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Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards – Everything You Need to Know to Choose

Earlier this fall, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest joined forces into a single entity, the oddly named Marriott Bonvoy program. As part of that process, the Marriott and Starwood credit card programs merged and changed as well. What was once six cards had morphed into four.
Given the changes and the popularity of what were the Marriott and Starwood programs – and given that the cards and program have had time to work through any issues – not seems a good moment to take a look at the collection of Marriott Bonvoy cards that are available today.

What Marriott Bonvoy Cards Now Exist?

Technically, five Marriott Bonvoy cards are on the market. But one – the Marriott Bonvoy Card from American Express – no longer takes applications.
So, that leaves four cards that you can actually apply for:
Each has its own perks and signup bonuses, and annual fees that range from $0 to $450.
So, let’s get to know each one, from least priciest to most…

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card American Express Card

Annual Fee: $450.

So, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card compares well to a traditional AmEx Platinum card with a $550 annual fee, though the benefits are tweaked to appeal to a hardcore Marriott customer.
With this card, AmEx will dump 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points into your account after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. With redemptions starting at just 5,000 points per night for off-peak travel, the signup bonus potentially stretches pretty far (depending, of course, on the caliber of hotel you want).
On a daily basis, you’ll pick up 6x points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 3x points at U.S. restaurants and when you book flights directly with an airline; and 2x points on everything else.
Beyond the points, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card gives you:
  • 1 free night annually (as long as your card is active) at a Marriott Bonvoy hotel with a redemption level up to 50,000 points.
  • Complimentary Gold Elite status in the Bonvoy program (and you can earn Platinum Elite status after spending $75,000 on the card in a year).
  • Up to $300 in annual statement credit every year for purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • Up to $100 in property credit when booking 2 nights or more at a Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotel.
  • 15 night annual credit applied toward elite status. Given then you are automatically Gold Elite each year, the 15 nights would essentially be a jump start toward earning Platinum Elite status, which requires staying 50 nights a year at Marriott Bonvoy property.
  • Access to more than 1,200 Priority Pass airport lounges around the world for you and up to two guests.
  • Statement credit every four years when applying for TSA PreCheck ($85) or Global Entry ($100).
Basically, this is the card if you travel frequently for yourself or a company. The fee is certainly high, but the benefits are equally rich … for the right cardholder for whom these benefits make a lot of sense.
If that fee makes no sense, then consider one of the two Marriott Bonvoy cards from Chase, which I will get to in a moment.

Marriot Bonvoy Business American Express

Annual Fee: $125
If you’re looking specifically for a business card, this is the only one available under the Marriott Bonvoy credit card umbrella.
You will receive the same 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. And on a daily basis, you’ll pick up 6x points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 4x points at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, wireless telecom and shipping; and 2x points on everything else.
The rest of the perks are similar to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, though a bit reduced.
  • 1 free night annually (as long as your card is active) at a Marriott Bonvoy hotel with a redemption level up to 35,000 points – and an opportunity to earn a second night after spending $60,000 a year on the card.
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status in the Bonvoy program (you can earn Gold Elite status after spending $35,000 on the card in a year).
  • 15 night annual credit applied toward elite status. Given then you are automatically Silver Elite each year, the 15 nights would essentially be a large jump start toward earning Gold Elite status, which requires staying 25 nights a year at Marriott Bonvoy property.
This card mainly makes sense for someone who really uses it for business purposes, because, frankly, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card from Chase (reviewed next) is equally good in almost every case, but at a cheaper annual cost.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card from Chase

Annual fee: $95
First, you’re going to earn the same 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
You’re going to get the same 6x points for every $1 spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties, and 2x on everything else you buy. So, really, the only difference here is that the Marriott Bonvoy Business AmEx gives you 4x points on those business-oriented purchases, which earn only 2x points with the Boundless Card from Chase.
As for other benefits, they are exactly the same as the Marriott Bonvoy Business AmEx:
  • 1 free night annually (as long as your card is active) at a Marriott Bonvoy hotel with a redemption level up to 35,000 points – and an opportunity to earn a second night after spending $60,000 a year on the card.
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status in the Bonvoy program.
  • 15 night annual credit applied toward elite status. Given then you are automatically Silver Elite each year, the 15 nights would essentially be a large jump start toward earning Gold Elite status, which requires staying 25 nights a year at Marriott Bonvoy property.
Unless you are spending heavily on restaurant meals and other business costs, this card is the best option for a consumer who’s loyal to Marriott Bonvoy hotels. It offers a nice balance between annual fee, signup bonus, and ongoing perks.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold from Chase

Annual fee: $0
If you absolutely do not want to spend a penny on annual fees, yet you want a card to accumulate Marriott Bonvoy points, this is your card.
You’ll earn 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending just $1,000 in three months.
For daily spending, you’ll pick up 3x points on every $1 spent on Marriott Bonvoy; 2x on travel (including airlines, trains, taxis, etc.); and 1x on everything else.
The only other additional benefits are:
  • 15 Marriott Bonvoy Elite Night Credits, which automatically qualifies you for Silver Elite status (which requires 10 nights) and means you are just 10 nights away from Gold Elite status, should that be something you want to pursue.
  • Baggage delay, lost luggage and trip delay insurance.
That means this card is really for a traveler who like Marriott Bonvoy properties, but who doesn’t want to pay any annual fees for a credit card.

