Which Marriott Bonvoy card is best?

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Given that both Amex and Chase issue Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, and that they’ve recently introduced two new Marriott cards, there are a boatload of cards that earn the same type of rewards. Whether you already have some of these cards or are thinking of getting one, you might be curious about which is best. Here’s everything you need to know…

[This post has been completely re-written since its original publication in May 2020]

The table below shows all Marriott cards that have been issued in the United States. The column labelled “Avail New?” indicates whether or not the card is available to sign up new today. Others are kept on the list either because it may be possible to product change to them, or because you may have one of those cards and may be wondering whether to keep it.


Since a number of Marriott cards offer elite status and/or shortcuts to elite status, here’s a quick refresher on Marriott’s elite status levels and the benefits of each:

Elite Status Level Requirements Per Year Key Benefits
Silver Elite 10 Nights Late checkout, 10% point bonus
Gold Elite 25 Nights 2PM late checkout; 25% point bonus; welcome gift (points only); room upgrade; enhanced internet
Platinum Elite 50 Nights 4PM late checkout; 50% point bonus; welcome gift w/ breakfast option; room upgrade includes suites; lounge access; Choice benefit (such as 5 suite night awards) when you achieve 50 nights.
Titanium Elite 75 Nights All of the above, plus: 75% point bonus; United Silver Premier status via RewardsPlus; Ritz-Carlton suite upgrades; Additional Choice Benefit (such as 40K free night certificate) when you achieve 75 nights.
Ambassador Elite 100 Nights + $20K Spend All of the above, plus: Ambassador Service (dedicated Marriott agent); Your24 (Choose the 24 hours of your stay. For example, choose to check in at 9am after an overnight flight).
 

Greg’s Marriott card rankings

Marriott cards vary quite a bit in terms of annual fees and the types of perks offered.  Here’s my ranking of the Marriott cards that are either available new or can be obtained through product changes:

#1 Ritz Carlton

The $450 per year Ritz card is loaded with valuable perks: An 85K free night certificate each year upon renewal; Priority Pass with unlimited free guests; free authorized user cards (and each authorized user can get Priority Pass); up to $300 back per year for airline incidental fees (see this post for info about what qualifies); best in-class travel protections; and the ability to earn Platinum status with $75K per year spend.

The Ritz card is not available for new signups, but we’ve confirmed with Marriott that it is still available as a product change from other Chase Marriott consumer cards after you’ve had those cards for at least a year.

#2 Bonvoy Brilliant

The combination of Automatic Platinum Elite status, an 85K free night certificate each year upon renewal, and up to $300 back per year for dining spend make this $650 card the most valuable of all Marriott cards.  The reason it didn’t rank #1 in my list is that I don’t think it is necessarily worth $200 more than the Ritz card.  Consider that the Brilliant card offers an inferior version of Priority Pass (only 2 guests allowed and Priority Pass restaurants aren’t included), and inferior travel protections compared to the Ritz card.  On the other hand, Platinum Elite status can be extremely valuable at some Marriott properties (especially St. Regis hotels).  So, if your travel patterns would place you in hotels where Platinum status is particularly valuable and if you wouldn’t earn Platinum status anyway, then for you the Brilliant card may be a better choice than the Ritz card despite its higher annual fee.

Note: I ranked this one second because of its strong benefits, but due to its very high annual fee many will do better with the cards ranked 3, 4, and 5 below…

#3 Amex Bonvoy Business

The $125 Bonvoy Business card offers a 35K free night certificate each year upon renewal plus the ability to earn 4 points per dollar on U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. wireless, or U.S. shipping.  My favorite aspects of this card, though, are that 1) signing up for this card won’t affect your 5/24 status; and 2) the 15 elite nights offered by this card do stack with elite nights that you get automatically with consumer Marriott cards.  This requires a bit more explanation: most consumer Marriott cards offer 15 nights towards elite status per year automatically, but if you have two consumer cards, those nights won’t stack.  You’ll still have only 15 elite nights (or 25 with the Brilliant card) if you have multiple consumer Marriott cards.  If you also have a Marriott business card, though, those 15 nights will stack and you’ll start each year with 30 elite nights (or 40 if you have the Brilliant card).

