This week, Marriott launched their newest Bonvoy credit card which is neither Brilliant or Boundless – the Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM Credit Card, which features a welcome bonus of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and no annual fee.
Before getting into the details, let’s take a quick pause. Quite frankly, at almost a year later, the whole Marriott Bonvoy refresh has been a complicated one for me to follow and digest. I’d be lying to you if I told you I didn’t spend a good chunk of my day brushing up Bonvoy and the nine (!!!) credit cards in its line-up. As someone who is at least somewhat knowledgable about travel loyalty programs, I can only imagine how confusing [and frustrating] this merger has been for the average Joe. In fact, my autocorrect keeps changing the word Bonvoy to Convoy as I write this post, so that goes to show you how little I’ve shared about the transition.
Thoughts about the Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM Credit Card
- No annual fee
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- 3 points per $1 spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties
- 2 points per $1 spent on other travel purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year (which gets you to Silver Status).
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Trip delay reimbursement and purchase protection
Of course, the real value in this card is in the sign-up bonus and the fact that it’s a no-annual fee card with no foreign transaction fees (always a hit). The 15 elite night credits is also an attractive feature for those looking to pad their Marriott accounts a bit in order to reach certain status tiers, but that’s also something that all Marriott co-branded cards come with.
Of course, keep in mind that you can easily obtain Marriott Bonvoy Gold status with the American Express Platinum Card or by the reciprocal status benefits with Rewards Plus for United MileagePlus elites (I matched my Premier 1K status to Bonvoy Gold).
While I understand that the appeal of a no-annual fee card is attractive, this card is not as competitive as others from an everyday spending standpoint. In my option, there much better no-annual fee options, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5x) and The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x on up to $50,000 spend annually).
If you’re looking a mid-tier card to use solely on Marriott properties, the Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card is an overall better option, which offers 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. On the most basic level, even with a $95 annual fee, the annual free night award (valid at properties up to 35,000 points per night) at each cardmember anniversary totally justifies the annual fee.
Marriott Credit Card Confusion – Keep or Cancel?
As a result of the complicated Starwood and Marriott merger, American Express and Chase have split the credit card portfolio. For the most part, Chase is the issuer of the standard personal Marriott credit cards, while American Express is the issuer of the premium and small-business cards.
As of Feb 13, 2019 the highly-regarded and compelling “old version” of the personal Starwood Preferred Guest AmEx Card stopped being available to new applicants (the new version of the card is now called Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card). I’ve had [and still have] the now-converted “old” version of the card for years along with the standard Chase Marriott Premier Plus Card (which is now called the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card) with the $85 annual fee – which I never opted to upgrade to the $95 annual fee version of the card. Confusing right?
It’s also worth noting that I hold both of these cards because of the annual free night certificates – my Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card comes with a free night valued up to 25,000 points at each anniversary in exchange for paying an $85 annual fee (meh), while the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card comes with an annual free night award valued up to 35,000 points for its $95 annual fee.
My annual fee for my Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card hit in February. Right off the bat, I decided it was time to say goodbye to the card because I don’t think a 25,000-point certificate was worth paying $85 for; however, when I called to cancel, I was offered a $50 statement credit to keep the card another year. A 25,000-point free night award is worth paying $35 net, so that was a no brainer. I really don’t see much value in keeping this card the following year.
The annual fee for my Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card doesn’t hit until the fall, but even when it does, I’ll continue to keep paying the $95 annual fee in exchange for the anniversary 35,000-point free-night award.
Have Spend Promotions Helped?
It’s no secret that overall, these new Bonvoy cards are less compelling and competitive than the old SPG AmEx for everyday spend. In the good ‘ole days, the card used to offer one Starpoint for every dollar spent (which is equivalent to three Marriott Bonvoy points). Now, the card offers just two Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent (a 1/3 reduction).
In an attempt to win people back, Marriott offered a series of card-specific spend promotions in the early part of the year:
- In February 13, 2019 , Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Members had the opportunity to earn an additional free night award (valid at a property retailing for up to 35,000 points) after spending $60,000 or more annually on the card.
- As of March 28, 2019, Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Members we’re able to earn an additional free night award (valid at a property retailing for up to 35,000 points) after spending $60,000 or more annually on the card.
- Back in February 24, 2019, existing Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card Members were able to register to earn 25,000 points for every $25,000 in eligible purchases on the card, up to four times, for a maximum of 100,000 additional bonus points.
- From February 13 through April 24, 2019, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and Marriott Bonvoy Business Cards offered generous welcome bonuses of 100,000 points with $5,000 of spend within three months
- In March (registration was open until April 7), the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express released a pretty strong spending promotion where cardmembers can earn up to 7,500 Marriott Bonvoy points each month for six months (through October 7, 2019), up to 45,000 points total. With this promo activated, it effectively allows you to earn 3.5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar on non-bonus spend.
The spend bonuses were in addition the anniversary free night award cardmember benefit, so I can understand how the spend promotions may have helped some
Between last year’s announcement of off-peak/peak awards (which hasn’t happened yet), a saturation of credit cards, confusions about upgrades/breakfast benefits, and technical nightmares, I’ve put the entire Marriott Bonvoy program on the back burner until the dust settles.
For me? I’ll keep my AmEx version of the card in the long run and keep paying the $95 annual fee in return for the yearly free night award. For the most part, I’ll be converting my Marriott Bonvoy points into airline miles at a ratio of 60,000 points for 25,000 airline miles.