Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card review: A good starter hotel rewards card
It offers great perks for a no-annual-fee card, but could a card with an annual fee offer better value?
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Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card overview
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card is Marriott’s entry level card. It offers bonus points on travel and a generous sign-up bonus while helping Marriott fans avoid an annual fee and foreign transaction fees. It also has a few nice perks like Silver Elite status and a good mix of travel and purchase protections.
But the Bonvoy Bold lacks a Free Night Award and the chance to earn rewards on a broad mix of spending, including everyday essentials like grocery and gas. Marriott enthusiasts looking to test the waters with one of the hotel chain’s co-branded credit cards may want to consider upgrading to a card with an annual fee. The enhanced hotel card perks have the potential to provide more value — possibly more than enough to offset the annual fee and lead to more rewarding Marriott Bonvoy stays.
What are the pros and cons?
- Does not offer bonus rewards for everyday essentials like other no-annual-fee hotel cards
- You will have to upgrade to a card with an annual fee if you want a Free Night Award
- Limited amount of additional perks
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Earn up to 14X total Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Card, 2X Bonvoy points on other travel purchases and 1X points on other eligible purchases
- Annual fee: $0
- Intro bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in your first three months from account opening
- Regular APR: 19.74 percent 26.74 percent (variable)
Current welcome offer
This card’s latest sign-up bonus is for 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of account opening. Based on Bankrate’s latest hotel point valuations, which give Marriott points an estimated average value of 0.7 cents per point, this offer is worth around $210 in Marriott stays. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the older limited time offer of 60,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months.
This bonus is also far smaller than the sign-up bonus offered by one of Marriott’s closest competitors, the Hilton Honors American Express Card. That card also doesn’t charge an annual fee, but comes with a more impressive welcome offer: 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold offers bonus rewards on Marriott stays and other travel purchases, as well as by 1X points on general purchases. This can help you bring down the cost of your next stay, though upgrading to a Marriott Bonvoy card with more practical bonus categories (like groceries and gas) could be a far more rewarding experience — even if it comes with an annual fee.
How you earn
To start, you can earn up to 14X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy locations. Here’s how that works:
- 3X points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy.
- Up to 10X points from Marriott for being a Marriott Bonvoy member.
- Up to 1X points from Marriott with Silver Elite Status, a benefit you qualify for by being a Marriott Bonvoy Bold cardmember.
The chance to earn 14X points on hotel stays is a nice touch, though not unusual for a no-annual-fee hotel card. Many other hotel brands have entry-level cards that offer supersized rewards on purchases at their eligible hotels, including:
- Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card
- IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card
- Best Western Rewards® Mastercard
Keep in mind that not all Marriott properties will earn 14X points. If you book at an Element, Residence Inn or TownePlace Suites and Homes & Villas by Marriott International, you’ll still earn the base 3X points, but only 5X points for being a Marriott Bonvoy member and additional 0.5 points for having Silver Elite status. Stays at Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay fare a little worse, earning the base 3X points, but dropping to 2.5 points for being a Marriott Bonvoy member and an additional 0.25 points if you have Silver Elite status.
On top of the bonus rewards for Marriott purchases, you also earn 2X Bonvoy points on other travel purchases like airfare, taxis, and trains and 1X points on other eligible purchases. Outside of the 14X points on Marriott stays, these bonus rewards are decent considering you don’t have to pay an annual fee, but not the best. Other cards offer the chance to earn bonus rewards on everyday purchases like groceries and gas or a higher flat rate on all purchases, which can make it easier for you to earn rewards faster.
How to redeem
Your points can be redeemed in a variety of ways, starting with hotel stays. You can book rooms using your points and even cover hotel amenities like food, drinks, golf, and spa services.
