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Last week saw Amex and Chase both launching new mid-tier Marriott Bonvoy credit cards which took the count of currently available Bonvoy consumer cards to five. This article compares the annual fees, the earning rates, and the key benefits that these cards offer in what is (hopefully) an easily digestible format to make it easier to see which card (if any) will work best for you.
The five Marriott Bonvoy consumer credit cards
There are now 5 Marriott Bonvoy consumer credit cards that are open to new applicants with Chase issuing three and American Express issuing two:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold® credit card
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® credit card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ credit card **new**
- Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express card **new**
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card
The Bonvoy Brilliant card was refreshed on the same day that the Bountiful and Bevy cards were released and all the details you’ll find below take this into account.
Comparing the Bonvoy consumer cards
A couple of notes before I get to the comparisons:
I’ve chosen to use tables to show what the various Marriott Bonvoy consumer credit cards offer and because I think the information speaks for itself, I don’t intend to add a lot of commentary about specific differences between cards.
This article is intended more as a resource (with a few of my thoughts added in) rather than a blow-by-blow discussion of what I think is good and bad about each of the Bonvoy consumer cards. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t like the two newly issued Bonvoy cards (see here and here) and while that’s almost certainly going to come up again, I don’t intend to go over too much old ground.
Ok, let’s move on to the comparisons…
Comparing the current welcome offers (terms apply)
Comparing earning rates (terms apply)
*The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card earns 3 points/$ on up to $6,000 of combined spending per year in these categories.
^Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card & the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card earn 4 points/$ on up to $15,000 of combined spending per year in these categories.
- Rates and fees for the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express card
- Rates and fees for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card
There are four key things that I’d like to highlight here:
- You should be able to see that you don’t have to pay more than $95/year to earn the maximum number of Bonvoy points/dollar that any consumer card offers for spending made with Marriott.
- Make sure you take notice of the fact that the Boundless, Bevy, and Bountiful cards all put caps on the spending that will earn bonus points in select categories. Also, keep in mind that these caps refer to combined spending across the relevant spending categories.
- Take note of the fact that although the Amex-issued Bonvoy Bevy card offers bonus points for spending on groceries, those bonus points will only be paid out on spending made in US supermarkets. Spending in supermarkets outside the US and grocery spending made at smaller establishments in the US will only earn 2 points/dollar.
- To get a true view of how good or bad these earning rates are, don’t just look at the number in isolation. Work out how much value the earning rates are offering you and go from there.
To expand on that final point…
I value Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents each (based on the value that I know that I can get out of them with ease) and that means that where one of these Bonvoy cards offers me 4 points/dollar for spending in a given category, I know that for me, that’s an effective return of 2.4% on my spending.
This helps put things in context as while a headline earning rate of 4 points/dollar can look impressive, the fact that it only equates to a 2.4% return shows that it’s actually not very good at all and that I would probably do a lot better by using another credit card when spending in that category.
Comparing key benefits (terms apply & enrollment may be required)
Deciding what is and what isn’t a key benefit is, by definition, a subjective thing so not all benefits have been listed here.
Having said that, the benefits that have been included here should be more than enough to help you see just what a cardholder is being offered in return for the annual fee.
~Valid only on select rates and a minimum 2-night stay is required
The benefits (or lack thereof) mostly speak for themselves so I’ll keep my comments in this section brief.
- Make sure you check what each of the Marriott elite status tiers offers in terms of benefits before allowing yourself to be swayed towards one card or another by the elite statuses on offer.
- Make sure you consider the real value (to you) of any bonus points on offer before deciding which of the cards (if any) is for you. E.g. Because I value Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents each, the bonus points that the Bevy and Bountiful cards offer on each stay are worth just $6 to me – hardly a game changer!
- Make sure you consider how often you will be making the most of each of the benefits on offer and how much value each will genuinely give you before you choose a card. Some benefits can look very tempting but they’re only worth something if you’re actually going to get to use them.
While there aren’t many significant differences between the earning rates that the Bonvoy consumer cards offer, the differences between the benefits they offer are considerably more noticeable (unless you’re comparing the two $250/year cards). That makes it all the more important to make sure that you consider exactly what each card is offering in return for its annual fee.
My thoughts on the cards
Personally, I don’t like the two new mid-tier cards that cost $250/year as I can’t see where the value is. I genuinely have no idea what Marriott was thinking when it came up with these cards.
I’ve always thought that the best way to choose a Bonvoy card is to ignore any of the earning rates that don’t apply to spending with Marriott (because a whole host of other cards that you probably already hold will offer better value) and to focus on the annual fee and the benefits on offer. When I do that, the two new cards don’t make any sense to me.
I can see how the Bold, Boundless, and Brilliant cards may fit into different people’s wallets but with the particular exception of someone who has no interest in anything other than earning Bonvoy points on all their spending, I cannot see how the Bevy and Bountiful cards would be a good addition to anyone’s wallet.
Hopefully, the tables above will provide readers with a useful resource when it comes to deciding which Bonvoy card is best for them or if they should bother having a Bonvoy card at all. If there’s anything that you think I’ve missed or something that you’d like me to add in or discuss, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll see what I can do.