The best Marriott credit cards of 2021

This page is a marketplace where our partners can highlight their current card offers. The reviews and insights represented are editorial, but the order in which cards appear on the page may be influenced by compensation we may receive from our partners.

An easy way to earn Marriott points and perks is by ensuring you have at least one Marriott Bonvoy credit card in your wallet. But choosing the right Marriott card for your situation can be admittedly a tricky situation. Both Chase and American Express issue Marriott Bonvoy cards, with four Marriott cards currently available for your consideration — two from each issuer. And complicating things further is the fact that a non-Marriott cobranded card could be a great option as well. See offers below from our partners.

Best for welcome offer and elite status

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3.5/5
at American Express's secure site Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

Rewards

2 - 6X points
more info

Intro Bonus

75,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$450

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Bonvoy Brilliant is ideal for travelers who are loyal to the Marriott brand. You’ll get a solid return on Marriott stays and a number of premium perks that can help you upgrade your trips. However, with high-end perks comes a high annual fee.

Pros

  • Earn up to $300 in statement credits each account year at eligible Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 1 free night award (up to 50,000 points) on each cardmember anniversary
  • Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required)
  • Automatic Marriott Gold status with the ability to earn Platinum

Cons

  • $450 annual fee isn't insignificant
  • May not make sense if you don't stay at Marriott properties
  • Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $450 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for welcome offer and elite status

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

TPG Editor's Rating

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3.5/5
  • 6X Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels.
  • 3X 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2X 2 points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

75,000 points

Annual Fee

$450

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Bonvoy Brilliant is ideal for travelers who are loyal to the Marriott brand. You’ll get a solid return on Marriott stays and a number of premium perks that can help you upgrade your trips. However, with high-end perks comes a high annual fee.

Pros

  • Earn up to $300 in statement credits each account year at eligible Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 1 free night award (up to 50,000 points) on each cardmember anniversary
  • Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required)
  • Automatic Marriott Gold status with the ability to earn Platinum

Cons

  • $450 annual fee isn't insignificant
  • May not make sense if you don't stay at Marriott properties
  • Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $450 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3.5/5
at American Express's secure site Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

Rewards

2 - 6X points
more info

Intro Bonus

75,000
details

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business is a solid pick for small businesses card that want the benefits that come with Bonvoy properties around the world. It comes with a great welcome offer and better rewards and benefits than Marriott’s consumer version. There’s a 75,000-point welcome offer after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases and a $150 statement credit within the first three months of card membership.

Pros

  • 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card anniversary year
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start staus
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ different airlines
  • Perks include premium on-property internet access, access to Amex Offers, Amex’s baggage insurance plan, extended warranty, purchase protection and no foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Card only comes with Silver Bonvoy, Marriott's lowest elite status
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 of eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for small businesses

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

TPG Editor's Rating

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3.5/5
  • 6X 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 4X 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2X 2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

75,000

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business is a solid pick for small businesses card that want the benefits that come with Bonvoy properties around the world. It comes with a great welcome offer and better rewards and benefits than Marriott’s consumer version. There’s a 75,000-point welcome offer after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases and a $150 statement credit within the first three months of card membership.

Pros

  • 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card anniversary year
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start staus
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ different airlines
  • Perks include premium on-property internet access, access to Amex Offers, Amex’s baggage insurance plan, extended warranty, purchase protection and no foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Card only comes with Silver Bonvoy, Marriott's lowest elite status
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 of eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for occasional Marriott guests

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

2 - 17X points
more info

Intro Bonus

100,000 Points
details

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is an entry-level card that can help travelers dip their toes into the Bonvoy program. The card is best for those who stay at Marriotts, but not enough to take full advantage of Marriott’s higher-tier cards

Pros

  • Annual free night certificate (up to 35,000 points) each cardmember anniversary
  • Automatic Silver elite status with pathway to Gold
  • 15 elite night credits annually to help earn mid or high tier Bonvoy status

Cons

  • There are better Marriott cards if you want higher tier status or no annual fee
  • Doesn't make sense if you don't stay at Marriott properties
  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
Best for occasional Marriott guests

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating

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4/5
  • 17X Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™
  • 2X 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

100,000 Points

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is an entry-level card that can help travelers dip their toes into the Bonvoy program. The card is best for those who stay at Marriotts, but not enough to take full advantage of Marriott’s higher-tier cards

Pros

  • Annual free night certificate (up to 35,000 points) each cardmember anniversary
  • Automatic Silver elite status with pathway to Gold
  • 15 elite night credits annually to help earn mid or high tier Bonvoy status

Cons

  • There are better Marriott cards if you want higher tier status or no annual fee
  • Doesn't make sense if you don't stay at Marriott properties
  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

2.5/5
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1 - 14X points
more info

Intro Bonus

50,000 Points
details

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Bonvoy Bold card is the no-annual-fee card option in Marriott’s lineup and offers a way to start earning points and a jump start to elite status. However, it lags behind Marriott’s other card options when it comes to earning rates and perks.