#4 Chase Bonvoy Boundless

Like the business card, above, the $95 Boundless card offers a 35K free night certificate each year.  Additionally, the Boundless card offers the ability to earn elite nights with spend: For each $5K of spend, you get an elite night that will help you earn elite status.  The Boundless card is also an excellent stepping stone towards the Ritz card.  After you’ve had the Boundless card for a year, you can call Chase to request a product change to the Ritz card.

#5 Amex Bonvoy

This $95 card is not available new, but it should be possible to product change to it from either the Bonvoy Bevy or the Bonvoy Brilliant after you’ve had the card for at least a year (I’m awaiting confirmation from a Marriott contact that this is still an option).  Like the Boundless and Bonvoy Business, above, this card offers a 35K free night certificate each year upon renewal.

#6 Tie: Bonvoy Bevy and Bonvoy Bountiful

These $250 cards offer 50K free night certificates, but you need to spend $15K per year in order to get them.  They also offer 1,000 bonus points after each qualified Marriott stay.  I ranked these lower than the cards that offer 35K certs because those other cards don’t require spend to get the free nights.

#7 Bonvoy Bold

This fee free card offers particularly poor point earnings from spend and doesn’t offer any way to earn a free night certificate.  I think that the best reason to get this card is as a stepping stone towards the Ritz card.

Bonvoy Brilliant vs. Ritz

Even though I ranked the Ritz card above the Brilliant card, some will find the Brilliant card a better fit.  To help with this, the following table summarizes the benefits of these ultra-premium cards:

Bonvoy Brilliant Ritz-Carlton
Annual Fee $650 $450
Authorized User Fee $0 $0
Annual free night upon renewal 85K free night award 85K free night award
Free night with spend 85K free night after $60K spend N/A
Elite Status Platinum status. Gold status. Platinum status with $75K calendar year spend.
Elite Nights 25 15
Statement Credits $25 per month reimbursement for dining charges $300 per calendar year for airline incidental fees
$100 Global Entry Credit Yes Yes
Priority Pass Select 2 free guests. Priority Pass restaurants are not available. Unlimited free guests
Priority Pass for Authorized Users None Yes
Travel Protections Decent Awesome: Primary rental, trip cancellation & delay, emergency medical & dental, etc.
Other meaningful perks
  • $100 property credit for each 2 night or longer paid stay at Ritz or St. Regis. Must book with member rate named “$100 Property Credit, Luxury Credit Card Rate”
  • 3 club level upgrades for paid Ritz stays
  • $100 property credit for each 2 night or longer paid stay at Ritz or St. Regis. Must book with member rate named “$100 Property Credit, Luxury Credit Card Rate”

Why stop at one?

The most valuable thing about most Marriott cards are the free nights you get each year upon renewal.  Since it’s common to want to spend more than a single night at a hotel, it can make sense to hold more than one Marriott card.

The only problem with that approach is that you might not qualify for more than one welcome bonus.  There are strict rules about whether or not you can qualify for a welcome bonus based on what other Marriott cards you have or have earned bonuses on (see: Are you eligible for a new Marriott card?). Also note that the Chase cards are subject to 5/24.

Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.
To determine your 5/24 status, see: Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. The easiest option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.

The following chart attempts to show which card you can get now based on which cards you already have:


If you want more cards, but can’t qualify for a signup bonus, then the best option is the Bonvoy Business Card since it does not add to your 5/24 count. If you have multiple businesses, you should be able to get a card for each business in order to secure multiple 35K free night certificates each year (Keep in mind though that Amex won’t usually approve a new application if you already have 5 or more Amex credit cards). Since you won’t qualify for a welcome bonus for each of these business cards, consider asking a friend or family member to refer you so that they’ll get points (or use our link, found here, to support this blog with our thanks!).

Bottom Line

There’s no single best Marriott Bonvoy card for each person.

If you highly value 85K free night certificates, then I’d argue that the Ritz card is best.  If you also highly value automatic Platinum elite status, then the Brilliant card is best.

