Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

American Express is cutting the sign-up bonus on the new Marriott Bonvoy Amex credit card

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On Tuesday we covered the unveiling of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.

Unfortunately this is not a brand new product.  It is a rebranding of the existing Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card, with a few tweeks.

From 26th February:

The name of the card will be changed to the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card

The earning rate will be slashed by 33%, from 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per £1 to 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per £1

The earning rate at Marriott Bonvoy hotels will remain 6 Marriott Bonvoy points per £1

Instead of giving all cardholders Silver Elite status, you will receive 15 elite night credits per year.  This will trigger Silver Elite status anyway, but also means that you are 15 nights closer to Gold Elite, Platinum Elite or Titanium Elite status.  This is a genuine improvement.

The annual fee remains at £75

Here is the new design:

Marriott Bonvoy American Express card

What we didn’t know is what would happen to the sign-up bonus.  Business Traveller has received a briefing from Marriott on this which, whilst it has not been verified by American Express, we can safely assume is accurate.

This is what happens on 26th February:

The sign-up bonus is cut from 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to 20,000 points

The qualifying spend required to hit the bonus increases from £1,000 in 90 days to £3,000 in 90 days

This is rubbish, to put it mildly.  Add in the 33% cut in the earning rate per £1 and the refusal to cut the £75 annual fee and the package does not look good.

There was one other nugget of information in the Business Traveller article:

You will receive your 15 nights elite credit in April 2020, and thereafter in January

How does the Marriott Bonvoy American Express compare?

Whilst weaker than it was, the new card is on a par in some ways with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold when you get beyond the first year:

First year:

Amex Gold – no fee, 10000 Membership Rewards points bonus for spending £3000 in 90 days, points transfer to 15000 Bonvoy points or to many other airline and hotel schemes, two free airport passes

Bonvoy Amex – £75 fee, 20000 Bonvoy points bonus for spending £3000 in 90 days, Silver Elite status in Marriott Bonvoy

Amex Gold is the winner here.

Second and subsequent years:

Amex Gold – £140 fee, 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent (worth 1.5 Bonvoy points or transfer to other airline or hotel schemes), double points on airline spend, 10000 bonus points (worth 15,000 Bonvoy points) for spending £15000, two additional airport lounge passes

Bonvoy Amex – £75 fee, 2 Bonvoy points per £1 spent, 6 points per £1 spent at Marriott hotels, Gold Elite status for spending £15000, a free night worth 25,000 Bonvoy points (circa 3-star level) for spending £25000

The Marriott Bonvoy Amex probably edges it here.  In reality, however, you may do better cancelling both cards after the first year and moving onto, say, the American Express Rewards Credit Card (below) which is free for life and earns 1 Membership Rewards point per £1.

American Express Rewards Credit Card

But does it really matter?

In truth, the cut in the sign-up bonus won’t impact many Head for Points readers.

It is VERY tricky to qualify for the bonus.  You need to have had NO personal American Express cards, of any sort (except supplementary cards or Lloyds / MBNA cards) in the past 24 months.  There are not many readers who can manage that.

Oddly enough, I will keep recommending the Bonvoy card to some people.  The best way to maximise your American Express bonuses under the current rules remains:

1st card – SPG Amex / Bonvoy Amex

2nd card – The Platinum Card or British Airways Premium Plus

3rd card – The Platinum Card or British Airways Premium Plus

If you apply in this order you will receive three bonuses if you have had no personal Amex cards in the last two years.  My full article outlining how the sign-up bonus rules now work is here.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – May 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards. You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios or other airline miles, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (SPECIAL OFFER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital on Tap Visa card

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (104)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Chas says:

    OT – Monese. Any guidance for max size of individual “purchases”?

    • Chas says:

      Excellent, thanks Grant. That’s exactly what I was referring to.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Be very careful doing too many p.o. top ups. They froze my account after 6 weeks, took 3 weeks to get refunded and they shut my account.

      • Rob says:

        Friend of mine has just been told he can’t do any more Revolut credit card top-ups. He sent me a screenshot showing that he had done £170,000.

        • idrive says:

          well, £170k is probably an uncommon number for the average, isn’t it?

          • Rob says:

            If you withdraw it to your bank on the same day you load it, anyone – in theory – could do the same volume on the correct Revolut plan.

        • Neil Donoghue says:

          Does it reset every 365 days or per calendar year!? If he has done 170k since the 1st of January, he has done very well.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          I take it their limits aren’t hard and fast (or maybe they’re new?)? At £600/month, that’d take 23+ years!

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Sorry I think I misunderstood that, you’re referring to topping up Revolut, not using Rev to top up Monese? I’m not far off that figure, I sold a house and send the money overseas via credit card.

