Understanding Marriott Credit Card Eligibility Rules

Understanding Marriott Credit Card Eligibility Rules

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All credit cards with welcome bonuses have restrictions regarding who is eligible for the bonuses, and at times they can be complicated. However, if you ask me, Marriott’s co-brand card portfolio is next-level when it comes to understanding eligibility restrictions.

That’s not to say the cards are hard to be approved for, but rather that it can be hard to understand if you’re eligible for the bonus on a particular card, based on which other cards you have. In this post I wanted to discuss that in more detail, which I figure is especially useful given the phenomenal limited time welcome bonuses on these cards right now.

Why are Marriott’s credit card eligibility rules so complicated?

Many wonder why Marriott has such complicated restrictions regarding who is eligible for card bonuses. You can’t simply get each Marriott credit card once, but rather eligibility for a card is based on whether you’ve had select other cards, whether you’ve applied for other cards in the past 30 or 90 days, etc.

Ultimately these complicated restrictions come down to a few reasons:

  • In general credit card issuers add restrictions regarding welcome bonuses to encourage profitable consumer behavior; they don’t want you to get all of these cards just for the bonuses
  • Marriott has co-branded credit cards issued by both American Express and Chase (there are a total of four — two from each issuer), and eligibility for some Chase cards is even based on whether you have Amex cards, and vice versa
  • The Marriott Bonvoy program was only launched in 2019, after the merger between Marriott and Starwood; previously both Marriott and Starwood had different cards, and whether or not you’ve had one of those cards plays into the eligibility requirements for the bonuses on current cards
Marriott has four co-branded credit cards

General Marriott credit card eligibility requirements

Before we talk about the eligibility requirements for specific card welcome bonuses, let’s talk about the rules of being approved for Marriott’s cards more broadly, as each card issuer has different rules.

Marriott Amex Card requirements

The following two Marriott credit cards are issued by American Express:

If you want to get approved for an Amex card, keep in mind that:

  • Amex limits consumers to having at most five Amex credit cards at any time (this excludes hybrid cards), and it doesn’t matter whether these are personal or business cards
  • Amex will typically approve people for at most two credit cards in a 90 day period
  • Anecdotally I find that Amex cards are much easier to be approved for than Chase cards, especially with instant approvals; however, I’d still recommend having a credit score of at least 700
Both Marriott Amex cards offer an annual free night certificate

Marriott Chase card requirements

The following two Marriott credit cards are issued by Chase:

If you want to get approved for a Chase card, keep in mind that:

  • Chase has the 5/24 rule, whereby you typically won’t be approved if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months (with any issuer)
  • Chase doesn’t have a strict limit on how many cards each person can have, but rather the limit seems to be the overall amount of credit you can be issued
  • Chase will typically approve people for at most two personal credit cards in a 30 days period
  • I’d only apply if you have a very good credit score, ideally at least 700
Both Marriott Chase cards can help you earn elite status

Which Marriott credit cards are you eligible for?

With all of that out of the way, let’s talk about the restrictions around earning the welcome bonuses on these cards. Can you apply for one Marriott credit card? Two? How about three? Does it matter which ones? I’ve seen some sites try to create charts to make this easier, but personally I’ve just found that to create even more confusion.

Eligibility if you’ve never had a Marriott credit card

Let’s start with the ideal situation — you’ve never had a card from Marriott or any of its predecessors, including Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. If that’s the case, you’re eligible for any one of the four cards, and you’re eligible for the welcome bonuses as well.

Want to get two Marriott credit cards?

This is where it starts to get tricky. If you’ve never had a Marriott credit card before and you want to get two Marriott credit cards, there’s one combination of cards you can get, assuming you don’t want to get the cards more than two years apart:

  • You can apply for the two American Express cards — the Marriott Bonvoy Business and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant
  • You’d be eligible for both bonuses, and you don’t even need to wait between the applications
  • I’d argue that this is the ideal strategy anyway — the cards have the best bonuses and are the best complements

What other Marriott card combinations can you have?

There are some other combinations of the four cards that you can get over time, but you’d have to wait, and the rules may make your head spin. Looking at the eligibility restrictions for the welcome bonuses among the current four cards…

You can’t get the welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Business or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant if:

You can’t get the welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Bold if:

You can’t get the welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless if:

What happens if you’ve had other Marriott credit cards in the past?

