Difference between revisions of "Marriott / SPG Credit Cards"

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<li>'''50,000 point certificates can be used at nicer hotels'''—Category 6 hotels during “standard” season, Category 5 hotels during “peak” season, and Category 7 hotels (out of 8) in “off-peak” season.</li>  
<li>'''50,000 point certificates can be used at nicer hotels'''—Category 6 hotels during “standard” season, Category 5 hotels during “peak” season, and Category 7 hotels (out of 8) in “off-peak” season.</li>  
<li>'''If you are interested in additional certificates, you can sign up for multiple cards'''. However, if you want to also receive a signup bonus for each new card, you'll need to follow some restrictions that are detailed above.</li>
<li>'''If you are interested in additional certificates, you can sign up for multiple cards'''. However, if you want to also receive a signup bonus for each new card, you'll need to follow some restrictions that are detailed above. However, each card takes up one of your 4 available Amex credit card slots. {{Link|Amex Limits}}</li>

Revision as of 16:01, 21 May 2020

  American Express Credit CardsHotel Credit Cards


Chase Webpage
Business Version Available
Annual Fee


Current Offer

100,000 Marriott points ($5,000 initial spend).

An alternative offer of 3 free nights (up to 35,000 points each) for the Chase Boundless card is more valuable if you have a good opportunity to use them before they expire. $3,000 initial spend. Offer Link (thanks US Credit Card Guide).
Normal Signup Offer

75,000 points ($3,000 initial spend) for personal, business, or premium card.

Signup Bonus Chart
Bonus Categories

6x Marriott / SPG Purchases (≈4.2%)

2x Everywhere Else (≈1.4%)

4x Restaurants, Gas, Telecommunications, and Shipping with the business versions (≈2.8%)

No Foreign Transaction Fee

Both Chase and American Express issue credit cards for the Marriott Bonvoy program. Each of these cards provides an annual free night certificate, which is the main reason to get the cards (along with their signup bonuses). In addition, having at least one of the cards can provide a significant boost (15 elite night credits) towards reaching higher level Marriott status.

Because there are several different cards, you can earn easily collect multiple free night certificates each year, and/or earn multiple signup bonuses. However, Chase and Amex restrict how many cards you can get, and how quickly you can get them

Marriott / SPG Credit Card Options


Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card. The regular version of the Marriott card is issued by Chase. Because the card is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, we usually recommend getting one of the Amex cards instead. You are almost always better off using any available Chase 5/24 slots for other cards. This is especially true because there are additional rules that can make it difficult to earn bonuses for multiple versions of the Marriott cards (see below). $95 annual fee. Chase Webpage. Alternative Webpage.


Marriott Bonvoy Business Card. The business version is issued by Amex and has nearly identical features to the personal version, except for a 4x point bonus reward rate on US restaurants, US gas stations, wireless telephone service and shipping. $125 annual fee (after March 28th). Until then, no annual fee for the first year, $95 for the second year). Amex Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.


Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card. The premium card is issued by Amex and is a rebranding of the old "SPG Luxury Card". While this card has a $450 annual fee, it comes with a $300 credit for any Marriott purchases, easily lowering your out-of-pocket expense to $150. We recommend this version for anyone looking for their first Marriott card. Amex Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.


Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card. Chase also offers a no-annual-fee card with a lower signup bonus and no annual free night certificate. Since you are limited to the number of Chase cards you can get, it makes more sense to start with the regular "Boundless" version. But, if you have the Boundless card and you no longer want to pay the annual fee to access the annual free night certificate, you might convert it to this version, rather than cancelling it. You'll retain access to the Marriott 15 elite night credit benefit and can convert it back if you need to. Chase Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.

Marriott is continuing to support the Marriott Premier card, Marriott Bonvoy Amex card (the old SPG personal card), the Ritz Carlton Card, and several other older Marriott cards, but none of these cards are available for new signups.

Collecting the Signup Bonus

Marriott Points

Our base value for Marriott points is .7 cents per point. You can use them for hotel rooms or transfer them to dozens of different frequent flyer programs to use for award tickets. How Much are Hotel Points Worth?

