|Rewards Rating:||3.9 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||2.8|
In a nutshell:
The Marriott Rewards Premier Business card gives you a sweet sign-up bonus, but the card’s rewards program is nearly identical to the personal version of the card – and at a slightly higher annual fee.
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($4,000 monthly spend)
Other Notable Features: Annual free night stay at category 1-5 hotel, automatic silver status, 15 credits toward elite status annually, 1 credit toward elite status for every $3,000 spent, 5th night free when you redeem 4 nights, no foreign transaction fee, employee cards at no extra cost, individual spending limits for employee cards
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A plus with hotel cards is a wide array of places to stay. With Marriott, Rewards Premier Business cardholders can choose from more than 4,000 hotels in over 90 countries. Properties include Ritz-Carlton hotels and recently acquired Starwood hotels, giving you many great ways to spend your rewards points.
The extraordinarily high 80,000 points sign-up bonus currently being offered makes the Marriott Rewards Premier Business card one of the most valuable hotel cards.
However, if you are trying to decide between the business and personal versions of this card, you will find that Marriott hasn’t done much to differentiate its business card. For a $99 annual fee, you can earn a smidgen of extra points on certain categories of business purchases.
The remainder of the features for both the business and personal cards, including the sign-up bonus and perks, are basically equal.
Average rewards rate for general purchases
The rewards rate for the Marriott Rewards Premier Business card is primarily targeted to frequent travelers and guests of Marriott. For example, you get five points per dollar on Marriott purchases and two points per dollar on airfares purchased directly from the airline. You also earn two points per dollar on some types of business purchases including dining out, office supplies, Internet, cable and phone services. The rest of your spending is rewarded at a low rate of one point per dollar.
Unfortunately, outside of purchases at restaurants, most of these are not categories in which an average business owner would allot a large amount of spending. Business owners who are looking to get the most out of their business spending should consider other options. Some business cards offer a rate as high as 2 percent on general spending.
Excellent sign-up bonus
The Marriott Rewards Premier Business card gives you 80,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first three months. This is a very large sign-up bonus, which we estimate – depending on how you use the points – to be worth $600 or more. The bonus alone may be worth the effort of signing up. It can easily cover a two-night stay or longer at an array of luxurious properties.
Free-night-stay annual bonus
On top of the large sign-up bonus, Marriott also offers a free night stay in any of its category 1-5 properties each year that you renew the card. With a value that falls somewhere between $100 and $200, the certificate by itself may help justify the annual fee.
High annual fee
The $99 annual fee is one of the highest fees for a business rewards card. The annual fee also is not waived in the first year, unlike with some competing cards. If you add together the sign-up bonus, the annual free-night stay and the rewards that you can earn, the value of the card can easily outmatch the fee, especially if you are a frequent guest of Marriott hotels. However, you may also want to consider the personal version of the card, which gives you most of the same features for a lower $85 fee.
Flexible redemption options
Marriott is fairly flexible in its redemption options. There are no blackout dates, and points don’t expire as long as your card is active at least once every 24 months. The program gives you the very convenient option of booking rewards stays before you’ve accumulated enough points to cover the stay – a rare feature for a rewards program.
You also can book rewards rooms with a combination of points and cash at participating Marriott locations, in case you don’t have enough points to cover a full stay.
Unfortunately, while Marriott doesn’t enforce any blackout dates, it does allow its hotels to put restrictions on the number of rewards rooms available. Some locations may choose to limit rewards rooms on holidays and other popular times of the year.
With Marriott’s network of 4,000-plus hotels, you should be able to find a rewards room at nearly any travel destination. The Marriott network includes Ritz-Carlton hotels and also Starwood hotels, after a recent merger. While you can’t currently book Starwood stays directly from your Marriott rewards account, Marriott lets you transfer your points to the Starwood program at a rate of 3:1. Starpoints are very valuable – probably worth two to three times the value of Marriott points by our estimates – so this is a reasonable transfer rate.
Good travel features and perks
The Marriott card comes with good – though not outstanding – perks compared to other hotel cards. The card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, which should be especially valuable to business travelers. Another bonus: the free night that Marriott offers every time you stay five nights or longer.
Elite status leaves something to be desired
The card also gives you an automatic bump to silver elite status in the Marriott loyalty program. Automatic elite status is a common feature for co-branded hotel cards. In comparison to other cards, the benefits that come with elite status in the Marriott program are lacking: the program offers a 20 percent increase on base point earnings, preferential treatment at Marriott hotels and some minor discounts on hotel purchases. What’s missing: the hotel credits, upgrades or other luxury perks that you would expect to come with a $99 annual fee.
The card also helps you earn your way to gold elite status … at a slow rate. You get 15 credits toward gold status every year that you spend $50,000, or one credit for every $3,000 that you spend on the card. Either way, there’s a larger-than-average spending requirement to reach elite status.
Few business features
The Marriott business card is also sparse on features for business owners. Chase does allow you to add employee cards to your account and to set up individual spending limits for those cards. However, Chase doesn’t offer special tools for tracking business purchases or employee spending, and the card doesn’t come with the special discounts for business purchases that many premium cards in the business category offer.
Reasons to sign up for it:
- You’re a frequent guest of Marriott hotels.
- You frequently travel and spend a large amount on hotels and airfare for your business.
- You’re looking for a hotel rewards card with many hotel options.
- You’re trying to obtain elite status in the Marriott rewards program.
- You’re searching for a card with a very large sign-up bonus.
How to use it:
- Be sure to spend at least $3,000 in the first three months to earn the card’s 80,000-point bonus.
- Book your Marriott stays in increments of five nights to earn a free night.
- Make sure to use your free-night certificate before it expires in 12 months
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