Pros

  • 15 elite night credits annually to help earn mid or high tier Bonvoy status
  • Automatic Bonvoy Silver status
  • Baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and trip delay reimbursement coverage

Cons

  • Limited perks and meager earning rates
  • May not make sense if you don't stay at Marriotts
  • There are better Marriott cards if you want higher tier status or benefits
  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Pay no annual fee with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card from Chase®!
  • Earn up to 14X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).
  • 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
Best no-annual-fee card

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
2.5/5
  • 14X Earn up to 14X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).
  • 1X 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

50,000 Points

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Bonvoy Bold card is the no-annual-fee card option in Marriott’s lineup and offers a way to start earning points and a jump start to elite status. However, it lags behind Marriott’s other card options when it comes to earning rates and perks.

Pros

  • 15 elite night credits annually to help earn mid or high tier Bonvoy status
  • Automatic Bonvoy Silver status
  • Baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and trip delay reimbursement coverage

Cons

  • Limited perks and meager earning rates
  • May not make sense if you don't stay at Marriotts
  • There are better Marriott cards if you want higher tier status or benefits
  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Pay no annual fee with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card from Chase®!
  • Earn up to 14X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).
  • 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
Best for elite status across programs, including Marriott

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4.5/5
at American Express's secure site Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

Rewards

5 - 10X points
more info

Intro Bonus

75,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee.

Pros

  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,500, not including any points you may earn from the temporary 10x bonus categories.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. Enrollment required.
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The $550 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for elite status across programs, including Marriott

The Platinum Card® from American Express

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4.5/5
  • 10X Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

75,000 points

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee.

Pros

  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,500, not including any points you may earn from the temporary 10x bonus categories.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. Enrollment required.
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The $550 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

More on the best Marriott credit cards of 2021

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Card Best for Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus Earning Rate Annual Fee
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Best for welcome offer and elite status 75,000 points
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels.
  • 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
$450
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card Best for small businesses 75,000
  • 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
$125
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card Best for occasional Marriott guests 100,000 Points
  • Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
$95
The Platinum Card® from American Express Best for elite status across programs, including Marriott 75,000 points
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
$550

The Marriott credit cards range from a no-annual-fee card to one with a $450 annual fee, so it’s fair to say there really is a card (or two) for everyone who is loyal to Marriott.

We’ll walk you through how to choose the best one for your situation, and why choosing one based solely on the annual fee may not be the best strategy.

Best Marriott credit cards

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

This card is offering a welcome offer of 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.​ Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has the highest annual fee of any of the Marriott cards, but it can actually be the best deal of the bunch for travelers who enjoy staying with Marriott. The $450 annual fee (see rates and fees) quickly becomes much less painful if you use the card’s annual Marriott travel credit of up to $300 (each account year).

This credit is valid on room rates, as well as property charges such as dining and spa treatments. Using that credit each account year can take the pain of the annual fee effectively down to $150 in a hurry.

On top of that credit, you get an annual award at each anniversary valid for a free night of up to 50,000 Marriott points. This encompasses Marriott Category 6 hotels on standard and off-peak days, but also includes Marriott Category 7 properties on off-peak dates. This makes it much more useful than the 35k certificates that are awarded with the two mid-tier Marriott cards, and it opens up some more higher-end options such as the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin and even the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Autograph Collection and the Westin Maldives (on off-peak dates).

The Category 7 Westin Maldives. (Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy)
Westin Maldives (Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy)

Related: Best places to redeem a Marriott 50k certificate

The Bonvoy Brilliant card comes with Marriott Gold status (just like the Amex Platinum), but it also gives you the option to spend your way to valuable Marriott Platinum Elite status. This would require that you to charge $75,000 per year to the card, so it isn’t an easy task, but it is possible for some.

The Bonvoy Brilliant card also has a slight edge on the earning side over the other Marriott cards. While all three of the Marriott cards that charge annual fees award 6x on eligible Marriott charges, the Brilliant also has bonus categories of 3x at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with the airlines — although there are better credit card options for your dining and airfare purchases. Finally, you’ll earn 2x on all other eligible purchases.

Like all of the Marriott credit cards, this card awards 15 nights each year toward earning elite status with Marriott — a Marriott Bonvoy account can earn a max of 30 nights per year from credit card, 15 from a personal card and 15 from a small business card.

Last but not least, the Bonvoy Brilliant offers an up to $100 property credit (not valid on room rates) on select cash bookings of two nights or more at Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis hotels. Previous TPG contributor Ethan Steinberg has successfully used this credit at the St. Regis Washington D.C.