If you know that you’ll make good use of the 35K free nights each year, then all of the $95 – $125 per year cards are arguably a good bet. I wouldn’t use them for spend, but just to have and to hold in order to get a nice hotel stay each year. If that’s you, consider getting or keeping more than one of these cards so that you can stay more than one night per year for “free” (really for $95 to $125 per night if you account for the card’s annual fee). Keep in mind, though, that you won’t get your first free night until you’ve had the card for a year.

If you’re not sure that you’ll use the free night each year, and you don’t need the elite nights that come with these cards, then don’t carry any of them. None of these cards is a particularly good choice for everyday spend (although the Bonvoy Business card does offer some decent 4x categories). There are many more rewarding alternatives. See: Best Rewards for Everyday Spend and Best Category Bonuses.

For more (much more) about Marriott Bonvoy, including shortcuts for earning elite status, see: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide.

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Eric

I current have Chase Bonvoy Boundless that I’m thinking about upgrading to the Ritz card. I qualify for the 12 months+ account age & $10k+ credit limit to upgrade. 

1) The terms say if I had this card within the past 30 days I won’t qualify for the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant SUB. Does this mean opened the account or actually hold the card in your wallet within 30 days? I have too many new Amex cards to open the Brilliant this year or I’d open it first and then upgrade the Chase card to the Ritz.

2) If I upgrade my Chase Bonvoy Boundless to the Ritz card, will I pay the $450 AF when I would my usual $95 AF or is it due at upgrade?

3) Will the new Ritz FNA “Free Night Award” be awarded on the upgrade date or my original Chase Boundless account anniversary?

Thank you!

Eric

Thank you for the response. I just upgraded to the Ritz!!

Melissa Furman

Marriott does not always honor confirmed reservations purchased with points ; especially if they can command a higher price for the room that one has reserved and confirmed.I’ve chosen to find other honest hotel chains because accumulating Marriott points is a worthless exercise due to their unsavory business practices. Read the small print !!! Melissa

David

Unless I missed it, one important benefit for me is no foreign currency fees.

sechs

Don’t the business cards offer Gold status?

sechs

Then why do the product pages say that you get “complimentary Gold Elite Status” without any reference to spend?

PeterSFO

One of the downside of the Ritz card travel protection is that it earns 3x Marriott points on travel. It might make sense to pay award fees with the Ritz but if you actually book flights or rent cards, you are potentially losing out on earning a lot of UR points.

If you do significant amounts of paid airfare and car rentals, it might still make more sense to get a Sapphire Preferred. I think the break even point between the two cards is $6333 spent on travel if you value Marriott points at .5 cents and Chase points at 1.5 cents.

PM1

Very helpful, thanks Greg!

Bob

Greg: I think the Ritz card (like the Premier) also offer 1 elite night per $3k spend

Bob

Looks like you are right. It seems to me, however, that a few years ago I did get elite nites for $3k spend on the card. Or perhaps that was before I upgraded my Premier to the Ritz card . . . Thanks.

Connor Heim

Quick Question: I have the old Marriott Bonvoy Card with 15 nights elite credit. If I apply for the Bonvoy Brilliant with 25 elite nights, will that override the current 15 nights credit I have? Or do I need to cancel the old Bonvoy card first?

thanks for any insight!

Alicia

Great post. Thank you.

I have a quandary. I have about $10-12k in spend I will do in the next 60 days. I’ve just begun my travel reward journey. My goal is luxury travel. I got the Amex Platinum $150k offer and have met it. The decision for my next card is hard. I’ve waaay over 5/24, so that leaves out Chase. I am a big fan of Marriott, so I was thinking of the Amex Bonvoy Business card. However, I’m not sure where I will be traveling and thought that accumulating the bulk of my points as membership rewards points would give me maximum flexibility when planning trips. Here’re my questions:

  1. SHOULD I accumulate all of my points as MR? (I’ve got some miscellaneous cash back cards, Cap1, Chase, Apple, Navy Fed, etc.)
  2. If so, should I get the Bonvoy business or the Amex business gold?
  3. Last, if I get the Marriott card, are Bonvoy points good currency for transferring to partners?

I’d go for a Capital One travel card, but they’ve “bucketed” me and I’m not in the mood for pointing out that I’ve had two of their cards for seven years, low use, never been late, yada, yada.

