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Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card review

Published: May 15, 2018

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Ratings Policy
Hotel Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.8
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.4
Rewards Flexibility: 4.1
Hotel Options: 4.5
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

The 100,000-point bonus on the new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card is a good incentive to take Marriott’s upgraded rewards program for a test run.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 6 points per dollar at Marriott hotels
  • 2 points per dollar on other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
100,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Bonus
Annual free night stay in a hotel up to 35,000 points

Annual Fee
$95

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$566

APR
17.49-24.49% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire as long as card is active every 24 months
  • Book rewards stay without required points
  • Redeem points for hotel stays, upgrades, airfare, vacation packages, cruises, merchandise, gift cards, charity, hotel and airfare
  • Use points plus cash to book rewards at some properties
  • Use points to upgrade a reservation
  • Transfer points more than 40 airline partners at 3:1 ratio

Cons

  • Rewards rooms may be limited at some properties
  • Can only use free night certificate if standard room is available

Hotel Options

  • Properties: 6,500+
  • Countries served: 127+

Other Notable Features: Automatic silver status, 20% bonus on Marriott base points, free in-room Wi-Fi, late checkout, 5th night free on any rewards stay, no foreign transaction fees, car rental insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty

Rewards Rating:
4.3 rating
4.3 rating
4.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.6
Rewards Flexibility: 4.2
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

Though Marriott rewards points are a bit inflated and the threshold for its sign-up bonus is steep, the new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card is a great value for those who can afford it.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 6 points per dollar at Marriott hotels
  • 2 points per dollar on other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
100,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$95

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$566

APR
17.49-24.49% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire as long as card is active every 24 months
  • Book rewards stay without required points
  • Redeem points for hotel stays, upgrades, airfare, vacation packages, cruises, merchandise, gift cards, charity, hotel and airfare
  • Use points plus cash to book rewards at some properties
  • Use points to upgrade a reservation
  • Transfer points more than 40 airline partners at 3:1 ratio

Cons

  • Rewards rooms may be limited at some properties
  • Can only use free night certificate if standard room is available

Other Notable Features: Automatic silver status, 20% bonus on Marriott base points, free in-room Wi-Fi, late checkout, 5th night free on any rewards stay, no foreign transaction fees, car rental insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty

Travel Rating:
4.1 rating
4.1 rating
4.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.3
Rewards Flexibility: 3.7
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

The new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card offers some decent hotel perks and a high rewards rate, enabling you to collect bonus points on everyday purchases.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 6 points per dollar at Marriott hotels
  • 2 points per dollar on other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
100,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$95

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$566

APR
17.49-24.49% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire as long as card is active every 24 months
  • Book rewards stay without required points
  • Redeem points for hotel stays, upgrades, airfare, vacation packages, cruises, merchandise, gift cards, charity, hotel and airfare
  • Use points plus cash to book rewards at some properties
  • Use points to upgrade a reservation
  • Transfer points more than 40 airline partners at 3:1 ratio

Cons

  • Rewards rooms may be limited at some properties
  • Can only use free night certificate if standard room is available

Other Notable Features: Automatic silver status, 20% bonus on Marriott base points, free in-room Wi-Fi, late checkout, 5th night free on any rewards stay, no foreign transaction fees, car rental insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty

There’s a new Marriott card in town, and, if the card’s limited-time offer of 100,000 bonus points doesn’t already have you reaching for the apply button, you should take a look at Marriott’s newly announced loyalty program.

The updated Marriott Rewards program – which will finally bring together Marriott, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton hotels under a single program starting Aug. 1, 2018 – appears to be an improvement on all fronts for current Marriott members, incorporating the best features of Marriott’s and Starwood’s loyalty programs.

If you want to give the Marriott Rewards program a try, now’s a great time to do so.

Limited-time offer: 100,000 bonus points

For a limited time, new cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points with the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card by spending $5,000 in the first three months. While we think this is too steep a spending requirement for the average cardholder, the bonus is worth it if you can muster the funds.

Even when you take into account the inflated value of Marriott points – worth about 0.8 cents on average by our estimates – the bonus is far more valuable than the average sign-up offer, getting you 13 rewards nights at the lowest-tier hotel.

