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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.
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 100,000 points 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 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 100,000 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.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® 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-Carton Card is not open to new card members, but our plan is to hold onto it and forego this 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 Card is here to stay. The business card has a $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees) which is waived for the first year. The welcome bonus is offering 100,000 bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Offer ends 04/24/2019. (Terms Apply).
One thing to consider is that the annual fee for this card will increase from $95 to $125 on March 28, 2019. If you apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card before the 28th, you’ll get the fee waived the first year and then pay $95 the second year before moving to the $125 fee starting on the third year. This means if you're eligible for the welcome offer, I would apply before March 28th. Here is a rundown of the card benefits:
- 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. The bonus categories are more competitive and the annual fee offers more value, especially if you get in now at the lower rate. If you're eligible for this card and the elevated welcome offer of 100,000 points, I would apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card now.
There are three decision points you need to consider before picking a strategy with the Bonvoy cards:
- 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.
- 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.
- Look at the above Marriott Bonvoy card announcements like the business card annual fee change, the April 24th cut off for the 100,000 point offers and your future stay plans with Marriott to see which on-property benefits you could pick up with the co-branded cards.
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)
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