Selecting The Best Marriott Credit Card For Churning In 2021

Though both personal and business travel have been notably curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, the industry is expected to see a resurgence in the latter half of 2021, making now the perfect time to start earning future trips with travel-branded credit cards. 

With multiple options from which to choose, the line of Marriott Bonvoy-branded credit cards is definitely worth consideration. The Marriott family of brands includes a wide variety of familiar names, including luxury properties Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, J.W. Marriott and W Hotels; premium hotels like Marriott, Sheraton, Westin, Renaissance and Gaylord; select properties such as Courtyard, Four Points, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites and Aloft; and extended-stay accommodations at Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites.

If you stay at one or several of these chains at least occasionally, adding a Marriott credit card to your wallet could help you earn free stays and other rewards. 

Below, we’ll take a closer look at the four Marriott Bonvoy credit cards to help you determine which one will deliver maximum returns based on your travel and spending habits. 

Best Marriott Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

The Basics

  • Bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening
  • Earning rate: Earn six points per $1 on Marriott hotel stays, three points per $1 on dining and flights booked directly through the airlines and two points per $1 on all other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 15.74 to 24.74 percent based on your credit rating

marriott credit cardThe Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card carries the highest annual fee of the Marriott-branded card lineup, but it also includes exclusive perks that can help make up for that fee relatively quickly.

It also has the highest points-earning rate of the four cards, so if you stay at Marriott properties on a regular basis, the Brilliant card will likely give you the most bang for your buck.

Welcome Offer

When you open a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express account, you’ll earn 75,000 bonus points as long as you spend $3,000 on the card within three months. The card also includes a $300 annual travel credit, which can be used toward room reservations as well as on-site dining and spa treatments.

Additionally, you’ll receive an anniversary gift each year worth a free hotel night equivalent to 50,000 Marriott points, which covers stays at Marriott Category 6 hotels on standard and off-peak days as well as Marriott Category 7 properties during off-peak dates. (Hotel categories vary based on brand as well as location, amenities and other factors.)

Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, you’ll earn six points per dollar on hotel stays and other purchases at hotels in the Marriott brand family. When you book a flight directly with an airline or dine in a U.S. restaurant, you’ll earn three points per dollar. All other spending yields two points per dollar. 

Points can be redeemed for free nights at more than 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. You can also redeem points for flights or car rentals or transfer your points to rewards programs at more than 40 of the chain’s airline partners.  

Every calendar year, you’ll also receive 15 Elite Night Credits to move you toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status.

Perks and Features

With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you’ll automatically be granted Marriott Gold Elite status, which gives you access to special member rates on reservations, a 25 percent bonus on points earned during stays, free late checkout, room upgrades and more. If you manage to spend $75,000 in a calendar year with the card, you’ll be boosted to Platinum Elite status.

The Brilliant card also earns you a $100 credit toward select cash bookings of two or more nights at Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis properties.

Beyond the Marriott Elite rewards program, Brilliant cardholders also enjoy the following perks:

  • Complimentary rental car loss/damage coverage when you use your card to pay for the rental
  • Enrollment in Priority Pass Select, which includes access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world.
  • Return protection on eligible purchases up to 90 days from the date of purchase
  • Purchase protection on eligible purchases if they are stolen, lost or damaged within 90 days of purchase
  • Exclusive access to event ticket pre-sales for Broadway shows, concerts, sporting events and more
  • Statement credit to cover participation in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when you use the card to pay the application fee
  • Extended warranties on covered purchases
  • Replacement coverage for lost or stolen baggage on flights purchased with the card

Pros 

  • Automatic Gold Elite status
  • $300 annual Marriott travel credit
  • Excellent card benefits like purchase protection and rental car, baggage and travel insurance
  • No spending requirement for generous annual award 

Cons 

  • High annual fee

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Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase

The Basics

  • Bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening
  • Earning rate: Earn six points per $1 on Marriott hotel stays and two points per $1 on all other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 15.99 to 22.99 percent based on your credit rating

marriott credit cardWith a bonus offer equivalent to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card and comparable rates for earning points, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase delivers excellent benefits with a substantially lower annual fee.

Though the annual reward is a bit smaller, it’s still enough to cover a free night at most mid-level Marriott properties and even some upscale accommodations during off-peak dates.  

Welcome Offer

Currently, opening a Boundless account will earn you 75,000 bonus points once you meet the spending requirement of $3,000 within the first three months. You’ll also get 35,000 points each year on your account anniversary, and points don’t expire as long as you use your card every 24 months. As with the Brilliant card, you’ll also receive 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year. 

Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card earns six points per dollar on room nights, dining and other expenses at Marriott properties. All other expenditures yield two points per dollar spent. 

Perks and Features

As a Marriott Bonvoy Boundless cardholder, you’re automatically elevated to Silver Elite status, which gives you access to priority late check-out, exclusive member rates and a 10 percent points bonus on Marriott stays. If you reach $35,000 in spending over a year’s time, you’ll be upgraded from Marriott Silver Elite status to the Gold Elite level.

