Making Sense of the New Marriott Bonvoy Co-Brand Cards

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With each step of the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest merger comes new hurdles in ensuring you understand and maximize the new combined program (oddly) named Marriott Bonvoy. This week American Express and Chase launched the new line up of co-branded Marriott Bonvoy cards.

By all accounts, the two banks worked out an amicable solution where each got to keep equal shares of the previously separate Amex SPG and Chase Marriott co-branded business, but that doesn't mean they've made it easy to decipher all the changes in the card line up. I've covered the new cards and their benefits below. To see if you are eligible for the welcome bonus on any of the new cards, check our updated Marriott card eligibility resource.

Marriott-Bonvoy-Logo

 

Base Card

The legacy SPG Amex personal card has closed to new applicants leaving Chase with the only entry-level Bonvoy personal credit card. The Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card has been rebranded into the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. The $95-annual-fee card is offering 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Here's a rundown of the card benefits:

  • Earn 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels and 2X points on all other spending
  • Automatic Silver Elite status
  • Earn Gold status after spending $35,000 on the card annually
  • 15 elite qualifying night credits
  • Annual free night at properties costing up to 35,000 points at card anniversary
  • Free in-room premium Wi-Fi starting August 2019

$95 is a solid price to pay for 75,000 points and an annual free night. The 2X base earning rate continues to be a disappointment compared to the legacy SPG Amex's equivalent 3X earning power, but I think if you're eligible, this is a card to get and keep.

Luxury Card

The The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card closed to applications in 2018 and the SPG Luxury Amex has officially been rebranded the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. The newly rebranded luxury Bonvoy card is offering a 100,000 point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months of account opening. Here's a rundown of the card benefits:

  • Earn 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels; 3x points at US restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines; and 2X points on everything else.
  • $300 statement credit for Marriott purchases including room rates and on property purchases.
  • Each card anniversary receive a free night at properties costing up to 50,000 points.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status, earn Platinum status after spending $75,000 in a calendar year
  • Statement credit to cover Global Entry or TSA PreCheck registration fees
  • 15 elite qualifying night credits per year
  • Priority Pass Lounge Membership
  • Starting March 28, the card will offer a $100 credit for stays of two nights or more at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton properties when booking an eligible rate
  • $450 annual fee

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has a compelling welcome bonus, and the $300 credit is nice. But only offering Gold status and an underwhelming set of earning rates makes this card less attractive than I had hoped. My wife has the Ritz-Carlton Card which I think overall is a more effective Marriott Bonvoy luxury card. It's a shame the Ritz-Carlton Card is not open to new card members, but our plan is to hold onto it and forego this card.

Business Card

American Express has emerged from the two banks as the lone holder of the Bonvoy co-branded business card. The Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card is now closed to applicants and the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card is here to stay. The business card has a $125 annual fee (Rates & Fees) which is not waived for the first year. The welcome bonus is offering 75,000 bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. (Terms Apply).

The annual fee for this card increased from $95 to $125 on March 28, 2019. Those who opened their Marriott Bonvoy Business Card before the 28th, had their first-year annual fee waived and will pay $95 the second year before moving to the $125 fee starting on the third year. Although the cost is now $125 per year, many small business owners will find this card's benefits more than compensate for the annual fee:

  • Earn 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 4X points at gas stations, restaurants, and wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers, and shipping; and 2X points on everything else.
  • Automatic Silver Elite status and Gold status after spending $35,000 in a calendar year
  • Free night at properties costing up to 35,000 points
  • Boingo Wi-Fi membership
  • Premium in-room internet
  • Earn a second free night (at properties costing up to 35,000 points) starting March 28th after spending $60,000 on the card in a calendar year

This card is more compelling to me than the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card or Marriott Bonvoy Card thanks to a more competitive 4x earning on useful spending categories and extra benefits like Boingo Wi-Fi.

Recommended Strategy

There are three points you need to consider before picking a strategy with the Bonvoy cards:

  1. First, consider your Chase 5/24 slots. This doesn’t have to mean you must apply for Chase cards first; it means you need to know your 5/24 standing and how further card openings will affect what you are eligible for down the road.
  2. Next, look at which cards you hold or have recently held and review the list of rules announced to see if you’re ineligible for any welcome offers based on your current and previous card portfolio.
  3. Finally, consider your future stay plans with Marriott to see which on-property benefits you could pick up with the co-branded cards.

Bottom Line

Now that all the legacy SPG Amex cards are closed to new applicants, the path forward with Bonvoy cards is now much clearer. Don't forget, American Express has an online welcome offer-eligibility tool which will confirm your research as to whether or not you are able to receive a Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card welcome offer.

