Review of the American Express Marriott Bonvoy cards
Once upon a time Marriott and Starwood were separate and distinct hotel chains. Everything changed in September 2016 when Marriott International acquired Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, becoming the world’s largest hotel chain.
It was business as usual for the next while after the acquisition. Marriott and Starwood continued running their rewards programs separately. Then last summer Marriott announced its intention of merging Marriott, Starwood and St. Regis rewards under a single rewards program. It took a while (which is understandable because you don’t want to rush something important like this), but the new merged rewards program is finally a reality.
Marriott Bonvoy is the name of the new rewards program, replacing current loyalty brands Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. Marriott Bonvoy is built on the belief that travel enriches us all. It promises “unmatched benefits,” but does it live up to all the hype?
Let’s take a closer look at the new rewards program launched February 13th, 2019. We’ll look at both the consumer and business American Express Marriott Bonvoy cards.
The Key Benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Card
Although the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card comes with an annual fee ($120 for the consumer card and $150 for business), a closer look reveals that the card’s benefits more than make up for it. Here’s a breakdown of the card’s primary benefits.
Get a 60,000 point sign up bonus. Not a Marriott Bonvoy program memberr? Join the 5.6+ million Canadians who are already part of the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program. There’s never been a better time to join! Amex has upped the ante by offering 60,000 points, up from 50,000 points, for spending $1,500 in the first three months. These are enough points to redeem for a single night at category 7 hotel or 12 nights at a category 1 hotel during off-peak periods. Not bad! (And if you sign up for both consumer and business cards, that’s 120,000 combined bonus points you can use as you see fit!)
Get an Annual Free Night Award. Bonuses aren’t just for new cardholders. Marriott Bonvoy is all about rewarding its existing loyal cardholders. Receive an Annual Free Night Award certificate that can be redeemed for a value of up to 35,000 at eligible hotels and rewards worldwide each year after your anniversary. The Award is a nice bonus and easily offsets the card’s annual fee.
Receive 15 Elite Night Credits once a year. At the beginning of each and every calendar year, you’ll receive 15 Elite Night Credits. These 15 Credits can be used towards achieving the next level of Elite status. That means you’ll only need an extra 10 night to qualify for Gold status and an extra 35 nights for Platinum status. The higher your status, the more perks and exclusive benefits will open up to you, such as enhanced room upgrades and late checkouts (typically 2pm, but it depends on room availability).
Begin at Silver Elite status. Unlike some rewards programs, you don’t have to work your way up from the bottom. The Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card starts you at Silver Elite status, which gives you extra benefits like 10% bonus points on stays and priority late checkout. And when you spend at least $30,000 on your Amex card in a year, you’re automatically upgraded to Gold status. At Gold status, you’ll earn 25% bonus points on stays, a room upgrade and late 2pm checkout (when available).
Get rewarded for referring a friend. For each approved cardholder that you refer, you could earn 10,000 bonus points.
The Key Benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Program
Here are some key benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy program.
- Experience once-in-a-lifetime events. Marriott Rewards and SPG Moments are now Marriott Bonvoy Moments. Redeem your points towards (or purchase) Marriott Bonvoy’s collection of “money can’t buy” moments. Choose from 120,000 experiences in 1,000 destinations. Hike into glacial Patagonia, go on a desert trek on camelback in Morocco or go cruising to Vietnam’s timeless floating villages. If you prefer an experience over a destination, you can cook alongside renowned chefs like Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert or practice your football skills with NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. Are you looking for something local? Last year, Marriott launched over 130 unique Canadian Moments involving the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Stampede, TFC games and more. You can expect even more unique Canadian and worldwide experiences in 2019 and beyond!
- Redeem points for free nights with no blackout dates. Choose from over 6,700 of the world’s most desired hotels and resorts.
- Introducing two new Elite status tier names. Two elite statuses under the former reward programs are getting new names. Marriott Bonvoy Titanium replaces Platinum Premier Elite for cardholders who surpass 75 nights. While, Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite replaces Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador. This top Elite status is for cardholders who surpass 100 nights and spend more than $20,000 per year. When you reach this level, you get the bonus of your own dedicated ambassador to help your travel and to cater to your each and every need.
- Transfer points to over 40 airline partners. Marriott Bonvoy points are converted to most programs on a 3:1 ratio. However, for every 60,000 points you transfer, you get an extra 5,000 miles. That means if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you’ll get 25,000 airline miles with the airline of your choosing. Airlines partners include Air Canada Aeroplan, American Airlines, Air France and others.
