Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Is turning their passion into a money-making venture
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Prioritizes sticking to their budget while buying what they want and need
Hits the road often, whether for work or play
If you or your employees spend days at a time traveling for work, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card can save you lots of money on hotel stays. You can rack up free nights quickly, and your choice of hotels is vast, from no-frills Fairfield Inn and Suites to mid-range hotels such as Courtyard Marriott, and more luxurious digs such as the Ritz Carlton.
The card is ideal for small business owners with good to excellent credit. Regardless of your spending, you’re guaranteed one free night at some of the nicer participating hotels every year after the first year. You’ll earn another free night if you charge at least $60,000 in one calendar year.
You can earn lots of points quickly
Great redemption rates for some hotels
Guarantee of one free night
Vast network of properties
Higher annual fee
Low point values at popular locations
American Express isn’t as widely accepted abroad
- You can earn lots of points quickly: This card offers at least two points for every $1 that you spend, making it relatively easy to rack up enough for multiple free nights stays. With bonus points for Marriott stays, as well as gas and restaurant spending, this is a good card to have if you are a fan of Marriott hotels and drive or entertain guests frequently for your work.
- Great redemption rates for some hotels: If you plan on staying at an economy hotel in a less popular location, you could redeem a free night’s stay with just 7,500 rewards points, which can be earned with as little as $1,250 in Marriott charges. Even if you only use the card for gas, restaurants, shipping, or wireless services, you can earn those points by spending just $1,875 on the card.
- Guarantee of one free night: Each year, after you renew your card, you’ll get a free hotel night. And the eligible properties aren’t just economy level. You’ll also receive another free night’s stay if you charge at least $60,000 in a calendar year.
- Vast network of properties: Marriott boasts more than 7,000 hotels in 131 countries and territories. There are also 30 brands operating under the Marriott umbrella, including economy hotels, stylish boutiques, and luxurious retreats.
- Higher annual fee: The annual fee is slightly more than on comparable cards. If you don’t take advantage of all the card’s benefits, including the free night hotel stay, it may not be worth the annual commitment.
- Low point values at popular locations: If you’re planning to stay in a big city or sought-after location, earning free nights is likely to require a slew of rewards points, whether the hotel is high-end or not. A night’s stay at an economy hotel in a popular destination such as Austin, Texas, or Anaheim, California, could cost 17,500 to 25,000 rewards points—even if the hotel room itself costs less than $120 a night when you pay in cash. This means the value of a single Marriott point can run as low as half a cent.
- American Express isn’t as widely accepted abroad: You may run into merchants who don’t take American Express, especially if you try to use the card in other countries. Although the number of merchants who accept it is growing, the card network still isn’t as widely accepted as Mastercard and Visa.
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Welcome Offer
The welcome offer for this card is not only generous, but pretty easily achieved. If you charge $3,000 within three months of opening your card, you’ll receive 75,000 bonus points. Depending on when and where you travel, that may be enough to purchase 10 nights at an economy hotel such as the Fairfield Inn and Suites or four free nights at a mid-range hotel like Courtyard by Marriott.
You’re not eligible for the welcome offer if you have or previously had the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card. You’re also excluded if you’ve had certain Marriott business credit cards from Chase in the last 30 days.
Earning Points & Rewards
The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card’s points earning system is generous. Six points per $1 spent at participating Marriott hotels is higher than competing hotel cards, and not many business cards earn you 4 points per $1 on gas, restaurants, wireless and shipping. That said, point values vary dramatically with this credit card and you may have to use many more points to purchase travel than you would with a competing card. Also, be aware that the purchases for gas, restaurants, telephone services, and shipping must be made within the U.S.—not internationally—to qualify for points.
You can redeem points in several ways, and unsurprisingly, we’ve found the best value is for hotel stays. Editors at The Balance have determined that points on this card are worth an average of 1.43 cents when redeemed for stays at Marriott properties.
Note that the points cost of a free night changes constantly depending on demand, location, and other factors. Hotels are grouped into eight tiers. You’ll typically get more value from your points by using them for pricier, more luxurious hotels, though even budget properties will be categorized at higher tiers in many popular destinations.
You can also transfer your points to an airline loyalty program. In all, there are more than 40 frequent-flyer programs to choose from, and you’ll get an additional 5,000 miles for every 60,000 rewards points you transfer. Partners include all the major domestic carriers and plenty of familiar international ones, too. Unfortunately, the transfer ratio in most cases is 3 points to 1 mile, which is a terrible rate and will dramatically reduce the dollar value of your points once transferred.
You can also redeem your points for concerts and sports events, a variety of merchandise, gift cards, and more. Keep in mind some redemptions will lower the value of your points. For gift cards or merchandise, for example, your points may only be worth a quarter of a cent to a half cent each.
Marriott Bonvoy points cannot be redeemed for cash, checks, or statement credits.
How to Get the Most Out Of This Card
Spend at least $3,000 in the first three months to qualify for the welcome offer, which is worth multiple free hotel nights. The sooner you meet the spending requirement, the sooner you’ll get your welcome offer. Add employees or business partners as authorized users—up to 99 are allowed at no cost—so that you can pool your points and quickly hit the $60,000 threshold for another free night.
Be mindful, too, of how you use your points: You may get more value if you use your points to redeem free nights in less expensive hotels or in less sought after locales. Marriott often requires significantly more points for hotel stays in hip locations—even if you choose a budget hotel that costs less than $120 a night. Also consider booking longer trips when you use your card to pay for Marriott hotel stays: If you book five nights in a row, you’ll receive the fifth night free.
Because the redemption options aren’t always a good value, we recommend pairing this card with another general travel, airline, or cash-back business card to maximize your rewards potential.
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card’s Excellent Perks
We think these are the card’s exceptional benefits:
- One free night each year: No matter how often you use your Marriott card, you’ll earn a guaranteed free night’s stay on each renewal anniversary at a hotel worth up to 35,000 points—the redemption level for many mid-range hotels.
- An additional free night if you charge $60,000: You’ll get another free night at a hotel worth up to 35,000 points if you charge $60,000 in one calendar year (which comes out to about $5,000 a month).
- Automatic Silver Elite status: With Silver Elite status in Marriott’s loyalty program, you’ll get access to perks like free Wi-Fi and late checkout, plus you'll earn 10% more points eligible hotel purchases.
- Baggage insurance: If you use your card for airfare and your luggage is lost, damaged, or stolen, American Express may reimburse you up to $500 for checked baggage and up to $1,250 for carry-on.
- Travel accident insurance: If you’re injured or killed on a trip paid for with your card, you may receive up to $100,000.
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card’s Other Features
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Extended warranties
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Roadside assistance
- Access to VendorPay by Bill.com
American Express ranked second in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study of U.S. issuers, getting 838 out of 1,000 points, or an "among the best" score. It offers 24-7 help on the phone or online, and a mobile banking app that you can use to keep tabs on your credit card and easily pay your bill.
American Express offers standard security features. One nice option is the ability to set up alerts to help keep tabs on employees’ spending and ensure that every purchase has been authorized.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card’s Fees
This card’s fees are fairly standard, though the annual fee is a little high for a card with these rewards and perks. It’s worth noting that there are no foreign transaction fees, and balance transfers are not allowed.