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Review: Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

Marriott is a name brand that many people around the world recognize. When earning points within the Marriott Bonvoy program there are several cards available with both Chase and American Express.
Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Review: Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

Marriott is a name brand that many people around the world recognize. When earning points within the Marriott Bonvoy program there are several cards available with both Chase and American Express.

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Marriott is a name brand that many people around the world recognize.  While the program has changed vastly over the last couple years, it is definitely still a program worth investing some time and points into due to the size of their footprint.   When earning points within the Marriott Bonvoy program there are several cards available from both Chase and American Express.  To further confuse matters, there are three personal options and one business.  We will take a look at the different cards in detail.

Current Offers

As mentioned above, Marriott has agreements with both Chase and American Express.  Chase’s current offerings include the Marriott Bonvoy Bold and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless.  Whereas, American Express offers the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant as a personal card option and the Marriott Bonvoy Business® as their business card option.

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold currently has a signup bonus of 60,000 points with a $2,000 spend in three months with no annual fee.  Meanwhile, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless currently has offers three Free Night Certificates up to 50K points each after a $3,000 minimum spend in three months with a $95 annual fee that is not waived the first year.

On the American Express side, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant has a 75,000 point welcome offer  after $3,000 spend with a $450 annual fee for their personal card, which is their standard offer.   On the business side, the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® card has its' standard welcome offer to 125,000 points after spending $5,000 with a$125 annual fee.

Choosing which card to apply for can often come down to your 5/24 status and the number of credit cards you have with American Express.  It is important to have a plan prior to “jumping in” given that there are so many options.

Earn Rates

  Bonvoy Bold (Chase) Bonvoy Boundless (Chase) Bonvoy Brilliant (American Express) Bonvoy Business (American Express)
Marriott Properties 3x 6x 6x 6x
General Travel 2x 2x 2x 2x
US Restaurants 1x 3x *up to $6,000 per year 3x 4x
Flights booked directly with airlines 2x 2x 3x 2x
Gas Stations, wireless, telephone services, & all shipping from US locations 1x 3x *up to $6,000 per year 2x 4x
All other purchases 1x 2x 2x 2x
*Earns 3x on the first $6,000 in combined purchases each year of grocery stores, gas stations, and dining

Additional Benefits

All four of these cards feature no Foreign Transaction Fees.  Past the one similarity, the additional benefits vary per card and are explained below.

All of the Bonvoy cards come with 15 elite night credits toward status. If you hold a personal and business card, the elite nights stack for a total of 30 elite nights which gives you a great start towards Platinum status! Additionally, the Bold and Boundless cards all give you complimentary Silver status, whereas the Marriott Bonvoy Business® and Bonvoy Brilliant provide Gold status.

An annual free night certificate comes with the Boundless, Brilliant, and Business cards. They are broken down as follows:

  • 35k free night cert with the Bonvoy Boundless
  • 35k free night cert with the Marriott Bonvoy Business®
  • 50k free night cert with the Bonvoy Brilliant

With the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® card, you now receive 7% discount on standard rates for reservations book directly with Marriott.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® card from American Express also comes with additional benefits including:

  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit – you have one GE credit every 4 years OR one TSA PreCheck credit every 4.5 years
  • $300 statement credit yearly for eligible purchases at participating Marriott hotels
  • Get up to $100 in credit for certain charges when you book direct with Marriott on a special rate for a minimum of a 2night stay at either The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis®
  • Priority Pass Select Membership
  • Variety of insurance protections including car rental, trip delay and cancellation/interruption, and baggage insurance
  • Several shopping protections including return protection, purchase protection, and extended warranty

Elite Benefits

Currently, both cards from Chase provide you with Silver Elite status.  The Marriott Bonvoy Business® and Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express provides you with Gold Elite status.  The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® offer you the opportunity to earn higher status.  The Bonvoy Brilliant allows you to earn Platinum Elite status after $75,000 spend on the card in a calendar year.  Additionally, the Bonvoy Boundless earns 1 elite night per $5,000 spend and also allows you to earn Gold Elite status after $35,000 spend in a calendar year.

Silver status provides a 10% point bonus and a late check-out when available.  Gold status provides the consumer with a 25% point bonus, 2pm late check-out (when available), room upgrades (when available, no suites), and a check-in gift of points.  Platinum status provides the customer with a 50% point bonus, 4pm late check-out, in-hotel welcome gift, lounge access (provides free breakfast), and an annual choice benefit.

Our Analysis

The current sign-up bonus of three Free Night Certificates valued at up to 50,000 points each on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless is not a very compelling offer at the moment, especially given that these certificates expire one year after issuance.  We have seen higher offers in the past including five nights up to 50,000 points (with potential for a 250,000 point redemption).   American Express' personal card is currently staying at their standard welcome offers of 75,000 points.  Knowing that any of the three personal cards takes up a 5/24 slot, the one that piques my interest would be the Chase Boundless but it is still a pass for me at this time.  It is important to note that you can only hold one personal Bonvoy card, even though there are offerings from two banks.

While you are limited to only one personal card, you can simultaneously hold the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® card and this is a great pick-up whether you are over or under 5/24, as it does not impact your 5/24 score.  If you are looking to earn Marriott Bonvoy points, my take would be to go for the Bonvoy Business card as it does not impact your 5/24.   Given the restrictions on holding their personal cards, I would be very strategic about opening Bonvoy cards.  Further, American Express is now limiting how many cards you can hold at one time.

Marriott recently changed their policy that the 15 nights towards elite status granted on each of these cards are stackable so you can earn 15 nights from a personal card and 15 nights from a business card leaving you at 30 nights towards status resulting in being 60% of the way to Platinum Elite status without having stayed a night.

Final Thoughts

The Marriott program has widespread availability across the world and several brands including Marriott, JW Marriott, Courtyard Suites, Ritz Carlton, and many others.  With Marriott’s large footprint, I have been very successful in using a combination of points and free night certificates to cover 7 nights in Portugal for a total cost of $7 including staying at a Ritz Carlton (35K certificate!!).  One caveat to think about is that Marriott recently changed to dynamic pricing including peak and off-peak.  Some people feel this has made the free night certificates more challenging to use as a hotel which used to consistently be 35K points is now 30K off peak, 35K standard, and 40K during peak times.  Therefore during peak times, you could not use your 35K free night certificate at a category 5 hotel during peak availability times.  If I really needed the points, I would personally grab the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express card as it doesn't impact your 5/24 score.  If you already have the Bonvoy Business and wanted to grab a personal card, the Bonvoy Boundless from Chase could be worth a look, but I would probably hold out for a higher offer.  Let us know your thoughts on the four Marriott Bonvoy credit cards in our Facebook group.

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
 

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