The Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card launches today – is it any good?

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The Marriott Bonvoy American Express card launches today!

And here it is:

Marriott Bonvoy American Express card

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:

Sign-up bonus:

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

Extra benefits:

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

Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card launched

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.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card launched

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.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card launched

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.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card launched

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.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card launched

Conclusion

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.

You can apply for the new Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card 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.)

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Comments

  1. Pondhopper79 says:

    I have the Creation Marriott Rewards card, which still seems to work ok. Can the 15 elite nights credit be combined with the 10 nights from the creation card. Any reason this won’t work?

  2. Dumping my SPG card when the replacement arrives.
    The 33% cut just isn’t worth it anymore.
    I got enough points for a ski trip to Baqueira, so will spend them on that.
    Maybe a Ski/Hotel article would be good at somepoint, for hotels, etc. in/near resorts? Easy to find US based ones, but a lot harder for Europe & the Alps. Innsbruck Marriott hotel is a steal if you don’t mind getting a bus to the resorts everyday….

    • Jonathan says:

      The replacement card won’t arrive until your current one expires so you might not be dumping it as soon as you thought.

      • ahaha, correct! I received my replacement in Dec and it is valid till 2024 so if I had to wait till I get a new one to dump it…I will actually reach my goal in a few hundreds and dump it for good.

        • See first comment second page. 4 points/£ for calling to cancel, but perhaps not for everybody.

    • Baqueira is going up in category on March 4 so book ASAP to get the lower rate

  3. Haven’t Marriott started excluding some hotel lounges for Platinums? Sure I read somewhere the lounge at The Prince Gallery Kiochi?

  4. Unless I’m missing something the first card in the 3-card strategy should now be Nectar. The potential benefit is up to £220 for spending £1000 less, and there is no annual fee. Bonvoy should only be considered as the first card where one is .certain to use the 15 EQN to hit platinum, and I honestly don’t understand why anyone would bother unless Marriott was strong and Hilton was weak in intended travel areas because the evidence suggest even Hilton Gold remains more valuable than Bonvoy Platinum. And getting Hilton Gold is simple.

    • Not sure if just me, but I’ve always found getting accepted for the nectar card hard, compared to getting accepted straightaway for every other amex, i have been rejected in the past if I have made other credit card application closeby, just like the Virgin CC, so had to go on a no applications streak to get accepted

    • I thought the same, nectar has no fee in first year and same level of bonus as the Marriott card.

      • Benefit from Nectar is potentially worth over twice as much if you are not after Bonvoy platinum.

    • The Streets says:

      Completely agree, if I was getting someone into the Amex game then Nectar is now a much easier sell than the Marriott card. There’s also now no real incentive to ditch all AMEX cards. I’ll be keeping my cash card and then applying for the BA premium every two years and the Amex business platinum intermittently. Just now waiting for my final Marriott points to post and then will ditch the card

    • Fair point, will have a think (as it is non travel).

      • It can be travel if prepared to wait, and LNER is useful. Otherwise, even if the benefit is redeemed at base 0.5p on things you would buy anyway then it is simply a matter of perception to shift the £110 (more if referred) base benefit to avios or hotel points during sales. Haven’t done the maths but it looks close even for Bonvoy points given there is no fee on Nectar the first year, but the benefit from Nectar is certainly more valuable avios, Virgin miles and other hotel points than the benefit from the Bonvoy card unless it is platinum status somebody is after.

        Regarding points others raise above, I would guess that if Nectar is the first application for an amex newbie then it might not be so difficult to get. I wonder if it might be best to not state an existing Nectar number and let them open a new Nectar account for you? Prospects of new members is always more attractive than throwing benefits at loyal members as we all know.

        • We often use ours for LNER. Just used the last of the 2x value vouchers from the autumn.

          Absent any need to get the train or other decent promos, we spend it on gin as our local Sainsbury’s has a very good selection.

