CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value, but does not review all financial companies or all available financial offers. We may receive compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com, and this compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Whether it’s across the world or around the corner, you might be starting to think about your next holiday 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.
If it does, there’s probably never been a better time to score a terrific welcome offer, because both American Express and Chase are offering increased bonuses on their Marriott credit cards right now.
Let’s look at the American Express offers first. Right now new card members can earn 75,000 bonus points with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months after opening the account, plus up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases made on your new card at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership.
For business owners, the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card has an extremely tempting offer right now. For a limited time through Nov. 3, 2021, you can earn 125,000 bonus points and two Free Night Awards after you make $5,000 in purchases within your first three months of card membership. Each Free Night Award can be used at any Marriott hotel with a redemption level of up to 50,000 points.
Meanwhile, on the Chase side, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is offering 125,000 bonus points and one Free Night Award after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account. Again, the Free Night Award can be used at any Marriott hotel with a redemption rate of up to 50,000 points.
And finally, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is offering 60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 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.
Marriott Brilliant credit card benefits
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant 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. 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.
When it comes to the welcome bonus, you might be wondering how much 75,000 Marriott points are worth. Based on the point valuations of frequent flyer website The Points Guy, Marriott points are worth 0.8 cents apiece, making this bonus worth $600. Add in the up to $200 in credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in your first six months as a card member, and it’s clear this bonus is a decent haul.
Plus, at the start of your second year with the card (and every year thereafter), you’ll receive a complimentary award certificate that can be used at any Marriott hotel for one night costing 50,000 points or less. This means you can use it at any category 1 through 5 property on the Marriott award chart, plus off-peak and standard redemptions at category 6 hotels, and off-peak redemptions for category 7 properties.
Marriott Business credit card benefits
If you’re a small-business traveler who expects to be back on the road more often in 2022, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card could be a great fit. The 125,000 bonus points on the Marriott Business Amex are worth $1,000 based on The Points Guy’s valuations, but you also earn two Free Night Awards good at any Marriott with a redemption rate of up to 50,000 points. So if you can maximize the points and free nights, you can earn a ridiculous $1,800 in value from this bonus.
The card comes with a much lower $125 annual fee (see rates and fees) but also has the same 15 annual elite credits as the Marriott Brilliant card, which you can “stack” together for a total of 30 elite nights if you also hold one of the other personal Marriott cards that offer elite credits.
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 U.S. restaurants, 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 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. That means you can use it at any category 1 through 5 property on the Marriott award chart except for category 5 hotels during peak periods. You can also earn a second award night after you spend $60,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year.
Marriott Boundless credit card benefits
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 almost as good as the business card. The 125,000 bonus points are worth $1,000 based on The Points Guy’s valuations, and the Free Night Award can be used at any Marriott property with a redemption level of 50,000 points or less, which opens up a ton of options.
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 when travel returns to normal.
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-tier elite status, 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 from the Marriott Business 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.
The Marriott Boundless card also comes with its own complimentary award certificate. Starting with your first yearly account renewal 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.
Prefer a Marriott 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 60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within your first three months, the card has no annual fee, and those 60,000 points are still worth $480 toward your next hotel stay.
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, such as complimentary Silver elite status, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement and purchase protection, but 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 maximize 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.
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 2021 or 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 just a casual Marriott traveler, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card from Chase, while small businesses with an owner or employees that make a lot of Marriott stays can choose the Marriott Bonvoy Business card from American Express.
Or, Marriott fanatics who can use all the perks — and the up to $300 in annual statement credits — should grab the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express and get the best that Marriott offers, while those who don’t like paying an annual fee can pick the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card from Chase and get bonus points without having to pay for the card each year.
Find out which credit cards CNN Underscored chose as its best credit cards of 2021.