CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value, but does not review all financial companies or all available financial offers. We may receive compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com, and this compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
If you’re angling for a points-fueled vacation, the Marriott Bonvoy program should be on your radar right now — especially since there’s some generous offers happening right now with some of our favorite Marriott credit cards.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card is currently offering 3 free nights awards (worth up to 50,000 points per award) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months after opening the account. If used to the max, this can be valued at up to 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy points — a very favorable offer if you plan on staying at a Marriott property within the next year.
Or, if you’re a Marriott fanatic looking for luxury perks and a straight points offer, new card members can earn 150,000 bonus points on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card when you spend $5,000 in the first three months after opening the account. This limited time offer will run through Jan. 11, 2023.
But if you’d prefer not to shell out extra cash to pay for an annual fee, there’s also the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card. Currently offering 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening, we’ve seen better offers in the past, if you’re able to hold off on applying.
While the Marriott Brilliant Amex recently saw an increase in its annual fee — there isn’t any annual fee increase with the Marriott Boundless or the Marriott Bold.
Since there are many good credit card options when it comes to staying at a Marriott hotel, we’ve gone through all the options and put together our list of the best credit cards that can help you earn more points and even score some elite travel perks to make your next stay at a Marriott a little bit nicer.
The best cards for Marriott hotels
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: Best for infrequent travelers
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card: Best no-annual-fee Marriott card
Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card: Best for bonus categories
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Best for luxury perks
Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Best for business travelers
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for flexibility
How do these Marriott credit cards compare with one another, and why is the Chase Sapphire Preferred on our list? Let’s dive into each of these cards and also explore how this alternate card could potentially maximize the number of Marriott points you earn on your everyday purchases.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless: Best for infrequent travelers
First up is the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, which is geared toward people who are loyal to Marriott but don’t necessarily need elite travel perks. This card charges an annual fee of $95, but it comes with a substantial sign-up bonus, some basic benefits and bonus rewards for each dollar you spend at Marriott.
Right now, new Marriott Boundless card holders can earn 3 free night awards (worth up to 50,000 points per award) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. With Marriott points worth 0.84 cents apiece according to frequent-flyer website The Points Guy, if you’re able to redeem each certificate at a property costing 50,000 points, the equivalent 150,000 points in total is worth $1,260 towards at Marriott. But just know that unlike points, your award certificates must be redeemed within 12 months from when they are received in your account — which is typically a few weeks after meeting the minimum spend requirement.
With the Marriott Boundless card, you’ll earn 6 points for every dollar you spend on Marriott purchases, and 2 points per dollar on everything else you buy with the card. You’ll also earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining, then 2 points per dollar after that.
Additional perks include no foreign transaction fees, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, purchase protection against damage or theft and Visa concierge service.
Other benefits of the Marriott Boundless card include automatic Marriott Silver elite status and 15 elite night credits each year, which can help you earn even higher levels of Marriott status. You can also reach Gold status by spending $35,000 in purchases on your card within a calendar year. And you can also earn 1 elite night credit for every $5,000 you spend on the card, with no cap on the number of credits you can earn this way.
But perhaps the best feature of the Marriott Boundless starts with the second year you have the card. On your card anniversary each year — meaning the date you originally opened the card — you’ll receive a Free Night Award that can be used at any Marriott that normally costs up to 35,000 points per night. If you use this award each year, it can easily offset the cost of the card’s $95 annual fee. Just keep in mind that Marriott now uses a dynamic pricing system, so award redemption prices now change on an ongoing basis.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold: Best no-annual-fee Marriott card
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is the only Marriott credit card that never charges an annual fee. Its rewards and benefits are lighter as a result, yet it’s still worth considering if you want to earn Marriott points but don’t want to pay an annual fee.
New Marriott Bold card holders can currently earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months after opening the account. While not the best offer we’ve seen for this card, the points are worth over $250 toward a Marriott vacation based on The Points Guy’s valuations.
Then, once you have the card, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on Marriott purchases, 2 points per dollar on other travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else you buy.
Another notable benefit is the card’s 15 elite night credits, which gets you Marriott Silver elite status without any travel required on your part, and which you can build on for even higher levels of status. And the Marriott Bold also has perks like no foreign transaction fees, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, purchase protection against damage or theft and Visa concierge service.
