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Review: the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card

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This is our review of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card issued in the UK.

It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether of not they are worth applying for.  These posts are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Offers‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

This article was updated on 1st January 2022, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

Key link: Marriott Bonvoy American Express application form

Key facts: £75 annual fee

The representative APR is 41.6% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. The interest rate on purchases is 24.5% variable. 

About the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express card is issued directly by American Express.  The Marriott Bonvoy loyalty scheme covers 30 hotel brands including Marriott, Renaissance, Sheraton, Westin, W, Aloft, Luxury Collection etc.

It is a credit card, like the British Airways American Express, and not a charge card like The Platinum Card.

What is the Marriott Amex sign-up bonus?

The sign-up bonus on the card is 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. This is worth 6,667 Avios or other airline miles if converted.

The points are also good for one free night in many mid-market and budget Marriott hotels

A higher bonus of 23,000 points is available if you are referred for the card. Email me at rob at if you would like a referral link.

Bonvoy points convert 3:1 into 40+ different airline schemes.

Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card review

What are the rules for qualifying for the sign-up bonus?

The bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months.  Cards issued by MBNA or Lloyds Bank do not count.

You WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express card via your job.  Amex is only interested in any personal cards you have had.

You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card. As far as Amex is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

If you do not qualify for the bonus, you can still apply.  You still receive the other card benefits.

Any other benefits with the Marriott Bonvoy Amex?

Get 15 elite night credits:

All cardholders get 15 elite nights credits, annually, in Marriott Bonvoy.  This will automatically get you free Silver Elite status.  This has few real benefits except for a 10% bonus on base points earned from Marriott hotel stays.

Much more interestingly, it means that you are 15 nights closer to earning Gold Elite, Platinum Elite or Titanium Elite status.  This is where the card has real value.

Officially, new cardmembers will receive their 15 elite night credits within 60 days of applying.  In subsequent years, the 15 elite nights will be credited by 1st March.

Unofficially, new cardmembers are receiving their 15 elite night credits within a few days of signing up. As an existing cardholder, I received my 15 nights for 2021 in the first week of January.

Get Gold Elite status for spending £15,000:

Spend £15,000 per year on the card and you will receive Gold Elite status in Marriott Bonvoy. The benefits of this are modest, though, and you can get Gold Elite for free simply by taking out an American Express Platinum card. 

You would also receive Gold Elite status by staying just 10 nights, once you add in the 15 elite night credits that come with the card.

Get a free night for spending £25,000:

Spend £25,000 per year and you receive a voucher for a free hotel night. However, this can only be used at hotels costing up to 25,000 points which basically knocks out any expensive and / or aspirational hotels. Given the huge amount of spending required to trigger the free night, this restriction makes little sense.

(If the free night was valid anywhere, I might be prepared to go for it. A free night a year at the Gritti Palace in Venice is not a bad way to spend your time and is not a bad return on £25,000 of spend. You won’t find anything too luxurious up to 25,000 points however.)

What is the Marriott Bonvoy Amex annual fee?

There is a £75 annual fee. You receive a pro-rata refund if you cancel.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

The earnings rate on the card is 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per £1.

You will receive triple points (6 per £1) when using the card at any Marriott hotel.

What is a Marriott Bonvoy point worth?

Based on my recent hotel redemptions, I am happy to say that you should be able to get 0.5p per point without much trouble and, on an expensive night, far more – click for a longer article on this topic.

The airline conversion rate is also generous. 60,000 points is worth 25,000 miles in most of their partner schemes, including Avios and Virgin Flying Club. This puts a floor under their value – if you assume airline miles are worth 1p then this gives you a floor value of 0.42p per Bonvoy point given the conversion ratio above.

If you live in London, Marriott Bonvoy has a private suite at the O2 Arena and makes seats with full hospitality available for points redemption for many concerts.  The Marriott Moments site shows you some of the other great experiences you can bid for with points.

How does the Marriott Bonvoy Amex compare to a cashback credit card?

My default comparison card is the John Lewis / Waitrose Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.25% cashback in vouchers.

For an average spender, the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card offers only average value.  If you manage to redeem for free hotel nights at 0.5p+ per point of value, you are getting 1.0% of your spending in rewards BUT you are paying a £75 annual fee.

