The loyalty programs of Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood were combined in early 2019, to form Marriott Bonvoy.
As part of this agreement, both American Express and Chase are issuing co-branded credit cards. We’ve even seen some changes made to these cards, both positive and negative.
At the moment the most popular consumer card is offering an exceptionally good increased bonus, so I wanted to take a closer look at that card in this post, for anyone who may be considering it.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Basics For October 2020
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is the mid-range personal credit card that’s issued for Marriott, and it’s a card that most people should have if they’re eligible, in my opinion. That’s because the card offers at least one valuable perk that should more than offset the annual fee for almost everyone, and there are other perks that people might find worthwhile as well.
Best of all, now is the time to get the card, given the increased bonus. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about this card.
New Cardmember Bonus: 5 Free Nights
The Bonvoy Boundless Card is offering a welcome bonus of five free nights after spending $5,000 within three months:
- Each night can be used at a property costing up to 50,000 points per night
- The free night certificates are valid for a year from the date of issue
- You can use the certificates for back-to-back stays, or for multiple stays, depending on your preference
I value Bonvoy points at ~0.7 cents each, so maximizing the redemption for five nights at a 50,000 point per night property (a value of 250,000 points) would provide up to ~$1,750 in value.
There are all kinds of great hotels where you can redeem the free nights
Given how many American Express and Chase Marriott cards there are at this point, there are some pretty complicated restrictions in place regarding eligibility for this card.
The card is not available to those who are:
- current cardmembers of the Marriott Bonvoy Premier credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards Premier) or Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards Premier Plus), or
- previous cardmembers of the Marriott Bonvoy Premier credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards Premier) or Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards Premier Plus), who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.
Furthermore, the welcome bonus isn’t available to you if you:
- 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);
- 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
- 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.
Chase’s 5/24 Rule
Chase has what’s known as the 5/24 rule. This means that if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months you typically won’t be approved for this card. If you do apply for this card, make sure you’re under that limit.
$95 Annual Fee
The Marriott Boundless Card has a $95 annual fee. You can add additional cardmembers at no extra cost.
Earning Points With The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card
While I personally wouldn’t be using the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card for everyday spending, the card does offer a valuable bonus category for spending at Marriott hotels.
Unfortunately for those who were used to Starwood Preferred Guest back in the day, this will probably be a disappointment. When SPG joined Marriott’s loyalty program they reduced the value of each point, and in the process changed the rewards structure of the credit cards.
6x Points At Marriott Hotels
The card offers 6x Bonvoy points for spending at Marriott-family hotels globally. For many people, this will be a worthwhile bonus.
Since I value Bonvoy points at ~0.7 cents each, that’s the equivalent of a ~4.2% return on hotel spending. Personally, I still prefer to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for my Marriott hotel spending, as it offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points.
You can earn 6x points for stays at Marriott hotels
2x Points On All Other Purchases
The card offers 2x points on all other eligible purchases. Personally, I don’t consider 2x points per dollar spent to be especially compelling, since I value that at a return of 1.4 cents per point, and there are better cards for everyday spending.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Bonvoy Boundless Card has no foreign transaction fees, so it’s an excellent card for purchases abroad. That’s especially true when staying at Marriotts abroad.
The Marriott Boundless Card features contactless pay technology. This means you can pay using your card without even swiping it whenever you see the contactless pay symbol.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Benefits
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card might not offer the best return on spending, but it offers some great benefits that make it worthwhile, in my opinion. If you’re eligible for the card and don’t have it, I truly think the card is worth having for just about everyone.
Free Night Award Annually
The real perk that makes this card worthwhile is that you get a free night award every year on your account anniversary, valid for a one night hotel stay at a property costing up to 35,000 points.
This is an exceptional deal, and the reason that I think this card is worth having. Marriott is the world’s largest hotel chain, so regardless of what your preferred hotel program is, just about everyone may find themselves in a situation where this could come in handy.
I consistently redeem this certificate at hotels costing $250+ per night. Heck, several months back I used one of these free night certificates at a hotel costing nearly $500 per night.
