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Whether it’s across the world or around the corner, you’re probably starting to plan your next vacation. And since the Marriott hotel chain has such a large presence both domestically and globally, it’s worth considering whether a Marriott credit card makes sense for you. Both American Express and Chase issue Marriott cards, and each card has its own features and welcome offer, so there are four options to consider.
Let’s look at the American Express offers right now since they just announced a new offer bonus for one of their cards — and it is in fact the best point offer currently available. Right now, with the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card you can earn up to 125,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months after account opening. Frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Marriott points at 0.84 cents apiece, making 125,000 points worth as much as $1,050 in Marriott stays.
And if you don’t qualify for a business card, there’s the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, which offers some of the best Marriott benefits out there. With this card, you can earn 75,000 bonus points after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership.
On the Chase side, you have the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card which is offering three free nights that can each be used at any Marriott with an award cost of up to 50,000 points after you spend $53,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account, while the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card is offering 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account. The Marriott Bold card is the only Marriott credit card with no annual fee.
You’ll get excellent value with all four of these card offers, so deciding which offer to choose probably depends on which card is right for you. Let’s dive into the details of each card.
Luxury perks with the Marriott Brilliant credit card
The Marriott Brilliant Amex is a card for people who frequently find themselves at Marriott hotels, as it comes with a slew of elite perks but also a high $450 annual fee (see rates and fees). However, one of the best features of the card is up to $300 in statement credits annually for Marriott purchases. Although, this particular credit is only valid through Sept. 21, 2022 and will be replaced by a new benefit. Starting Sept. 22, 2022, cardmembers will receive up to $300 in statement credits per year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide. If you can use those credits in full each year, you’re effectively only paying a net annual fee of $150.
The card earns 6 points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
You also earn 15 elite night credits with the Marriott Brilliant Amex, which means you’ll receive automatic Silver elite status every year you have the card, and you can upgrade to Gold elite status by spending $35,000 on the card each year.
And at the start of your second year with the Marriott Brilliant Amex (and every year thereafter), you’ll receive another Free Night Award that can be used at any Marriott hotel for one night costing 50,000 points or less. Just keep in mind that Marriott recently switched to a dynamic pricing system, so the redemption cost for a room at any Marriott hotel now varies from day to day, depending on the cash price of the room at any given time.
The Marriott Boundless credit card
If you’re looking for a personal credit card with a relatively low annual fee, the sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is a great choice. Currently, you can earn 3 free nights (each valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 on the card within the first three months. That can ultimately score you a three-night stay worth up to 150,000 points. And since Marriott now allows you to top-off an award stay with up to 15,000 points (per night) from your account, that can net you an unbelievable vacation, solely on one credit card approval. But keep in mind that these certificates expire one year after they are received in your account.
But in addition to the sign-up bonus, there are many other benefits that get extended to Marriott Boundless card holders, making this a nice card to hold onto year after year if you plan to stay at Marriott hotels on a regular basis.
With the Marriott Boundless card, you’ll receive complimentary Marriott Silver elite status for as long as you’re a card holder. Silver status gets you late checkout and a 10% bonus on points earned during your Marriott stays. Although this is Marriott’s lowest elite status tier, having some sort of status is better than no status at all, and it could potentially even get you a better room during check-in (though improved rooms are not guaranteed).
Or, if you’re looking to earn a higher level of elite status, the Marriott Boundless card also comes with 15 annual elite night credits, which can stack with the 15 elite nights earned from the Marriott Brilliant Amex for a total of 30 elite nights. Alternatively, you can also earn Marriott Gold elite status by spending $35,000 on the card each account year. And now, the card also earns 1 elite night credit for every $5,000 you spend, with no cap on the number of credits you can earn.
When you use the Marriott Boundless card to pay at Marriott hotels, you’ll earn 6 points for every dollar you spend, plus additional points for being a Marriott loyalty member and a Marriott elite member. You’ll also earn 3 points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining, and then 2 points per dollar after that, along with 2 points per dollar on all your other purchases.