I expect as Amex and Chase monitor the performance of these new cards, we'll see adjustments to the welcome offers and card benefits. If you aren't in a rush to pick up a card or not eligible, don't worry about trying to apply for a card at this time. The new portfolio is here to stay for many years in the future.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees)

Making Sense of the New Marriott Bonvoy Co-Brand Cards
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Comments

  • I’m really sad Amex is not issuing the basic consumer card anymore.

  • The free night is worth it. I wish it was a little more value/higher levels, but it’s still good enough to justify.

  • The $95 is justified with the card. I wish it was a little higher or offered more points, but it’s worth it and justified for sure.

  • The “Cross over” rules (see Marriott card eligibility resource.) are really a PITA. I suddenly have an Amex Bonvoy card and my husband has a Chase Bonvoy card. I was the lucky one – I got approved for the new Amex Bonvoy Business card; my husband was the unlucky one. He upgraded his Chase Marriott card i November and got points AND he hasn’t had the card for 24 months yet.

    • Jamie Eubank says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Basically an act of collusion. Not saying it’s illegal or anything like that, but to see companies start to partner in this way is concerning.

  • Seems to me the luxury card gets the most bang for the buck.

  • Thanks for the info. This seems to be the clearest explanation I’ve seen, so far.

  • Being burdened with Chase 5/24 I do not have to worry about any new Chase cards at this time.

    • I very much appreciate your spinning of a “burden” into “no worry for me here.” Turning such a negative on its head is probably a tool that serves you well in life. And, I need to take a lesson from you!

  • Some useful information here, thanks.

  • Don’t think business card is better one. Bonus categories may be better but how many readers here are using only one card?
    With effectively $150 fee for Brilliant, $125 for business is really high.
    Anyway, we will still keep two Lux, 1 Amex biz, 2 Chase Biz for a while.

  • Too bad Amex isn’t an option for entry level – partner doesn’t like Chase due to banking scandals

  • I have no idea what I’m going to do with my remaining cards. I previously dropped the business versions of my SPG and Marriott cards.

  • A very confusing line up of cards compared to other chains. Thanks for the rundown on the latest changes.

  • I have both the Bonvoy Brilliant card and the business card and will probably keep them. With the 300 dollar credit, the luxury card annual fee is reasonable. I wish it had a better earn rate at their hotels — the same earn rate as the other cards is disappointing. I agree that the business card has the best for category earnings. It will be my gas card when there are no quarterly gas bonuses.

  • Wow, I’m actually impressed by the premium card… elite status, $300 Marriott credit, and annual free night cert is pretty compelling.

  • Michael S Dikovitsky says:

    Will have to think about what to do next!

  • The Automatic Silver Elite status is good.

  • Business card it is! Needed a cooling couple months before my next chase business card

  • Thanks for reminding me of the AMEX ‘Welcome Tool’ to ascertain eligibility (since Chase is out (5/24).

  • Thank you for the clarity. Heavily invested in SPG / Marriot and looking toward getting new program card.

  • I don’t understand why the Bonvoy business card is any better, especially with the increased fee since there is no increase in benefit with the increase in fee. Unless you are spend significantly in the bonus categories (which by the way are bonus categories for other cards as well and provides better value there), its much better to just get the personal chase version.

  • Wow! This lays it out all out nicely compared to other posts I’ve seen about these changes. Thank you! And thank you for the Marriott card eligibility link – super helpful as I strategize which cards to get in what order!

  • I’m still really not sure which marketing agency thought bonvoy was a good name?! But putting that aside, I’ve found the integration betweeen Marriott and SPG fairly smooth, and I’m enjoying being able to book some top end former spg properties using points advance.

  • strange the UK SPG Amex is still available for new sign-ups.

  • Thank you for pointing out the most valuable card for us.

  • Great info. Want this deal.

  • Mark Cleverly says:

    Thanks for this, much appreciated.

  • It’s very confusing, they should have stuck with either Chase or Amex.
    Too many rules to even get a card.

  • Looking to mortgage shop around September so I will have to miss out on any credit card sign ups until after all of that is complete.

  • Thanks for sharing the breakdown. Very helpful!

  • Thanks for the breakdown. 4x points at gas stations, the extra night and auto status on the business card is a worthwhile consideration for me.

  • 4meric4nwom4n says:

    This is a huge help in understanding the nuances of the cards. I find these explanations extremely helpful. Thanks! I think I know which direction I’m heading towards finally!

  • I do think Bonvoy is the worst name of any loyalty program.

  • Helpful info. as these restrictions/qualifications are continually getting more complicated and requiring more careful consideration.

  • Can the 100,000 AE points be transferred to United Airlines or Marriott? Previously to transfer AE points to either program one had to transfer AE to Marriott then from Marriott to UA. There wasn’t a direct transfer from AE to UA. It’s been a while since I did this so I may be mistaken. The basic question …can I transfer the business AE 100,000 points to either Marriott or UA?

