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On Thursday, Sept. 22, the Marriott hotel chain announced the addition of two new credit cards to its already existing family of cards. The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Card from Chase are essentially identical, with new bonus categories and benefits that differ from Marriott’s existing cards, plus an annual fee that falls between the chain’s lower-priced cards and its high-end offering.
Marriott also detailed changes to its existing top-end luxury credit card, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, along with an increased annual fee. Let’s take a look at the changes, along with the details of the two new cards, and see if they make sense for the regular Marriott traveler.
New elite status but a higher annual fee on the Marriott Brilliant credit card
The Marriott Brilliant Amex has long been a credit card for people who frequently find themselves at Marriott hotels, as it comes with a slew of elite perks. One of the main features of the card was up to $300 in annual statement credits at Marriott hotels, but this benefit has now been replaced by up to $300 in statement credits annually for dining purchases at restaurants worldwide, which are doled out in portions of up to $25 per month.
That means that unlike the old credit that could be used all at once during a single Marriott stay at any time throughout the year, you’ll now have to pay attention monthly to ensure you’re utilizing your credits. On the other hand, since the new credit can be used at any restaurant worldwide, there are theoretically plenty of opportunities to take advantage of it each month.
As before, starting with the second year having the Marriott Brilliant Amex and every year thereafter, you’ll receive a Free Night Award as part of your card perks. Previously you could use this award at any Marriott property that cost up to 50,000 points, but the cap has now been increased to 85,000 points, which should open up more options (though certain hotels have resort fees). Just keep in mind that Marriott now uses a dynamic pricing system, so the redemption cost for a room varies from day to day, depending on the cash price of the room at any given time.
With the Marriott Brilliant Amex, you’ll now also get automatic Platinum elite status, which includes a 50% bonus on points earned from eligible Marriott hotel purchases, enhanced room upgrades (including suites), 4 p.m. late checkout and breakfast at participating properties. The card also now features 25 elite night credits per year, which can help Marriott road warriors climb the ladder to an even higher level of status.
Also, the card will now come with cell phone protection and, starting in January 2023, card members can select an Annual Earned Choice Award after making $60,000 in purchases on the card.
None of the previously existing perks of the Marriott Brilliant Amex have been removed, so the card still earns 6 points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points per dollar at restaurants (now worldwide instead of just within the U.S.) and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
Other existing card benefits that remain include an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required) and up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve or St. Regis brands when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night stay or longer.
For all these new perks, you’ll pay significantly more money. The $450 annual fee on the Marriott Brilliant Amex is rising to an incredibly high $650 annual fee (see rates and fees). Existing Marriott Brilliant card members who opened their accounts prior to Sept. 22, 2022, will see this new annual fee take effect on your first annual renewal date on or after Jan. 1, 2023.
Whether the new benefits are worth this $200 increase depends on how much you value them. In particular, the complimentary Platinum elite status may be useful to those who count on having daily breakfast included with their hotel stays, and could mean a major savings. Although the breakfast option varies depending on the Marriott brand, you’ll typically receive lounge access (which offers breakfast), continental breakfast for the member and an additional guest, or a food and beverage credit.
Finally, through Jan. 11, 2023, new Marriott Brilliant Amex card members can earn 150,000 bonus points after making $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening the account. Frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Marriott points at 0.84 cents apiece, making 150,000 points worth as much as $1,260 in Marriott stays. This is one of the better offers we’ve seen for the card, so if you’re looking to stay at a Marriott property sooner than later, this bonus offer — and the card’s perks — could come in handy.
Two new card options with the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Amex and the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful
The new Marriott Bevy Amex and Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful come with the exact same perks and bonus categories, along with an identical annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees for the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express Card). That’s a lot of money for a credit card, and frankly, the benefits package on these cards may not be worth it to most customers.
Both cards earn 6 points per dollar spent at Marriott properties, 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year, then 2x thereafter) and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases. That’s similar though not exactly the same as the Marriott Brilliant’s bonus categories, though the U.S. supermarkets category should be useful for people who want to use one of these new cards for their everyday spending.
With either card, you’ll also receive complimentary Marriott Gold elite status and 15 elite night credits each calendar year. While this is better than the Silver status that comes with Marriott’s lower-priced credit card, the perks of Gold status aren’t that much better, and certainly aren’t worth an additional $155 in annual fees on their own.
One unique benefit of these two cards is the ability to earn 1,000 bonus points with each qualifying Marriott stay. While this could add up quickly for the road warrior who typically completes a lot of one-night stays, it probably won’t equate to too many bonus points for the average traveler who has just a few stays each year. And since The Points Guy values Marriott points at 0.84 cents apiece, those 1,000 bonus points are essentially worth just a little over $8.
Marriott Bevy Amex and Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful card members will also receive a Free Night Award after making $15,000 in purchases per year, which can be redeemed at properties that cost up to 50,000 points per night (certain hotels have resort fees). This is, frankly, a disappointing feature, as all of the other existing Marriott credit cards that have annual fees include a Free Night Award as an automatic annual benefit without having to meet a spending threshold of any kind.
However, with either of these two cards, new card members will be able to earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months of opening the account. This offer is available on the Marriott Bevy Amex through Jan. 11, 2023, while the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful issued by Chase will have the offer available into Jan. 2023.
The Marriott Boundless credit card: A low annual fee and complimentary annual free night
If you don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount on annual fees — and the above three Marriott credit cards do cost a pretty penny — the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card remains a great option at just $95 per year. In addition to the current sign-up bonus of 3 free night awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months, 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 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.
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. Alternatively, you can also earn Marriott Gold elite status by spending $35,000 on the card each account year. And 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.
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 for a credit card, you might want to consider the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card, which is the only Marriott credit card with no annual fee. However, you’ll earn fewer points on your everyday spending, as the card only earns 3 points per dollar at participating Marriott hotels instead of the 6x points of the other Marriott cards, and 2 points per dollar 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
Alternatively, if you’re a small-business traveler who’s often on the road and you’re looking for a business credit card, you can earn up to 75,000 bonus points with the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months after account opening. Those 75,000 bonus points are worth $630 based on The Points Guy’s valuations, and the card comes with only a $125 annual fee (see rates and fees).
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.
The Marriott Business Amex also has the same 15 annual elite credits as the Marriott Boundless and the two new Marriott cards, which you can “stack” together for a total of 30 elite nights if you also hold one of those personal Marriott cards (or even 40 elite nights if you stack it with the Marriott Brilliant). However, you’ll automatically earn Gold elite status just for being a Marriott Business Amex card member.
Just like with the Marriott Boundless card, you’ll receive a complimentary award night each year with the Marriott Business Amex starting with your second card member year, which 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?
Typically, we’re quite excited when new credit cards are launched, but there’s a level of disappointment with both the Marriott Bevy Amex and the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful. If the $250 annual fee on these cards was lower or if the annual Free Night Award didn’t require $15,000 in spending, then we’d be more impressed. But when comparing the new cards’ perks and annual fees against the Marriott Boundless card, the latter is a far superior option, even for a regular Marriott traveler.
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 the three Marriott credit cards that come with annual complimentary award certificates starting with the second year you have the card are worth considering, not only for their welcome offers but also to keep on an ongoing basis.
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.