The Marriott Boundless card also has its own annual complimentary award certificate. Starting at your first yearly account renewal — meaning one year after you opened the card — and every year thereafter, you’ll receive a certificate that can be used at any Marriott hotel for one night costing 35,000 points or less.
Other great perks include baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement and purchase protection. And with the Marriott Boundless card carrying only a $95 annual fee, you can easily come out well ahead with all these card holder perks. In fact, if you can use the card’s complimentary award night each year for a room that would otherwise cost $95 or more, you’ll easily make the card worth it.
The Marriott Bold credit card with no annual fee
If you’re looking to earn Marriott points but don’t want to pay an annual fee for a credit card, you might want to consider the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card. Although you’ll only earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within your first three months, the card has no annual fee, and those 30,000 points are still worth $252 toward your next hotel stay based on the valuations of frequent flyer website The Points Guy.
Even though you won’t pay anything to carry the Marriott Bold card, it only earns 3 points per dollar at participating Marriott hotels instead of the 6x points of the Marriott Boundless card, and the same 2x points on all other purchases.
You also still get some of the same card benefits as the Marriott Boundless, such as complimentary Silver elite status, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement and purchase protection. But with the Marriott Bold card, you won’t receive the highly valuable 35,000-point complimentary night certificate after your first year.
Ultimately, we prefer the Marriott Boundless card over the Marriott Bold card, as long as you’re able to use all the benefits, especially the annual complimentary night certificate. But, if a quick bump in Marriott points and automatic Silver elite status is all you’re looking for, the Marriott Bold card could check the box.
The Marriott Business credit card for small business owners
If you’re a small-business traveler who expects to be on the road this year, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card could be a great fit. The 125,000 bonus points on the Marriott Business Amex are worth $1,050 based on The Points Guy’s valuations, and the card comes with only a $125 annual fee (see rates and fees).
The Marriott Business Amex also has the same 15 annual elite credits as the Marriott Brilliant and the Marriott Boundless, which you can “stack” together for a total of 30 elite nights if you also hold one of those other two personal Marriott cards. However, with the new enhancements recently added to the card, you’ll automatically earn Gold elite status just for being a cardmember.
With the Marriott Business Amex, you’ll earn 6 points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping, and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
Just like with the Marriott Brilliant card, you’ll receive a complimentary award night each year with the Marriott Business Amex starting with your second card member year, but with the business card, the free nights can be used at Marriott properties with a redemption level up to 35,000 points. Again, keep in mind that Marriott changed its redemption system in March, so property prices now fluctuate from night to night. You can also earn a second award night after you spend $60,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year.
Lastly, cardmembers will earn a 7% discount off a standard rate when booking directly with Marriott. As long as you are signed into your Marriott account, you should see the “Amex Biz Card Member Rate” option. However, the discounted rate might not be available for all hotels during all dates.
Is a Marriott credit card right for you?
Marriott has about 30 different brands under its umbrella, which means there are plenty of opportunities across the globe to redeem your Marriott points or use free nights. Whether you want to stay at an ultra-luxury beach destination in the Caribbean or a few miles down from your favorite amusement park, there’s generally a Marriott property for everyone.
Obviously, if you don’t stay at Marriott hotels very often, then a Marriott credit card probably isn’t a good fit. But if you do expect to be at a Marriott even a few times in 2022, then any of these four Marriott credit cards are worth considering for their welcome offers alone, and then to keep on an ongoing basis, especially for the annual complimentary award certificates.
So if you’re a Marriott fanatic who can use all the perks — and the up to $300 in annual statement credits — grab the Marriott Brilliant card from American Express and get the best that Marriott offers, while those who don’t like paying an annual fee can pick the Marriott Bold card from Chase and get bonus points without having to pay for the card each year.
And if you’re just a casual Marriott traveler, consider the Marriott Boundless credit card from Chase, while small businesses with an owner or employees that make a lot of Marriott stays can choose the Marriott Business card from American Express.
Find out which credit cards CNN Underscored chose as the best credit cards to use at Marriott hotels.