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

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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.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

UGC Disclosure: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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