Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card review
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Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card Overview
If your business frequently takes you to different places and you’re a devoted Marriott fan, then the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card may be right for you. While your rewards must be redeemed for travel, points can be used for hotel stays, upgrades or a variety of hotel experiences at over 7,000 hotels worldwide. Additionally, points are transferable to over 40 travel partners.
What are the pros and cons?
- Large focus on redemption for hotel-related rewards
- $125 annual fee
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 6X points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 4X points at U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations, 4X points on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping and 2X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership
- Annual fee: $125
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 17.24 percent to 26.24 percent variable
Current welcome offer
This hotel card comes with a decent welcome offer for a modest annual fee: 75,000 points after a $3,000 spend in your first three months. While this is still a pretty valuable offer, it’s a sizable drop from the card’s previous offer of 100,000 points after a $5,000 spend in the same timeframe. This bonus also falls far short of the card’s all-time-high offer of 125,000 points and two Free Night Awards (worth up to 50,000 points each) for spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Based on The Point’s Guy’s latest estimation, Marriott points are worth about 0.84 apiece, which would give this offer a value of about $630 if you redeem for Marriott stays. Another clever use of these points is to turn them into miles. Given the transfer ratio is 3:1 for many airlines and the fact that you get 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 points transferred, your welcome bonus can potentially be converted to nearly 30,000 miles for air travel with a partner airline.
Provided you do some planning, you can make your Marriott Bonvoy rewards go a long way. What’s great about the Marriott Bonvoy program is that you can earn unlimited points, though you will need to either earn or redeem points at least once every 24 months to ensure your points don’t expire.
As you would expect, you’ll earn the most points by staying at participating Marriott Bonvoy locations. Owners of this Marriott business credit card automatically receive Silver Elite status, too, which means you could earn up to 17 points per dollar on a Marriott stay—6X points from the card, 10X points from the loyalty program and 1X points from Silver Elite status. This makes the card highly rewarding and incentivizes continued stays at hotels in the Marriott Bonvoy program. In fact, this rate is higher than some competing hotel card offers, like the one found on the Hilton Honors American Express Card.
The Marriott card also offers 4X points per dollar for purchases in popular spending categories such as U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping purchases, making it a fantastic option for small business owners or startup business owners who want to build points quickly.
Maximizing rewards can take a little planning because there are 24 possible rates for an award night. Marriott recently switched to a dynamic pricing model, so the number of points you’ll need for a free one-night stay will vary based on where and when you book. You can also use Marriott’s PointSavers program to stretch your rewards, and the Points + Cash redemption option can help if your points balance is just shy and you need to cover the remainder of your stay out of pocket.
Another perk of the Marriott Bonvoy Business is its transfer program. This program allows points redemption for flights and car rentals across a global network of travel partners.
How much are the rewards worth?
Each Marriott Bonvoy point is worth 0.8 cents according to The Points Guy’s monthly valuations. This is less than the standard credit card rewards point (1 cent per point), but a fair value among hotel rewards programs. Marriott points are also flexibly redeemed for travel or transferred to partnering airlines, making up for a lower value with convenience.
Other cardholder perks
While this card comes with fewer benefits compared to a general travel rewards credit card, its hotel perks are so generous that you’ll easily make the $125 annual fee back if you’re a Marriott regular. This is great if you’re the type of business traveler who doesn’t fly frequently but still uses hotels as needed for yourself and employees.
- Complimentary Silver Elite status: Receive 10 percent bonus points and priority late checkout on Marriott stays as well as a dedicated elite reservation line and other benefits.
- Earn one free night: Spend $60,000 on purchases with your card in a calendar year and earn a free night. This can add up quickly with business stays for yourself and your employees.
- Elite night credits: Fast track to the next elite status level with 15 elite night credits. No matter what Elite status you’re at, these credits get you to the next tier quicker.
- Premium Internet access: Get complimentary in-room Internet access at participating locations. While Wi-Fi is generally standard in most hotels, this enhanced internet option is reserved for Marriott Bonvoy cardholders.
