Marriott offers a bevy of co-branded credits cards between Chase and Amex, each with different welcome offers, benefits, returns on spend, and annual fees. While we have individual reviews for each of the cards, this post compares each of the six Marriott co-branded credit cards that are currently available to new applicants. We are not being particularly bold in saying that none of these offer a bountiful return on spend. And while our enthusiasm for Marriott Bonvoy is far from boundless, there are still a few good–if not brilliant-uses of Bonvoy points that might make it worth considering one or two of these cards.
Welcome Offers and Sign-up Bonuses
The Marriott co-branded credit cards have the following offers currently:
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase(review) has a sign-up offer of three Free Night Awards (valued up to 50,000 points each) after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months. This card has a $95 annual fee.
None of these current welcome offers are particularly appealing. With Marriott's recent devaluation and switch to dynamic pricing, even 150,000 points won't get you very far. Marriott's nicest brands, like the St. Regis and Ritz Carlton, regularly charge over 80,000 points per night for a room.
That said, the Bonvoy Brilliant clearly has the best welcome offer of the bunch. Meanwhile, the Bonvoy Bold's sign-up bonus is very weak, making the card a better candidate for product changing. In fact, we would avoid using a 5/24 slot for any of the Marriott credit cards.
Benefits and Perks
Perks vary significantly across the cards. Below we will cover the main benefits relating to the Marriott Bonvoy program, such as annual free night awards, elite night credits and complimentary elite status.
Free Night Awards
The Bonvoy Boundless, Bonvoy Business, and Bonvoy Brilliant each offer an annual free night award. The free night award from the Bonvoy Boundless and Bonvoy Business can be redeemed for up to 35,000 points. The Bonvoy Brilliant's free night award is worth up to 85,000 points. You can combine up to 15,000 points with each free night award.
In addition, you can earn an additional 35,000-point free night award with the Bonvoy Business when you spend $60,000 on the card, which is absolutely not worth it.
Despite a $250 annual fee, neither the Bonvoy Bevy nor the Bonvoy Bountiful offer an annual free night award. Instead, each card offers the ability to earn a 50,000-point free night award when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. This is not a good deal, especially considering the opportunity cost. You can earn way more points by using that amount of spend to meet minimum spend and earn sign-up bonuses with other credit cards.
The Bonvoy Bold, which does not have an annual fee, does not offer a free night award.
Elite Night Credits
Each of the Marriott credit cards offers elite nights credits towards status annually. Specifically, the Bonvoy Brilliant offers 25 nights while the remaining cards each offer 15. Cardholders can stack elite night credits from the Bonvoy Business card with the elite nights from one Marriott personal credit card. You cannot stack elite night credits from multiple Marriott personal cards. Therefore, the best card combination for earning lots of elite night credits is holding the Bonvoy Brilliant and the Bonvoy Business, which earns you 40 night credits per year. This is over halfway to Titanium Elite, which requires 70 nights.
Complimentary Elite Status
The Bonvoy Brilliant card leads the pack here by offering complimentary Platinum Elite status. This is the status tier that most folks care about with Marriott since it offers free breakfast. Platinum Elites are also eligible for room upgrades, but Marriott hotels in the US are notoriously stingy with this. And now that the Bonvoy Brilliant offers complimentary Platinum Elite status, we expect this trend to worsen as Platinum status becomes diluted.
The Bonvoy Bountiful, Bonvoy Bevy, and Bonvoy Business cards all offer Gold Elite status. Gold status is unremarkable, and other cards like the Platinum Card from American Express(review) and the Business Platinum Card from American Express(review) offer complimentary Gold Elite status along with much better benefits. Lastly, the Bonvoy Boundless offers Silver Elite status, which is quite pointless. The only notable benefits of Silver Elite status are earning 10% more points on paid stays and priority late checkout, subject to availability.
We have mentioned several times that none of the Marriott cards deserve much spend. We at ToP value transferrable points currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards way more than we value hotel points like Bonvoy points. This is because transferrable currencies offer much better flexibility and redemption value.