        • Brighton Belle says:

          Same here …even though my top ups were very modest by comparison and the funds were sent to pay European bills. I only returned funds back to my bank to be sure I wasn’t carrying an unsecured balance as Revolut isn’t covered by the £85k Financial Services protection.

          Revolt has decided that the credit card top-function is cash recycling and points generation and is to be terminated with their big stick. Why they offer a facility that mustn’t be used is a mystery.

          So I drained my balances to £1 and will observe from a distance. I rather liked how Revolut worked when travelling.

        • TripRep says:

          Jeez – W T literal F?

          170k is taking the proverbial and then some.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          @Triprep is it though? I mean yes, it could be major MS, but there are genuine reasons for doing it, potentially.

          This is potentially the cynic in me, but my thought is that it’s not CC topups they care about, it’s transactions they lose money on (fair enough tbh), namely credit card topups which are then withdrawn to cash or bank account, as the user pays zero, so Revolut pick up the tab. If you currency convert, they take a slice in the exchange, if you spend using EFTPOS they get whatever marginal swipe fees they get. And obviously don’t topup more than you either earn or can justify somehow (savings, asset sale, huge casino win if you can prove it, etc.).

        • avstar says:

          look like i tripled my virgin credit limit at exactly the wrong time! DOH

        • ANDY says:

          I was flagged today that they might
          I usually put £500 a week into Revolut and then at the end of the month transfer it into my bank account to help with cashflow.So I guess getting on for £26k a year ( i sometimes forget).
          I have been putting a bit more in the past week and using it to pay off a credit card bill. I guess I’ll have to be very careful from now on. £170k is pretty large, that’s a lot of MS!

      • James says:

        This is always what I fear, what amounts are we talking here?

        • Brighton Belle says:

          3 x £200 per week I thought was acceptable to their system but alas that has been judged unreasonable if you don’t utilise every penny and decide to return some funds to your bank. You are breaking their T’s& C’s they tell me. It’s just all too arbitrary. Revolut have a rather intrusive manner compared to other institutions so expect to explain why you have their account, what you are doing with it and your sources of income.. though didn’t that one because I never carried much of a balance.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          There’s no point getting upset about all this. We all know why we are topping up with credit cards then sending it where ever. Revolut wants genuine business and has a duty to protect its shareholders.

          Just move on to the next MS Opp

        • Doug M says:

          Agree with TGL Revolut making an effort to be a serious financial business. The Monese and Curve’s are the ones that will eventually burn through their shareholders cash and have no meaningful business.

      • idrive says:

        what was the explanation? on the other side, if you stay on the limits…how did you spend the money? or was it just sitting on the account? what was “too many”?

        • Voltron says:

          I’ve been doing 1 paypoint topup a week, keeping total topups at £1k per month, could probably get away with more, but its always better in my view to get a steady amount and “stay under the radar”, if that is even possible…

        • Steve-B says:

          Comments suggest that if your account is flagged for review, you’ll be asked to provide proof of earnings. That for me, sets the bar for what is acceptable maximum per month (and I actually work back a bit from that). I also try to actively use the account for ‘real’ transactions. Everyone is going to have their own risk level though.

      • Chas says:

        Secret Squirrel – what value and frequency were you doing to get banned by Monese? Were you doing any normal spend on the card too, or was it just top-up and transfer? I’ve been using Revolut for a while, so am aware of the best way to use that, but was wondering how Monese may vary and whether to use the same degree of caution.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Just £500 – £749 @ week via P.O & PP top ups. Used card for various small transactions per week & then suddenly transfer out was frozen. Took a long time to get money back.

      • The Urbanite says:

        How much MS you can get away with is subject to status but ultimately there is a shelf life to every single scheme as someone, somewhere is losing out and will want to put a stop to it. Not every company is sufficiently frank to tell you that you’re an unacceptably unprofitable customer! In addition to paying fees for accepting credit card top ups, being flagged for reviews costs them in time and resources.

        With respect to Revolut they will specifically warn people that they do not like being used to game other financial institutions for rewards. To be fair to them they will only warn you off topping up with a credit card if they think the function is being abused rather than used normally. They have also been known to discourage bank transfers out and carrying out financial transactions. Those going too hard too fast will get shut down quickly.

        The KYC, proof of source of funds, shutdown, Suspicious Activity Report, National Crime Agency etc. side of MS rarely seems to be talked about or asked about – many people want routes without realising there’s a bit more to it than spending and liquidation!

    • Go says:

      I only top up what I spend in non Amex transactions and then use Monese for these. I never transfer the money out after top ups

    • Ming the Merciless says:

      I’ve had Revoult for about 18 months. I’ve topped up close to £300k in that time. They’re very hot on transfers to any bank account that is connected to you, and any transactions that are undisputably Business Expenses (HMRC Corporation tax for example). I’m currently limited to £3k top up a day, which is a reduction from the initial limit of £10k which I had. I’ve had 4 KYC reviews in that time.