- 1 Free Night Award every year: Receive one free night award each year after after your card renewal month to be redeemed at a Marriott property for a night costing no more than 35,000 points. This perk underlines the fact that customer satisfaction and loyalty are important to Marriott – coupled with the other hotel benefits, it’s clear they offer a lot to their customers.
- Miles bonus: Receive 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 points you transfer to a partner airline frequent flyer program. That’s a bonus of a little more than 8 percent, making airline transfers pretty rewarding in the travel cards landscape.
- No foreign transaction fees: Save on the standard 3 percent on foreign transactions when making purchases overseas. Although this is a regular perk featured on travel cards, it’s an added bonus to the Marriott Bonvoy Business card which also comes with enhanced hotel perks that may not be available on a traditional travel card.
Protection and insurance
- Lost, stolen or damaged luggage insurance: Receive coverage of up to $500 on checked bags and $1,250 for carry-on items. Although insurance coverage like this is typical on cards in this class, it’s always a welcome cushion in the uncertainty that comes with travel.
- Car rental loss and damage insurance: Receive secondary coverage on car rental when you pay with this card.
- Purchase protection: Up to 90 days and $1,000 per occurrence (up to $50,000 per account per calendar year), items purchases with your card are protected against damage, loss or theft. Although this is another common perk, it adds to the comprehensive list of benefits available on the Marriott Bonvoy Business card.
- Extended warranty: Includes warranty coverage for up to one additional year for eligible items with an original manufacturer warranty of five years or less.
Rates and Fees
This card’s annual fee of $125 will be steep for someone who isn’t a frequent traveler, but you can easily offset it by spending $218 each month at Marriott properties, or by spending $326 across your 4X categories per month. Since the card’s 4X categories include restaurants and gas stations, it’s perfectly reasonable to—over the course of a year—expect to offset the card’s annual fee if you’re the average consumer.
For instance, consider reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that show in 2020 consumers had combined average expenditures of a little over $3,900 on food away from home and on gasoline. Keeping in mind COVID-19 restrictions on dining out in most areas during 2020, expenditures in both categories were far lower than the average in years prior. Despite this, an annual combined spend of $3,900 in these two categories would earn you 15,600 points for the year with your Marriott Bonvoy Business card, redeemable for $124.80 at a point value of 0.8 cents. This is just shy of the card’s annual fee, meaning you would have to spend just $6.25 more on either gas or at U.S. Restaurants to make up the difference in point value.
Think of it this way, if your spending aligns with these averages and you pay to stay just one night at a Marriott hotel for the year, you’ll earn the amount of your card’s annual fee back in full and then some.
Although the card’s late payment fee is upwards of $39, on the bright side, there is no foreign transaction fee or over-the-limit fee, which could be a big help if any unexpected emergency expenses arise.
Like many other premium travel rewards cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Business doesn’t offer a 0 percent introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers. Regular APRs for purchases range from 17.24 percent to 26.24 percent variable, which could be slightly below the current average interest rate.
How the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card compares to other travel rewards cards
Although the Marriott Bonvoy Business card certainly has its perks and rewards value, not everyone prefers Marriott Hotels or the idea of co-branded cards. If you don’t want to restrict credit card rewards to a loyalty program like Marriott Bonvoy then you might be considering a business card that earns rewards with more flexible redemption options.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card vs. The Hilton Honors American Express Card
When it comes to picking a hotel card a large factor is typically which hotel branch you prefer to use. The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is an obvious competitor, and it’s well-regarded due to its higher rewards potential. It offers 12X points on Hilton Hotel stays as well as more points for the same bonus categories. It also has a lower annual fee at $95. But according to The Points Guy, Hilton points are worth slightly less than Marriott points at 0.6 cents per point.
Although the Hilton’s point value is a little lower than Marriott Bonvoy points (valued at 0.8 cents), because the Hilton Honors card earns points at a much faster rate, you can rack up massive amounts of points that will net you a lot in rewards value.