The Wrap Up

Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card you should apply for boils down to a few questions:
  • Are you a business owner? If yes and if you spend heavily on travel, then the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is the better option, despite the heavy annual fee. You will recoup that fee in the benefits you earn, and you will have a more efficient and comfortable time going through airports. But if travel’s not a big part of your business, then the question is:
  • How much do you spend on restaurants, gas stations, wireless telecom and shipping? If you spend heavily here, the Marriott Bonvoy Business card is the better choice. If not, then you’re better off with one of the two Chase cards.
If you’re not a business owner, then the question is:
  • Are you willing to pay $95 annually for one free night at a Marriott Bonvoy hotel? If yes, then you want the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card from Chase. If the answer is no, then go with the no-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card from Chase – you’ll pick up all the same benefits, minus the free hotel night, though your sign-up bonus will also be smaller.

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No Lounge for You: United and American Changes Airport Lounge Access Rules

I’m sitting in a very nice American Express Centurion Lounge in Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza International Airport just as lounge access is being cut off for millions of flyers on Delta, United and American Airlines.
The Big Three have decided to change lounge-access policy in a way that upends how business travelers travel … and that means you have to rethink the credit cards you own.

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Seven Credit Card Signup Bonuses to Consider for Your Christmas Spending

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Christmas is but a few weeks away, and, more important, Black Friday fast approaches to kick off the official holiday-shopping season.
If web-hosting platform Cloudways is right, the average American household will be spending $1,226 on Christmas gifts – a sum of money that will go a long way toward helping you meet the credit-card spend requirements necessary to earn cash-back bonus points or bonus miles that can help you land free airfare or hotel rooms for your next vacation (which, as winter descends, you are undoubtedly already considering).

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The Best Credit Cards for Your Thanksgiving Holiday Spending

We’re well into the Month of the Turkey – the month in which everyone’s thoughts turn to eating and shopping.
We have Thanksgiving barreling toward us, with Christmas waiting right around the corner.
All of which means lots of spending happens between now and the new year … and that means now’s a perfect time to consider a credit card that makes the most of your spending by helping you accumulate points or miles faster for either cash back or holiday travel.

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Rakuten Cash Back Visa: The Secret Way to Turn Cashback into American Express Membership Rewards Points

Shows Rakuten Visa card and Amex cards

Rakuten, the largest e-commerce site in Japan, has teamed up with Visa to rebrand the Ebates Visa card. In doing so, the new Rakuten Cash Back Visa now offers a way to collect American Express Membership Rewards points … by way of, um, a Visa card.
To quote Bill Murray’s character from Ghostbusters, it’s like “cats and dogs living together.”

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Currency Exchange – How Not to Fall for Legal Money Scams When Traveling Overseas

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Most international travelers know to beware of currency-exchange booths around the world because the fees are often exorbitant and the currency rates are not generally favorable. But now, you need to learn to beware of ATMs and credit-card machines as well.
If you don’t understand how these work when you use your bank ATM or debit card, or your credit card, you will be ripping yourself off.
Blame is on something known as “dynamic currency conversion.”

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American Express Green Card Review – Amex Changes its Iconic Green Card to Make the Card a Better Choice for Accumulating Miles.

shows the amex green card and travel accessories

After 50 years as the most well-known charge-card on the planet, the iconic American Express Green Card is getting a makeover … and it’s a makeover that makes the card much more useful for travel-minded consumers.

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What Changes to Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Reward Program Mean for Frequent Flyers

shows a soutwest counter at the airport

Southwest Airlines is continuing an ill trend in which airlines are making it increasingly difficult to remain loyal to a single air carrier.
Recently, United Airlines did away with mileage being the basis of its frequent flyer program, replacing miles flown with dollars spent and number of flights taken.

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The Ultimate Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards Program and Credit Cards

Objectively speaking, few credit-card companies have built a stable of high-quality credit cards as deep as Chase.
More important to credit-card consumers, few credit-card companies have built a rewards point ecosystem as beneficial as Chase’s Ultimate Rewards.

