Cashing In Q&A columns

Marriott Bonvoy cards are offering 100,000-point bonuses; are they worth it?

The points offered by Bonvoy cards are valuable, but make sure to pick a card that fits your spending and travel habits


Three different Marriott Bonvoy credit cards are currently offering 100,000-point bonuses. Are they worth it? It all depends on your travel and spending habits.

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Dear Cashing In,

My cousin sent me an email saying now might be the time to get a hotel card because some of them come with big bonuses. He mentioned that Marriott has a few cards that are offering 100,000 points. Is that a good deal? – Charles

Dear Charles,

Your cousin is correct: Lately there have been some card offers in the news that are eye-popping because of the high amount of reward points they are offering.

In the old days – that is, just a few years ago – finding offers with 100,000 points was a tough proposition.

See related: Limited time offer: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card launches

Hotel card points value versus airline miles, card rewards

Today, such offers are more common, especially from hotel cards. But keep in mind that hotel points are generally worth less than airline miles or points in a bank’s reward program.

This means 100,000 points in a hotel’s loyalty program are probably less valuable than the same number of points or miles in other programs.

Nonetheless, those points have considerable value.

Marriott’s program, now called Bonvoy, allows you to redeem points at 30 different hotel brands, including The Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Westin, Renaissance Hotels, Aloft and Residence Inn.

The number of points required depends on the category of the hotel and ranges from 7,500 a night to 80,000 a night.

As an example of how you might use 100,000 Marriott points, I looked at availability in Boston for the end of April 2019. Marriott listed 122 hotels available to book. Most seemed to be in the range of 17,500 points to 35,000 points per night.

Here’s what you could do with the 110,000 Marriott points from the card (100,000 bonus, plus at least 10,000 points from the $5,000 in minimum spending):

  • At the low end, you could book eight nights at the TownePlace Suites in Manchester, New Hampshire, which is 12,500 points per night. If you book it as two separate four-night stays, you would actually get 10 nights there, because when you book four reward nights, you get a fifth one free. Ten nights here are worth $1,040.
  • At the middle end, you could book three nights at the Residence Inn in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is 35,000 points per night. Those are worth $738.
  • At the high end, you could stay two nights at the Westin Boston Waterfront, at 50,000 points a night. Those are worth $606.

As you can see, there is value you can receive from these cards – and the more budget redemption options you pick, the more you can stretch the value of these welcome bonuses.

Marriot Bonvoy cards: These are your options

But which card should you apply for? Here are the three Marriott Bonvoy cards currently in the market:

Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

  • Annual fee: $95.
  • Sign-up bonus: 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in first three months.
  • Rewards rate: 6 points per dollar spent at Marriott, 2 points per dollar spent everywhere else.
  • Perks: 1 free night on anniversary (worth up to 35,000 points); Silver Elite status (late priority checkout, 10-percent points bonus on hotel stays).

Marriott Bonvoy Brillant™ American Express® Card

  • Annual fee: $450.
  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in first three months (offer ends April 24, 2019).
  • Rewards rate: 6 points per dollar spent at Marriott; 3 points per dollar spent at restaurants and flights booked from airlines; 2 points per dollar spent on everything else.
  • Perks: 1 free night on anniversary (up to 50,000 points); Gold Elite status. (2 p.m. late checkout, 25 percent bonus on hotel stays); annual $300 statement credit at Marriott hotels; Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit (worth up to $100); Priority Pass airport lounge access.

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

  • Annual fee: $125.
  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in first three months (offer ends April 24, 2019).
  • Rewards rate: 6 points per dollar spent at Marriott; 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. wireless carriers and U.S. shipping purchases; 2 points per dollar spent on everything else.
  • Perks: 1 free night on anniversary (up to 35,000 points); Silver Elite status (late priority checkout, 10 percent points bonus on hotel stays). Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year.

Which Marriott Bonvoy card is right for you?

Essentially, you have two different kinds of cards: the basic ones with a lower annual fee – a personal and business version. You also have a premium alternative with a higher annual fee but a lot more perks.

If you are:

    • A frequent traveler or a Marriott regular: American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant.
    • A person with a side business or hobby: American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business.
    • Interested in the perks but wary of a high annual fee: Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless.

Make sure you qualify for Marriott Bonvoy’s welcome bonuses

One important note: If you have or have previously had a Marriott or SPG card, you might not qualify for the big 100,000-point bonus. Make sure you read the fine print before applying.

In summary, there is value in these cards, but do a little bit of research and reflection before applying to make sure you’re making the right move.

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