It depends on where you’re spending your money and how you want to redeem your points, but at face value on hotel purchases alone before any redemptions are taken into account, Hilton rewards earn you more in cash value than Marriott Bonvoy points do. With an assumed annual spend of $15,000 at hotels in each cards’ respective rewards portfolio, you’ll earn 17X points with Marriott (6X with the card, 10X for the loyalty program and 1X for Silver Elite Status) and 12X per dollar spent with Hilton. That’s either 255,000 points with Marriott or 180,000 points with Hilton. Using the point valuations of each rewards program you’ll find that 255,000 Marriott points are worth $2,040 and 180,000 Hilton points are worth $1,080. While it’s clear the value with the Marriott Bonvoy Business card is much higher, also keep in mind that Hilton has a loyalty program of its own. Depending on how many nights you stay per year, you could potentially double your rewards points for nights at participating Hilton locations.
That said, you might be swayed in either direction based on the benefits and additional perks or redemption options offered on each respective card through the issuer’s portal.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card vs. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Outside of the co-branded credit cards space, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card may be of interest to those who prefer a general travel rewards program for greater redemption flexibility thanks to the Chase Ultimate Rewards® programs, which offers Marriott Bonvoy as a transfer partner.
Cardholders looking to fit their next travel card into a more comprehensive card strategy might be interested in this option, especially if they already carry a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. While it isn’t a travel card, it is a business card that earns points generously for travel purchases and allows cardholders to redeem those points for travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal with a 25 percent bonus. It’s an ideal option if you already carry a Chase card and want to combine your points earned across a range of categories on each of your cards to make redemptions.
Right now, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are valued at 1 cents each by The Points Guy. This is a marked increase over the value of both Marriott and Hilton rewards points. Assuming the same annual spend of $15,000 in the Marriott and Hilton comparison, the Ink Business Preferred Card would earn 45,000 points if that money was spent in its highest earning category, travel purchases. At 1 cent a piece, those points would amount to $450 in point value. While this is a bit lower than the cash value of the hotel rewards points previously mentioned, note that all travel redemptions made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal receive a 25 percent bonus on the value of each points. With this in consideration, Chase Ultimate Rewards points would be worth 1.25 cents each, making 45,000 points redeemable for $562.50 in travel redemptions through the issuer’s portal.
Still a little lower than you’re hoping for? If you’re looking to transfer points, the latest The Points Guy valuations estimate that if you find the right transfer partner for your business then Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents each, bringing the cash value of your 45,000 points to $900 if transferred through the right channels. Additionally, consider pairing this card with another Chase card that earns highly in other categories and pooling your points together to consolidate your credit card rewards–a convenience not available on either the Marriott or Hilton cards.
But points aside, this card also comes with travel and purchase insurance that compares well to the perks and benefits of the hotel cards. The only downside is that you don’t get all the status benefits at your favorite hotel chain.
Best cards to pair the Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card with
To optimize rewards for your business spending, pair your card with a cash rewards card with no annual fee, such as the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card. The Ink Business Cash will give you 5 percent cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases on office supplies and the ability to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to your Marriott Bonvoy account. This would be a great card to use to fill gaps in your spending that might otherwise earn you only 2X points with your Marriott Bonvoy Business card.
Additionally, pairing it with a flat-rate rewards business card like the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card might also be a wise option since you’ll be able to earn more rewards on expenses that fall outside your Marriott card’s bonus categories.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card worth it?
From hotel perks to complimentary protections, the Marriott Bonvoy Business benefits and rewards make this card a great option for a small-business owner who travels frequently and stays often at Marriott hotels. But you must be happy to stay exclusively at Marriott Bonvoy properties, which shouldn’t be too much of a hassle because the program has a wide range of variety in their branded chains.
However, if you’re after more variety in a rewards program, then a general travel rewards credit card may be more suitable for you.