Marriott Bonvoy Bevy: Best for bonus categories
Two brand new cards to the Marriott fleet of credit cards include the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card from Chase. The cards are essentially identical, with the only difference being the card issuer — American Express vs. Chase.
With either of these cards, you’ll earn 125,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account. This offer is available on the Marriott Bevy Amex through Jan. 11, 2023, while the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful will have the offer available into Jan. 2023.
One of the best features of these two cards is the number of points you’ll earn on your everyday purchases. While you earn the same 6 points per dollar at Marriott properties as you would with most of the other Marriott credit cards, you’ll earn 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year, then 2x thereafter) and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases. With most of the other Marriott credit cards, you’re only earning 3 points per dollar in the bonus categories.
With either card, you’ll also earn 1,000 bonus points with each qualifying Marriott stay — that’s in addition to the 6 points per dollar at Marriott properties). If your travel patterns include many one-night stays, these extra points can add up quickly. But for the average traveler who only stays less than a handful of times per year, these extra points probably won’t equate to much. Since The Points Guy values Marriott points at 0.84 cents apiece, those 1,000 bonus points are essentially worth just a little over $8 per qualifying stay.
With either card, you’ll receive complimentary Marriott Gold elite status and 15 elite night credit each calendar year. You’ll also receive a Free Night Award after making $15,000 in purchases per year, which can be redeemed at properties that cost up to 50,000 points per night (certain hotels have resort fees).
Unfortunately, the annual fee on both cards is high at $250 per year for the benefits you’re getting (see rates and fees for the Marriott Bevy Amex). While the bonus categories are the cards strong suit, the overall benefits on these cards are lacking in relation to their cost.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant: Best for luxury perks
If you want a Marriott credit card with as many VIP perks as possible, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is your best bet. This card just got even more benefits, but also saw a massive annual fee increase from $450 to $650 a year (see rates and fees). This means you’ll only get enough value out of this card if you stay in Marriott hotels a lot and truly utilize the benefits. But if you do, the perks can be robust.
The card starts with a solid limited-time welcome bonus. Right now through Jan. 11, 2023, new Marriott Brilliant Amex card members can earn 150,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on the card within the first three months after opening the account. (Terms apply.) You’ll then earn 6 points per dollar at Marriott hotels, 3 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and flights booked with airlines and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
The Marriott Brilliant Amex comes with the richest set of perks among all Marriott credit cards, starting with automatic Marriott Platinum elite status, as well as 25 elite night credits each year you’re a card member. You also get a $100 credit on eligible stays at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis, a Priority Pass Select airport lounge access membership, up to $100 in credits toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership and, starting Jan. 1, 2023, an earned choice award benefit after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases each calendar year.
But one of the big perks of having the card is the up to $300 in annual statement credits at restaurants worldwide. This can easily help offset the annual fee and effectively bring the cost down to a more reasonable $350 per year, although it’s still higher than the cost of any other Marriott card. The major caveat is that these credits come in portions of up to $25 per month. If you eat out just once a month, you should have no problem maximizing your credits, but you’ll need to be on top of it every month.
And starting with the second year you have the Marriott Brilliant Amex, you’ll receive an annual Free Night Award on your card member anniversary, which can be used at any Marriott property that normally costs up to 85,000 points per night. That perk, combined with the up to $300 in restaurant credits each year, can make the annual fee on the card worth it if you can consistently take advantage of it.
Finally, you’ll also find several upgraded travel benefits on the Marriott Brilliant Amex, including a few insurance protections you don’t get with other Marriott card options. The card’s perks include cell phone protection, secondary auto rental coverage, a baggage insurance plan, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and trip delay coverage.
Marriott Bonvoy Business: Best for business travelers
If you’re a small-business owner who wants a credit card with some hotel perks for your business travel, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card should be on your radar. This business credit card offers a pretty nice suite of benefits and a solid welcome bonus, all for a reasonable annual fee of $125 (see rates and fees).
Right now, new Marriott Business card members can earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on your card within the first three months after opening the account. (Terms apply.)
