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Best Sign-up Bonus Credit Cards
Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Hits the road often, whether for work or play
Loves to explore places and experience new things
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
This card is best for Marriott fans who will use it to pay for Marriott stays, while using another card to earn more points on everyday spending and to get standard credit card perks. The yearly free night easily makes up for this card’s $95 annual fee. Plus, the sign-up bonus is large enough to cover a couple of lower-cost hotel stays, which makes it worthwhile for even occasional travelers.
While the card is better than many hotel-branded cards in terms of the value of the points and the sign-up bonus, it does lack some of the perks other cards in its class offer such as airport lounge access. You may be better off with a general travel rewards credit card that lets you use your points on any hotel and other types of travel rewards
Silver Elite status
One free night each year
Transfer option for airline miles
Not a rewarding card for non-Marriott purchases
No credits for travel expenses
Few premium travel benefits
Sign-up bonus restrictions
- One free night each year: Each year after renewing your credit card, you’ll get one Free Night Award, which can be redeemed for a one-night stay at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels with a redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. An annual free hotel night for being an active cardholder for a $95 annual fee is a good deal.
- Silver Elite status: This gives cardholders 10% more points on Marriott purchases and a few perks like late checkout.
- Transfer option for airline miles: Unlike other hotel credit card programs, the Marriott Bonvoy Rewards program has more than 40 airline partners, including American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, United, and Virgin Atlantic. This can be a good option, with some caveats (more on that in the Redeeming Rewards section below).
- Not a rewarding card for non-Marriott purchases: This is not a good card to use on everyday purchases like gas and groceries. If you spend on Marriott hotel stays often, you'll easily earn points, but overall it’s not a valuable card for daily use.
- No credits for travel expenses: Unlike with some other travel cards, you won’t get reimbursed for the cost of applying for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, or other travel expenses.
- Few premium travel benefits: This is a travel card, but its travel benefits are pretty basic. Frequent travelers will be better protected and enjoy more travel perks with other travel cards, even other hotel-branded ones.
- Sign-up bonus restrictions: If you currently have or recently had another Marriott-branded credit card, you’re probably not eligible for this card’s sign-up bonus. This includes people who had Starwood Preferred Guest cards, which have since been rebranded as Marriott Bonvoy cards.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Sign-Up Bonus
You’ll earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening this card. We value this offer at $735 when you transfer points to American Airlines (more on that in the Redeeming Rewards section below), or $480 when used for Marriott stays.
That’s still not bad compared to the bonuses offered by other hotel co-branded credit cards. But you can get more value from a general travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, whose sign-up bonus is worth more and whose points you can use to book any hotel.
You’re not eligible for the sign-up bonus if:
- You’ve been a cardholder of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card within the past 30 days.
- You’re a current or former cardholder of the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card who received a bonus or upgrade in the past 24 months.
- You were approved for the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex within the past 90 days.
Earning Points & Rewards
This card rewards Marriott Bonvoy hotel reservations more than anything else. You’ll earn 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, which is a network of more than 30 brands and 6,700 participating hotels worldwide. Brands include Courtyard, Sheraton, aloft, and Ritz-Carlton.
Also, since cardholders are automatically upgraded to Silver Elite status, you get 10% more bonus points on all participating brand stays. This means if you spend $500 on a hotel reservation, you’ll earn 3,300 points: 3,000 points for using this card and 300 more points for being a Silver Elite member.
If you spend $35,000 in a calendar year with this card, you’ll be upgraded to Gold Elite status and earn 25% more bonus points on eligible Marriott stays.
This card’s rewards earning rate then drops to 2 points per $1 spent on everything else, which is a lower rate than some competing hotel cards.
Points do not expire as long as you keep your account active every 24 months, meaning you stay at a participating Marriott Bonvoy property or use the card for purchases.
Although this is essentially a hotel credit card, Marriott Bonvoy points are actually best used not for hotel stays, but for flights on American Airlines. The Balance values Bonvoy points at only 0.64 cents each when used for hotel stays—well below the 1 cent per point that’s generally considered a good baseline for credit card reward values.
But you can transfer points to airlines whose frequent flyer miles are worth more than Marriott’s. As we mentioned above, there are more than 40 partner airlines, including all the major U.S. carriers. You'll need 3 Bonvoy points to get 1 airline mile for most of the partner airlines. That’s not a good transfer ratio, but because The Balance values American Airlines miles at nearly 3 cents a point (more than any other airline we research), you’ll still get nearly 1 cent per point when you transfer to that airline.
You’ll get 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 Bonvoy points you transfer to a partner airline.
The next best use of your points is to redeem them for hotel stays. The points cost of an award stay will depend on the hotel category. Hotels are categorized into eight tiers, with category 1 as the most affordable. You’ll typically get the most value from your points by using them on reservations at more affordable, lower category hotels.
Other redemption options include:
- Rental cars, flights, travel packages, and cruises booked through the Marriott Bonvoy website
- Marriott Bonvoy Moments (culinary, entertainment, sports, and other lifestyle events)
- Online shopping and gift cards
- Charity donations
Marriott Bonvoy points cannot be redeemed for cash, checks or statement credits.
How To Get The Most Out Of This Card
Spend $3,000 in the first 3 months to get those extra bonus points and then only use this card when you travel, booking hotels exclusively in the Marriott network to get the most possible points. Watch the Marriott Bonvoy website for opportunities to earn extra points on additional travel purchases, like your family cruise or a Hertz rental car.
Transferring your points to an airline partner may get you the most value. If you use them for hotels, you’ll get the most value from PointSavers reservations.
If you’re really interested in this card for its Marriott rewards, we recommend pairing it with another card that will give you more travel benefits and everyday spending rewards to make up for what this card lacks in those areas.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Excellent Perks
This card has several benefits we consider more valuable than those that credit cards typically offer (though these perks are more common among travel cards). Besides the free night awards and Silver Elite status, you’ll also get:
- 15 elite night credits: Up to 15 Elite Night credits will be added to your Marriott Bonvoy member account within 60 days after opening this card. These count toward the amount of stays needed to reach the next Elite Member status threshold.
- Coverage for lost or delayed baggage: Luggage that is lost or damaged is covered up to $3,000 per passenger for you and an immediate family member. When checked bags are delayed for more than six hours, get reimbursed $100 per day, up to five days for essential purchases.
- Trip delay reimbursement: If your trip is delayed for more than 12 hours or requires an unexpected overnight stay, you and your family could be reimbursed for up to $500 per ticket for costs such as meals and lodging.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card’s Other Features
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
J.D. Power ranked Chase No. 4 among 11 card-issuing banks in its 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction survey. Chase scored 807 out of 1,000, just above the 806 industry average.
One notable customer service feature that Chase does offer is called Credit Journey. It’s a free credit dashboard that summarizes your credit report, shows and explains your FICO score, and gives you tips for managing your credit.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless cardholders receive industry-standard security features like multiple authorization checks if your account is signed into on an unrecognized device, as well as instant email, text, and push notification alerts to monitor account activity for fraud.
If you misplace your card, you can easily lock the card via the Chase mobile app to avoid potential fraud. Lost or stolen cards are replaced for free, too.
This card charges a $95 annual fee alongside a standard array of penalty fees. However, it’s worth noting there are no additional fees for foreign transactions or authorized users.