The Exclusive Benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card
Here are some of the exclusive benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Business credit card that business owners enjoy.
Utilize a suite of business management tools. Marriott Bonvoy offers a variety of benefits specifically for business owners. These business benefits include business and expense management tools and resources, business and travel insurance benefits and services, and the choice to pay your credit card balances in full or over time. Not to mention your $150 annual fee may be tax deductible. (Speak to your accountant.)
Leverage your business’s cash flow. With the Marriott Bonvoy business card, you have the option of carrying a balance or paying in full each month. Choose the option that works best for you cash flow.
Request supplementary credit cards. Are you looking to better control employee expenses? How about doing a better job of tracking your spending? The Marriott Bonvoy business card is a great way to do all that, plus it offers a great way to accumulate points and maximize the points you earn. There’s a $50 fee for supplementary credit cards, but it may be tax deductible. (Again, speak to your accountant.)
Benefit from a dedicated customer service representative. Do you need assistance? When you call in, you’ll speak to a dedicated customer service representative specifically trained in small business services. All you need to do is dial the toll-free number on the back of your credit card and enter your card number to speak to one of these specialists.
How to Earn Marriott Bonvoy Points
- Earn 5 points for every $1 you spend at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
- All other purchases will earn you 2 point per $1 spent on your card.
- Business accelerated earn rate: Earn 3 points for every $1 you spend on eligible gas, dining and travel.
How to Redeem Marriott Bonvoy Card Points
Hotels: Hotel stays give you one of the best values and are the simplest way to redeem your points. Not only can points be used to cover taxes and fees, there are no blackout dates to worry about.
Airline Transfers: Transferring your points will give you the best redemption value. Transfer your points to over 40 airline partners, many at a 3:1 ratio. When you transfer 60,000 points, you get 5,000 bonus miles, making this an even better value.
Travel Packages: Looking for a one-stop shop? Marriott Bonvoy points can be used to book travel packages. This tends to be the best usage of your points, besides transferring them to airline partners. Travel packages can’t be booked online, so you’ll need to call.
Flights: Marriott Bonvoy points aren’t just for a night at a hotel. You can use them to book flights on an airline of your choosing. Unlike some travel rewards programs, the points can be used to cover taxes and fees, so you aren’t stuck paying a big out of pocket expense. You get decent value in terms of booking flights, although you tend to get a better value for hotel stays and airline transfers.
Car Rentals: Marriott Bonvoy points can be used to book a vehicle when you arrive at your travel destination. The points cover the cost of the vehicle rental, including the taxes and fees, although keep in mind that redeeming your points for a vehicle tends to offer you the worst value in terms of point redemption.
Marriott Bonvoy Moments: Experience luxury, refinements and inspired destinations in nearly 130 countries around the globe. Whether you’re a sports fan or you’ve got the travel bug, there’s something for everyone.
Merchandise and Gift Cards: Redeem your points for everything from Uber gift cards to Bluetooth speakers. Although, keep in mind that these tend to be one of the worst usages of your points.
The Fine Print
Annual Fees: $120 for consumer card $150 for business card
Supplementary Cards: No annual fee for consumer card $50 annual fee
Annual Interest Rate: 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on funds advances for both consumer and business cards
The Bottom Line
SPG American Express was already a top travel rewards credit card in Canada. It’s gotten even better with its rebranding to the Marriott Bonvoy American Express. If you frequently stay at Marriott properties, the 60,000 point sign up bonus makes signing up a no brainer. Use those points for four free nights at a category two hotel, one night at a luxury hotel or treat yourself to a Marriott Bonvoy Moment.
If you have a business, why not sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex for your business? (And earn another 60,000 bonus points to boot.) Marriott Bonvoy offers a number of exclusive perks to small business owners, including the ability to earn 3 points for every dollar spent on gas, dining and travel.
Rewards programs aren’t just about earning points, being able to easily redeem points is important, too. Not only is the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card easy to earn points, it’s also simple to redeem points with many redemption options to choose from.
Not sold on the credit card? Is the annual fee keeping you from signing up? Rest assured that the free annual hotel stay more than covers the fee.
This is one of the most flexible rewards programs in Canada, so if you haven’t signed up, what are you waiting for? Whether you’re travelling to visit your parents in Ottawa or you’re travelling to the Caribbean for a break during winter, Marriott Bonvoy points are the perfect way to get you there.
This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are those of shoptherate.ca.