Why You Should Get (But Not Use) The Marriott Credit Card

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Update: This offer for Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® is expired, but there’s currently an opportunity to earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days of having the card. Learn more about the special offer here.

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is currently offering a sign-up bonus where you can earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

As far as signup bonuses go, this is a decent one:

  • Receive 1 Free Night Stay at at Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date
  • 80,000 Marriott Rewards points are enough for two free nights at a top-tier property

I tend to ignore the Marriott program as I find their elite status requirements and lack of benefits to be uncompetitive compared to other hotel chains, but the properties themselves are generally nice, and many people are a fan of the program.

They have nine categories of hotels, with a top-tier property requiring 45,000 points per night:

Marriott Reward Tiers

Even better, you can use Marriott Rewards points for stays at Ritz-Carlton hotels, and they have five “tiers” of reward stays:

Ritz Carlton Reward Tiers

So the sign-up bonus alone would give you enough points for a top-tier property like the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, which is probably the best hotel in the city.

View from my room at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Furthermore, just for having the Marriott Rewards card you also get a free night upon your account anniversary each year valid at category 1-5 properties. Marriott has nine categories, so that’s basically valid for up to a mid-tier hotel.

The Marriott Sao Paulo Airport is surprisingly nice, and only a Category 3 property

You also get 15 nights elite nights towards status each year just for having the card, and an additional one night towards status for every $3,000 you spend. That means you basically get Marriott Silver status for as long as you have the card, which takes just 10 qualifying nights. The catch is that Marriott Silver is probably the least valuable hotel status, and primarily only gets you bonus points on stays.

The card typically earns 5x points per $1 at Marriott hotels, 2x points with airlines, rental car agencies and restaurants, then one point everywhere else.

I value Marriott Rewards points at 0.8 cents each, so you’re looking at a return of 1.6% on bonus categories and 0.8% on everyday spend. Unless you’re putting money on the card to requalify for status (since the card offers one elite qualifying night for every $3,000 spent) this probably isn’t worth putting spend on.

Bottom line:

The way I look at it, there are three components to the value of a credit card:

  • The sign-up bonus
  • The value the card gives you for everyday spend
  • Any bonuses you may get for having the card long term

The increased sign-up bonus certainly makes the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card more compelling, and I would keep the card for the free anniversary night, but I still wouldn’t use this card for everyday spend.

If you really want to accrue Marriott points you’re almost always going to be better off earning Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Freedom®Ink Bold® Business Charge CardInk Plus® Business Credit Card, or Ink Cash® Business Credit Card, as those cards have better bonus categories and accumulate a more flexible points currency.

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  1. I just got this card with the 70k points offer. I will probably keep it in my drawer for a while. I was thinking of getting the Ritz Carlton card maybe at the end of the year. With complimentary gold status for the first year and then gold thereafter with $10k spend per year. Might be a pretty decent deal despite the higher annual fee.

  2. IMO, the best use of this offer would be to get the card, accrue 15,000 extra and use the points for stay at The London Edition Hotel for a weekend (it is a category 9 hotel). Edition is Marriott’s new “W” type brand. I stayed there recently and loved the experience.

  3. Lucky–

    For a one night stay in Hong Kong: Ritz Carlton or Conrad? I have Hilton gold so that should get lounge access and free breakfast at Conrad.


  4. Ben, is this card valid for Canada resident and please will the bonus point (70000) transfer to ex aeroplan or Alaska miliage plan
    Thanks for your great review

  5. The 15 elite nights is useful when you’re already staying at their properties but not enough to get to the mid (or upper) tier status on your own. Otherwise it is more or less useless.

    As for the free anniversary night, it stays as 1-5 category eventhough so many of their properties move up the rank in the past few years. Soon you’ll only be able to use in their lower tier hotels …

    @ David – yes it does count.

  6. The thing that annoys me most is not that Marriott recently upped the category on a lot of their hotels to make them ineligible for the yearly certificate but it’s the fact that the certificate expires 6 months after the anniversary so it’s more restrictive than Hyatt’s…

  7. I’m about to cancel my Ritz card due to the 395 fee coming due. Do you think I would qualify for this once I drop that one, or will it count as the same program (since the points are the same)?

  8. The benefit I think is most valuable is that they partner with United, because their miles will transfer to United at a discount from other airlines.

  9. I like this card very much and also use it for Marriott stays. The elite status and certificate (although getting harder to use now!) is helpful as well.

  10. @ JonnyB — Both are great choices, but I’d probably give the edge to the Conrad since you have gold status.

  11. Hi Ben…

    I’ve had this card for several years. Do you know if I can get a second one and receive the bonus?

  12. Agreed the annual certificate expirations can be a pain, tho Marriott reps have been good about allowing some extensions for me, and there has indeed been some category creep of properties recently. The loss of the mega -bonus is also a shame — not directly related to the card, but with the annual bonus, it was pretty fruitful there for awhile.

  13. This offer has been around with a 1k min spend. Did the bloggers just get the affiliate link version that is worse ? This is news only because this offer is worse, not because a 70k didn’t exist before.

  14. If there is a de-facto 6 Chase card limit,
    1 Ink ____
    1 Sapphire preferred
    1 Freedom

    after those, the Marriott isn’t that convincing when compared to their other hotel products

    IHG free night $49/year any property>Hyatt $75/year Category 1-4>Marriott $85/year Category 1-5

  15. @Jorgen There is a Canadian version of this card through Chase Canada, Alas, the current sign up bonus is only 30,000 points. However, it’s one of the few Canadian credit cards that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, which is why I hang onto it. (but for domestic purchases, I use other cards since 1 marriott point per dollar spent is a bad return. Also, there is a $120/year fee after the first year, but I figure the Cat 1-5 certificate compensates for that.

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