  • It is worth signing up for these cards, just to collect their signup bonuses. The normal signup bonus for the base cards is 75,000 points, with higher offers sometimes available. 75,000 Marriott points is valued at over $500, and 100,000 Marriott points is valued at $700.
  • You can only earn the signup bonus for the Amex cards once per lifetime. If you've had the same card before, Amex won't let you qualify for a signup bonus. Targeted promotional offers occasionally bypass this limitation, allowing you to earn the bonus for am Amex card you've already had.
  • The Chase Marriott cards are affected by the 5/24 rule. You won't be approved if you've gotten 5 or more cards (from all banks combined), in the past 24 months.Dealing with the Chase 5/24 Rule.
  • Chase, Marriott, and Amex are working together to limit the total number of signup bonuses you can earn.
    • You can only have one of the current Chase cards (Marriott Boundless or Marriott Bold) at any one time. If you are going to signup for one of the Chase cards, the regular Boundless version is more valuable.
    • You can't receive a bonus on either of the Chase personal cards if you've received a bonus on either of the Amex cards (business or premium) in the last 24 months, and you can't receive a bonus on either of the Amex cards if you've received a bonus on either of the Chase cards in the last 24 months.
    • If you still have the Bonvoy Amex Card (the old SPG personal card), you aren't eligible for the current Chase cards. If you still have the Marriott Business Card (from Chase), you aren't eligible for the signup bonus on the new Bonvoy Business Card from Amex. If you still have the Ritz Carlton card, you aren't eligible for the bonus on Amex's Bonvoy Brilliant (premium) card.

Free Night Certificates

Every Marriott credit card provides an annual free night certificate Marriott Free Night Certificates.

  • Marriott certificates can only be used for rooms that don’t exceed a specified points cap. For example, the certificate from the “regular” Marriott card (Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card) can only be used for rooms that would require up to 35,000 points to book.
  • 35,000 point Marriott certificates substantially limit your ability to use your certificates at nicer hotels. 35,000 point certificates should be good enough to book solid hotels in most cities, and at least some hotels in expensive cities like New York. However, you are most likely to want to use your certificate when hotel rates are high, and Marriott is now increasing the required number of points during each hotel’s peak season. During peak season, certificates will only work at Marriott’s category 1-4 hotels, which tends to restrict you to Marriott’s lower tier brands, on the outskirts of cities.
  • Nevertheless, you should still be able to get more value than the effective cost of the certificates. Just don’t expect to find many opportunities to use your certificates for hotel rooms that cost $200 or more.

  • 50,000 point certificates can be used at nicer hotels—Category 6 hotels during “standard” season, Category 5 hotels during “peak” season, and Category 7 hotels (out of 8) in “off-peak” season.
  • If you are interested in additional certificates, you can sign up for multiple cards. However, if you want to also receive a signup bonus for each new card, you'll need to follow some restrictions that are detailed above. However, each card takes up one of your 4 available Amex credit card slots. Dealing with the Amex 4 Credit Card Limit
  • Card Max Points Point "Value" Effective "Cost"
    Marriott Boundless 35,000 $250 $95
    Marriott Business 35,000 $250 $125
    Marriott Brilliant 50,000 $350 $150
  • You'll receive the certificate a month or two after each year's anniversary date. You don't receive one the first year you have the card (you get the signup bonus instead).

Other Notable Benefits

  • Silver elite status. Silver status entitles you to a measly 10% bonus points on stays, and priority late checkout (upon availability).
  • If you spend at least $35,000 per year ($30,000 in 2018), you'll get Gold status. However this only provides 2pm priority late checkout (upon availability), a 25% bonus points per stay, plus a per-brand point bonus, and an enhanced room upgrade (upon availability).

    Since Gold status doesn't provide breakfast, lounge access, or much possibility of a significant room upgrade, we wouldn't get any of these cards for their hotel status benefit. And we wouldn't recommend spending $30-35,000 on the cards, rather than earning higher rewards by using a different card, to upgrade to Gold status.

  • 15 elite night credits. Starting in 2019, having any one of these cards entitles you to 15 credit towards qualifying for elite status. For example, you'd only need 10 additional nights to reach Gold status, and 35 nights to reach Platinum status. You can only earn one set of credits per account—it is not possible to combine the elite night credits from multiple cards.
  • You can also earn 1 elite night credit for every $3,000 you spend on the older Marriott Premier card (not available for new signups). This ability continues into the future, if you have and hold onto these older cards, but it was not something we ever recommended, unless you are very close to a higher level status. The opportunity of every $3,000 worth of each elite night credit is about $30.

  • An additional free night certificate with $60,000 spend (Business cards only). We would never recommend spending this much on the card. Certificate is capped at 35,000 points.
  • Premium in-room access At participating properties.

In addition, the Amex cards provide the following benefits.