The real value comes if:

  • you are a high spender, so the £75 annual fee doesn’t make a big difference to your return
  • you spend a lot at Marriott hotels to benefit from 6 points per £1
  • you are happy to pay the £75 fee purely to get the 15 elite night credits, and the 2 points per £1 is just the icing on top

Is the Marriott Bonvoy Amex a good card to use when travelling?

Not really.  As American Express adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.

Unfortunately there are no travel rewards cards without a foreign exchange fee.  One option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than Amex charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

If someone else is refunding your expenses – which means you don’t care about the 3% FX fee – it is certainly a good card to use at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.  You will earn 6 points per £1 spent.

It is a GREAT card to use at Marriott hotels in the UK. You will earn 6 points per £1 which is effectively a 3% return on your spending.

Other points to note

It is worth remembering that Marriott Bonvoy offers transfers to 40+ different airlines. For many of these airlines, the Marriott Bonvoy credit card is the only way for a UK resident to earn in that programme via card spend.

American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for its cards.

How else can you earn Marriott Bonvoy points from a credit card?

There are two interesting options, one of which is initially free:

Nectar American Express

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

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year. These convert to 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The American Express Platinum charge card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. These convert to 45,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

You also receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status with The Platinum Card. It has a £575 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.


The standard sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express is, on the face of it, middling. You will receive 20,000 points, which also converts to 6,667 airline miles or roughly £100 of free hotel rooms.

Whilst this sounds OK, the £75 annual fee reduces the value. You can, of course, cancel the card after earning the bonus for a pro-rata refund of the annual fee.  Cancelling after two months, for example, would mean a £62.50 fee refund and a net cost for your bonus miles of only £12.50.

The on-going earning rate is average.  If you are committed to transferring to a specific airline then you may be better off with a dedicated airline card.  However, if you transfer to airlines in batches of 60,000 then you are getting 0.825 miles per £1, and the Marriott Bonvoy American Express also gives you flexibility to transfer to many different airlines or to redeem for hotel rooms.

If you are seeking airline miles with an airline which does not otherwise have a UK card partner, this card could be a good choice. For many airlines, eg Air Canada Aeroplan, the Marriott Bonvoy Amex is the only way to earn miles via a credit card at a respectable rate.

For anyone keen to earn or retain Marriott Bonvoy elite status, you should get the card. You receive an easy 15 elite night credits each year.

The application form for the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card can be found here.

(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 Card Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

Comments (39)

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    I can’t see the benefit of promoting Currensea in all your card reviews. It sounds like it might be something good for those who don’t care about points but seems like something your core readership would never touch.

    • Tim says:

      It is pretty simple really, surely? Amex and Curve don’t like each other. Currensea is highly regarded. And offers commission to boot. Maybe this is the reason you’re still trying to save East Coast Rewards… 🙂

    • Rob says:

      You probably need to trust us that we know what we’re doing and if no-one was signing up then it wouldn’t be there 🙂

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        I’m sure you know what your market is, that’s why I’m so confused. Am I genuinely missing out on a benefit here that I can’t see? 0.5% might be low, but it’s still 0.5% higher than I’d pay using my Monzo card or a fee free credit card and all these methods earn zero rewards

        • Save East Coast Rewards says:

          I see you’ve answered this further down. So the answer is no benefit for me, but is a quick solution for those who don’t have a 0% card and don’t want to sign up for one.

  • Freddy says:

    Sigh – the card that had a good earn rate with a low-ish fee but was demolished in favour of elite nights. Was good whilst it lasted

    • Harry T says:

      Unless you wanted elite nights, in which case the card has improved! The card is now better for people who stay with Marriott.

      • Harry T says:

        Obviously I would prefer they had also retained the higher earnings rate!

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Agreed. Marriott has turned it into a sale of elite nights for £75.

  • John Smith says:

    I don’t see the point of currensea
    You can use Starling bank or Curve and just pay 0% commission
    What am i missing here?

    • Rob says:

      Curve isn’t 0% – have you read their rules recently?

      Starling requires you to open a bank account and fund it – absolutely not worth doing just for overseas spend unless you are doing tons of it.

      Don’t underestimate the value of a quick and easy solution to a problem.

