|Rewards Rating:||4 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||1.8|
In a Nutshell:
Though Marriott rewards points are a bit inflated, the new Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is a good value, offering a generous intro bonus along with many other benefits.
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Other Notable Features: Automatic silver elite 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
Consumers looking to boost their hotel loyalty may want to consider the Marriott Bonvoy program, which combined the old Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs into one on Feb. 13, 2019. This new program now boasts more than 6,900 hotels and resorts worldwide, making it the largest hotel program in the world.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is an extension of the updated program, introduced post-merger as a new hotel credit card option. As a mid-range card that includes a decent introductory offer, it’s probably your best bet for earning Marriott points off your everyday purchases, though not necessarily the best overall option for funding a vacation on points. Read on to see why:
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card currently offers 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 on your card within three months of account opening. It’s a valuable offer, worth around $600 in hotel nights according to our estimates.
Though this is not the highest the bonus has ever been (the card premiered with a 100,000-point offer), it’s hard to tell whether Marriott will ever raise the bonus to that level again, so now is probably as good a time to sign up as any.
In addition to the initial sign-up bonus, you’ll get 15 Elite Night Credits each year to use toward an elite status boost, and a free night every year on your card member anniversary.
The free night is good for one year at any hotel that costs less than 35,000 points per night. The certificate expires in 12 months, so you’ll need to redeem it in a timely manner.
What are Marriott points worth?
We value Marriott points at around 0.8 cents apiece, although the value you’ll get ultimately depends on the redemption you make. Marriott points are less valuable than rewards you’ll earn with some other travel credit cards — especially airline cards and flexible rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — but more valuable than many other hotel points such as Hilton Honors points.
Once you sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, you can rack up a decent number of points on everything you buy — particularly on paid hotel stays with the Marriott Bonvoy brand. You get six points per $1 spent at Marriott hotels, and you also get two points per $1 on all other purchases.
When you take into account the value of Marriott points, this adds up to a fairly good earning rate (you earn around 1.7 cents of rewards value per dollar spent, by our estimates), though not as good as some competing hotel cards, such as the World of Hyatt Card — which offers much more valuable points — or the Hilton Honors cards — which offer much higher spending category bonuses:
Keep in mind that points are doled out on top of rewards you earn for belonging to the Marriott Bonvoy program. Marriott Bonvoy members already earn 10 points per $1 spent at most Marriott hotels.
Also note that elite status members earn more points for each dollar they spend. As a silver elite member, you’ll receive a 10 percent points bonus. Gold elite members and up receive 25 to 75 percent more points for each paid hotel stay.
Marriott hotel network
One big advantage of all co-branded Marriott credit cards is the fact you can redeem rewards at more than 6,900 hotels and resorts worldwide. Options include luxury brands like St. Regis and The Ritz-Carlton, premium brands like Le Meridien and Westin and standard properties like Courtyard and SpringHill Suites, among dozens of other options.
Overall, Marriott Bonvoy properties exist in 129 different countries around the world, making this program an obvious option for consumers who want plenty of hotels to choose from when it comes to earning and redeeming rewards.
When it comes to redeeming Marriott points, you have a ton of options to consider outside of simple hotel stays. You can cash in points for travel packages, for example, along with car rentals, cruises and more. However, you’ll typically get the most bang for your buck when you redeem for hotel stays. The following chart outlines your options along with the value you can get in return:
Marriott redemption options
|Point value (cents)|
|Cash + Points||0.6|
|Point transfers||Varies by the airline you use|
|Travel packages||Varies by the airline you use|
Marriott points are fairly flexible — points don’t expire, and Marriott doesn’t officially enforce blackout dates on its room awards, allowing you to book any available standard room with points. That said, some properties within the Marriott’s hotel network may restrict the inventory available for award nights by reclassifying their rooms. If you have a particular destination in mind for your points, you should check ahead of time to make sure there is a hotel with available award nights there before you apply for a Marriott card.
How many points do you need for a free night?
When it comes to redeeming points for hotel stays, you have some decisions to make. You can stay in lower end hotels to make your points stretch further, but you can also splurge for a luxury hotel if you’re willing to part with more of your points. Also note that you get the fifth night free when you redeem points for four consecutive nights.
The following chart shows how many points you’ll need for an off-peak, standard or peak award stay:
|Tip: PointSavers awards can save you 33 percent of your points on select destinations and dates around the world. Also, cash and points options let you stretch your points further since they combine a smaller point amount with cash.|
Transferring Marriott points
An interesting fact about the Marriott Bonvoy program is the fact that you can transfer your points to various airlines. As a bonus, Marriott will even add 5,000 miles to your total any time you transfer 60,000 points to an airline. However, you’ll face a 3:1 transfer ratio with most programs, meaning 60,000 Marriott points turns into 20,000 airline miles (or 25,000 miles once the bonus is added).
The chart below shows the transfer ratio for some of the most popular Marriott airline partners, as well as how much value you’ll eek out of your rewards once you turn them into airline miles:
|Partner||Transfer ratio||Value per mile (cents)||Transfer value of Marriott points in cents (including the 25% transfer bonus)|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||3:1||1.5||0.6|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||3:1||1||0.4|
Also keep in mind that Marriott Bonvoy maintained its Hotel + Air packages from before, although the number of points you’ll need for each package has changed. As an example, you can redeem 255,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for 7 nights at a Category 1-4 property plus 55,000 airline miles. At the highest end, you’ll need 675,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for seven nights in a Category 8 property plus 55,000 airline miles.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card gives you automatic silver elite status and a chance to earn gold elite status by spending $35,000 on the card in a year.