Enjoyed the three continents adventure tremendously!

PeterSFO

Not Greg but here’s my thoughts (recently was in a similar situation where I had to make a big payment).

Marriott points are not good to transfer to partners. Even at their lower worth, it almost never make sense other than maybe Alaska (even then a lot of sweet spots are gone). The exchange rate is 60k Marriott points for 25k airline miles.

Business Gold has a much better bonus than Bonvoy Business, if you are thinking about getting Marriott Points to transfer to airlines, you might as well get MR then.

Why not get a second Business Platinum card? There’s a ton of no lifetime language offers out there right now. If you don’t have the Blue Business Plus card, that one has a good bonus right now and is a good card to have long term.

I try to diversify and maintain pools in 2 transferable currency (and BILT). You just never know. MR is good for airlines but not great for hotels. I’m not familiar with the Citi program but it sounds like you are still eligible for those.

I also considered a niche card like Alaska Air or American but you never know when they devalue again.

Alicia

Peter, thank you for your reply. Good to know about Marriott transfers and I will look at biz Platinum again. ‘Preciate you taking the time to respond.

Mariusz

I don’t believe Ritz’s Priority Pass has Unlimited free guests anymore. I think it changed to two guests on October 2020. Can anybody share any data point in this matter?

T Nguyen

What is the shortest/optimal path to get the Ritz, Brilliant and Biz with SUB? Can someone double check the feasibility of my plan:

First, sign up for Chase Boundless. Wait 24 months to sign up for Brilliant + Biz. Then product change Boundless into Ritz. I can get all 3 SUBs and 3 cards within 24 months this way.

The open question is if it’s possible to get the 85k Ritz FNC in year 2 right after the product switch or do I have to wait until year 3?

Jake

I think there are situations where Bold > Bountiful. 15 elites night for zero dollars sounds better than 15 nights for $250.
BTW Marriot needs to come out with the Bonvoy Beautiful. Chase execs could then promote “ The Bold and the Beautiful “

Bob

2 questions:

1) The Chase Premier Biz card: I have it with $99 annual fee. I also have the AMEX Bonvoy Biz card with $125 annual fee. Since I value 35k free nite certs, I’ve kept both. Now I’m reconsidering. My question – of the two, which to keep. Your opinion, please.

2) The Ritz card: I also have the CapOne Venture X which matches the PP benefits of the Ritz. I additionally have the AMEX Brilliant card, but am one year from Lifetime Platinum elite status. I’m inclined to cancel the Brilliant card next year (double dipping the Marriott $300 credit and the $25 monthly credit, all at the $450 AF). Your thoughts on this strategy.

Thanks

Bob

Thanks for the quick reply, Greg.

I plan to “double dip” only over the next year – until the AF (this time for $650) hits around mid-September next year. That way I’m getting: 1) 85k FNC (in November 2022); 2) 25 elite nights towards Plat status in 2023 (the last year I need to qualify for Lifetime Plat); 3) $300 (already credited for a mid-Sep 2022 Marriott stay); 4) $350 for dining ($25/month for 14 months – Sep 22 thru Oct 23). Not bad for a $450 AF “1-year investment” . . . the credits alone exceed the AF by $200.

But next year’s AF ($650) will not get me the $300 Marriott credit, nor will I need the auto Plat status or even the 25 elite nights, as by Sep 2023 I will have met the requirements for Lifetime Platinum.

The only reasons I’d keep the card from 2023-24 then would be: 1) I value the 85k FNC high enough (possible if Marriott properties inflate their award pricing as many fear may come in 2023); 2) I value the choice benefit of 5 suite upgrade awards enough when getting 50 ENs, making the 25 ENs the card provides worthwhile (given I also have the Premier Biz which adds another 15, making me need only 10 night stays – most with FNCs – to get to 50 ENs).

The math in Sep 2023 comes down to: is the 85k FNC and semi-automatic 5 suite upgrade awards worth me pre-paying $350 (i.e., $650 AF – $300 dining credit)? While it may seem OK for others to do this, I find the price a little high.