If you have any cards from back when the Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest programs were around, I’d recommend just looking at the restrictions on the application pages:

  • For Amex cards, go to the “offer & benefit terms” section of the card application
  • For Chase cards, go to the “offer details” section of the card application

I’m not trying to be unhelpful, but the reality is that each card has dozens of different scenarios about eligibility for welcome bonuses, depending on which cards you have, or have had in the past. At some point I’m doing a disservice and complicating things by listing it all out, when the application terms list them as easily as they can possibly be listed (which still isn’t very easy, admittedly).

Bottom line

Marriott has four co-branded credit cards, all of which are offering increased welcome bonuses at the moment. There’s understandably often some confusion about who is eligible for the bonuses on these cards.

Hopefully the above sheds some light on that question, both when it comes to getting approved for Amex and Chase cards in general, and when it comes to eligibility for each of these products.

If you’re new to Marriott credit cards, the moral of the story is that you can either get any one of the four cards, or if you want to get two cards and not wait two years, the only combination you can get is the Marriott Bonvoy Business and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant. On the plus side, that kind of works out, since those are the two most lucrative cards, they’re the best complements, and they feature the best bonuses.

What has your experience been with Marriott Bonvoy credit card eligibility rules?

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  1. Bob J

    Good article, Ben. I would add the Chase Ritz Carlton card to the list of Marriott cards. While it no longer is issued directly, it still (at least for now) can be upgraded from the Chase Bonvoy Boundless card. From my perspective, the Ritz Carlton card (at $450 AF) offers the best benefits of the lot. That should make it deserving of at least a mention.

  2. SteP

    I got the Brilliant in October 2020 when the welcome offer was 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months, and another 25,000 after my first anniversary of card membership: based on these terms will I be eligible for a Bold / Boundless welcome bonus after December 2022 (= two years after receiving the first bonus) or after October 2023 (= two years after receiving the SECOND PART of the welcome bonus) ?

  3. ECR

    Anyone have recent datapoints on Amex's "one bonus per card per lifetime"? I believe others have said there was a ~7 year reset, but I don't remember if thats 7 years from receiving the bonus or cancelling the previous card.

    To be clear, I'm referring to the legacy Amex SPG personal card.

  4. Da

    Marriott's bonus rules (beyond standard Chase/Amex rules) can be summed up as follows:

    1. You can only earn a bonus from either Chase-issued cards or Amex-issued cards per 24 months, not both.

    2. You can't earn a bonus on a card if you currently hold the "legacy" Marriott/SPG product that is equivalent (Chase-issued Marriott small business or luxury cards, Amex-issued SPG mid-tier cards). You must cancel it and then apply about 30 days later.

    (That...

    Marriott's bonus rules (beyond standard Chase/Amex rules) can be summed up as follows:

    1. You can only earn a bonus from either Chase-issued cards or Amex-issued cards per 24 months, not both.

    2. You can't earn a bonus on a card if you currently hold the "legacy" Marriott/SPG product that is equivalent (Chase-issued Marriott small business or luxury cards, Amex-issued SPG mid-tier cards). You must cancel it and then apply about 30 days later.

    (That said, you might be able to product change the legacy Amex Bonvoy or Chase Ritz if you wouldn't otherwise be eligible for a bonus from that issuer because of the 24 month rule, in that case you might not have to cancel them.)

  5. Bob

    @ Ben - think you should change the title in this area as it's not factually correct

    "You can’t get the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless if:"

    Should say as this only relates to the BONUS not the ability to hold the card.

    "You can’t get the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless BONUS if:"

  6. Avi

    Hey all, I just got approved for the brilliant card yesterday. I had previously had an spg luxury, but only for a few months as I had upgraded from the spg personal card. Didn't seem to affect my eligibility. Hope the data point helps.

  7. Adele

    I think something is wrong here.

    Example: I have Amex Bonvoy Business card, which I got more than 2 years ago (almost 3, actually). I’d like to sign up for the Chase Boundless card.

    Reading Chase Boundless application rules, seems I should be eligible to apply and get the bonus (since it is > 24 months since I got the bonus on the business card). That’s not the message I get from reading the article.

    Could you clarify?

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Adele -- You're correct, I realize my post wasn't clear enough either, but I've updated it to hopefully make it more accurate. Yes, you should be eligible for the Chase Bonvoy Boundless, assuming it has been more than 24 months since you received the bonus on the Amex Bonvoy Business.

    2. Owen

      I think this part still not quite right:

      “You currently have the Marriott Bonvoy Business or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, or have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months (it’s fine if you have those cards, you just can’t have received a bonus in the past 24 months)”

      Should the “or have received” read “AND have received”?

  8. CF

    I keep reading the terms on the Boundless's page, but it's still not super clear to me. What if you currently have a Bonvoy Business Amex, but you haven't received a bonus in over 24 months (and haven't applied for one in the last 90 days). Are you then eligible for a Bonvoy Boundless Sign up Bonus without having to cancel the Amex Bonvoy Business card?

