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When it comes to choosing what card to open next, there’s a lot of factors to consider. You’ll start by evaluating your 5/24 status, what points you currently have and what points you need. More often than not it makes more sense to open a card that earns flexible bank points rather than points fixed to a current currency. Right now, however, is one of the best times to open a Marriott card.

Not every Marriott card is a home run right now, but there’s a two-card bombo that really packs a huge punch. Let’s explore what it takes to be eligible for this combo and whether or not you should move on it now.

The Marriott Cards You Should Be Looking At

While the offers across four Marriott cards were recently updated, there’s two that are truly punching above their weight right now: the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Right now the Marriott Bonvoy Business card is offering 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points plus two free night certificates for nights up to 50,000 points per night after you spend $5,000 in the first three months (rates & fees, offer ends 11/3/2021).

At the same time, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is offering 150,000 bonus Marriott bonvoy points plus a free night certificate valid for a night up to 85,000 points per night after you spend $5,000 in the first three months (rates & fees, offer ends 11/3/2021).

Eligibility For The Welcome Bonus On The Marriott Cards

There’s few things more frustrating than believing you’re eligible to earn the bonus on a card only to find out that you’re not. The Marriott cards have some of the most difficult to understand restrictions in the points and miles world. 

These restrictions come from the fact that the current Marriott program used to be three different ones: Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest.

After the merger of all three under the Marriott portfolio, there was some uncertainty about what would happen with their card portfolios. Both Ritz and Marriott were under contract with Chase while Starwood Preferred Guest was under contract with Amex. In the end, both banks ended up with some cards. This created uncertainty about bonus eligibility which resulted in restrictions on cards between banks.

Eligibility for the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card

When it comes to the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, you’re not eligible to open a new account and receive a welcome bonus if you currently have, or have had, any of the following cards open in the past 30 days:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Business Card from Chase (unavailable to new applicants)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Card from Chase (unavailable to new applicants)

You also aren’t eligible for a welcome bonus on the Bonvoy Business card if you’ve opened any of the following cards in the last 90 days or if you’ve received the bonus on any of them in the last 24 months:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy BoldⓇ Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Premier Credit Card from Chase (unavailable to new applicants)

Eligibility for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card

You’ll find similar restrictions for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card. You won’t be eligible to open a new account and receive a welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card if you have or have had the following card open in the past 30 days:

  • The Ritz Carlton Credit Card (unavailable to new applicants)

You also aren’t eligible for a welcome bonus on the Bonvoy Brilliant card if you’ve opened any of the following cards in the last 90 days or if you’ve received the bonus on any of them in the last 24 months:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Premier Credit Card from Chase (unavailable to new applicants)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Card from Chase (unavailable to new applicants)

Other Restrictions

The last restriction to remember is that both of these cards are issued by American Express. American Express limits you to one bonus per lifetime, so if you’ve received the bonus on either of these cards in the past you won’t be eligible to receive another bonus.

Why Now Is A Great Time To Open These Cards

The value you can get from these bonuses is really absurdly high. Ignoring the points you get from the minimum spend requirement, you’re looking at 275,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, two free night certificates valid for nights costing up to 50,000 points, and one free night certificate valid for a night costing up to 85,000 points.

Both cards earn 2X points per dollar on all spend that doesn’t fall under another bonus category. Given that the minimum spend requirement between the two cards is $10,000, that’s an additional 20,000 points you’d have. So your final balance would be 295,000 Marriott Bonvoy points plus the two free night certificates at a minimum.

If you’re able to get the full value for the free night certificates, that’s the equivalent of 480,000 points from just two cards.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of how you could redeem these bonuses in practice.

Understanding Marriott’s Award Chart

Before jumping into a few examples, take a moment to refamiliarize yourself with Marriott’s award chart. 

Marriott properties range in value from Category 1 through Category 8, barring a few exceptions that are literally off the chart. In addition to the category of a hotel, an award night can be priced as either off-peak, standard or peak. Off-peak are the cheapest nights in a given category, peak are the highest, while standard falls right in between. 

Hotel CategoryOff Peak PricingStandard PricingPeak Pricing
15,0007,50010,000
210,00012,50015,000
315,00017,50020,000
420,00025,00030,000
530,00035,00040,000
640,00050,00060,000
750,00060,00070,000
870,00085,000100,000

Don’t be surprised if you find a variety of off peak, standard and peak pricing when you book. Naturally, holidays when people tend to travel will most likely be priced as peak pricing while the off-season will be off-peak pricing. But Marriott doesn’t publish this information in advance, you’ll just have to see what it will cost you when you go to book.

One final piece to remember is that Marriott grants you the 5th night free when you book with points. So if you booked five peak nights at a category eight hotel, you’d get the 5th night free meaning you’d only need to redeem 400,000 points.

What 295,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points Gets You

How far can 295,000 Marriott Bonvoy points go? Well, that depends on what category of hotel you’d like to book. You’ll be able to stay much longer at a lower category hotel than a higher category hotel, and the amount of free nights you can get will also vary depending on whether they price as peak, standard or off-peak.

To simplify it, let’s take the following approach: how many nights could you stay if every night was priced the same while accounting for the fifth night free. This helps to normalize the value across each category and across the peak pricing.