But I remain open-minded that 85k FNCs (with 15k point plus ups) may become the “coin of the realm” in 2023 as Marriott’s dynamic award pricing kicks into high gear. I guess a good portion of my ultimate decision will be based upon comparative 2023 award pricing with the Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG programs (not to mention Choice and Wydham, with whom I also hold significant points).

Bottomline: Holding onto the Brilliant for 2022-2023 is a “no brainer” – there’s real value for doing so (even if not pursuing Lifetime Plat). But come October 2023, I probably will downgrade the Brilliant to the Bonvoy to get the 35k FNC for $95 AF. That is, if AMEX/Marriott will let me hold two Bonvoy cards. If not, then it’s most likely time for the Brilliant card’s cancellation.

BTW . . . I think Nick (and you) are right that the Ritz is the “big winner” in all of this. With the CapOne Venture X card, the Ritz’s PP AU uniqueness has been challenged. After picking up the Venture X in late 2022, I was almost ready to cancel my Ritz card last June because of that, but the $300 travel credit and 50k FNC kept me on board, if only precariously. Now, with the 85k FNC and maintaining its $450 AF (along with the $300 annual travel credit), the Ritz now remains securely in my portfolio . . . at least until Chase/Marriott tries something to alter this value equation like AMEX/Marriott have done with the Brilliant card.

Fernando Villarreal

Hey Bob. Just to make sure the $300 dollar credit is clear. You cannot double dip on it regardless of when things start. I contacted Amex yestreday and they told me if you already have used the $300 credit for Marriot stays then you will not get the $25 per month until it’s time for the credit to renew. Only then will you start getting the $25 per month back on restaurant purchases. The credit is capped at $300. There is no way to get more.

Eric

Thank you for sharing this!

Fernando Villarreal

Yo Greg. Are we 100% sure that the Platinum status that this card will qualify us for will work towards earning lifetime Platinum status? I’m saying that hypothetically you do not earn enough nights to qualify for Platinum in a year and you just qualify for having the card, is that sufficient to count as a year you had Platinum status towards lifetime? Just want to make sure as the Amex rep on the phone told me that was a Bonvoy rep question and not one he could answer.

Bob

Thanks for the info. Please be advised, however, that I already on Sep 21st received a $300 credit for charges associated with a stay 14-18 Sep at the Swan hotel in WDW. Then on Sep 29 I received a $25 credit for a meal I charged on my Brilliant card on Sep 25th. It appears that the “double dip” strategy is working . . . Unless AMEX decides to claw back either of the 2 credits.

Bob

Fernando: the Platinum status the card confers is not the basis for credit towards Lifetime Platinum. But the 25 elite nites do count towards the 50 elite nights during the year – which, if attained, does count towards Lifetime Platinum status.

Fernando Villarreal

I’ll try to talk to my Ambassador about it and report back

Captain Greg

Can you elaborate on why Platinum Elite status is particularly useful at St. Regis hotels? I’m guessing it’s for the free breakfast, but why isn’t this even more valuable at Le Meridiens, Sheratons, and Westins since you get lounge access and free breakfast?

Captain Greg

Greg, you say (just before the “Bottom Line”) that “Amex won’t approve a new application if you already have 4 or more Amex credit cards.” That’s 5 or more now, right?

Eric

This references 5 personal Amex cards correct? Excluding Amex business cards.

Captain Greg

No, it’s 5 total credit cards (both personal and business). This does not include charge cards though (gold, green, platinum, etc.). Read this: https://frequentmiler.com/amex-cards-charge-cards-vs-credit-cards/

[…] meant to be a comparison of which card is best long term.  I previously covered that topic here: Which Marriott Bonvoy card is best?  Instead, in this post I’ll compare the three offers and explain why I think the Amex offers […]

[…] credit card lineup is not nearly as complicated as Marriott’s (see: Which Marriott Bonvoy card is best?).  However, American Express does issue four different Hilton cards for the US market.  […]

[…] A while ago, a reader asked me how it’s possible to have multiple Marriott cards.  There are quite a few cards issued by both Amex and Chase, but each has strict offer terms that make the card or the bonus available only if you don’t have cards X or Y, and you didn’t get a bonus on card Z in the past 24 months, and you weren’t born on a Tuesday (I may have made up that last part).  The point is that even though there are many different cards, it’s not easy to figure out how to get more than one or two.  For full details about all of the Marriott cards currently available, see: Which Marriott Bonvoy card is best? […]

jed

So if I have the Chase Bonvoy Premier (which I’ve had for many years), do you think it is likely that I’d be able to convert it to a Ritz card? I didn’t realize that was an option.