Moreover, with the Marriott program’s fifth-night free benefit, which offers a free fifth night on any rewards stay, you can stretch your bonus even further. If you use the 100,000-point sign-up bonus to book two consecutive five-night stays, you can score up to 15 rewards nights.

Average earning rate

On the other hand, the Marriott offers a pretty average earning scheme. Cardholders earn six points per dollar on Marriott purchases and two points per dollar on other purchases. Like most hotel cards, the numbers look large, but the earning rate is not as grand as it appears to be.

When you account for the lower value of Marriott points, the Marriott card falls in the middle of the pack in terms of ongoing value. If you are looking to maximize your earnings, you will likely get a better return on your spending with a general rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Annual free night

On the plus side, Marriott offers a free night certificate at a hotel with a maximum redemption level of 35,000 points to card members each year on their card anniversary. This adds significantly value to the card in the long run. If you are assured of using the certificate before it expires in 12 months, you will more than cancel out the $95 membership fee.

The world’s largest hotel foot print

The newly unified portfolio of Marriott, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton hotels offers the best coverage that you will find with any hotel network. With more than 6,500 hotels in more than 127 countries, you are ensured of finding a rewards room practically anywhere you want to travel, and at most price points – from more affordable brands, such as Fairfield Inn and Suites, to luxury properties, such as Ritz-Carlton and Westin.

Unfortunately, Marriott isn’t nearly as flexible as some of its competitors in allowing you to redeem your points for rewards stays. While the website promises no blackout dates, Marriott does allow properties to restrict their inventory for rewards rooms. In other words, you may have some difficulty getting free nights at popular destinations, or during peak travel times.

Travel and hotel perks

Your card membership entitles you to automatic silver elite status in the Marriott Rewards program, which includes some useful – if not outstanding – hotel perks, including a 20 percent bonus on Marriott base points, free Wi-Fi and late checkout.

The Marriott card also comes with travel benefits, including car rental insurance, trip cancellation insurance, lost baggage insurance and no foreign transaction fees.

Changes coming to Marriott in August 2018

Marriott, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton loyalty programs are officially merging in August 2018. The merger will simplify things for current members, by combining points into a single account and allowing members to redeem points for Starwood and Ritz-Carlton hotel stays without having to transfer them across accounts.

Marriott members can also expect some changes to their program benefits, most of which appear to be positive:

Unified elite status across all Marriott brands – Rather than offering separate elite status in Marriott, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton hotels, Marriott is implementing a single elite status for all its brands, including new status tiers. This should allow members to rack up qualifying nights faster. Also, Marriott members will now be able to qualify for lifetime elite status.

New point-earning opportunities – Members will earn points on incidentals charged to their room on any hotel stay. (Previously, only select hotel brands offered points on incidental purchases.)

New awards chart – The Marriott rewards chart is getting a makeover, including an update to the number of tier levels and to the number of points required for each tier. It’s difficult to determine how this will affect the value of points, since there is no chart yet to show which hotels will fall into which categories. Marriott has offered a sample chart that suggests that the points required for most hotels will decrease.

Point transfer opportunities – Probably the program’s best new feature: Marriott is improving on the Starwood Preferred Guest program by offering the same point transfer options to all Marriott members. You’ll soon be able to transfer Marriott points to more than 40 airlines at a ratio of 3 points to 1 mile, with a 15,000-point bonus for every 60,000 points that you transfer.

Why get the Marriott card?

  • You want to collect a large sign-up bonus.
  • You are looking for a flexible hotel program with a variety of hotel options across the world.
  • You want the fast-track to elite status in Marriott, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton hotels.
  • You want the ability to transfer points to an outside loyalty program for a good value.

How to use the Marriott card:

  • Spend at least $5,000 in the first three months to earn 100,000 bonus points.
  • Book your rewards nights in five-night increments to earn a free fifth night.
  • Use your annual free night certificate at the highest-tier hotel to get the most value.
  • Consider saving your points to transfer to a Marriott airline partner after the update Aug. 1 – you may find better values on airfare than on a Marriott hotel stay.

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