Is the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy worth the annual fee?
The credit cards world scratched its collective head when Marriott Bonvoy launched its latest cards with an annual fee we'd never seen before.
While most credit cards fall into the "basic" card camp (with annual fees under $100) or the "luxury" card camp (annual fees of $400-plus), the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card launched in September 2022 with an annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees). But what do you get for this fee? Is the card sufficiently positioned above those entry-level credit cards to justify an extra $150? And what does it lack that's included on cards with $400 or more in annual fees?
Let's take a look at what you get for the $250 annual fee on the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Bevy to see if the annual fee is worth it.
New applicants can earn 85,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $4,000 in purchases on their new card in the first three months of card membership. This bonus is worth $714 according to TPG's latest valuations.
Great locations for using Marriott Bonvoy points include award stays at places like The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos, The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort and The West Hollywood Edition. Those who enjoy skiing or snowboarding might enjoy properties like The St. Regis Aspen Resort, The St. Regis Deer Valley or The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.
Marriott removed its award charts in March 2022 in favor of a dynamic pricing system but is keeping 97% of hotels within their previous off-peak-to-peak pricing bands through the end of 2022. This means that it can be nearly impossible to know exactly how many points you'll need for a hotel until you sit down and try to make a booking.
If you've had Marriott credit cards from Chase or American Express in the past, there are restrictions that will limit your ability to collect a new-member bonus. Fortunately, there’s a pop-up that will tell you if you are not eligible for the bonus when you apply before Amex runs your credit — and our chart can help clarify things as well.
Elite status and related perks
Cardmembers receive automatic Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy. TPG values Gold Elite status at $800 per year. At this level, you can expect benefits like upgrades to preferred rooms (but not suites), late checkout and a welcome gift of bonus points at check-in.
Cardholders also receive 15 elite night credits in their Marriott Bonvoy account each year. These are what you need to reach higher levels of status and they can be stacked if you also hold a business credit card from Marriott. For instance, if you hold the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, this card will give you another 15 elite night credits — meaning you start the year with 30 elite night credits automatically.
Related: Here’s why you need both a personal and business Marriott Bonvoy credit card
To earn Platinum Elite status — where benefits like suite upgrades and free breakfast kick in — you need 50 nights per year with Marriott Bonvoy, and holding these two credit cards would put you more than halfway there.
However, unlike many hotel credit cards that you're used to, there's no path to achieving elite status by spending lots of money on your Marriott Bonvoy Bevy card each year. You can't spend your way to Platinum Elite status, no matter how many purchases you make.
Do note that you get automatic Platinum Elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, but that card comes with a hefty $650 annual fee (see rates and fees).
1,000 bonus points per stay
Cardmembers can receive 1,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points for each paid stay at a hotel or resort that participates in Marriott Bonvoy. TPG values Marriott points at 0.84 cents apiece, meaning 1,000 points are worth $8.40. The bonus points are not available on stays where you redeem points or free night awards.
Annual free night award
Most hotel credit cards offer a free night automatically on your account anniversary. Unfortunately, you have to spend to earn a free night award on the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Bevy card.
Cardmembers who spend $15,000 or more on their cards within a calendar year can receive a free night award worth up to 50,000 points. You can redeem these awards at properties like the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, St. Regis Langkawi in Malaysia, The Ritz-Carlton, Bali and the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort in Hawaii.
Related: 13 ways to redeem the Marriott 50K free night award
That said, due to the dynamic pricing mentioned earlier, you’ll want to do a calendar search for flexible dates in order to find nights that cost 50,000 points or less. It can be especially difficult to use your free night awards on or near holidays since award prices on those dates tend to be higher as well. However, if you want to use your free night award at a pricier hotel, you can add up to 15,000 points for more redemption options.
Earning points on the Bevy card is similar to what you'll see on other Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. Cardmembers earn 6 points per dollar at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 4 points per dollar on the first $15,000 per year in combined purchases at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (then 2 points per dollar) and 2 points per dollar on other purchases.
Bevy cardholders also can take advantage of several travel protections to help when things go wrong during a trip.
Based on TPG’s valuations, that’s essentially a return of 5.04% on Marriott purchases, 3.36% at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 1.68% on everyday spending. Those rates aren’t jaw-dropping but aren't bad for a cobranded card.
Cardmembers also gain access to Amex Offers, which can provide targeted discounts or bonus points on eligible purchases.
If you've read other articles we've written on whether annual fees are worth paying, you'll notice that there are typically more benefits to highlight on most credit cards. That's especially true for cards with an annual fee of $250.
However, the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Bevy offers mid-tier status in a worldwide hotel program and 1,000 bonus points for each paid stay. There are also travel protections available and the ability to earn a free night award through spending. Noticeably lacking from the list of benefits, however, are perks like lounge access and an automatic free night on your account anniversary each year.
If you spend many nights at Marriott Bonvoy properties each year, you may sufficiently enjoy the perks that come with Gold Elite status and find that this makes the card's $250 annual fee worth it. Conversely, if you're spending that many nights at a Marriott hotel each year, you may qualify for Gold Elite status anyway and not need this card to make it happen. In this case, it could be hard to justify keeping the card after you've used the points from the welcome bonus available in the first year.
Whether the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Bevy's annual fee is worth it depends on each person's situation, but you could also unlock Gold status with the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business card for just $125 (see rates and fees) — and that card comes with a free night award automatically each year.
Similarly, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase comes with a free night award (without needing to spend anything) and automatic Silver Elite status for a $95 annual fee.
Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express Card with a welcome bonus of 85,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership.
Related: Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Amex credit card review
For rates and fees of the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Bevy, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business card, click here.