Silver elite status gives you a 10 percent point bonus as well as other hotel perks, including complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, special member rates, late checkout, a dedicated reservations line and Marriott’s Ultimate Reservations Guarantee. (You will be compensated in cash or points if your reservation can’t be honored.)
While these are not the best perks that you can find for a mid-tier hotel card (the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, for example, grants you access to free room upgrades), they are worth it if you stay often with Marriott and don’t want to have to meet the onerous spending requirements usually required for status.
In addition to silver elite status, the card comes with a few other standard Visa Signature benefits:
- No foreign transaction fees – Save money on overseas purchases by avoiding foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
- Car rental insurance – You get secondary coverage for damage or theft of a rental vehicle paid for with your card.
- Trip delay reimbursement – If your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you may be reimbursed up to $500 per ticket.
- Lost luggage insurance – For tickets purchased with your card, you are covered for lost baggage, up to $3,000 per passenger.
- Purchase protection – The card covers new purchases for theft or damage, up to 120 days and up to $500 per claim.
- Extended warranty – You can extend the manufacturer’s warranty on your purchases by an extra year on warranties of three years or less.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is co-branded with Chase, meaning you’ll deal with Chase customer service if you have any problems with your credit card. Fortunately, Chase gets solid reviews from users overall. J.D. Power’s 2018 Credit Card Satisfaction Study ranked Chase fourth out of U.S. credit card issuers after considering the feedback of more than 24,000 credit card users nationwide.
In terms of customer experience with the new Marriott Bonvoy program, it may be too early to tell. The merger brought on some bumps and hiccups for elite loyalty members, who have been very vocal about problems with the program. As Marriott Bonvoy continues to take shape, however, consumers should expect to find a more streamlined customer service experience and fewer issues over time.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is a premier travel credit card, meaning consumers with good or excellent credit — or anyone with a FICO score of 740 or higher — are most likely to be approved. However, you may also have a chance at approval if you have a FICO score between 670 and 739, although you may not qualify for the lowest interest rate available.
If your credit isn’t as good as it should be, it’s smart to look for easy ways to increase your FICO score before you apply. Start by making sure all your bills are paid early or on time, but also try to pay down your debts to lower your credit utilization. In the meantime, refrain from opening or closing too many accounts. With some patience, these steps can help you increase your credit score and qualify for the best travel credit cards available today.
How does the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card compare to other cards?
While the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is a good option for earning Marriott points from your everyday purchases, you have even better options for scoring free travel. These cards surpass the Marriott Boundless card in either perks or point-earning potential (or both):
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
75,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
130,000 Hilton Honors points if you spend $4,000 in first 4 months
50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
|Other things to know
||Other things to know
||Other things to know
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is a luxury credit card with more perks than its co-branded peers. It gives you the same introductory bonus and annual bonus as the Bonvoy Boundless card, plus you get a $300 annual credit at Marriott Bonvoy properties and Priority Pass airline lounge access.
A $450 annual fee applies, but this card can help you reach the highest levels of elite status faster. Not only do you get automatic gold elite status, but you can reach platinum elite status after spending $75,000 on your card within a calendar year.
If you are considering other hotel loyalty programs, it makes sense to check out the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card. It gives you 130,000 points after you spend $4,000 within four months, and you also get automatic Hilton gold status. Plus, you earn a shocking 12x points for each dollar you spend on the card at Hilton brand hotels – much better than the Marriott Boundless card’s rate.
Just keep in mind that the Hilton Honors program is smaller than Marriott Bonvoy and that the points you earn are generally worth less. A $95 annual fee applies to this card, but the introductory bonus makes the first year well worth it.
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a flexible travel credit card rather than a hotel credit card, it’s worth considering if you love the Marriott Bonvoy program since you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to Marriott. In fact, you can transfer points to a variety of airline and hotel partners as well as redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for a 50 percent bonus, which makes the points far more valuable and versatile than the Marriott Boundless card’s points.
Once you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 within three months. You’ll also get a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership and a Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit in exchange for the $450 annual fee.
Who should apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card?
- Anyone who wants to get automatic silver elite status with Marriott.
- Hotel loyalists who want the opportunity to reach the highest tiers of elite status with Marriott.
- Road warriors who stay in hotels for work frequently.
- People who want a moderately priced hotel credit card they can use to earn free hotel stays.
How to use the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card
- Sign up and spend at least $3,000 within three months to earn an initial rush of 75,000 points.
- Spend $35,000 on your card within a calendar year in order to earn gold elite status.
- Use your card for Marriott hotel stays to earn six points for each dollar you spend.
- Look for off-peak awards and PointSavers awards that can help you stretch your points further when it comes time to redeem.
- Book award stays for five nights at time to earn a fifth night free.
Is the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card worth it?
If your goal is to earn points for free hotel stays, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card could be a good option. Not only do you earn an initial introductory bonus, but you get a free hotel stay valid at hotels 35,000 points or less each year on your card member anniversary. You’ll also earn six points per $1 spent at Marriott properties, which could help you rack up rewards fast if you pay for a lot of hotel stays each year. The card also comes with good silver elite status benefits and a fast track to gold status.
However, many applicants will find that they can earn more with other credit cards. Make sure to compare other Marriott Bonvoy credit cards as well as co-branded credit cards from other hotel programs before you commit to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card.
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