Other perks of using your Boundless card include

  • Free premium internet access at Marriott properties 
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Reimbursement for essential purchases such as clothing and toiletries (up to $100 a day for five days) if your baggage is delayed by more than six hours
  • Reimbursement up to $3,000 per passenger for lost or damaged carry-on or checked luggage
  • Coverage for expenses such as meals and lodging when your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours
  • Protection against damage or theft of new purchases up to $500 for 120 days after the transaction

Pros 

  • Same bonus offer as Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
  • Low annual fee
  • Reimbursements for travel and baggage delays
  • Purchase protection up to $500

Cons 

  • No bonus points for dining or air travel 
  • Only comes with Silver Elite status

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Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card from Chase

The Basics

  • Bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 within the first three months of opening
  • Earning rate: Earn three points per $1 on Marriott hotel stays, two points per $1 on other travel purchases and one point per $1 on everything else.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 15.99 to 22.99 percent based on your credit rating

marriott credit cardThis entry-level Marriott card is perfect for consumers who hate paying annual fees, but the Bold card’s benefits are also less lucrative. It’s an easy way to earn points toward hotel stays and other rewards at essentially no additional cost to cardholders, but if you stay with Marriott on a semi-regular basis, you’d probably recoup the Boundless card’s $95 annual fee relatively quickly, making it the better deal.

Welcome Offer

New Bold account holders will receive a 30,000-point bonus when meeting a modest spending threshold of $1,000 within the first three months. However, this card doesn’t include any annual Elite Night Credits or other anniversary gift. 

Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

The Bold card has the lowest points-earning rate of the three Marriott consumer cards, awarding three points per dollar on Marriott stays, two points per dollar on other travel spending and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Use your card at least once every 24 months and your points won’t expire.

Perks and Features

As another Chase Bank card, the perks of the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card are identical to the Boundless card: automatic Silver Elite status (which jumps to Gold Elite if you spend $35,000 in a year), free premium internet access and priority late check-out  you’re automatically elevated to Silver Elite status, which gives you access to priority late check-out, exclusive member rates, no foreign transaction fees and all the protections on travel delays and lost baggage. 

Pros 

  • No annual fee
  • Same Chase card benefits as Boundless card
  • Low spending requirement for welcome bonus

Cons 

  • No annual Elite Night Credits or other anniversary reward
  • Low points-earning rate on purchases 

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Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

The Basics

  • Bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening
  • Earning rate: Earn six points per $1 on Marriott hotel stays, four points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, on wireless services from U.S. providers and toward shipping on U.S. purchases. All other eligible purchases earn two points per $1.
  • Annual fee: $125
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 15.74 to 24.74 percent based on your credit rating

marriott credit cardFor small business owners, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card offers solid benefits and rewards that quickly make up for the reasonable annual fee. Unlike the Chase cards, it also comes with valuable perks exclusive to American Express Business cardholders.

Welcome Offer

Spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening a Marriott Bonvoy Business card and you’ll rack up 75,000 bonus points, as well as a 35,000-point yearly reward on your anniversary. You can earn a second 35,000-point reward if you spend at least $60,000 a year, which isn’t much of a stretch if you use your card for regular business expenses. 

Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

The Business card earns six points per dollar spent at Marriott properties, four points per dollar on U.S. restaurants and gas stations, U.S. wireless service and shipping on U.S. purchases. All other spending categories earn two points per dollar. 

Perks and Features

You’ll automatically enjoy Silver Elite status with your Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card, with the ability to reach the Gold Elite level if you spend $35,000 in a calendar year. The card also unlocks access to free premium internet access during hotel stays. You won’t be charged for additional cards for employees, and you’ll earn 5,000 bonus miles if you opt to transfer 60,000 or more points to a participating airline frequent flyer program. 

What makes the Business card stand out from its consumer-grade counterparts are the exclusive features American Express offers to small business owners, including:

  • The American Express Business App, which makes it easy to track spending by uploading receipt images, adding notes and categorizing transactions. 
  • The ability to assign a team member to manage your American Express account, including tasks such as making payments, reviewing transactions and ordering employee cards. 
  • Account alerts that identify irregular spending, monitor employee card use and remind you about payment due dates
  • A year-end summary of charges to help you assess your annual spending
  • Comprehensive online statements to assist you in monitoring purchase history, preparing reports and budgeting expenses

Pros 

  • Low annual fee
  • No charge for employee cards
  • Low spending requirement for welcome bonus

Cons 

  • Only includes automatic Silver Elite status

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Final Thoughts on Marriott Bonvoy Card Options

Compared to other hotel chains’ co-branded credit cards, the benefits of Marriott Bonvoy cards are among the most generous. If you stay at Marriott properties at least a few times a year, the Boundless card likely offers the best return on investment given the minimal $95 annual fee.

If you travel frequently for business or pleasure, the Brilliant card may pay for its considerably higher $450 annual fee after just a few months. And if you’re a small business owner, the rewards of the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card are well worth the $125 annual fee. 

If you opt for one of the Chase cards (Boundless and Bold) and are a prolific card-churner, keep in mind that you’ll be up against Chase’s 5/24 rule, which automatically rejects applicants who have opened five or more credit cards from any issuer within the last 24 months.