The Marriott Bonvoy American Express card launches today!
And here it is:
The card has a representative APR of 39.7% variable including the fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit. The interest rate on purchases is 22.9% variable.
You can apply via the American Express website here.
Of course, it isn’t a brand new product.
It is a rebranding of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card, with the following changes:
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
Day to day earning:
The earning rate is cut 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.
The annual fee remains at £75
The only real improvement is the 15 elite night credits
Looking at feedback from Head for Points readers since the Marriott Bonvoy American Express was first announced, the ONLY benefit that excited people was the 15 free elite night credits.
You may find it worthwile paying the £75 annual fee purely to get the 15 elite nights.
Let’s take a look at the elite night credit in more detail.
These are the ‘nights’ requirements for different levels of Marriott Bonvoy status:
- Basic Member: 0-9 nights
- Silver Elite: 10-24 nights
- Gold Elite: 25-49 nights
- Platinum Elite: 50-74 nights
- Titanium Elite: 75-99 nights
Because the Marriott Bonvoy American Express comes with 15 elite night credits, you will only need:
- 10 additional nights for Gold Elite
- 35 additional nights for Platinum Elite
- 60 additional nights for Titanium Elite
Gold Elite is not worth much, so I won’t focus on that. You can also receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for free by getting The Platinum Card from American Express.
Platinum Elite is where it gets interesting. You can see the list of Platinum Elite benefits on the Marriott website here, but to summarise the relevant ones:
You get Executive Lounge access when the hotel has a lounge
You get a 50% bonus on your base points on every stay
You get a room upgrade, including suites, if available
You get a welcome amenity – which can include restaurant breakfast if the hotel has no lounge or you would prefer to use the restaurant (this article explains the Bonvoy breakfast benefit by brand)
You get a GUARANTEED 4pm check-out except at convention and resort hotels
However you look at it, Platinum Elite is a good package.
50 nights is a stretch unless you are travelling heavily each week. 35 nights, on the other hand, is manageable for a lot of people.
If you believe that you could comfortably do 35 Marriott Bonvoy nights per year then it is well worth paying £75 for the new Marriott Bonvoy American Express in order to secure Platinum Elite status.
But if you’re not bothered about earning Platinum Elite status …..
For anyone who is NOT bothered about pushing for Platinum Elite status, the Marriott Bonvoy American Express is substantially less attractive than the SPG version. The day to day earning rate is cut by 33%.
I tend to value a Marriott Bonvoy point at 0.5p. 2 points per £1 means that you are getting a 1% return on your spending. This isn’t bad BUT you are paying £75 per year for the privilege.
In comparison, if you value an airline mile at 1p, you could get:
1% back via the FREE British Airways American Express (1 Avios per £1)
0.75% back via the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard (0.75 miles per £1)
1.25% back via the £79 Lufthansa Global Traveller Mastercard (1.25 miles per £1)
What other benefits does the Marriott Bonvoy American Express offer?
Let’s run through the other benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.
You receive Silver Elite status in Marriott Bonvoy
Because you only need 10 elite nights to receive Silver Elite status, and you will receive 15 elite night credits each year for holding the card, everyone who gets it will be – at the least – Silver Elite in Marriott Bonvoy.
The benefits of Silver Elite are not huge, of course. You can see the different Marriott tier levels here.
The key benefits of Silver Elite status are:
- 10% bonus on base points earned
- ‘Priority’ for late check-out requests
…. and that’s it, at least in terms of stuff you will find genuinely useful. It isn’t a lot but it should stop you getting the room overlooking the bins.
You get a free night voucher you get when you spend £25,000 in a year.
This sounds great, given some of the luxury properties in the Marriott portfolio. However it can only be used at hotels which costs up to 25,000 points per night.
This isn’t much. For comparison, the top Bonvoy redemptions now cost 100,000 points per night.
It is also not possible to book a better hotel and pay the additional points on top.
In the UK, 25,000 points gets you the Bexleyheath Marriott, Courtyard Aberdeen Airport, MOXY Heathrow Airport, Durham Marriott, Portsmouth Marriott etc. There is nothing in Central London – the MOXY at Excel is the nearest qualifying option, and even that goes up to 30,000 points on a ‘peak’ night.
Spending £25,000 on an Amex card is NOT easy – and your only reward is a free night at a relatively low-rent hotel. It makes no sense.
It comes with a sign-up bonus worth 6,666 Avios – if you qualify
Due to the new tough restrictions on sign-up bonuses that American Express launched last year, virtually no-one now qualifies for the sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Amex. You can’t get it if you have any other Amex card, and virtually no-one would choose the Bonvoy card as their first American Express. Without a sign-up bonus, the £75 annual fee – which is NOT waived in Year 1 – looks tough.
(You SHOULD get the Marriott Bonvoy Amex as your first Amex card, as I wrote in this article. But unless you read HFP, you probably wouldn’t.)
On the off-chance that you haven’t had any other personal American Express cards in the last 24 months, you qualify for the sign-up bonus of 20,000 Bonvoy points. 20,000 points is good for around £100 of free hotel nights or will convert into 6,666 miles with over 40 airlines including Avios and Virgin Flying Club.
One positive quirk of Marriott Bonvoy is that you can transfer points between members for free, up to 100,000 points per year. This means that you could persuade a family member who would qualify for the bonus to take one out and then transfer the points to you.
You earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per £1 spent which I value at 1p
As I wrote above, the earning rate is weak now and certainly not a reason to have the card. The only exception would be if you were spending such large sums that the £75 fee became a rounding error.
The double points (6 per £1) offer for spending at the 30 Marriott brands now seems to be permanent. This IS a decent deal when staying at UK hotels.
Note that the card has a 3% FX fee so, irrespective of double points, it isn’t a good one to use abroad until your employer is repaying you.
It is a good way of earning airline miles if your airline no longer has a credit card
This is the real reason that you may want to get the Marriott Bonvoy Amex. Now that Emirates, Etihad, American and United no longer have UK credit cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Amex is the best way to earn miles in these programmes. There are also 30+ other airlines who never had a UK credit card, such as Air Canada and Qatar Airways, where this credit card is the best way to earn miles in the UK from day to day spend.
You get Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for spending £15,000 in a card year
This isn’t worth much, to be honest, because Bonvoy Gold Elite has few benefits. More importantly, you can get Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for free simply by taking out an American Express Platinum charge card, no spending required.
The new ’15 elite nights’ credit means that you would also receive Gold Elite status after spending just 10 nights per year in Marriott hotels, irrespective of your card spend.
The £75 annual fee is refundable pro-rata if you cancel
You can cancel the card at any point and receive a pro-rata refund of the annual fee.
For a small group of people – basically anyone who can easily do 35 Marriott nights per year but less than the 50 nights required to get Platinum Elite automatically – the ability to receive 15 elite night credits will make the Marriott Bonvoy American Express worth getting.
For everyone else, the benefits are less clear cut UNLESS you are using Marriott Bonvoy as a way of earning airline miles. If this is your strategy, you will want to stick with the card regardless of the cut in earning rate.
For everyone else, the £75 annual fee is hard to justify for a card which only earns you 1p per £1 spent of points in return.
But, if you have NO personal Amex cards at present, GET IT
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 – Marriott Bonvoy American Express
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.
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)