When you add these perks all together, the Bonvoy Brilliant can be the best Marriott card for travelers who stay at Marriott properties several times per year and place an increased value on the 50k certificate over the 35k certificate. Read the full card review for more details

APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

Right now, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card bonus is 100,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This sign-up bonus is worth $800 based on TPG’s valuations of 0.8 cents per point, making room for plenty of award booking options. 

Outside of the sign-up bonus, the card awards up to 17 Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and 2x elsewhere. Using TPG’s most recent valuations, that breaks down to a 1.6% return on non-bonused spending and 4.8% at Marriott properties.

The Bonvoy Boundless card also awards an up to 35,000-point award certificate at each account renewal. While this certificate isn’t as valuable as the up to 50,000-point version available with the Bonvoy Brilliant, it’s still extremely useful. You can use the 35k certificate at Category 5 Marriott hotels such as the Marriott St. Kitts Beach Club, Mira Moon Hong KongSheraton Sydney and beyond — all on standard or off-peak dates.

Related: Best places to redeem a Marriott 35k certificate

For occasional Marriott travelers, those who want to keep annual fees at a much lower level or anyone interested in taking advantage of this elevated welcome offer, the Bonvoy Boundless can be a great choice. Read the full card review for more details.

APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Stay slopeside at the Westin Snowmass with a Marriott 35k award. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Stay slopeside at the Westin Snowmass with a Marriott 35k award (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

If you are a small business owner, the Marriott Bonvoy Business card can be a great way to earn Marriott points. This card has a mid-tier annual fee ($125, see rates and fees) and an annual up to 35,000-point certificate at each anniversary — and you also have the ability to earn a second 35,000-point annual free night certificate after you spend $60,000 in a calendar year on the card.

If you’ve had success redeeming Marriott free night certificates for a good value in the past, the ability to earn a second free night can make the Bonvoy Business card much more appealing.

This card earns 6x at participating Marriott properties but also has better earning rates in some bonus categories: 4x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. All of these might be highly appealing to a small business owner, giving you a return of 3.2% based on TPG’s valuations. Plus, earn 2x on all other eligible purchases.

The welcome offer is currently 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made within the first three months of card membership.

Since this is an Amex card, you don’t have to deal with Chase 5/24 limitations, and you’ll have access to money-saving Amex Offers, which can completely offset your annual fee if you use them frequently. Read the full card review for more details.

APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

We get it — some people only want credit cards with no annual fees. The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card fits that bill, but be warned: you’ll get exactly what you pay for. This newer option in the Marriott credit card family is issued by Chase and is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, worth $400 based on TPG’s valuations.

While the Bonvoy Bold might be appealing because it doesn’t charge an annual fee, it also doesn’t offer any type of annual award night certificate, meaning you’ll miss out on a perk worth as much as several hundred dollars.

Related: Why I prefer Marriott Bonvoy premium cards over the no-annual-fee one

This card awards 3 points per dollar at participating Marriott hotels (vs. 6x on every other Bonvoy credit card), 2x on other travel purchases and 1x everywhere else (vs. 2x with other Bonvoy credit cards).

The bottom line with the Bonvoy Bold is that it doesn’t pack a strong enough punch for most serious Marriott travelers, especially given how easy it is to recoup the $95 annual fee on the Bonvoy Boundless. If you stay in Marriott hotels enough to be considering getting a Marriott credit card, you’ll likely come out ahead opting for a mid-tier card with better benefits instead. While this card may be the right match for some, pause and ask yourself whether this is really the best use of one of your valuable Chase 5/24 slots.

APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

If you just want some level of Marriott elite status but you don’t stay with Marriott enough to warrant opening a Marriott-branded credit card, getting an Amex Platinum can make a lot of sense.

With the Amex Platinum, you can activate Marriott Gold elite status simply as a perk of having the card. However, the card also gives you Hilton Gold status, access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, and a long list of other travel benefits that can make your trips more rewarding and more comfortable, regardless of where you travel.

Related: 14 things to do when you get an Amex Platinum

APPLY HERE: The Platinum Card® from American Express 

Who should get a Marriott credit card

If you stay at a Marriott property, even occasionally, it’s likely wise to have a Marriott credit card of some sort. Of course, you want to get as many Marriott points as possible as part of the card’s sign-up bonus, but the reasons to have a Marriott card go well beyond that.

The annual free-night certificates alone can make the math work on the $95 and $125 per year Marriott cards. It’s easy to get several hundred dollars in value from a 35,000-point Marriott certificate. Last year, I used mine at the Westin Snowmass during the ski season when rooms were selling for north of $500 per night, making the annual payment of a $95-$125 annual fee a steal. Sadly that’s now a higher category hotel, but the premise remains the same with hotels that remain a Category 5 property.

