A jump-start to elite status: Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card review
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Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card overview
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is the entry-level option into the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. This no-annual-fee card offers a way to start earning Marriott Bonvoy points and gives cardholders a jump-start to earning elite status. However, it has a very tough time competing with Marriott’s other cards when it comes to earning rates and ongoing perks such as free night certificates. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is a no-annual-fee, entry-level option in the Marriott Bonvoy family. It’s no secret that you get what you pay for when it comes to credit cards. Consequently, the Bonvoy Bold sacrifices some earning potential and popular benefits to compensate for the lack of an annual fee.
But right now, the Bonvoy Bold is offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. TPG values this offer at $480, which is quite valuable for a no-annual-fee card.
Let’s dig into the details and take a look at the pros and cons of the Bonvoy Bold.
Who is this card for?
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold is built for beginner travelers who are loyal to the Marriott brand. The card doesn’t come with an annual fee and, therefore, doesn’t come with many of the valuable perks other Marriott Bonvoy cards offer. However, it can act as training wheels for someone just getting into the travel game who wants to reap the benefits of Marriott Silver Elite status when they stay at Bonvoy hotels.
Theoretically, travelers who already own premium cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, could also use the card as a way to supplement their points strategy without adding another annual fee to the mix. In most cases, though, the perks you’ll get with other Bonvoy cards more than justify the annual fee — even if you already have cards with high fees in your wallet. For instance, the free night award that you’ll get with other Bonvoy-branded cards more than makes up for the $95 per year you’ll pay for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card (with a free night valued up to 35,000 points) — and that’s before you factor in the card’s other benefits.
Keep in mind that the Chase-issued Bonvoy Bold is also beholden to the 5/24 rule, so those who have opened five or more cards in the past two years will most likely be ineligible for the card. Equally important, opening this card will take up one of your valuable 5/24 slots with Chase — so think very carefully about whether this is the best value for you before applying.
New cardholders will earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, which is worth $480, according to TPG valuations.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to spend $1,000 to lock in this sign-up bonus, which breaks down to a little over $333 in spending per month. If you’re unable to hit this minimum, you might want to apply for another card with a lower requirement that’s more realistic with your spending habits.
Chase’s 5/24 rule isn’t the only potential roadblock for new cardholders. Marriott cobranded cards have eligibility requirements that are notoriously confusing to keep straight, and the Bonvoy Bold is no exception. The Bonvoy Bold isn’t available to current cardholders of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, along with previous Boundless or Bold cardholders who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. Additionally, the bonus isn’t available if:
- You currently have or have held the Marriott Bonvoy Card from American Express (which was originally the now-discontinued Starwood Preferred Guest personal card) within the last 30 days.
- You currently have or have held the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months.
- You were approved for a Marriott Bonvoy Business or Bonvoy Brilliant within the last 90 days.
Main perks and benefits
In addition to the card’s earning rate, the 15 free elite nights that come with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold give you automatic Silver Elite status. That comes with earning a 10% point bonus, priority late checkout, free in-room Wi-Fi, mobile check-in and an ultimate reservation guarantee.
- 15 elite night credits annually — It gives you a head start each year on earning a higher level of elite status.
- Baggage delay insurance — You can get reimbursed up to $100 per passenger for up to five days for essential purchases made because of a baggage delay over six hours.
- Lost luggage reimbursement — You’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger if you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier.
- Trip delay reimbursement — If your flight is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you’ll be covered up to $500 per ticket for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and hotel costs.
- Purchase protection — This covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft (up to $500 per claim and $30,000 per account).
- Visa Concierge — Visa Signature Concierge Service is available 24 hours a day to help you book entertainment tickets, make dinner reservations and more.
It’s rare to find no-annual-fee credit cards that offer baggage and trip delay coverage, making the Marriott Bonvoy Bold attractive for those who use it to pay for travel.
Earning Bonvoy points
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold earns 3x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. You’ll also earn 2x points on general travel purchases and 1x points on everything else. Chase defines travel very broadly, so you’ll earn those 2x points on travel purchases ranging from airlines and hotels to transit and parking.
