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Chase Sweetens Marriott Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses

by on October 7, 2011 · 15 comments

in Chase, Marriott

Chase just rolled out two new enhanced offers for their Marriott co-branded cards and I have to say I’m pretty impressed, even though I’m not a Marriott guy.

Their higher-end card, the Premier, went from 30,000 sign-up points to 50,000 with your first purchase and a free category 1-4 night. The annual fee is waived for the first year ($85 thereafter) and you get a free night at a category 1-5 hotel every year you renew, which more than pays for the card’s annual fee. And as an added bonus, this card does not have foreign transaction fees.

Plus, there’s a pretty steep elite status component too – you get 15 nights toward your next Elite membership level every year upon account anniversary and 1 extra night qualification for every $3,000 in spend. Marriott’s elite levels are as follows:

Silver: 10 nights = 20% point bonus on stays, late checkout, enhanced customer service and discounts
Gold: 50 nights = 25% point bonus on stays, room upgrades, lounge access/free breakfast, free internet and local phone plus all Silver benefits
Platinum: 75 nights = 50% point bonus on stays, welcome amenity, 48 hour guaranteed room availability, Platinum customer service plus all Gold benefits.

So essentially, you get Silver every year guaranteed, and if you spend $105,000 you could get Gold or $180,000 for Platinum. Not quite as lucrative as the Hilton Surpass Amex, which awards Diamond status with $40,000 in spend, but it’s an interesting way to expedite earning elite status.

Additionally, the card has a 5/2/1 points earning structure. 5 points for every dollar spent at Marriott family hotels, 2 points per dollar on dining, airline and car rentals and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

In my opinion, Marriott points are most valuable when used for free nights. Their category 1 free nights start at 7,500 points and category 8 peak at 40,000. Marriott offers the 5th night free and they also have PointSavers, which are rotating hotels that require less points per night (for example 15,000 points for a  category 4 vs. 20,000).

Marriott Reward Night chart

Update: Another good redemption is using Hotel + Air rewards, which allow you to earn air miles at a 1:1 ratio. For example, 7 nights at a category 6 hotel and 50,000 airline miles will cost you 230,000 points. 7 nights at a category six normally will cost 180,000 points (5th night is free) so you get 50,000 airline miles for 50,000 extra points.

Hotel & Air awards

You can also use Marriott points to redeem for Ritz-Carlton free nights. They are grouped into tiers and start at 30,000 points and go up to 70,000. They also offer 5th night free and PointSavers as well.

Overall, this is a solid all around card – with the first year annual fee waived, increased sign-up bonus, yearly free nights, elite status component and no foreign transaction fees.

If you are looking for a cheaper annual fee card, they also enhanced their regular Marriott Visa Rewards card with a 30,000 point sign-up bonus, 2 free nights at a category 1-4 hotel and no fee for the first year ($45 thereafter).

The key difference, besides the slightly lower annual fee, is that the regular card only earns 3x points on Marriott purchases and 1x on everything else and only 10 nights towards elite status each year. Considering this card does not offer a free night every year, I think the Premier card is a much better deal for only $40 more in annual fees, since the category 1-5 free night will easily outweigh that.

The thing I dislike the most about Marriott vs. Starwood is the ratio at which points transfer to miles. With Marriott, most airlines transfer at a 3:1 ratio, which means 30,000 Marriott points only = 10,000 airline miles. Whereas 30,000 Starwood points = 35,000 airline miles, a huge difference. If you are earning 1 Marriott point for everyday purchases vs. 1 Starwood point, it will take you more than 3 times the spend to get the same airline award. So basically, don’t get this card if you want to convert your hotel points into airline miles.

These are not new cards, so if you’ve applied for them in the past, chances are that you will not be eligible for the sign-up bonuses since Chase has a pretty long memory. It’s also a shame that these cards are issued by Chase, since they have most of the top deals on the market right now. I still think the Sapphire Preferred is the best overall option because it provides a ton of flexibility (mainly with the ability to transfer to partners like Continental/British Airways/Hyatt, etc at instant 1:1 ratios), but if you spend a lot at Marriott and value elite status perks and the 5x points, then this card may make the most sense. Chase may decline you for this card if you’ve gotten others, but as we found out with many people trying to get the Sapphire card (myself included) its easy to turn a decline into an approval by simply calling their reconsideration line.

Overall, September was a pretty quiet month with respect to new, monster deals so I’m hoping this newly sweetened deal is the first of many.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Derek

    Brian – For those us who do use Marriott, the best redemption option is usually a Travel + Air package where the miles come at a 1:1 ratio. For example, a 200,000 pt package, you get 7 nights in a cat 1-5 and 50K miles. Since a cat 5 seven night redemption would be 150,000 pts (with 5th night free), it would be 150,000, so the air miles of 50,000 would be at a 1:1.

    Cheers.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome point- I’ll add this to the post.

  • R-info

    Just to share my experience – I am very happy with my Marriott card. I have found numerous options in my area for Category 1 hotels so I can redeem my points for the maximum number of nights possible. In contrast, although Starwood’s award chart shows low redemption rates for Category 1 and 2 hotels, I’ve found that there are no such hotels anywhere near me! I mean, in all of NY state there are no Category 1 or 2 hotels! That means that the lowest I can get for one night is 4,000 SPG points… which makes this card much less advantageous for me.

    I now know before signing up for a hotel rewards card that it’s a good idea to look both at their awards chart and at a list of where the hotels are in each category. For me because I have been looking to maximize the number of nights I can redeem for, I would rather redeem for hotels that actually have Category 1 and 2 locations available. The Category 1 Marriott that I stayed in was quite nice.

    On the positive… I suppose now I get to stay in an extra nice hotel with my SPG points! Or redeem for airline miles…

  • Simon

    This is good, but wasn’t there a hotel card that offered two nights free anywhere in their system (rather than points), and some people were able to redeem two nights at super exclusive hotels in the Mediterranean or in east Asia?

  • Jon

    Hyatt.

  • Benthelefty

    This is tempting. So is the other Chase BA card. I can only apply for one Chase per 30 days, so what should I do? This is a new offer: do you think it will be here in November so I could add this card then as well? Thanks in advance.

  • PJ

    this is not a bad one at all : one free night upon approval PLUS 50K which is good for 2 nights stay at Renaissance Harbor View HongKong where each night costs 400+ ( 3500 HKD plus service etc) . When you opt for non first class stay many Marriott hotels are accessible with 10K category 2 i am preaching my family members to apply since I already have Hyatt. 2 Freedom Southwest BA and plan on going for Sapphire Preferred next. ( I have been an AU on my daughter’s Sapphire Preferred)

  • Anonymous

    id wait to apply for the BA card until they a) introduce another 100k promo and b) details of the new Avios program are clear

  • PJ

    anybody can tell me i did ok with Citi’s Hilton? 40 K barely go anywhere with 1000 SPEND

  • Pingback: Sunday Reader Question: How Can You Spend Your Way to Airline and Hotel Elite Status? | The Points Guy

  • PJ

    i spotted a Marriott gem in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico a category 1

  • Reaper99999

    Do you think it’s possible to get both cards?

  • Pingback: 70,000 Points for Marriott Premier Visa | The Points Guy

  • Tina

    I just signed up for the Sapphire card about a week ago. Do you think this offer will go away soon or be reduced/

  • Tom

    If you want to take a cruise using Marriott Reward Points, they require 145,000 points in order to get $1,000 off your cruise. Is this a good deal, or could I do better with Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

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