Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
Every credit card in your wallet that carries an annual fee should merit a yearly question: Is the annual fee worth it to keep the card for another year?
The Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card packs a decent number of benefits into an annual fee of $125 (see rates and fees), but that doesn’t mean this card is a slam dunk for everyone. In fact, it may lack some of the perks you’re looking for in a hotel credit card. But to be fair, hotel credit cards typically aren’t the best card in your wallet for maximizing your spending beyond purchases at that hotel chain.
So can the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex find a happy middle ground between super-luxury perks and no perks at all — and do so in a way that justifies its $125 annual fee? Let’s take a look.
New applicants can earn 125,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $8,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership. Offer ends Nov. 1.
You may wonder whether you qualify for a business credit card. If you’ve read our guide and determined that you should get a business credit card, perhaps you’re considering this one. TPG values Marriott points at 0.84 cents each, meaning this welcome bonus is worth $1,050.
Some of the best uses of Marriott Bonvoy points include award stays at places like The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos, The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, The West Hollywood Edition and the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane. Those who enjoy skiing or snowboarding may enjoy properties like The St. Regis Aspen Resort, The St. Regis Deer Valley or The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.
Keep in mind that American Express has restrictions that will limit your ability to collect a new member bonus if you’ve had Marriott credit cards from Chase. Fortunately, a pop-up will tell you if you are not eligible for the bonus when you apply before Amex runs your credit — and our chart can help clarify things as well.
Annual free night award
Each year after your card renewal month, you’ll receive a free night award worth up to 35,000 points. Cardmembers can receive a second free night award by spending $60,000 on the card within a calendar year.
That said, due to the dynamic pricing mentioned earlier, you’ll want to do a calendar search for flexible dates to find nights that cost 35,000 points or less. It can be especially difficult to use your free night awards on or near holidays since award prices on those dates also tend to be higher.
With minimal effort, you should be able to redeem this free night award for $125 in value — but likely double that amount. Thus, this perk alone can be worth the card’s annual fee.
Elite status and related perks
Holders of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card receive Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy. TPG values Gold Elite status at $800 per year. At this level, you can expect benefits like upgrades to preferred rooms (but not suites), late checkout and a welcome gift of bonus points at check-in.
Cardholders also receive 15 elite night credits in their Marriott Bonvoy account each year. You need these to reach higher levels of status and they can be stacked if you also hold a personal credit card from Marriott. For instance, if you hold the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase, this card will give you another 15 elite night credits — meaning you start the year with 30 elite night credits automatically. The Boundless card has a $95 annual fee, for reference.
To earn Platinum Elite status — where benefits like suite upgrades and free breakfast kick in — you need 50 nights per year with Marriott Bonvoy, and holding these two credit cards would put you more than halfway there.
Cardholders have access to a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program when booking directly through Marriott. Terms and conditions apply.
However, we tested this benefit, and it’s not as good as it sounds. You’ll typically receive 2%-5% off the member’s rate but can often do even better using other discounts — rather than the one offered by this cardmember perk.
In terms of earning points, cardmembers earn 6 Marriott points per dollar of eligible purchases when spending at Marriott Bonvoy participating properties; 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide; 4 points per dollar at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping; and 2 points per dollar on other purchases.
Based on TPG’s valuations, that’s essentially a return of 5.04% on Marriott purchases; 3.36% at restaurants and U.S. gas stations and on select phone and shipping purchases; and 1.68% on everyday spending. Those rates aren’t jaw-dropping but aren’t bad for a cobranded card.
* Eligibility and benefit levels vary by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for details. Policies are underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex isn’t a flashy card offering perks like lounge access or top-tier elite status. However, it offers a valuable mid-tier status — with no effort required — in a hotel program with a massive worldwide footprint.
It also can help you achieve higher status when you pair your business card with a Marriott personal credit card, thanks to the elite night credits you’ll receive in your account.
That, and an annual free night that you can redeem for over $200 in value with very little effort, should justify the annual fee. However, that’s dependent on you actually making sure you take advantage of the perks each year.
Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card with 125,000 bonus points after you use your new card to make $8,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership. Offer ends Nov. 1.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, click here.