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ CF -- Yep, under those circumstances you'd be eligible for the bonus.

    2. CF

      Thanks Ben! I appreciate the reply and updated post that clarifies this.

  9. Eskimo

    Why are Marriott’s credit card eligibility rules so complicated?

    Answer: It isn't. People just don't read.

  10. JC

    Can I have 2 personal (amex/chase) and 1 business?

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ JC -- You can, but you'd need to get them over time. For example, you could get the personal and business Amex now, and then in 24+ months you could get a personal Chase card, for example.

    2. Eskimo

      It depends, what do you have and what do you want.

  11. Bob

    I’m confused so I have the Marriott bonvoy business American Express card, am I not allowed to get the Marriott bonvoy boundless personal card from Chase?! I thought I can I have one personal and one business.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Bob -- If you have the Amex Bonvoy Business you'd be eligible for the bonus on the Chase Bonvoy Boundless as long as it has been 24 months since you've received the bonus.

    2. Eskimo

      @Lucky

      Not entirely true.

      @Bob

      Read the Offer detail again, carefully.

      And I quote directly from Chase.

      Eligibility for this product: The product is not available to either:
      1. current cardmembers of ............
      2. previous cardmembers of ...............

      You don't fall in to either. So yes you can apply for the Boundless.

      Eligibility for the new cardmember bonus: The bonus is not available to you if you:
      1. are a current cardmember,...

      @Lucky

      Not entirely true.

      @Bob

      Read the Offer detail again, carefully.

      And I quote directly from Chase.

      Eligibility for this product: The product is not available to either:
      1. current cardmembers of ............
      2. previous cardmembers of ...............

      You don't fall in to either. So yes you can apply for the Boundless.

      Eligibility for the new cardmember bonus: The bonus is not available to you if you:
      1. are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of ........
      2. are a current or previous cardmember of ......... and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months
      3. applied and were approved for ......... within the last 90 days.

      Do you fall into 2 or 3? If no, you get your bonus.

      Still confused?

    3. Bob

      @ Eskimo, Ben

      It's clear I can held the Amex Bonvoy Business + Boundless, the question is the sign up offer (which is misleading in the article where it says you can't hold both cards).

      Here are the rules for the Boundless new sign up offer.

      Eligibility for the new cardmember bonus: The bonus is not available to you if you:

      (1) are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last...

      @ Eskimo, Ben

      It's clear I can held the Amex Bonvoy Business + Boundless, the question is the sign up offer (which is misleading in the article where it says you can't hold both cards).

      Here are the rules for the Boundless new sign up offer.

      Eligibility for the new cardmember bonus: The bonus is not available to you if you:

      (1) are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express);
      (2) are a current or previous cardmember of either Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card), and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or
      (3) applied and were approved for Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card) within the last 90 days.

      Reading this,

      (1) - i don't hold the PERSONAL Amex Bonvoy card, only the amex BUSINESS bonvoy card - so this is not applicable

      (2) - i am a current "Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card" holder. However I HAVE NOT received a "new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months;" I did however re-open the account with no bonus in September 2020 as i've held the card previously. So reading this would mean (2) is not applicable to me.

      (3) is not applicable for me.

    4. Bob

      @Ben - why can't i get the bonus on the Bonvoy Boundless Personal Card? I've not held a Chase Bonvoy personal card before.

    5. Ben Schlappig

      @ Bob -- You could get the bonus if you received the bonus on the Amex Bonvoy Business at least 24 months ago. Otherwise you wouldn't be eligible.

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Bob J

Good article, Ben. I would add the Chase Ritz Carlton card to the list of Marriott cards. While it no longer is issued directly, it still (at least for now) can be upgraded from the Chase Bonvoy Boundless card. From my perspective, the Ritz Carlton card (at $450 AF) offers the best benefits of the lot. That should make it deserving of at least a mention.

SteP

I got the Brilliant in October 2020 when the welcome offer was 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months, and another 25,000 after my first anniversary of card membership: based on these terms will I be eligible for a Bold / Boundless welcome bonus after December 2022 (= two years after receiving the first bonus) or after October 2023 (= two years after receiving the SECOND PART of the welcome bonus) ?

ECR

Anyone have recent datapoints on Amex's "one bonus per card per lifetime"? I believe others have said there was a ~7 year reset, but I don't remember if thats 7 years from receiving the bonus or cancelling the previous card. To be clear, I'm referring to the legacy Amex SPG personal card.

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