Keep in mind that the 3x you earn on Marriott hotel stays is in addition to the points you earn through the Bonvoy program itself. Between the 10 base points you earn and the extra 10% you earn from Silver Elite status, you’re earning up 14x points total on eligible Bonvoy hotel stays with the Bonvoy Bold card.
It’s worth mentioning that these earning rates don’t compare favorably to any of the other Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, all of which offer 2x points on everyday spending and 6x points at Marriott hotels (in addition to a few other bonus categories), or twice as much as the Bonvoy Bold. If you have a general travel credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you’ll be better off using it for broader travel purchases.
Redeeming Bonvoy points
As with all Bonvoy credit cards, you’ll usually get the most value from your points when you use them for award night stays at eligible Bonvoy hotels or by transferring them to Marriott’s airline partners. Marriott’s hotels are split into eight award tiers, with nightly redemption rates running as low as 7,500 at Category 1 hotels and as high as 100,000 at Category 8 hotels. There are also “Peak” and “Off Peak” seasons to Marriott’s award charts that adjust redemption rates based on “market conditions” on a monthly basis.
A nice benefit to redeeming Marriott points for award night stays is that you’ll get the fifth night free at eligible properties. This gives you the opportunity to save 20% on five-night stays.
Beginners who may not have massive points balances for redemptions can also take advantage of Marriott’s Cash + Points redemption options, where you can use points to pay for part of your hotel stay cost and use cash for the rest. This works in two ways.
If booking a multi-night stay, you can customize which nights you pay for with points versus which you pay for with cash. For example, let’s say you want to book a five-night stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs, California, but only have the points for one night (it’s a Category 7 property). When booking your stay on Marriott’s website, you can designate which nights you pay for with points and which you pay for with cash. Cash prices might fluctuate per night, and choosing which nights you use points and which you pay with cash can help you maximize redemptions.
The other option is to use Marriott’s Cash + Points award chart, which operates separately from the Cash + Points customization process. Marriott allows you to book an individual award night at a fraction of the typical points price, and you’ll pay the rest of the rate in cash. This option is essentially you buying the remaining necessary points to book a certain redemption. If you only have enough points to cover part of a redemption, this is a solid option to help you bridge the gap for a redemption.
You can also transfer your Marriott points to an impressive list of more than 40 airline partners at a 3:1 ratio. This isn’t always the best redemption option, but it is an opportunity to top off miles balances with airline programs that have no other transfer partners, such as Asiana Club and Korean Air SkyPass.
Which cards compete with the Bonvoy Bold?
The Bold’s fiercest competition comes from within the Bonvoy credit card lineup — the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card. For a $95 annual fee, you’ll get double the rewards rate on Bonvoy purchases and additional perks such as a free night award every account anniversary. The additional value that comes with the Boundless makes the annual fee worth it for an overwhelming majority of travelers, making it a potential option over the Bold if you’re staying at Bonvoy hotels more than one or two nights a year.
For those who are adamant about avoiding an annual fee, the Bold also has competition with other no-annual-fee hotel credit cards, such as the Hilton Honors American Express Card (see rates and fees), which offers an a welcome bonus of 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months. (worth up to $780). This card also comes with a solid rewards structure for a no-annual-fee card and automatic Hilton Honors Silver elite status (with a pathway to Gold). Enrollment required for select benefits.
If you’re not particularly loyal to Marriott, you may want to check out other no-annual-fee card options that offer much more flexibility with your rewards.
Most people are going to get more value out of other card options, especially when you look at the current lineup of Marriott Bonvoy cards available. The rewards rates and added perks more than make up for the annual fees associated with those cards. However, true beginners (and maybe those who are absolutely against adding another annual fee to their wallet) could find solid value with the Bonvoy Bold. Just make sure that this is the best option for your situation before using up one of your valuable Chase 5/24 slots.
Official application link: Apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Bold and get 60,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months
Featured photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Card, click here.
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