  • 25,000 bonus points for $25,000 spend (up to 100,000 total bonus points). This is a 2019 only benefit for people who signed up for the SPG Amex Card (personal version) before January 23rd, 2019.
  • Boingo hotspot access. Free access to over a million Boingo hotspots around the world. Boingo website.
  • Access to Amex Offers. Amex continuously provides discount offers to their cardholders. Most of the offers are in the form of "Spend $x, get $y back", but there are also "x% off your entire order" and "Earn an extra Membership Reward point on your purchases" offers. In order to take advantage of the offers, you need to go to the Amex website, find the ones you are interested in, and then "add them" to your card. Then, each offer will be automatically applied when you use your card to make the corresponding purchase. Amex Offers Website.
  • Free ShopRunner membership. As with all Amex cards, you are entitled to a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which provides free two-day and return shipping from around 150 of the largest online retailers. ShopRunner Website
  • Exclusive access to entertainment events. Amex sponsors cardmember-only events around the country, and all provides early access to tickets to some shows.

Additional Benefits with the Bonvoy Brilliant Card

If you decide to spend an $450 per year for the premium Marriott credit card, you'll get a collection of valuable additional benefits.

  • Annual $300 Marriott / SPG credit.. The first $300 you spend every year at Marriott and SPG hotels are taken off your credit card bill. As long as you are spending at least $300 with the program over the course of the year, this brings the out-of-pocket expense of the Luxury card down to $150. The question then becomes whether the other unique benefits are worth the extra $55 per year (compared to the other cards). This credit works on your cardholder year, so you can't use two credits during the first year you have the card.
  • Annual 50,000 point hotel certificate, rather than a 35,000 point certificate.
  • Gold Elite Status, rather than Silver. Unlike the other cards, you'll get Gold status, without any spending requirement. The new Gold status isn't worth that much, but it is better than nothing, and it certainly isn't worth putting enough spending on the other cards to earn it.
  • $100 credit on Ritz and St. Regis stays of 2 nights. This credit can be used for additional expenses incurred at the hotel, but not for your hotel bill. Furthermore, to get the credit, you'll need to book with a special rate code, which could easily result in a higher room rate. We wouldn't count on getting any value out of this benefit, but it is worth checking if you are planning a 2 night stay at one of these hotels.
  • Platinum Elite Status, if you spend $75,000 per year. Platinum status comes with free breakfast, lounge access, and the possibility of an upgrade to a suite. Assuming you have some way of generating this much spend, don't have a chance to earn status with 35 nights, still spend a bunch of nights at the program's hotels, and highly value these benefits, it might be worthwhile. You'd probably be giving up about $750 - $1,000 in lost rewards (or payment service fees) to qualify, but well-timed status can last for over two years.
  • Airport lounge access. Like the other premium cards, you get free access to over a thousand airport lounges via a free Priority Pass membership. With this card, you can bring in up to two travelling companions. Get Free Airport Lounge Access from a Credit Card
  • $100 TSA fee credit. Every 4 years, you can receive an automatic reimbursement of your Global Entry or PreCheck application fee (for up to $100).
  • 3x points with airlines and US Restaurants. This reward rate is too low to add any value.

Even assuming you don't need the Priority Pass membership or TSA Credit, we think that the minor benefits of Gold status, combined with the more valuable free night certificate, are probably worth the extra annual fee. For example, we would value 15,000 points at $110. But, it isn't by much, and there is some chance that you won't get full value from the $300 hotel credit. All things considered, it is a bit of a toss-up whether you'd choose to keep this card, versus (or in addition to) one of the other cards.

If you do value the Priority Pass membership and spend a few nights a year at Marriott or SPG, the card is almost certainly worthwhile.

Bonus Categories

Getting Rid of the Card

You can cancel your card without losing your Marriott points. They are treated like any other points in your account.

Marriott Boundless

If you are collecting signup bonuses, make sure you really want to cancel your Marriott Boundless card. You will likely be blocked from getting it again by the Chase 5/24 rule.

Even if you aren't collecting signup bonuses, if you aren't getting enough value from the free night certificate to justify the annual fee, you should probably convert to the no-annual-fee Bold version, rather than cancelling. You'll retain your 15 elite night credits each year and the minor Marriott Silver status benefits, and you can change back to the regular version at any time.

When downgrading your card, you'll get a prorated rebate of the annual fee. So it can be worthwhile doing so, even if you forgot to downgrade at your account anniversary.

You also have the option to upgrade your Boundless card to the Ritz Carlton Credit Card. This card is no longer available for new signups, has some valuable unique benefits, but also has a very high annual fee.

If you are under 5/24 and it has been two years since you've earned the signup bonus, you might consider cancelling your card, reapplying, and earning the signup bonus again.

Amex Brilliant and Business

Before cancelling your Brilliant card try to use any remaining Marriott statement credits.

There are no downgrade options for either of these cards.

Send comments or suggestions to editor@travelstrategies.com or leave a comment below.

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