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Stock up now, stay later: Marriott entices cardholders with 6x bonus on groceries

April 30, 2020
4 min read
W Maldives overwater villa with pool and cabana
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No matter how you slice it, many travel cards are not providing enough value in the current environment for cardholders to take them out of the sock drawer. Some of the biggest spending categories are not flights and accommodation, but rather household items and essentials like groceries.

That makes sense when you consider travel has come to nearly a complete halt. To make its cards more relevant, Marriott is announcing a new spending bonus on its lineup of cobranded cards from both American Express and Chase.

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From May 1 through July 31, 2020, all Marriott cobranded cards (even ones no longer marketed, like the Ritz-Carlton Card) will earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent. Chase cardholders earn 6x on up to $5,000, while Marriott American Express cardholders earn 6x on up to $7,500. No registration or enrollment is required.

Which cards qualify for 6x at grocery stores?

Here is a closer look at the list of Marriott cobranded cards, along with the previous grocery earn rate. As mentioned, even cards that are no longer open to new applicants still qualify for the promotion.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Old: 2x points on groceries
New: 6x points on groceries

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

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Old: 1x points on groceries
New: 6x points on groceries

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Old: 2x points on groceries
New: 6x points on groceries

Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card

Old: 2x points on groceries
New: Same rate (does not qualify for offer)

As you can see, the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card is the only cobranded variant that is not receiving the grocery store bonus. Remember, not all grocery purchases code under the "grocery" category so make sure you're aware of how American Express and Chase categorize merchants.

Related reading: The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

All of this news comes at the same time that both American Express and Chase announced a slew of perks and benefits as a result of the shift in spending during coronavirus.

Is it worth it?

Marriott is hoping you will use its lineup of cards and make them top of mind for everyday grocery purchases. A 6x bonus is fantastic, but other cards like the American Express® Gold Card are also compelling options. If you breakdown the numbers based on TPG's point valuations, it paints an even clearer picture.

We value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents apiece. With a 6x bonus, you're looking at 4.8 cents per dollar on groceries. Meanwhile, TPG values Amex Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each. With the Amex Gold's 4x bonus, you're looking at an 8 cents per dollar return.

From a pure valuation perspective, the Amex Gold is the clear winner. With that said, not everything comes down to an exact formula, and this is still a compelling offer for Marriott enthusiasts or if you're racking up points toward a future redemption.

It's also worth keeping in mind that the Amex Gold Card earns 4x points on the first $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets, then 1x points. So if you've already maxed that out, then switching your grocery spending to a Marriott card might make sense.

Related reading: The surprising reasons why 2020 is the year of cobranded travel credit cards

Bottom line

With purchasing behavior heavily skewed toward groceries, it makes sense for cobrand partners and issuers to entice spending on their specific cards. Marriott is simply adapting to the environment at large. For customers, it may well be worthwhile to dig up those Marriott cards from out of the sock drawer and earn extra points on the items you were going to buy anyway.

Related reading: Amex announces limited-time perks for select Amex Membership Rewards, Delta, Marriott and Hilton cards

Featured image by My Marriott elite status helped me score an upgrade to an overwater villa at the W Maldives (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

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