Once we all travel again, if you use the $300 annual Marriott credit, the math can even work on the $450-per-year Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card (see rates and fees), as it is easy to get at least $150 in value from a certificate valid for a free night of up to 50k points. So virtually any traveler can come out ahead by having a Marriott card in their wallet.

Use a 50k certificate at the JW Marriott Cancun. (Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)

Which Marriott credit card are you eligible for?

The best Marriott credit card for you might come down to which bonus you can get. Unfortunately, the answer to that is not that simple, with many Marriott card products dating back to legacy Starwood Preferred Guest cards that were available before the SPG/Marriott integration. While SPG cards are a thing of the past, several transitioned into current Marriott cards.

For the two Amex-issued Marriott cards, the rule is one welcome offer per card per lifetime, and while the Bonvoy cards feature a new design, they aren’t technically counted as new products from the old SPG days. That means you won’t be able to earn the 75,000-point bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card from Amex if you ever earned a welcome offer on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, which is no longer available.

With Chase, you have to deal with the infamous 5/24 rule, which says that in most cases, if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months across all issuers, you’ll be automatically rejected when applying for new Chase cards.

In addition to these rules that apply to nearly every Amex and Chase credit card, the terms and conditions of Chase’s entry-level Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card (previously known as the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card) say the following:

“The bonus is not available to you if you:

  1. Are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express);
  2. Are a current or previous cardmember of either Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card), and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or
  3. Applied and were approved for Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card) within the last 90 days.

To put that in English … according to the terms, you aren’t eligible for the sign-up bonus on the Chase-issued personal Marriott card if you have what used to be known as the SPG small business card issued by Amex. It’s quite restrictive. So you’ll have to clear several hurdles to make sure you’re eligible before applying for any of the Bonvoy credit cards.

The first step is to make sure you’re on the right side of issuer-specific rules (like 5/24), but then you still need to double-check the terms and conditions of each individual credit card and have a decent understanding of what you have in your wallet.

Here’s a quick refresher on how the old Amex and Chase cards converted to the new Bonvoy branding:

As indicated in the chart above, the Marriott Bonvoy Amex, previously known as the SPG Amex, is no longer available for new sign-ups. The same is true for the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business card.

Which card should I use to pay for Marriott stays?

I personally have multiple Marriott cards (for the annual award night certificates), so I fully understand wondering which one is best to use for Marriott stays. Outside of the Bonvoy Bold, with its lower 3 points per dollar earnings on eligible Marriott purchases, all the other Bonvoy cards offer an identical 6 points per dollar.

If you have the luxury of choice, it can make sense to frequently turn to the Bonvoy Business card to try to earn an additional 35,000-point award night certificate after you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year … if you are really a big spender.

TPG values Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, meaning that 6x earning is equivalent to a 4.8% return on Marriott charges on all the Marriott cards with an annual fee. That’s very respectable — but if you’re not set on earning Marriott points, you can potentially do much better with your overall return. 

The ever-popular Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel, including hotels. Based on TPG’s valuations, this comes out to a nice 6% return on travel spending.

Related: Best credit cards for hotels

If you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn 5 points per dollar (a 10% return) if you make prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel or Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. The downside is that these bookings may not earn you Marriott points or elite benefits, so you have to weigh that cost against the additional Membership Rewards points and property amenities you might otherwise receive.

At the end of the day, I typically charge Marriott purchases to a Marriott card, even though it isn’t the highest return based solely on point valuations. Marriott points are very valuable for the St. Regis-type, luxury points-fueled vacations we like to take from time to time, so I’ll take all the Marriott points I can get.

The St. Regis New York hotel. (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
St. Regis New York (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

What are the best Marriott credit cards?

The best Marriott cards depend very much on you. All have their own perks but essentially, your perfect card will be the one that helps you earn the most benefits for the least amount of personal spending. Compare each card before you rush to sign up and take into account whether or not you’re willing to pay an annual fee, how often you actually stay in Marriott properties and what your individual spending habits are.

As we have outlined, for instance, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is perfect if you’re a beginner to the hotel rewards game and the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is great for Marriott loyalists who are after more points.

There isn’t an overall “best card” – just the card that’s best for you.

Bottom line

There are four different Marriott credit cards currently available to apply for — and another non-Marriott card that could be a great option if you don’t want to commit to any one loyalty program.

These cards offer a wide variety of annual fees, point-earning abilities and built-in perks. But that’s good news, since it means there is likely a best Marriott card for every situation. Be sure to consider the earning rates, stacking of elite night credits, perks and annual fees when evaluating these cards.

RELATED GUIDES:

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.

Featured image by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon, Ethan Steinberg and Chris Dong.

Summer Hull aka Mommy Points, ran the Mommy Points site for families who want to travel more for less using miles and points for seven years and now heads up TPG Family when she isn't exploring the world with her own two girls.
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