Points can also be used to pay for travel, including cruises and car rentals, or you can transfer your points to an airline loyalty program to cover airfare. Marriott has 38 transfer partners, and even though the transfer rates are typically 3:1, which is not favorable, Marriott will add 5,000 bonus miles on when you transfer over 60,000 points to select partners. You can also redeem your points to gain access to airport lounges in the Priority Pass network or to help cover your TSA PreCheck fee.
On top of hotel stays and travel, you can also use your points to bid on Marriott Bonvoy Moments. These are unforgettable experiences in a number of areas, like culinary, arts and lifestyle, sports and entertainment. For example, past experiences have included the chance to have Thanksgiving Dinner at MetLife Stadium and Meet New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
Finally, points can be redeemed for shopping and gift cards. But with all of these options, it’s important to think about how much money you spent earning your rewards and ask yourself, “Which redemption option gives me the best value?” In most cases, redeeming your points for hotel stays will typically get you the best value.
How much are the rewards worth?
According to Bankrate’s latest points and miles valuations, Marriott points are worth an average of 0.7 cents each. While that doesn’t match the redemption value you can get with most general-purpose travel cards (typically 1 cent per point), it is a fairly nice rate for a hotel card. Here’s a look at how it stacks up against other top hotel rewards programs:
|Rewards program||Bankrate value||Estimated value of 50,000 points/miles|
|World of Hyatt||2.1 cents||$1,050|
|Wyndham Rewards||0.9 cents||$450|
|Marriott Bonvoy||0.7 cents||$350|
|IHG One Rewards||0.7 cents||$350|
|Hilton Honors||0.6 cents||$300|
|Best Western Rewards||0.6 cents||$300|
|Radisson Rewards Americas||0.4 cents||$200|
Even though Marriott Bonvoy rewards aren’t the most valuable, you don’t have to trade in your Marriott card for a World of Hyatt hotel card. If you enjoy staying at Marriott hotels, you just need to get the best deal possible for your points. To do that, it helps to know how to calculate the value of your points.
To make sure you’re getting the best value, divide the cash cost of your booking by its cost in points. This will give you the cash value of your points. As long as the cash value matches or beats our valuation of 0.7 cents, you’re getting a good deal.
For example, if you find a deal on an overnight stay at Marriott that costs $202 or 20,000 points, your points would be worth 1 cent each ($202 / 20,000 = $0.010). That’s a great deal since it beats the estimated average value of 0.7 cents. But if you wanted to redeem your points for a $25 gift card to the Cheesecake Factory, it would cost 10,000 points, which drops the value of your points down to 0.25 cents ($25 / 10,000 points = $0.0025). In this case, the value of your points is far lower than our estimated value. So you’re better off buying a gift card with cash and saving your points for a better redemption option.
Other cardholder perks
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold card is light on additional features, which isn’t surprising since it’s a no-annual-fee card. But the few perks it does offer, like elite status as well as travel and purchase protections are complimentary benefits that can save you a lot of money if you take advantage of them.
Automatic Silver Elite Status
Every year, starting when you open your account, you’ll receive 15 Elite Night Credits, which automatically gives you Silver Elite Status. At this level, you unlock some nice features, like 10 percent more points on eligible hotel purchases and priority late checkout.
Thanks to these credits, you’ll only need to stay at a Marriott hotel for 10 nights in a year instead of 25 to reach Gold Elite Status. Once you hit this level, you’ll unlock elite perks like 25 percent more points on hotel purchases, enhanced room upgrades when available and 2 p.m. checkout.
Travel and purchase protections
Your Marriott Bonvoy Bold card also comes with purchase and travel protections, which is a nice feature not found with every no-annual-fee card. Here’s a brief glimpse of what you get if you pay for your travel using the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card:
- Baggage delay insurance: You can get reimbursed for travel essentials like toiletries and clothing up to $100 a day for five days for baggage delays over 6 hours.
- Lost luggage reimbursement: You and your family are covered up to $3,000 per passenger in the event your luggage is lost or damaged.
