Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
Marriott offers five personal credit cards to new applicants, with annual fees ranging from none at all to more than $600 per year.
In short, there’s a card for every traveler, whether you’re a die-hard Marriott fan or an occasional traveler looking for free award nights.
And right now, both cards come with excellent limited-time welcome bonuses.
Let’s break down which card is a better fit for your card strategy.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card comparison
|Feature||Marriott Bonvoy Bold||Marriott Bonvoy Boundless|
|Sign-up bonus||Earn up to 100,000 bonus points: 50,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first six months from account opening and an additional 50,000 after you stay 6 eligible paid nights at Bonvoy hotels through Jan. 31, 2024. Offer ends Aug. 10.||Earn up to 125,000 bonus points: 75,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first six months from account opening and an additional 50,000 after you stay 6 eligible paid nights at Bonvoy hotels through Jan. 31, 2024. Offer ends Aug. 10.|
Marriott Bonvoy Bold vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless welcome bonus
Both cards are currently offering elevated welcome bonuses:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points: 50,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first six months from account opening and an additional 50,000 after you stay 6 eligible paid nights at Bonvoy hotels through Jan. 31, 2024. Offer ends Aug. 10.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless: Earn up to 125,000 bonus points: 75,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first six months from account opening and an additional 50,000 after you stay 6 eligible paid nights at Bonvoy hotels through Jan. 31, 2024. Offer ends Aug. 10.
TPG values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.84 cents each, effectively making the bonus on the Bold worth up to $840 and that on the Boundless worth up to $1,050.
Since Chase issues both cards, it’s important to note that the 5/24 rule applies here. This means you likely won’t qualify for either card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards (from any issuer) in the past 24 months.
In addition, there are Marriott-specific eligibility requirements covering products issued by both Chase and American Express. Be sure to verify your eligibility before applying.
Winner: Boundless. Its sign-up bonus is worth $210 more than the Bold’s, but you do need to spend triple the amount to receive the bonus points.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless benefits
The free night certificate is the most notable difference between these entry-level card benefits.
Bonvoy Boundless cardholders receive a free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points — plus the ability to use up to 15,000 more points to top off the difference between the 35,000-point threshold and the price of your stay. If used strategically, you can score a free night at a hotel that easily makes up for the $95 annual fee each year.
Bonvoy Bold cardholders, meanwhile, do not receive a free night certificate but also don’t have to pay an annual fee.
Otherwise, the cards offer similar perks. With either card, you’ll get automatic Silver Elite status and strong travel and purchase protections from Chase. Plus, you won’t pay any foreign transaction fees with these cards when traveling internationally.
Winner: Boundless. The free night certificate can be worth up to $294, according to TPG valuations, easily justifying the card’s $95 annual fee.
Earning points with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless
With the Bonvoy Boundless, you’ll earn 6 points per dollar at Bonvoy properties, 3 points per dollar on the first $6,000 combined purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
The Bonvoy Bold, meanwhile, earns 3 points per dollar at Bonvoy properties, 2 points per dollar on travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Winner: Bonvoy Boundless. It earns at least twice as many points as the Bold does on all purchases (except travel, which they earn the same on.)
Redeeming points with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless
The most obvious and valuable way to use your Bonvoy points is to redeem them for a Marriott stay. To get the most value from your points, take advantage of the fifth-night free perk, which allows you to book an award stay of five nights for the cost of just four.
You also have the option to transfer your points to one of 40 partner airline programs, including United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles. This redemption generally won’t yield a good value for your points, though, so we recommend using this option only if you need to top off your airline account balance.
Additionally, you can use your points for gift cards and merchandise through Marriott’s shopping portal, but again, we recommend avoiding this route to get maximum value from your points.
Senior credit cards editor Matt Moffitt gets the most value from his Marriott Bonvoy points by redeeming them for stays at high-end Marriott properties such as St. Regis and The Ritz-Carlton. He generally avoids transferring his Bonvoy points to partner airlines, as most transfers take at least 48 hours to complete.
Winner: Tie. Both cards earn Marriott Bonvoy points and offer the same redemption options.
Should I get the Marriott Bonvoy Bold or the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless?
If you can use the annual free night certificate, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless is the best option for you. You’ll also unlock higher earn rates with the Boundless. However, if you’re aiming to avoid an annual fee, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold is the better option for you.
Related: Best Marriott credit cards
How to upgrade from the Marriott Bonvoy Bold to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless
If you aren’t eligible for a new Bonvoy bonus or are over 5/24, a product change may be your best option. Both the Bonvoy Bold and the Bonvoy Boundless are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule as well as more specific Marriott Bonvoy eligibility restrictions.
To request an upgrade (or downgrade), call the number on the back of your card. Just remember that doing so will mean you forfeit your new card’s welcome bonus for the time being.
Regardless of the card you choose, both Marriott cards are a great way to introduce yourself to the Bonvoy program and all its redemption possibilities. You truly can’t go wrong with either, as there are thousands of properties to choose from worldwide.
So long as you can take advantage of that free night certificate each year, the Boundless provides a better value proposition for most travelers. Otherwise, the Bold is a solid choice for those who want to enhance their Marriott experience (and unlock solid travel protections) for no annual fee.
For more details, check out our full reviews of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card.
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox and Stella Shon.