Small-business owners will also earn 6 points per dollar at Marriott properties with the Marriott Business card, 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping, and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
A handful of benefits can also make business travel more rewarding. For example, the Marriott Business card gives you automatic Marriott Gold elite status, as well as 15 elite night credits so you can aim for the even higher Platinum status. Other benefits include a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms when booking direct (terms and conditions apply), premium internet service at Marriott properties and no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
Then, starting with the second year you have the Marriott Business card, on every card member anniversary, you’ll receive a Free Night Award that can be used at any Marriott worth up to 35,000 points. If you can use that free night at a Marriott that would otherwise cost at least $125 per night in cash, you’ll offset the cost of the card’s annual fee just with this one perk alone.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best for flexibility
Are you hesitant to commit to a Marriott credit card? If so, you might consider a slew of other flexible travel credit cards that let you earn rewards that transfer into Marriott Bonvoy points, as well as other loyalty programs.
One of the best cards in this realm is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The points you’ll earn with this card are Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred into Marriott points at a 1-to-1 ratio, meaning you’ll get 1,000 Marriott points for each 1,000 Chase points you transfer.
The good news about the Chase Sapphire Preferred and other flexible cards like it is that you don’t have to transfer your rewards to Marriott if you don’t want to. Chase has a total of 14 airline and hotel transfer partners, or you can use your points to book travel through the Chase portal, redeem for cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise and more.
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, it also comes with a nice selection of travel insurance protections, and it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. You also get a free DashPass membership with $0 delivery fees on orders of $12 or more for at least 12 months as long as you enroll by Dec. 31, 2024.
If you don’t already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, new card holders can currently earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on the card within three months of opening the account. You’ll also earn 3 points per dollar on dining with the card, 2 points per dollar on travel (or 5 points total when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards), 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2025 and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Remember that Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve® aren’t the only ones that let you transfer points to Marriott. Customers with cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points can also transfer points to the Marriott Bonvoy program at a 1-to-1 ratio.
Watch out for sign-up restrictions on Marriott credit cards
While it’d be great if you could sign up for all the Marriott credit cards on our list, Marriott’s rules mean you need to have a strategy in mind. That’s because not only will you face approval rules from Chase and American Express — the issuers of these Marriott cards — but there are other bonus rules for Marriott credit cards to be aware of.
For starters, Chase limits the number of new cards you can have based on its infamous “5/24” rule. This rule states that you can’t get approved for a new Chase credit card if you’ve opened five or more other credit cards — including cards from other issuers — in the last 24 months.
Second, Chase limits Marriott card bonuses for people who have a previous version of one of their cards or another currently available card in the same family, as well as people who earned a bonus on a Marriott card within the last 24 months. For example, you aren’t eligible to earn the bonus on the Marriott Bold card if you currently have it or the Marriott Boundless card, or if you have the older Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier credit card (which is no longer open for new applications), or if you’ve earned a bonus on any Chase Marriott card in the last 24 months.
Interestingly, you’re also barred from earning the sign-up bonus on this card if you have or have had the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card (previously known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express) in the last 30 days, if you have or have earned a bonus on any Marriott business credit card from Chase or American Express in the last 24 months or if you applied and were approved for any Marriott business card in the last 90 days.
Complicating matters even more is the fact that American Express has a “once-per-lifetime” rule on all its cards. This rule states you can only receive the welcome bonus on each individual Amex card once during your lifetime, though you can still get the bonus for two different cards in the same family of cards.
That’s a lot to keep track of, and the rules for all Chase and Amex Marriott cards work similarly. So before you sign up for a Marriott credit card, read the card’s terms and conditions carefully to make sure you’re eligible for the bonus offer.
Which Marriott credit card is best for you?
The right Marriott credit card for you depends on how often you travel, whether you plan to travel more this year and which benefits you want the most. You’ll also want to look closely at each card’s annual fee and see how much you’re willing to pay each year to secure the elite perks you want.
But if you’re a Marriott fan and you want to start earning Marriott points when you use your credit card — or points that can transfer to Marriott — then it’s time to take a look at getting a Marriott credit card, since you can score a nice haul of points from the welcome bonus right at the start, and then get the perks of the card for the long haul.
Looking for a credit card but you’re not interested in travel? Check out CNN Underscored’s guide to the best credit cards available right now.
American Express trip delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance and car rental loss and damage insurance eligibility and benefit levels vary by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Baggage insurance and car rental loss and damage coverage underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Trip delay and trip cancellation and interruption insurance underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. Car rental loss and damage coverage offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.