Marriott Bonvoyᵀᴹ American Express® Card Review
Since it was announced that Starwood Preferred Guest, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Marriott Rewards would be merging, there’s been a lot of uncertainty about the future value and features of these loyalty programs. Chief among the questions are how members will take advantage of whatever program emerges, and also what kind of card the new combined rewards program decides to release.
Well, now that the merger is complete and the details of the Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card have been revealed, we can safely say that this card is a major winner among Canadian travel cards. The very generous sign-up bonus, an Annual Free Night Award, and plenty of options to redeem your points are just some of the reasons why frequent travellers will want to have this card in their wallets.
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The Bonvoy card is designed for those who like to travel and stay at quality hotels. And now that SPG, Ritz-Carlton, and Marriott have merged, cardholders have the opportunity to earn additional points at 7,000+ properties around the world. Here’s how points are earned with the card:
- 65000 Welcome Bonus points after you charge $3,000 in net purchases to your Card in your first six months of Cardmembership*
- Plus, get a $120 statement credit when you charge $10,000 in net purchases to your card in your first twelve months of card membership. Offer subject to change at any time*
- 5 points for every $1 in card purchases made at participating Bonvoy properties
- 2 points for every $1 in card purchases everywhere else
The sign-up bonus of 65000 points is incredibly generous, as that’s worth 3 free nights at any category 2 hotel in the Bonvoy network. This could easily have a real-world value of $600 or more. Alternatively, those points are enough for 1 free night at a category 6 property if you’re looking for an ultra-luxurious stay.
When it comes to earning points, you get the most bang for your buck at Marriott Bonvoy properties where you’ll get 5 points for every $1 spent. This spend applies to the cost of your stay, food and drinks, as well as some hotel incidentals such as spa treatments at select properties.
Annual Free Night Award
The card’s best benefit is easily its free annual night award, which has a redemption value of up to 35,000 points (category 1-5 hotel). There is no spend requirement for this award, so it’s an incredible value when you consider that 35,000 points are equal to a free night at a category 5 hotel, which could have a real-world cost of $400+.
Automatic Silver Elite Status grants great benefits, the best of which is an extra 10% bonus points earned when staying at Marriott Bonvoy properties, plus late checkout and free Wi-Fi. Gold Elite Status is earned each year when a cardholder spends $30,000 before the annual reset date (Gold Elite Status is then applied for a minimum of one year). You can also get Gold Elite Status for completing 25 eligible nights at Marriott, and the card already comes with 15, so you’re more than halfway there the moment you’re approved. Gold Elite grants a number of lucrative perks:
- 25% extra points at Marriott properties
- Late checkout until 2pm
- Room upgrades (depending on availability)
- Gifts of extra points (250 or 500 depending on the brand) upon arrival to a property
About Bonvoy Points
Unlike other rewards programs, it’s difficult to assign a number value to 1 Bonvoy point since there are so many variables in play. A booking’s category, location, and time of year are just a few of the factors that determine how much points are worth once they’re redeemed.
Generally speaking, you should look for redemption opportunities that give your points a value of at least $0.01. If you’re looking to book a free night at a hotel that costs 25,000 points, and the real-world cost of that booking would be $250, that’s a decent redemption value at 1 cent per point. Alternatively, if a hotel requires 35,000 points for a free night but has a real-world cost of $180, you’re likely better off paying cash for the night since your redemption value would only be about half a cent per point. Here’s a full list of how many points you’ll need to claim a free night during standard, off-peak, and peak timing.
Points can be transferred to 40+ different airline partners. Most of these partners have a 3:1 transfer ratio (including Aeroplan/Air Canada), but there’s also an ongoing promotion where if you transfer 60,000 points to an airline partner, you get an additional 5,000 miles. You can learn more about Bonvoy points via our Loyalty Program Bible.
Bonvoy Credit Card Travel Insurance
If you charge the full fare of your flights, accommodations, and car rental to your Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card, the card provides travel accident insurance, car rental theft and damage insurance, flight delay insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost and stolen baggage insurance, and hotel/motel burglary insurance. There is no travel emergency medical insurance included, which led us to leave it off our list of the best credit cards with travel insurance.
Is It Worth the Annual Fee?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a frequent traveller who stays at Marriott properties or someone who travels only once a year—you get a ton of benefits with the Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card. The huge signup bonus of 65000 points and the free annual award night easily make the yearly fee of $120 worth paying.
* This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.