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The New Capital One Walmart Rewards Credit Card: Improving on the Past?

showing walmart superstore logo and title new walmart credit cards from capital one

Certain facts are given – death and taxes being the two most-obvious. To that we can add a third: Now that Capital One and Walmart have teamed up to revamp Walmart’s credit card offerings, the new Capital One Walmart Rewards credit card program will be a huge success.

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Citi Double Cash Credit Card: What You Need to Know About Converting Cash Back to ThankYou Points

Shows a funny man with luggage with big letters: Earn Thank you points two times faster with citi double cash

Citicard’s popular Citi Double Cash card has made a significant change that will allow cardholders to convert cash back into Citi ThankYou points that you can redeem for travel.
Suddenly, what was a top-notch cash-back card has become quite a good travel-rewards card.

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The Six Best Credit Cards for Rental-Car Coverage

showing man covering floating car with message Best Credit Cards for Rental Car Coverage

I was in Louisiana last year visiting family. As I was driving out of New Orleans on Interstate 10, an 18-wheeler kicked up a rock that size of a small football stadium, which then slammed the windshield of my rental car with an explosion that sounded like a small bomb going off.
What I’m trying to say is: Thank you, American Express Platinum Card.
Because I’d booked and paid for the rental car with my Platinum Amex, I didn’t have to worry about the cost of replacing a windshield that, when I returned to the airport, looked like abstract art.

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The Peebles Credit Card: Is There Any Reason to Own One?

The Peebles credit card is another in a long list of what I consider to be subpar, limited-use store credit cards offered by Comenity Bank.
That said, if you are a devoted shopper at Stage, Bealls, Palais Royal, Peebles, Goody’s or Gordmans, then you might have some use for this card, if only because of the outside rewards you earn on your spending.

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Woman Within Credit Card: Does This Card Belong Within Your Wallet?

As they say, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
By which I mean that no matter how the Woman Within credit card dresses itself up, it’s still just a lackluster piece of plastic that offers tepid benefits at best.
Do yourself a favor and apply for a better card that gives you much better financial benefits.

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Pier One Credit Card: Even Pier One Fans Need to Read This Before Applying

Shows furniture and pier one credit card on the right

I wanted to like the Pier One credit card – if only because of fond memories shopping there when I was nearly married many years ago. Alas, unless you are devoted Pier One shopper, there’s not a lot to like about this store-only credit card.
Though the 5% reward seems generous, the limits you face make them less-valuable than they seem. You can find better credit cards that offer the same or similar benefits and give you greater financial freedom.

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Why You Should Think Twice Before Applying to Avenue Credit Cards

showing fashion woman next to the wall and avenue credit cards on the left side.

About the only reason you’d apply for an Avenue credit card is that you can probably obtain it if you have poor credit. But even that’s not a reason to make space in your wallet for this card.
Much better credit-card options exist if you have poor credit. And if you have good credit, then you should be looking for credit cards with better benefits than you’ll receive with an Avenue credit card.

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Boscov’s Credit Card: Designed to Benefit the Company, Not You

shows collage of different shopping items and bascovs credit card

Sometimes you just have to be blunt: The Boscov’s credit card is quite possibly the single worst credit card I’ve come across yet. 
Unless you are an absolute heavy spender at Boscov stores or at Boscov’s online outlet – and by “heavy,” I mean more than $3,750 a year – then this card should never find a home in your wallet. There are far – far!better credit cards you should apply for instead.

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The Pottery Barn Credit Card: Do You Want to Decorate Your Wallet With This Piece of Plastic?

showing pattery barn credit card on the right and furniture decorations on the left

Pottery Barn brings an interesting twist to the loyalty credit card: cash back or, if your purchase is big enough, special financing.
But as interesting as it is, this card is still a hard pass unless you’re such a Pottery Barn fan that you’re decking out your whole house in the retailer’s goods. There are much better credit cards on offer, particularly when it comes the “special financing.”
I mean, really: Why would you pay special financing when you can pay no financing with something like the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card? But we will come back to that in a moment.

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Bealls Credit Card – Everything You Need to Know Before Apply

With an effective cash-back rate of 10%, the Bealls credit card (and the Bealls Florida credit card) seems like a winner. But before you click “apply,” there are some caveats you need to understand about a Bealls credit card.
In short: If you’re looking for an all-purpose, all-around credit card to collect cash back, then steer clear of a Bealls credit card and, instead, look for a more well-rounded cards such as the Citi Double Cash Card or a Capital One Venture card.

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The Forever 21 Visa Credit Card: A Ho-Hum Credit Card Bested by Far-Better Competitors.

showing shopping bags and forever 21 credit card

Given the quantity these days of exceptional credit cards that offer broad-based travel rewards and cash-back benefits, I almost always find it difficult to recommend that anyone apply for a store-branded credit card … and that’s no different when it comes to the Forever 21 Visa credit card.

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