Hotel CategoryOff Peak PricingStandard PricingPeak Pricing
173 nights49 nights36 nights
236 nights29 nights24 nights
324 nights21 nights18 nights
418 nights14 nights12 nights
512 nights10 nights9 nights
69 nights7 nights6 nights
77 nights6 nights5 nights
85 nights3 nights2 nights

Depending on how you want to use your points, you’re looking at anywhere from two to 73 nights. Now I know most of you aren’t too excited about the prospect of staying in a category one Marriott property during the off-peak season, but if you wanted to save two months of rent or mortgage payments it could be possible.

And remember, this is in addition to three free night certificates. Two up to 50,000 points and one up to 85,000 points. With those in mind, let’s take a look at a few fun ways to use the bonus.

Ways To Use The Bonus From These Two Cards

Sometimes the value of a bonus is better put into context. It’s one thing to look at the breakdown and have a sense of value, but it’s another to put it into context by seeing exactly where you could stay and for how long.

Let’s look at three options: a budget option, a middle tier option and an all out luxurious choice for some ways to use the bonus from these two Marriott cards. Plus, it will help you better see what the cash value of these bonuses are.

Protea Hotel Lusaka Safari lodge | Photo Courtesy: Marriott

Category 1: Protea Hotel Lusaka Safari lodge

When I told you that you could stay over two months at a category one Marriott property with the bonus from the Amex Marriott Business card and the Amex Marriott Brilliant card, you probably didn’t have the best picture in your mind.

But what if I told you instead that you could stay two months at a Safari Lodge on 2,500 acres in Zambia? 

Now sure, this isn’t the most luxurious safari retreat in the world, but with rooms going for about $100 per night on average, the potential to stay up to 73 nights at off-peak pricing means a value of $7,300. Even taking the moderate pricing that you get with 49 standard nights puts you at around $5,000 in value.

JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort | Photo Courtesy: Marriott

Category 5: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Moving on up to our mid-tier properties, the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort is near the top of the list. Located on the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam, the resort has received a lot of praise from points and miles enthusiasts both for being a high quality property and such a great value as a category five.

With the bonus from these two cards, you could make the most of your time in Vietnam. You’d be able to stay between nine and twelve nights, depending on whether the nights you book are peak or off peak. If you’re traveling all the way from the U.S. to Vietnam, the ability to stay awhile is definitely a big plus.

If you wanted to stretch your stay even further, you could put two of the free night certificates good up to 50,000 points to use. Sure, a peak category five hotel technically only costs 40,000 points, but rather than seek to get the maximum value you can apply them to your stay at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc to get maximum utility. Now you can stay 11 to 14 nights, up to two weeks at this hotel in paradise.

Nights at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort vary, but it isn’t too hard to find them around $300 a night. That puts the value that you’d be getting between $3,000 and $4,000.

St. Regis Bora Bora | Photo Courtesy: Marriott

Category 8: St. Regis Bora Bora

You probably thought I was going to slip the Maldives in here, but sometimes I like to shake things up a bit. Let’s look at another island getaway that’s a bit easier to get to from the U.S.: Bora Bora.

If you wanted to go all out with your bonus, you could look to Bora Bora and stay at the St. Regis. As a category eight hotel, you’ll have to be a bit more picky when choosing nights in order to really stretch the bonus out. After all, no one goes to Bora Bora for just two nights. Really you’d want to find those off-peak nights so that you could get five nights. Plus, with your 85,000 point free night award you could add on an extra night to get six nights in paradise.

Prices at the St. Regis Bora Bora tend to be around $1,000 a night. A bit more in the high season, and a bit cheaper in the low season. By stacking your free night certificate for six nights, that means you’d be able to squeeze about $6,000 in value out of the bonus from these two cards.

Seeing The Value, Recognizing The Limits

Of course, I picked some pretty desirable hotels to stay at. You might use your points differently, but even from the low category hotels that cost $100 per night, the bonus let’s you stay so many nights you can stack up the value through volume. Most people should easily be able to get around $3,000 in value from the bonus alone on these cards.

That’s a tremendous amount of value from just two cards, especially from two cards that aren’t earning flexible bank points. And this value is often while excluding the free night certificates as well (although, not always).

However, there are some limits to the bonuses. Again, the restrictions are a bit tricky to navigate so I hope I’ve made it easy to understand. 

Is It Worth It If You’re Below 5/24?

One limit to be aware of is the consideration of the value of these bonuses if you’re below 5/24. I’d likely say the value of these bonuses is enough to justify opening the cards if you’re over 5/24. Especially since one is a business card and likely won’t show up on your personal credit report. 

Here’s why I think this is worth it if you’re below 5/24 – the biggest reason is that these bonuses expire November 3rd, 2021. We know these aren’t going to be around forever, and that limits the opportunity to get these bonuses.

First, if you’re at 0/24, 1/24 or 2/24,  you’d really only have one of these show up on your credit report, leaving you plenty of opportunities to open more Chase cards in the next two years.

How about 3/24? Well, you’re almost maxed out anyway on Chase cards. Would you be able to get $3,000 in value maxing out those slots in the next 2 months?

Finally, 4/24. Well, if you’re at 4/24 you’re not going to get more than $3,000 in value from just one Chase card anyway, but if you can swing the spend you should just open that one final Chase card first and then open these two cards so you can really get the full value of your 5/24 slots.

Final Thoughts

Given the time sensitivity of the bonuses on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex Card, and the value you can get whether it’s from a category one or a category eight, I’d definitely look into jumping on these cards. 

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!


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