Here’s why you need both a personal and business Marriott Bonvoy credit card
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
One of the best perks of the Marriott Bonvoy family of credit cards is the complimentary elite night credits you receive each year — ranging from 15 to 25 nights, depending on which card you have. For many years, this perk was limited to one set of credits per Bonvoy account, no matter how many credit cards you had. That changed in 2020, with Marriott enabling its members to earn up to 30 nights with both a small-business and a personal card.
In September 2022, this perk gained even more value, as cardholders can now earn up to 40 elite night credits annually through credit cards. That's quite the head start for elite status each year.
If you’re still trying to figure out how best to take advantage of this policy, you’re not alone. Today we’ll review all the reasons why you can get more value out of having both a personal and small-business Marriott card.
Get 80% of the way to Platinum status and choice benefits
Since you can stack elite night credits, it’s definitely worthwhile to hold both a personal and business Marriott card if you’re eligible. Most Marriott credit card comes with 15 elite nights annually – including the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card. However, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card offers 25 elite night credits per year.
You may be wondering why this is relevant when several of the Marriott cards, along with The Platinum Card® from American Express, also offer Gold Elite status or the ability to earn higher status based on spending (enrollment is required). The big difference is that this automatic status doesn’t grant you the corresponding number of elite nights — so you still need to reach the normal qualification thresholds if you want to enjoy the program's Choice Benefits or hit even higher tiers of status.
If you frequently stay at Marriott properties, you can stack these 15-25 elite night credits on top of your own travel to upgrade to the next elite tier faster.
When you stack credits between a personal and business card — like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card — you’ll have 30 elite night credits at the beginning of each year. Reaching Platinum Elite status requires 50 nights per year, meaning you're 60% of the way there already. You would need to stay just 20 additional nights (or earn the nights through credit card spending on the Boundless card) to reach the next tier.
For those with the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, you can receive complimentary Platinum Elite status each year. This will entitle you to benefits like room upgrades and free breakfast. However, you will not have the necessary stay credits (50) to earn the annual choice benefit associated with Platinum status. This benefit allows you to choose from one of the following:
- Five elite night credits.
- Five Suite Night Awards.
- 40% off a mattress.
- $100 charity donation.
- Gifting Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status to someone.
That said, the 25 elite night credits you earn on the Bonvoy Brilliant can be stacked with the 15 elite nights offered by the Bonvoy Business card, allowing cardholders to start each year with 40 elite night credits — like TPG director of content Nick Ewen, who's yet to set foot in a Marriott property in 2023.
That's 80% of what you need to earn your first Choice Benefit selection (at 50 nights). It's also more than halfway to the 75 nights required for Titanium Elite status. Reaching Titanium unlocks another Choice Benefit along with added perks like the ability to be upgraded to standard suites at Ritz-Carlton properties.
Annual award nights
But why stop at two Marriott cards?
I’ve said it before, but I’ll gladly take as many Marriott credit cards as I can get my hands on. This is because I get incredible value out of the anniversary award night certificates. All the mid-tier Marriott credit cards offer an anniversary reward night worth up to 35,000 points. However, the premium Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card — with its $650 annual fee (see rates and fees) — offers an annual award night worth up to 85,000 points per night.
TPG values Marriott points at 0.84 cents each, meaning 35,000 points are worth $294 — nearly triple the annual fee on those cards.
Still, depending on how you travel, you might be able to get an even higher return on these award nights. I’ve used mine at the Sheraton Grand Hyde Park in Sydney, where we were upgraded to a massive terrace suite during peak travel season, and at The St. Regis Beijing for a room that would have cost well over $300 per night.
With Marriott's move to dynamic pricing, the ability to use these awards is less predictable than in the past. However, it's still possible to redeem these awards for more than the cost of your credit card's annual fee, meaning this one benefit alone can justify keeping your Marriott credit cards year after year.
There are two exceptions here. The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card from Chase do not offer free night awards automatically each year. On both cards, you need to make $15,000 in purchases each year, then you will receive a free night award worth up to 50,000 points.
The information for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Aside from annual award nights and elite night credits, having a personal and business Marriott card can help you earn more points across several spending categories. All four Marriott cards earn 2 points per dollar on everyday spending and 6 points per dollar at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program (with the exception of the no-annual-fee Bonvoy Bold; see details below).
But it’s the extra bonus categories, most of which do not overlap, that can help you maximize your earnings:
- Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card: Earn 4 points per dollar on purchases at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping purchases.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express Card: Earn 4 points per dollar on the first $15,000 of combined purchases at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets each year (then 2 points per dollar).
- Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card: Earn 4 points per dollar on the first $15,000 in combined purchases on grocery stores and dining each year (then 2 points per dollar).
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card: Earn 3 points per dollar on dining at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 3 points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on gas stations, grocery stores and dining.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 2 points per dollar spent on other travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
So, if you’re a big Marriott fan and want to focus your earning strategy solely on Bonvoy points, you can have multiple cards and enjoy earning rates across several categories.
Marriott has made it much easier to qualify for elite status by allowing customers who hold both a personal and business credit card to earn two sets of elite night credits each year. In fact, many TPG staffers kicked of 2023 with 40 elite night credits. This, plus the annual award night certificates on these credit cards, makes it a no-brainer to hold both a personal and business card in your wallet.
Despite some ups and downs over the years, I’m still convinced that there’s plenty of value to be had in the Marriott Bonvoy program if you know where to look. For me, a big part of that value comes from the four different Marriott credit cards I keep in my wallet.
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express Card
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, please click here.
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Chris Dong, Christina Ly and Ryan Smith.