraded room, consider booking the room you need or using a program like World of Hyatt that lets you use suite upgrade awards to confirm a standard suite at booking.

Related: What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth?

Bottom line

Marriott Bonvoy recently changed Suite Night Awards into Nightly Upgrade Awards. Along with the name change, Marriott Bonvoy added more room types and participating brands to its upgrade awards. But although Suite Night Awards were confirmed up to five days before check-in, you can only use Nightly Upgrade Awards to confirm a premium room or suite up to three days before check-in.

Nightly Upgrade Awards are subject to availability, and some Marriott Bonvoy members have struggled to use Marriott upgrade awards for high value in the past. One Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite member I spoke with even said he never used Suite Upgrade Awards because he believed they wouldn’t give him better upgrades than he’d get at check-in with his elite status. But here’s hoping Marriott’s shift to Nightly Upgrade Awards will provide a better experience for most members.

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