        • Not forgetting Nectar points can be used for Eurostar

          • Usual 0.5p though so better off using them elsewhere and getting the 10% back in Club Eurostar points.

    • The ability to spend Nectar on Ebay also makes it useful. I find Sainsbury’s more expensive for the same or similar thing than other retailers, so not great for use there.

      • As Shoestring has pointed out best to wait for promos a couple of times a year where you get double value for points on certain items. I got some excellent ‘Taste the Difference’ wine in November.

      • They were named the cheapest big supermarket of the year by “which” magazine..

        Lid and aldi didn’t count in the tracking “which” did..

    • I think BJ raises excellent points here. I’m not totally sold on Hilton Gold being comparable to Marriott Platinum though – 4pm checkout can be useful if you value it. Though if you have a Platinum AMEX, you can just use FHR to get all the Marriott Platinum benefits anyway, and you’re actually guaranteed breakfast.

      I think I will use the new Bonvoy card to help me hit Platinum and see what the experience is like. I really like the look of many of Bonvoy’s hotels, particularly the Luxury Collection. So if I’m likely to choose their hotels anyway, then it makes sense to aim for Platinum. Apart from the Waldorf in Amsterdam, I’ve not really seen a Hilton that excites me, but I appreciate that’s personal preference.

      • @Harry, you must seek help young man, it seems like you’re on fast track to what Rob refers to as dull, middle-management… 🙂

        • @BJ haha! Will it be offset if I spend my time at Ws, due to all the young hip guests?

          • No I’m afraid not, all W guests have already become sad auld fogies who keep going on about the good old days; you’ll recognise the type easily enough, you’ve come across us in the comments here quite regularly.

          • I’m sad I didn’t even experience the good old days!

      • I’d forgotten about FHR. Do you need to hold the Platinum at the time of staying or just at booking?

        • @Anna
          FHR can be excellent sometimes – I’ve found rates that are cheaper than booking directly or through hotels.com but also have numerous extra perks and flexibility.

          You don’t have to pay on the Platinum card at the hotel – just any AMEX in your name. So I assume you don’t actually need to have the Platinum card at the time.

          • As a fairly regular user of FHR, most hotels are fine with you paying with any Amex in your name. If you make a booking you can guarantee it with any of your live Amex cards which sort of validates that. We often pay with a different Amex – Gold for 2x MRs or BAPP to go towards 241 voucher target spend, for example.

            Only time it’s been an issue is with RC Berlin. I wanted to use my Gold card but they said they could only accept the Platinum card used to make the booking. This was a bit of an issue as I had had a replacement card with a different number – I ended up paying with the new Plat card as a “compromise”.

          • @Stu_N:
            That’s naughty of them because technically the Amex T&Cs say you can pay with any Amex in your name!

            Any good recommendations for FHR hotels?

  5. I stayed (as Bonvoy gold) at the Durham Marriott for 22k points last weekend and was upgraded to a suite which would have been £250, the night’s stay cost us precisely £7 which was for overnight parking on site. The hotel is perfectly placed to explore the city and the staff were lovely. It was our first Marriott stay since getting gold (me via SPG spend, OH via Platinum), so it’s set the bar quite high!

    • Michael C says:

      …whereas my first Gold visit to Copenhagen last week was “Would you like to upgrade to…”, all for a small fee, of course…

      • I stayed at Copenhagen Marriott in 2018 and it was a really mixed bag to be honest. I was gold when that meant lounge access (before Bonvoy changes made it basically worthless) and the offering was mediocre, especially with dietary requirements.
        Stayed 7 nights, and despite contracting the F&B manager about the poor offering it only improved for one day after that, then was very poor again.
        Reception staff went out of their way to help you, numerous other staff the complete opposite. Overall I would try other places if in Copenhagen again.
        It wasn’t bad, it just felt like you had to fight if you wanted anything.