- Trip delay reimbursement: When your travel is delayed for over 12 hours, you’ll receive up to $500 in reimbursement per ticket for delay costs, such as meals and lodging.
- Purchase protection: Your new purchases are covered against theft or damage for 120 days, up to up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
One-year DashPass membership
When you sign up for DoorDash using your Bonvoy Bold card, you get a complimentary DashPass and Caviar membership for 12 months. This feature lets you enjoy perks like $0 delivery fees and reduced service fees on orders over $12. When the year is up, regular monthly rates will apply.
Rates and fees
The Bonvoy Bold doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fee, and as long as you pay your balance in full each month to avoid the variable APR of 19.74 percent to 26.74 percent, there’s little downside to carrying it in your wallet. Some common credit card fees to watch out for include a high penalty APR that could last indefinitely if you are late making a payment and a relatively high balance transfer fee compared to most of the best balance transfer credit cards.
How the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card compares to other hotel cards
The Bonvoy Bold is a great fit for occasional travelers looking to avoid a credit card with annual fees. But if you’re open to redeeming rewards with a different hotel brand or paying an annual fee, here are two alternatives to consider.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card vs. Hilton Honors American Express Card
Both the Marriott Bonvoy Bold and Hilton Honors American Express Card are entry level hotel cards that give you a chance to check out some of the perks offered by your favorite hotel brand at no cost.
The Hilton Honors doesn’t earn as much on hotel spending as the Bonvoy Bold card and lacks the Bonvoy Bold card’s travel and purchase protections. However, the Hilton Honors card has a few features not found on the Bonvoy Bold card. Its rewards program is more versatile, giving you plenty of chances to rack up points on spending made at Hilton, grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants. Plus, it has a more valuable welcome offer and even comes with 6 Months Free of SiriusXM’s Streaming Platinum Plan.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
Both the Bonvoy Bold and Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card come with automatic Silver Elite status, purchase and travel protections and 15 elite night credits that help you reach Gold status quickly. Both also give you a chance to rack up an impressive amount of points on Marriott hotel spending. But the Boundless card also earns points on everyday purchases like groceries and gas and comes with more valuable features that make it easier to justify the $95 annual fee. This includes an annual Free Night Award starting on your first anniversary, on stays of up to 35,000 points.
The Boundless card also comes with more chances to reach elite status faster. For every $5,000 you spend, you’ll earn an additional Elite Night Credit, and if you spend $35,000 in a calendar year, you’ll automatically earn Gold Elite Status. Plus the card has a generous sign-up bonus of three free nights after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. Considering all the value you can get, some Marriott fans will find the Boundless card to be a far better option and one of the best hotel cards around.
Best cards to pair with this card
The best card to pair with the Bonvoy Bold depends on your spending habits and goals. A cash back card that offers bonus rewards in your top spending categories could help you earn plenty of spending change for your next trip.
A travel rewards card could also be a great fit. Some of the best travel cards could help you rack up an incredible amount of points on your travel purchases, which will pair nicely with the Marriott points you earn with the Bonvoy Bold card. They may also come with some additional perks that help drive down the cost of your upcoming travel.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has one of the best travel rewards programs around, giving you 25 percent more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The card also has an impressive sign-up bonus and a number of additional travel protections you won’t find with the Bonvoy Bold, like trip cancellation/interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver.
For added value, Chase points are transferable. If you decide to take advantage of this perk, Marriott is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so your points can be pooled when booking award stays.
Bankrate’s Take — Is the Marriott Bonvoy Bold worth it?
If you’re looking to take advantage of the Marriott’s rewards program while enjoying some nice hotel perks, the Bonvoy Bold is a solid pick, especially if you don’t want to pay an annual fee. But an upgrade to the Bonvoy Boundless card could prove to be far more rewarding thanks to its higher sign-up bonus, more practical bonus categories and anniversary Free Night Award, which should provide more than enough value to offset the card’s annual fee.