But with Marriott specifically, their award prices at Marriott properties cost so much now that in many cases it makes more sense to spend money on a cashback card and then book a Marriott stay with cash. Simply put, the amounts offered for bonus categories among the Marriott cards have not caught up to Marriott's recent devaluation. By comparison, Hilton award stays can cost just as much as Marriott when it comes to points. But Hilton's credit cards earn way more than 3x or 4x on bonus categories. This makes Hilton Honors points extremely easy to earn. Marriott just isn't there yet.
In any event, the following table breaks down the bonus categories across the Marriott credit cards. For additional details on each card's bonus categories, check out our individual reviews of each card.
|Bonvoy Bold (Chase)||Bonvoy Boundless (Chase)||Bonvoy Bountiful (Chase)||Bonvoy Bevy (Amex)||Bonvoy Business (Amex)||Bonvoy Brilliant (Amex)|
|Gas stations||1x||3x*||2x||2x||4x (US only)||2x|
|Supermarkets/grocery stores||1x||3x*||4x**||4x** (US only)||2x||2x|
|Flights booked directly with airlines||1x||2x||2x||2x||2x||3x|
|Wireless telephone services||1x||2x||2x||2x||4x (US only)||2x|
|Purchases for shipping||1x||2x||2x||2x||4x (US only)||2x|
|All other purchases||1x||2x||2x||2x||2x||2x|
**Capped at $15,000 in combined purchases across these categories
Which Marriott Card Should I Get?
The myriad of card options makes it a bit confusing to make an informed choice. On top of that, each card has its own byzantine rules governing whether you qualify to either open a card or earn the welcome bonus.
We came up with a few scenarios to help you decide which Marriott card(s) you should get based on different goals.
Best Marriott Card for Elite Status
Whether you're satisfied with Platinum Elite status or want to go for the higher Titanium Elite status, the Bonvoy Brilliant is the right card. First, it grants you complimentary Platinum Elite status just for having the card. Also, it earns you 25 elite night credits per year towards elite status. This is more than any other Marriott credit card.
If you want Titanium Elite status, then you should also consider the Bonvoy Business card. This card earns you another 15 elite night credits, which can be combined with the 25 nights from the Bonvoy Brilliant. Titanium Elite requires 70 nights per year. So with the 40 nights from these two cards, you're over halfway there.
Honorable mention: Bonvoy Bold. If you just want 15 elite night credits from a Marriott personal card and don't care about any other benefits, then the Bonvoy Bold would be a good option. This card does not have an annual fee but still grants you 15 elite night credits per year. However, given the Bonvoy Bold's very low sign-up offer, we do not recommend applying for this card outright. Instead, the Bonvoy Bold is a better candidate for product changing or downgrading.
Best Marriott Card for Annual Free Night Award
Our pick here is the Bonvoy Boundless. This card offers an annual free night award worth up to 35,000 and has a low annual fee of $95. Paying $95 for 35,000 Bonvoy points is a much better deal than what the Bonvoy Brilliant offers.
The Bonvoy Brilliant has the highest free night award, worth up to 85,000 points. But the card has a hefty $650 annual fee. Even if you were to use the card's $300 restaurant credit, you're still paying $350 for 85,000 Bonvoy points, which is a bad deal. That's why we prefer the Bonvoy Boundless for an annual free night award.
Honorable mention: Bonvoy Business. This card also offers a 35,000-point free night award but has an annual fee of $125. This is still a good deal because the Bonvoy Business also offers an additional 15 elite night credits towards status that can stack with elite nights from any of the personal cards.
Best Marriott Card for Earning Bonvoy Points
The answer here is none of them. This shouldn't be a surprise for frequent readers of the blog or members of our Facebook group. None of the Marriott credit cards offer a compelling earning structure.
Rather than earning 3x or 4x Bonvoy points on any given bonus category, we'd much rather earn 3x or 4x Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards. As we've said many times, transferrable currencies are way more valuable than hotel points, especially Bonvoy points. Besides, both Chase and Amex have Marriott as a transfer partner. While transferring to Marriott doesn't offer as much value as some other transfer partners, if you really need Bonvoy points, you can transfer from Chase or Amex. And on top of that, both Chase and Amex offer occasional transfer bonuses to Marriott to sweeten the deal.
Marriott offers more co-branded credit cards than any other major hotel chain. The landscape can be downright confusing. But we hope this breakdown and comparison of all the different options can help you sort through these cards. As always, if you have any questions about these or any other credits, or about award travel generally, come ask in our Facebook group!