Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

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This piece of plastic was tailor-made for Marriott devotees.

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

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If you stay in a hotel at least a couple of nights a year and you can stay within the Marriott portfolio each time, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card can be a smart addition to your wallet. The rewards rate for stays within their portfolio of properties can be generous and you’ll earn a free night each year of card ownership. That makes the $85 annual fee well worth it.

That being said, we cannot recommend this card for everyday spending, as the lackluster rewards rate of 2 points per $1 spent on airfare booked directly with the airline and 1 point per dollar on all other spending can easily be bested with another card.

But pairing this card with one that provides rewards in the areas where you spend the most can be a smart strategy.

Review

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card pays a tidy 5 points for every dollar you spend at one of the hotels in the Marriott-SPG-Ritz Carlton portfolio. That can help you earn free stays fast.

What those points are worth varies, as Marriott assigns each of its properties a category, or ranking on a scale of 1 to 9 with Category 9 requiring the highest number of points (45,000) to redeem for a night and Category 1 requiring the lowest (7,500).

We found, for example, a $118 room at the Residence Inn Anaheim Hills Yorba Linda, that you could stay at for 20,000 points. Your points are worth about $0.006 each in this case. The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge costs as little as $298 per night or 40,000 points; each point is worth $0.007.

You can wring some more value out of the card using the annual free-night certificate good for any Category 1-5 hotel you receive on your card anniversary. Some Category 5 hotels can go for up to $200 a night, making it well worth the annual $85 fee.

This card also gives you automatic Marriott Silver Elite status, which means you get perks including a 20% bonus on points earned during stays, priority late checkout, access to exclusive savings and rewards redemption options and dedicated reservation and guest services phone numbers. And, you’ll get this status matched at SPG properties. After Silver, comes Gold and then Platinum Elite Status, each with increasingly plush perks, so if you’re a frequent traveler, this card gives you a boost toward reaching those.

This card falls short, however, for someone who wants flexible rewards that can be transferred from Marriott’s program to an airline partner or anyone who doesn’t want to be locked in to only using their rewards at Marriott and related properties.

Although you can transfer your Marriott Rewards points to Starpoints or Ritz Carlton Rewards, you can only transfer them one-way and not reverse the transfer later. You also can’t use them with airline partners or for cash back. If you’re looking for a hotel credit card with airline or other partners, we ranked the Starwood Preferred Guest card among our best hotel credit cards, giving it a near-perfect score. For a greater range of options, choose a travel rewards card that gives you rewards to use any way you’d like.

Who should get this card

Frequent travelers who prefer Marriott-branded hotels will benefit the most from owning this card.

Advantages
  • There’s a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points if you meet the minimum spending requirement of $3,000 within the first three months of opening the account. Redemptions start at 7,500 points so this could be worth up to 10 free nights depending on the category of hotel you choose.
  • The free-night-stay certificate on your card anniversary in most cases will be worth more than the annual cost of owning the card.
Disadvantages
  • The rewards aren’t flexible and can only be used toward Marriott stays or transferred into a linked SPG or Ritz-Carlton loyalty account.
  • The hotel options for where you can use the free-night certificate may not fit with your travel needs.

Fees and APR

  • There’s an annual fee of $85.
  • This card comes with a variable APR of 16.99% to 23.99%.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • There’s a penalty fee of up to $37 for missed and late payments.

Extras, perks and using points

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is a Visa Signature card, which provides trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and purchase protection.

This card comes with automatic Marriott Silver Elite status benefits.

Get a free night stay every year in a Category 1 – 5 hotel on your card anniversary.

Points can be used for free hotel stays or for room upgrades at Marriott properties.

How this card compares

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Card Details
  • Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Planning a road trip? Rent your car, fill up your tank, book your hotel, and pay for it with your American Express® Card.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.24%-20.24% Variable
Annual Fee $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express is much-loved by points and miles strategists for its wide range of eligible airline transfer partners. Starpoints can also be transferred to Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties, making it one of the most flexible credit card rewards currencies available. Bankrate gave this card a near-perfect score.

The Hyatt Credit Card

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Card Details
  • Earn 3 World of Hyatt points for every $1 you spend at all Hyatt properties with your Hyatt Credit Card.
  • Earn 2 World of Hyatt points for every $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline and at car rental agencies.
  • Earn 1 World of Hyatt point for every $1 you spend on other purchases.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $75.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

Although it may seem like you’re earning fewer points with the Hyatt Credit Card than other hotel-branded cards, Hyatt hotels have a lower points requirement to earn free nights, starting at just 5,000 points. If you prefer the Hyatt brand, this card may be better for you.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s hefty sign-up bonus, boosted redemption value when using the Chase portal, and a generous rewards program make this card a stand-out among travel rewards cards offering big value for minimal cost. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be used for everything from flights to lodging to cruises, this also makes it one of the most flexible redemption programs among travel cards.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.