The internet is on fire with Marriott credit card rumors, and I’m here to fan the flames. Over the weekend we reported a rumored shakeup in Marriott’s credit card portfolio. If the rumors prove true, then in September, the Bonvoy Brilliant card will add new features and will have a new $650 annual fee (up from the current $450). This will make room for both Amex and Chase to introduce new $250 annual fee cards: the Bonvoy Bountiful card from Chase and the Bonvoy Bevy card from Amex. In this post, without a shred of evidence to go on, I’ll tell you what these new cards will offer. In other words, everything that follows is pure speculation…
Prediction: The $95 cards won’t change
Chase’s Bonvoy Boundless card and Amex’s Bonvoy card share the following features:
- $95 annual fee
- 35K free night certificate each year upon renewal
- Automatic Silver Elite status
- 15 elite qualifying nights per year towards elite status
- Earn Gold Elite status with $35K annual spend
- Earn 6x points at Marriott hotels and 2x for most other spend (the Chase card also throws in 3X at gas stations, grocery stores, and dining on up to $6K in combined purchases each year)
The Amex card is not available to sign up new, but you can get the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant card and later downgrade to the $95 Bonvoy card.
The Chase card has one significant feature that I don’t think is available on the Amex card:
- 1 elite qualifying night towards elite status for every $5K spent
My prediction is that these cards will remain basically the same. The main point of covering them in this post at all is because the new $250 cards will have to offer significantly better features in order to warrant the higher annual fee…
Predicting the Bonvoy Bountiful and Bonvoy Bevy features…
Here’s where I’m throwing darts in the dark. I haven’t seen any credible predictions for these cards other than the $250 annual fees, so I’ll start there…
- $250 annual fee
- 50K free night certificate each year upon renewal
- Automatic Gold Elite status
- 15 elite qualifying nights per year towards elite status
- Earn Platinum Elite status with $75K annual spend
- Earn 6x points at Marriott hotels and 2x for most other spend (I expect that there will be some categories of spend that earn 3x or 4x as well)
Those familiar with Marriott’s current card lineup may notice that my predictions above, aside from the annual fee, exactly match features found on the current Bonvoy Brilliant and Ritz cards. But the current Brilliant and Ritz cards also throw in Priority Pass and $300 in annual rebates (for the latter, the Brilliant card is changing soon from $300 in Marriott spend rebates to $25 per month in dining rebates whereas the Ritz card offers $300 in airline incidental fee rebates).
I don’t think that the $250 cards will offer Priority Pass, but I do expect to see some kind of “coupon book” rebates such as $10 monthly dining credits, DoorDash credits,… whatever. So, my prediction is:
- Monthly $10 rebate for dining, food delivery, or something similar
Today, the Ritz and Brilliant cards cost $450 per year and offer up to $300 in annual rebates and so they cost $150 per year after rebates for those who max out the rebates. If my predictions are true for the new cards, they’ll cost $250 per year with up to $120 in annual rebates, and so they’ll cost $130 pear year after rebates for those who max them out. Those numbers are similar enough to make me think that my predictions are reasonable.
Predicting the Bonvoy Brilliant
A year ago I posted details about the expected changes to the Bonvoy Brilliant card. Since then we’ve learned that at least one of those details is true: On September 22, 2022, the Brilliant card’s $300 Marriott rebate will change to a $25 per month dining rebate. That confirmed change makes me think that the rest of the predicted changes are reasonably likely. Here are the details:
|Statement Credits||$300 Dining ($25 / Month)||$300 Marriott Spend|
|Free Night Award||85K Certificate||50K Certificate|
|Free Night w/ Spend||85K Cert after $50K Spend||N/A|
|Annual Card Choice Award||After $50K Spend: Choose 50K points, 40% bedding discount, gift set, gift Gold status, or 15% off Ritz Yacht Collection||N/A|
|Automatic Elite Status||Platinum Elite||Gold Elite|
|Elite Status w/ $75K Spend||Titanium Elite||Platinum Elite|
|Automatic Elite Credits||25 Elite Nights||15 Elite Nights|
|Earnings from Spend||Same as current||3X airfare charged by airline; 3X US restaurants, 6X Marriott; 2X on all other eligible purchases|
|Travel benefits||Same as current||Priority Pass Select with 2 free guests + Global Entry fee credit|
I love some of the above potential changes and hate others. Let’s start with the parts I like most:
- Spending exactly $50K per year becomes very rewarding. With $50K spend you’ll earn at least 100K points directly plus can choose 50K more points as your “Annual Card Choice Award.” That means that you’ll earn at least 3 points per dollar on that spend. Plus, you’ll get a second 85K free night certificate. If you use that to pay for a night that would have cost $500, then that’s like an additional 1% rebate on your spend (and it gets better if you use it towards a much more expensive night).