      • John Smith says:

        I haven’t read the curve rules recently, what has changed?
        I haven’t used Curve in over a year due to the current travel restrictions

        • Rob says:

          For transactions processed Mon-Thu, Curve is free up to £500 per month and then there is a 2% fee.

          For transactions processed Fri-Sun (and you can’t necessarily control the day a charge is processed), the fee is (for $ and Euro) 0.5% up to £500 and then 2.5%. For all other currencies, the fee is 2.5% up to £500 and then 3.5%.

          • Genghis says:

            I think your info might be a bit out of date, Rob.
            The weekend time is 23.59 Fri to 23.59 on Sun.
            For weekend, on Curve Blue, the non-EUR/USD surcharge is 1.5%
            “In any other case, that is if either the currency of your transaction or the currency of the selected Payment Card is any of our other supported currencies, the rate will be increased by up to 1.5%..”
            In practice, however, having run the numbers I don’t see any extra charges on a weekend.

          • Tim says:

            I wonder if the news this morning that Mastercard are planning to increase FX fees on UK cards will impact the growth in number of minimal/nil fee FX fees. I remember the days when Wesleyan Bank Privilege Gold VISA was the route to go outbound, and First Direct inbound. Then N&P debit, before nearly every other card went at the interchange rate.

          • Rob says:

            The charge is to shopkeepers, not cardholders.

  • LST says:

    I still put most of my spend through Bonvoy as I get outsized returns, but the drop in earn rate still stings. I have been looking for alternatives for when I blow through the points I current have, most of which were gained in the 3 for 1 period -prior to the pandemic and the rate cut. As Hilton have still not launched a new UK card and IHG black remains closed to applicants, there aren’t any other alternatives as far as I can see.
    I did look at possibly junking the Bonvoy and putting the spend on an Amex gold instead (the earning rate would be similar with the 10k bonus points) but I lose the Bonvoy Gold – which for me has resulted in an upgrade more often than not.

    • memesweeper says:

      Do both?

      I’m keeping the Bonvoy card. Right now I’m spending on a Gold to hit the annual bonus, when that’s paid out at the end of the year I’ll cancel the Gold and return the bulk of my Amex spend to Bonvoy. Not *too* expensive with hopefully only a months’ worth of Gold to pay for, and I value the 15 nights status and earning Bonvoy – and I’ve even used the 25,000-a-night voucher productively.

  • David S says:

    I have the Legacy Marriott Mastercard issues by Creation which gives you 10 nights credit and one of your other readers has said that if I get the Amex card as well it will stack the 15 nights giving me 25 nights in total before I step foot in a hotel. Now, if I could only buy more BA tier points that would be a winner

    • Harry T says:

      I’m very jealous of legacy Marriott cardholders getting an extra ten nights… before my time!

  • Harry T says:

    May be worth mentioning the Amex rebate offers for Marriott are better on this card too – tend to get spend £200, get £75 back, rather than the spend £200, get £50 back.

    • Pangolin says:

      I got this card as soon as it came out and I’ve never had any Marriott offers (or anything else useful) appear on it. The Marriott offers only appeared on my BA Blue card.

      I keep it just for the elite night credits and the bonus on hotel spend.

      • Harry T says:

        That’s strange. Even though I’ve spent a lot of money at Marriott hotels on the card, the main card and the supp had two sets of Marriott offers last year – spend 200, get 50; and then spend 200, get 75 back soon after.

  • DJ says:

    Thinking about ditching this card, since I don’t stay in Marriott often enough to trigger Platinum, and I already have Gold through Amex Platinum card.

    If the maths is right, am I right in thinking that perhaps I should just spend on Platinum and save that £75 fee? And redeem via membership rewards if I need extra points for Marriott.

    • Harry T says:

      The Marriott Bonvoy card earns a higher amount of Bonvoy points per pound than the Platinum card and costs £500 less a year (2 per pound rather than 1.5 per pound).

  • Tom says:

    Would be nice Rob to have an article on the best way to pay HMRC taxes to earn benefit.

    Is curve fronted (1.5% or Metal) the only practical option?

    • Rob says:

      That isn’t a practical option either to be honest unless your bill is so high that the underlying card justifies the Metal fee. There is no way any Mastercard or Visa justifies the 1.5% fee.

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