BombayMike

What an amazing and comprehensive summary, and a wealth of information presented in a way that makes it easy to refer in the future! As a holder of multiple Bonvoy cards (and being excluded from some because of having others in the past), I am definitely bookmarking this for my reference.

One small point I would add to the above info. The Ritz Carlton card $300 incidental credits are “per calendar year” while the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant Marriott $300 credit is “per membership year”. This is especially important to keep in mind because most of the spend calculations go by membership year for Chase, and calendar year for Amex but for credits it is the reverse.

FWIW, keeping Bonvoy cards aside, as an added twist, for Chase, this is in keeping with other cards such as CSR travel credits (calendar year), but for Amex it is inconsistent with Amex Platinum credits (also calendar year)

Douglas J Godesky

Just received a 20,000 point retention offer from AMEX on my Bonvoy card. That made renewing for the annual fee worth it, tipped to enough to renew when combined with the annual room night.

Douglas J Godesky

Marriott status has been getting my daughter super room / suite upgrades on vacation, Mexico, where she said that the Marriott resorts have a resort within a resort, with the “within” facility being very high end and superior to any chains she’s used.

Douglas J Godesky

Greg, super article, accurate, concise and informative. You pretty much did not miss anything, thank you! Request – the first table you offer, it’s in a box/window, Marriott Bonvoy Card Comparison, that is the start of a design I’ve been looking for / suggesting where points / miles card holders could customize it to list all of the cards they have, build out the benefits colums to include all benefits like rental car, purchase coverage, etc., and keep it availalbe on an app or spreadsheet / document that can bring up whenever it’s appropriate to make a decision on which card to use. Would you consider sharing that document, I cannot seem to capture it other than screen shots. Thanks for the article, and considering request.

Douglas

THANK YOU for the format! Received and loaded. Down the road, as I work on my concept, if it turns out as I hope, I’ll share back; might be something to build upon. Then again, your work perfect, so hard to improve!

WR2

Which Marriott card is the best? Hilton Aspire. That way you don’t have to stay at Marriotts, which is for the best.

T. Jones

Just curious. Is it possible to product change to Bonvoy Premier (Premier)?

My guess is that it is no longer possible since this card was discontinued and Chase pushed repeatedly to upgrade to the new version.

I just wondered if anyone had tried.

Steve L.

I got the no annual fee Bonvoy Bold card months back that had a 50K sign up bonus after 2k in spend. With the 6X on grocery purchases this month I now have enough points for three free nights that will be used on stays for college campus tour stops in Florida come fall ( if college tours fire up by then). Don’t need anything fancy just a place to rest after checking out the college before moving on to the next one. Saving just shy of $400 with this no annual fee card. Happy with that.

DSK

I think you missed the best feature of the Ritz Carlton card–authorized users are free and each authorized user gets his or her own full Priority Pass membership which includes restaurants. That means I can give my kids their own Priority Pass membership that they can use not only when we travel as a family but also when they travel by themselves. Unfortunately, the second best feature–unlimited $100 off domestic trips when travelling with spouse–is now gone. For people who don’t care about lounges, this may not mean much, but our family has used this feature extensively and it is the primary reason I keep the Ritz Carlton card (since I have Titanium for life, the status doesn’t help).

Gill

Can authorized users bring guests to the Lounge?

DSK

Never deliberately tested it but pretty sure the answer is yes. Priority Pass cards received by authorized users look identical to cards issued to the main user (other than each card having a different number). Sometimes a lounge will register my wife and me under two cards and sometimes they will indicate it is easier just to register us as one plus guest, and I have never had an issue (or had to pay extra) if they register my wife as primary and me as guest, even though my wife is the authorized user on the Ritz Carlton credit card.