I used my free night award at The Langley, a Marriott Luxury Collection property
Complimentary Silver Elite Status
Just for having the card you receive Silver Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program. Now, don’t get too excited, as this doesn’t exactly come with that many benefits. Silver Elite status ordinarily requires 10 elite nights, and comes with the following perks:
- 10% bonus points on hotel stays
- Priority late check-out
- A dedicated reservations line
Gold Elite Status With Spending
If you have this card you can earn Gold Elite status if you spend $35,000 on the card in a cardmember year. This status ordinarily requires 25 elite nights. Gold Elite status ordinarily gets you the following benefits:
- 25% bonus points on hotel stays
- 2PM late check-out
- A room upgrade
15 Elite Nights Towards Status Annually
One of my favorite perks for having this card is that you get 15 elite nights towards status annually just for having the card.
Note that several co-branded Marriott credit cards offer this, and you can only receive the benefit once per year on a personal card. In other words, if you have three Marriott personal cards then you wouldn’t get 45 elite nights.
However, you can earn 15 elite nights from a personal card and 15 elite nights from a business card, for a total of 30 elite nights.
This really makes it more attainable to earn Platinum status, which is where status really gets valuable. Platinum status requires 50 nights, so if you have this card you’d only need to earn an additional 35 elite nights, and if you also had a business card you’d only need an additional 20 elite nights.
Platinum status gets you guaranteed late check-out, suite upgrades subject to availability at most properties, free breakfast at many brands, and more.
Platinum members receive space available suite upgrades
Premium Internet At Marriotts
Nowadays all Marriott Bonvoy members who book direct receive free in-room internet. However, if you have this credit card you receive free premium internet access while staying at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
One of the great features of Chase cards is access to Chase Offers, which provides savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. The program wasn’t launched that long ago, but has already saved me a significant amount of money.
Secondary Car Rental Coverage
The Marriott Boundless Card offers auto rental collision damage waiver coverage. Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card.
Coverage is provided for theft and collision damage for most cars in the US and abroad. Do note that in the US the coverage is secondary to your personal insurance, though.
Protection With Trip Delays, Lost Luggage, And More
The Bonvoy Boundless Card offers a variety of other protection when traveling. Among these features is:
- Trip Delay Reimbursement — if your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement — be reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger if you or your immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by an airline
- Baggage Delay Insurance — be reimbursed up to $100 per day for five days for essential purchases when your bag is delayed by over six hours
Make sure you check your cardmember agreement for all of the details, since there are terms & conditions.
Is The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Worth It?
Personally, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card isn’t a card that I would be using for my everyday spending. However, I absolutely think the card is worth having, given that it offers a free night certificate on your account anniversary every year, which should more than justify the annual fee.
If you’re going for status, the 15 elite nights towards status annually is incredibly valuable as well, and makes it easier to earn Platinum status. Furthermore, if there’s a time to pick up the card it’s now, while it’s offering an increased bonus — earning five free nights is incredible.
Card Showdown: Bonvoy Boundless Vs. Bonvoy Bold
Marriott also has the no annual fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card, so how do the cards compare? The cards largely have overlapping benefits, though the biggest distinction is that the Boundless Card offers an anniversary free night certificate, and that’s what makes the card so worthwhile.
To me, the Boundless Card is better than the Bold Card because it’s worth paying $95 per year for the anniversary free night certificate. The card also has a significantly better welcome bonus.
Should You Transfer Chase Points To Marriott?
Marriott is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you could transfer points at a 1:1 ratio. For example:
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review) offers 3x points on dining and travel
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) offers 2x points on dining and travel
- The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent annually on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
In some cases, this would be your best bet for earning Marriott points through credit card spending, since you can earn 3-5x points in select categories.
Even so, I wouldn’t recommend transferring Chase points to Marriott. As I said, I value Marriott points at ~0.7 cents each, while you can instead transfer points at the same ratio to programs like World of Hyatt, where I value the points at ~1.5 cents each (more than two times as much).
While there are plenty of ways to earn Marriott points with credit cards, there aren’t many ways to do so at efficient or competitive rates.
There are better uses of Chase points than transferring to Marriott
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Summary
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card is well worth it for the anniversary free night certificate that’s valid for a property costing up to 35,000 points per night. Just about everyone should be able to get outsized value from that, given that there are a lot of hotels costing $200+ per night that can be booked with it.
If you’re going for status with Marriott, the 15 elite nights towards status annually is the icing on the cake.
At the moment the card is even offering what I could consider to be its best bonus by far. You can earn five free nights each valid at a property costing up to 50,000 points per night, making this bonus worth up to 250,000 points.