      • Jac says:

        I recently paid 100K into my Revolut acc and upgraded to premium as i wanted to convert the money to pay for a property abroad. Upon receipt of my own funds paid from own acc with major bank, revolut froze my acc and it took about 6 weeks before they released the funds. During this period, they kept asking the same supporting documents again and again each time by different support / chat staff. After that i m very reluctant to use Revolut. Before i went on Xmas holiday i did top up my acc with virgin acc with only 500£ and my acc again got frozen with same questions on source of wealth…

        • Funtime says:

          KYC is nonsense lol

          I’ve put nearly £200K through various accounts in the last year.

          Two accounts owned by the same holding company, £37000 through one account no problem at all, £2000 in the other account and asked to provide proof of funds by their operations team lol

          Needless to say I telephoned them and requested held funds to be refunded and to close my account forthwith.

          If you get a review just move onto the next opportunity.

          • Bagoly says:

            I was using their Freelancer Premium account to move money from one currency (in which I earn) to another (in which I spend most), i.e. as alternative to CurrencyFair/Transferwise, and paying them a monthly fee.
            When they changed Freelance Premium terms to put £5k monthly limit on free FX I switched to a premium Personal account which has no such limit.
            Now I am having problems – first it was locked completely, and after sending them documents I still can’t transfer out to a bank account.
            I never considered that MS.

  • Max says:

    OT – is there currently no FX fee for using the Virgin Atlantic free card in Euros? I seem to remember reading something about this on the comments here recently.

    • jc says:

      Correct (but check your Dec/Jan statement for confirmation, you won’t have any recourse if it’s just that a bunch of internet forum people told you so)

    • xcalx says:

      From15 December2019,we’rechanginghowyou’rechargedwhen you use your cardor withdrawcashin any of the 31 countriesof the EuropeanEconomicArea(EEA).Whenyou pay for something in Euros,SwedishKronoror RomanianLei, we won’tchargeyou a Non-SterlingTransactionFee.
      Whenyou takemoneyout in thosecurrenciesfroma cashmachine in the EEA, you won’thaveto pay a Non-SterlingTransactionFee either– but you will still need to pay a Cash Advancefee.

      • xcalx says:

        Apolgies, copy and paste threw it all together.

        • Roberto says:

          Surely this is short lived and they will start charging again just calling the fee somthing else I would imagine.

  • SL says:


    One for Rob or anyone who has used Manchester PremiAir terminal. What is the parking situation? Would I have to park at one the airport car parks and then make my own way to the terminal?


    • Anna says:

      I had a look at how much it would be to add parking to the lounge booking and it was about £80 extra for 2 weeks in August not the best deal but I would definitely consider it for the convenience of just driving up to the entrance and handing over the keys!

    • Rob says:

      It is explained on their website. They can handle it.

  • Russ says:

    Goodness it’s only January and Marriott marketing department are already culling reasons to employ them. Pertinent perhaps to remember that the benefits people receive from elite status are also available on a ad hoc basis at the hotel as add-ons. Worth doing the math folks.

  • Ilou says:

    Btw, has anyone received the 50% extra for MR transfer to Marriot that was run in Q4

    The terms and conditions said up to 6 weeks so still early but was wondering if anyone received these ?


  • BJ says:

    Marriott definitely seems to be on life-support as far as I’m concerned. Only thing sustaining an interest is the possibility still to get 5 night stay in a satisfactory 3/4* hotel in Asia for 50,000 points. Hilton remains tops as I’n two years away from Lifetime Diamond and have the Hilton visa card from Barclays. IHG seems extrenely quiet at the moment so I’ll be exploring possibilities at Radisson for the first time thanks to new promotion and amex offers. The amex overhaul is clearly not over, really curious how long the BA cards will last (in their current form) and if the next shock might be 241 rule enforcement, and restrictions in up/downgrades between BA cards. I need to upgrade my BA blue in the spring but I migt jump sooner as I don’t what to get caught out with something like the green-platinum upgrade changes again this year.

    • Freddy says:

      I’ll be jumping from the SPG card to the BAPP. I think if the BA card goes a similar way I’ll definitely be opting for a bog standard c££shbk amex card

  • Tony j says:

    Will this change be for existing cards? I. E. If I apply for the star wood and get it, will it be 3 points per £ or 2?

    • Jay H says:

      You’ll have 3 points until they change existing cardholders over to the revamped version.

  • Talay says:

    Total crap. I can’t see why to continue using this over the BAPP card.

    Can anyone give me a reason ?

    • Jay H says:

      Only if the 15 elite nights tip you to Platinum over gold. Other than that BAPP is now my choice of main card. Shame

    • TGLoyalty says:

      When staying at Marriott hotels.

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