- This card will offer a decent way to spend your way to Titanium Elite status. On the surface it doesn’t look like Titanium status offers many more benefits than Platinum status (you can find a summary of elite benefits here), but it is very nice to have the potential to get suite upgrades at Ritz properties and to get United Silver Premier status. If you assume that you would spend $50K on this card annually anyway (see bullet above), then Titanium status will cost you only $25K of extra spend.
And here are the things I dislike:
- Do we really need another $600+ annual fee card?
- Free night certs should be uncapped. I don’t like that we won’t be able to use these 85K certs at all top-end Marriott hotels. Yes, we can top these off with up to 15,000 points, but we’ve already seen some top end properties being priced above 100K per night and I expect we’ll see more and more of that in the future.
- 85K certs may be hard to use for top value. If you want to spend more than one night in a high end hotel, then it may be hard to dig up enough points for even a second night! If you get this card you almost have to spend $50K per year in order to get the second 85K cert and a lot of points.
- There will be too many Platinum elites. As the ranks of Platinum elites swell, meaningful upgrades will be harder to come by, hotel lounges will be uncomfortably crowded, and more hotels will work to find ways to avoid delivering valuable benefits like free breakfast.
- I’m not a fan of the dining credits. With the old Marriott credits, it was pretty easy to make sure to collect on the full $300 rebate each year. Now it will be necessary to use this card every month for dining in order to get full value. If you don’t mind earning only 3x Marriott points for dining, that won’t be hard, but if you have a better card for dining then you’ll have to remember to swap in the Marriott card once a month.
Predicting the Ritz
The Ritz card hasn’t been available new for many years, but it is still possible to get the card by starting with a Chase Marriott consumer card, like the Boundless card, and upgrading to the Ritz card.
Currently, the Ritz and Bonvoy Brilliant cards offer nearly identical features, pricing, and rebates. What then will happen if the Brilliant changes as predicted above? Will the Ritz card also gain new features and a new annual fee? Will the Ritz card be modified to match the new $250 Bonvoy Bountiful card? Will Chase sunset the Ritz card and migrate customers to the new Bonvoy Bountiful card? Will the Ritz card stay as is?
My prediction: The Ritz card will remain as-is. It will be very similar to the new $250 Bonvoy Bountiful card, but for $200 extra per year the Ritz card will offer a better rebate ($300 in airline incidental fees vs. $10 per month for dining or something similar) and will continue to offer Priority Pass and best in-class travel protections.
What about business cards?
I’m surprised that we haven’t seen any rumors about new Marriott business cards. The only currently available business card is the $125 Bonvoy Business Amex, which is very similar to the $95 consumer Bonvoy cards. Shouldn’t there also be $250-ish and $650-ish business cards in the mix? Perhaps we will see such things someday, but my guess is that the imminent Bonvoy card changes will be only for consumer cards.
Mini rant: Baffled and befuddled by Bs
If the rumors are true, Marriott will soon have the following line-up of b-named cards:
- Bonvoy Bevy
- Bonvoy Bold
- Bonvoy Boundless
- Bonvoy Bountiful
- Bonvoy Brilliant
- Bonvoy Business
Does someone at Marriott really believe that this b-based alliteration is good for business? And why use words that fail to convey the purpose or placement of the card in any way? All this really does is confuse customers and tongue-tie podcasters. How is anyone supposed to remember that Bountiful is better than Boundless, or that Bevy is better than Bold?
Want to share your thoughts about the proposed changes or my predictions? Broadcast your best brilliant, brooding, or biodegradable beliefs below…