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Back in July, American Express announced new spending bonuses aimed at holders of the two consumer Marriott Bonvoy cards that it curates. The bonuses have now been available for almost two months and can continue to be earned through the end of September, but if you haven’t enrolled your card(s) yet, you have just days left to take part.
The Amex Bonvoy Spending Bonuses
Holders of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (review) and the legacy Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (no longer open for new applications) can earn bonus points for spending made in 4 categories.
Through 30 September 2021, holders of eligible Amex Bonvoy cards can earn 6 Bonvoy Points/dollar spent on the following (terms apply):
- Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
- Flights booked directly with airlines
- Gas (from U.S. gas stations)
- Transit (including taxis, ridesharing services, parking, tolls, trains & buses)
For cardholders, these bonuses represent up to 4 points/dollar more than their card already offers.
Cardmembers who enroll (here) by 15 September 2021 can earn up to 10,000 bonus points in each category (40,000 bonus points in total).
There are two ways to look at this offer. You can choose to look at it in terms of how many bonus Bonvoy Points it allows you to earn, or you can choose to look at in terms of what kind of effective rebate your Bonvoy card now offers you in the four bonus categories.
Considering The Bonus Points On Offer
If you’re keen to top up your Marriott Bonvoy Points balance, the 40,000 bonus points that this offer allows you to earn will probably look tempting (although you don’t have much time left to earn all of those points), and if your sole focus is on maximizing how many Bonvoy Points you’re earning, this promotion can be useful.
With 10,000 extra points available in each spending category and with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card already offering 3 points per dollar on airfares booked directly with airlines and 2 points/dollar on spending at gas stations, on rental cars, and on transit (terms apply), this is what spending is needed to max out the points on offer in this promotion:
- Airfare (booked directly with airlines) – $3,334
- Car Rentals – $2,500
- Gas (from U.S. Gas Stations) – $2,500
- Transit – $2,500
$2,500 of spending on car rentals and gas between now and 30 September may not be an issue for anyone about to go on vacation (have you seen the cost of car rentals?!), but if you haven’t already been using the past 8 weeks to spend towards the other totals you’re almost certainly not going to max out this deal.
Still, as far as gas station spending goes, there’s always the option to earn bonus points from other items that gas stations sell and that may help those on a quest for Bonvoy Points to maximize the bonus in that category, but I suspect that the spending needed to maximize the points available in the transit category will be out of the reach of most people.
Considering The Effective Rebates On Offer
Personally, I haven’t been viewing this offer from the point of view of someone who wants to collect as many Bonvoy Points as possible. I’ve been looking at it from the perspective of someone who likes to maximize their earnings every time they use a credit card.
I value Bonvoy Points at 0.6 cents each (based on the value that I know I can get out of them without much effort), so this promotion has, effectively, been offering me a rebate of 3.6% (6 points/dollar) in the four eligible spending categories.
That’s not great.
Not only do several credit cards that I hold offer a better return on airfare and/or travel spending, but some of the cards also offer considerably better travel protections than the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Cards.
The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (review) both offer considerably better returns on airfare spending than this promotion is offering, the Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Green Card are just two examples of cards that offer noticeably better returns on all other travel spending (including transit spending), and even though the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (review) only offers an effective rebate of 3% on rental car spending (based on my valuation of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points), the fact that it offers primary rental car cover means that it’s still probably a better card to use (for rental car spending) than either of the Bonvoy Cards eligible for this promotion.
What this all means is that if you’re fully immersed in the miles and points game, it’s more than likely that some of the other credit cards that you have in your wallet will offer you a better return on your airfare and travel spending than what the Amex Bonvoy cards are offering here and that means that you should be thinking very carefully before deciding that this promotion is for you.
The two consumer Amex Marriott Bonvoy cards are still (for a limited time) offering up to 4 bonus points per dollar for spending on airfare (directly with airlines), on car rentals, on US gas station spending, and on transit spending. For anyone looking simply to earn as many Bonvoy Points as possible, this promotion may have its uses but for anyone looking to maximize their return on spending, other credit cards will almost certainly offer better value.
Don’t forget that you only have through 15 September to register for this promotion (you’ll find it listed among your Amex offers) and you only have through 30 September to earn as many Bonvoy Points as you can.