With three consumer credit card offerings ranging from a basic no-annual-fee card to a $450/year option with every bell and whistle, it can be tough to know which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you.
Here are your three consumer Bonvoy credit card options, along with their annual fees and current welcome offers:
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: No annual fee, 50,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: $95 annual fee, 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: $450 annual fee, 75,000 bonus Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
The Points Guy currently values Marriott points at .8 cents each, making these bonuses worth roughly $400, $600, and $600, respectively, covering the first annual fee (or lack thereof) in all three cases. But of course, that’s only scratching the surface of what you get with these cards.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold is the rare hotel-branded credit card with no annual fee, so there’s little downside to adding it to your wallet if you ever stay at Marriott properties, even infrequently. But for reasons we’ll get into later, it’s most likely not the card you should get.
Just by having the card, you’ll be credited with 15 elite night credits every year, which automatically grants you Bonvoy Silver status (10 nights/year), and gets you more than halfway to Gold status (25 nights/year). Silver Elite members earn a 10% points bonus on paid Marriott stays, are eligible for priority late checkout (subject to availability), and have access to a dedicated elite reservation line. None of that will dramatically change your Marriott experience, but it’s better than nothing, and again, this card has no annual fee.
The Bold’s big, glaring downside is that it only earns three points per dollar on Marriott purchases (a roughly 2.4% return), half the rate of the other Marriott cards. But if you’re only staying at Marriott hotels a few times per year, that’s probably not a deal breaker.
Best for: People who may not stay or have an opportunity to stay at a Marriott hotel every year.
Though you will have to pay $95 per year to hold the Bonvoy Boundless, it’s worth it for one big reason: The annual free night!
Every year on your cardmember anniversary, you’ll get a free award night worth up to 35,000 points at the hotel of your choice, valid for standard nights at Category 5 properties and below. You won’t be staying in an over-water villa in the Maldives with that award, but many eligible properties would set you back in the $200-$300 price range per night, more than making up for the cost of the annual fee.
You’ll also get automatic Bonvoy Silver status, the same 15 elite night credits as the Bold, and a path to Bonvoy Gold if you put $35,000 on the card every year. Honestly though, if you think you’ll be able to make use of that annual free night (just remember that it expires after a year), this card is probably the one to get whether you’re chasing status or not.
Best for: The majority of travelers, but only if you think you’ll be able to put the annual free night to good use.
The Bonvoy Brilliant’s $450 annual fee may seem daunting, but it comes paired with a $300 annual statement credit towards Marriott hotel stays, so if you consistently spend that much on hotel stays every year, it essentially becomes a $150 annual fee.
That’s only $55 more than the Boundless, but bumps your automatic Silver elite status to Gold, which adds complimentary room upgrades (based on availability), along with a few other perks. It also increases your anniversary free night eligibility from 35,000 points to 50,000 points, which brings a lot of luxury hotels and resorts into the equation.
If you don’t already have TSA Precheck or Global Entry, the Brilliant will cover your application fee (up to $100) once every four years, and you’ll also get complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge access for you and up to two guests. You may already have those benefits from other cards, but if not, they’re great extra perks.
Taken together, these benefits are clearly worth $55; you’ll just need to be sure that you consistently use the $300 annual travel credit, and can take advantage of that higher-end free night (which may come with pricey resort fees, not to mention the cost of booking additional nights) to make the Brilliant worth it.
Best for: Travelers who consistently take at least one “nice” vacation per year, and who can stomach a $450 upfront annual fee.
Have thoughts on any of these cards? Drop them in the comments below!
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