    Regards,

    Nick

    • Still no direct transfer between Membership Rewards and United. You can transfer Membership Rewards to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio but it’s not a recommended use of your points as Amex points are much more valuable than Marriott Points.

  • making it more confusing everyday so you either squander your points, never use them or never earn them… I miss the old days

  • It is really a wonderful gift to us that you are able to analyze this amount of data and clearly explain it to the rest of us. Thank you!

  • with this new bonvoy launch, the credit card offerings have gotten pretty messed up. The new AmEx bonvoy business card didn’t provide any additional benefits but they still increased the annual fee. That on top of the loss of 1/3 rd of the earning rate. I”m likely going to cancel the card.

  • Just wish one was available in Australia.

  • Great layout to best understand what you get where. I’m waiting for the no AF card from Chase. I wonder when they might put that out. I don’t use Marriott enough to justify the cards with the AF right now.

  • Stephen Wing says:

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the UK, where the SPG card is still available.

  • I’m still sorting through the Marriott Bonvoy program overall now that it has consolidated, but this is a great summary of the different cards I’ll have a choice of with the new program when I decide if the fees will be worth it. Very helpful, thanks.

  • Farid Kassam says:

    thank for the information. very helpful

  • Wow what amazing deals – wish we had something similar in the UK! Still have the SPG Amex at a fairly poor earning rate (with minimal benefits for annual fee) and a Marriott MasterCard which is closed to new applicants!

  • Love Marriott experience every time I stayed. Great to be part of the program.

  • I don’t like how bonus points are limited to US locations but that’s across the board with Amex.

  • Statement credits for the Luxury card have the potential to completely negate the annual fee if you spend on certain things.

  • be careful if you have had the bonus from Amex before (for SPG) then you may not be eligible for the new AMEX bonvoy cards. There are some specific rules around this. search other blogs for more detailed info about it.

  • I need a new Marriott card!

  • Sure do miss earning the 3x SPG points on the old SPG card…

  • Amex wouldn’t allow the Bonvoy Business if you have Chase Marriott Personal

  • Thanks for this article, it helps a lot. I still can’t get over the name Bonvoy though!

  • The 2x points on all non Marriott spending isn’t enough to make me jump for the new card.

  • Thanks for the breakdown. It is helpful as I am debating whether to go with Hilton or Marriott for my travel and will get a CC to enhance earnings.

  • KATIE WILKINSON says:

    Rich

    Thanks for the though breakdown of the new types of credit cards.

  • I’ve had the Chase Marriott cars for years and recently upgraded it. Would there be good reason to apply for the AmEx Marriott card to take advantage of their sign on bonus points, or would I be ineligible for it?

  • Love Marriott brand hotels, especially now they are even bigger with SPG hotels. Would def consider getting the co-brand new cards.

  • Is there a way to convert AAdvantage miles to Marriott points?

  • Quite the tangled web of cards. Thanks for making some sense of it.

  • I need to wait a few more months until I’m eligible again to apply, but am bookmarking the application rules post. Thanks!

  • Dexter Ohama says:

    Between the two, I personally like the Amex cards. Customer service is above all.

  • Awesome! Thank you for clarifying this

  • The Amex luxury card is pretty disappointing, comparing to all other high annual fee cards. Wonder if it’s due to dual-issuer agreement which makes Amex less compelled to give very competitive features.

  • Great info to read. Can’t believe they debuted Bonvoy commercials during the Oscars telecast!

  • David Shapiro says:

    AMEX and Chase scramble to divide up the strangely renamed Marriott affinity credit card pie:

    Badly Branded Bonvoy Boundless/ Brilliant Battles Belie Bad Bank Business Breakup

  • One problem I have run into in the past with Marriott Rewards (now Bonvoy) is that free night certificates are only good for a certain level of hotel, and very often in big cities such as Washington DC, and london, there are no hotels at that level. So, you end up having to stay far away or not use the certificate.

  • The Bonvoy Brilliant annual $300 statement credit offsets the $450 annual fee pretty nicely. Even so, agree that point accrual and gold status vs platinum could be better. Still may consider in the future..Thanks for the great insight!

  • Too bad the Bonvoy cards earn 33% less points on regular purchases compared to SPG

  • Thank you for the detailed post. Much appreciated.

  • Cynthia Rosemary Gohill says:

    Nice to able to earn points on the Bonvoy card even though they are devalued; however getting Marriott status (Gold elite) has not gotten us a single room upgrade over 21 stays Jan to Apr 2019. Don’t expect it. Book other rooms than Marriott and get what you want instead of anticipating an upgrade.

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