        • Michael C says:

          My son and I got up for an early morning stroll…and the emergency fire door had been shut at the end of our corridor from outside, completely blocking us in! Reception answer was “ok, we’ll send an engineer…”.
          Drafting an email at the moment, and completely agree about mixed bag. Loved location and room was lovely – though website “separate shower and tub” wasn’t true, annoyingly.

        • Sussex Bantam says:

          Funnily enoiugh we had exactly the same issue with Copenhagen Marriott. My wife is vegan and there was nothing she could eat in the lounge. We complained and they made her something specially but then went out of their way to tell us it was “for one night only”.

          I ended up complaining to the hotel manager who was very apologetic and we were almost showered with champagne and chocolates from that point onwards ! (Plus some food my wife could eat in the lounge…)

          • Sounds like I should have complained to the hotel manager not the F&B manager. It shouldn’t have to be that you need to complain in a decent hotel for effectively basics.

    • Conversely, I received no upgrade when I visited the W in Amsterdam last summer. Though they did give me a 2pm checkout and let me use the very nice spa for some time after checkout.

  6. Have a lot of nights coming up in short succession so will be doing a status match challenge, is Platinum better than Hilton Gold, or does that depend on your brand preference?

    • Not getting breakfast at all brands for Marriott Platinum is infuriating – particularly as there are no massive short cuts other than a challenge to getting status.

    • I’d say, consider which brand’s hotels you’ve enjoyed staying in the most in the past and aim for that.
      No point getting status if you are not enjoying the stays at that brand to achieve it or won’t use it in future stays as you find yourself edging towards another hotel brand.

      Personally I’ve found Hilton to be good at recognising status overall but it has less high end hotels than Marriott and overall smaller footprint than Marriott.

      • Thanks Ken, Peter – that’s helpful. I prefer Marriott but often stay at Design hotels so the lack of breakfast there is indeed frustrating.

        • For me, Hilton is hard to beat in terms of status earning/recognition and points earning. The point you make about less high end hotels actually helps me, as it means that many Hiltons (especially Hamptons) are within budget. Throughout the week I don’t need lounge access. I don’t need free breakfast (it is paid by work anyway). But the points and status earned will be put to good use on holiday!

          I think we had 2 weeks in the Conrad Koh Samui, some nights in Macau and great upgrades and lounge access across SE Asia last year.

  7. I’ve still not had any communication from amex about the change in earning rate. Took the card out in January just before the announcement

    • Neither have I and I took the card out in November last year. Although now the new card has launched suspect it is only a matter of time before a letter detailing the changes drops through the door

  8. Mrs S is waiting to hear if she’s been accepted for the old card, she applied on Sunday.

  9. Club lounge access is only granted at certain brands.

  10. Probably me, but I cannot see any pointer on earning rate for existing cards.

  11. I had the card until last week, it is no more. My main issue is with Bonvoy. You need a spreadsheet to know if you get breakfast or not at the 30 different hotel types and even then you can’t guarantee consistency and there are different rules for resorts too. It’s way too complicated. I’m only about 20% for upgrades even as a Tit, let alone getting the supposed best room available at check in (including select suites) or some other such wording and whilst I’m happy to stand at reception and effectively argue until I get a result it unsettles my wife who finds it all rather unseemly. As a spire elite I do the best at Crowne Plaza which for me seems to be the sweet spot (almost always had either upgrade, free breakfast or lounge access, only once got nowt), IC hotels largely do the minimum, the best was at Bangkok with a suite, free breakfast and lounge access for free as a lowly Ambassador. It’s also about trust for me, they have changed the scheme so much in such a short time and half the time they don’t even let the members know, if it wasn’t for the blogs and Flyer Talk you wouldn’t be aware of the changes. So I’m done with all things Marriott.

    • “I’m only about 20% for upgrades even as a Tit”

    • Try Hilton then, I have 100% upgrade, full breakfast and lounge success as Diamond and one year as Gold over the last 5 or 6 years. Shou.d point out that this has not included stays in USA.

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