Credit card review: Marriott Bonvoy Bold
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Marriott Bonvoy bold Card Overview
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is the entry-level card into the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. This no-fee card option offers a way to start earning Marriott Bonvoy points and gives cardholders a jumpstart to earning elite status, making it a great starter card for beginners or casual travelers. However, more frequent travelers should look at Marriott’s other credit card options. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
In 2019, Chase launched the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card, a no-annual-fee addition to the Marriott Bonvoy line-up. The card sacrifices some earning potential and popular benefits to compensate for the lack of an annual fee. But with a new limited-time offer, this card has become more valuable than ever. 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 with loyalty to the 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 have 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 — 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.
Related reading: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?
For a limited time, new cardholders will earn 50,000 Bonvoy points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months, which is worth $400, according to TPG valuations. While that may not be the most valuable bonus out there, keep in mind that the card doesn’t come with an annual fee. The 50,000-point bonus is also easier to hit for those with lower monthly budgets and is enough to get you two nights at a Category 4 hotel at the standard award rate.
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 or the (now discontinued) Marriott Bonvoy Premier Credit Card, along with previous Boundless and Premier 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 (which is the old Starwood Preferred Guest Business card) or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (the old SPG Luxury card), and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months,
- Or you were approved for a Marriott Bonvoy Business or Bonvoy Brilliant within the last 90 days.
Related reading: Increased Marriott Bonvoy offers: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points
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 a jump to automatic Silver elite status. That comes with earning a 10% point bonus, a late check-out, free in-room Wi-Fi, access to an elite member reservation line, mobile check-in and no blackout dates.
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 more than 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 $50,000 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, which makes the Marriott Bonvoy Bold attractive for those who use it to pay for travel.
Related reading: What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth in 2020?
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 14x on eligible Bonvoy hotel stays with the Bonvoy Bold card.
TPG values Marriott Bonvoy points at .8 cents each, which means you’ll get a 11.2% return on Bonvoy hotel stays and a 1.6% return on general travel purchases. If you have a general travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you’ll be better off using it for your broader travel purchases. But on hotel stays, this card packs a decent punch for a no-annual-fee card.
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 85,000 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 percent 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 with cash.
For example, let’s say you want to book a five-night stay at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach, but only have the points for two nights (it’s a Category 7 property, on the higher end of Marriott’s award chart). 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 nights 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 a terrific 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.
Related reading: Maximizing redemptions with the Marriott Bonvoy program
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 sign-up bonus value, 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 fees worth it for a vast 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.
Related reading: A review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card
For those who are adamant about avoiding an annual fee, the Bold also has competition with other no-fee hotel credit cards. Both Hilton and Wyndham offer card options with no annual fee. The Hilton Honors Card from American Express offers a 75,000-point welcome bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months (worth $450), a solid rewards structure for a no annual fee card (see rates & fees) and automatic Hilton Honors Silver elite status (with a pathway to Gold).
The Wyndham Rewards Visa Card offers an easy-to-hit 15,000-point welcome bonus after making your first purchase or balance transfer (worth $165) and a rewards structure that includes 3x points on Wyndham purchases and 2x points on eligible gas, utility and grocery store purchases.
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 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in three months
Featured image by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Card, click here.