Credit Card Review: Marriott Bonvoy Bold
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To The Point
Marriott just added a no-fee card option, but is it worth the Chase 5/24 slot?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
Chase recently 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, which is leaving many to wonder whether or not the tradeoff is worth it. Let’s dig into the details and take a look at the pros and cons of this new card.
Who Is This Card For?
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold is built for true beginner travelers. 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, but 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 like 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. 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.
Sign-Up Bonus and Eligibility
When you sign-up for the Bonvoy Bold, you’ll earn 50,000 Bonvoy points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months, which is worth $400 according to TPG valuations. That’s okay but definitely not the most competitive sign-up bonus out there. The 50,000-point bonus is enough to get you two nights at a Category 4 hotel at the standard award rate though, and is easier to hit for those with lower monthly budgets.
Chase’s 5/24 rule isn’t the only potential roadblock for new cardholders. Marriott co-branded 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, or 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.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold earns 3x points at participating Bonvoy hotels, half the rewards rate of the other Bonvoy credit cards. 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.
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 general travel purchases. However, you can get a decent though not fantastic return with the Bonvoy Bold when you use it on Bonvoy hotel purchases.
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. Soon, they’ll also be adding “Peak” and “Off Peak” seasons to their award chart, adjusting redemption rates based on the time of year.
A nice benefit to redeeming Marriott points for award night stays is that you’ll get the fifth night free. This gives you the opportunity to save 20 percent on 5-night stays.
You can also transfer your Marriott points to an impressive list of over 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.
In addition to the card’s earning rate, the 15 free elite nights that come with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold get you automatic Silver elite status. That won’t get you too far, other than the fact that you’ll earn 10 base points per dollar spent just by being a Bonvoy Rewards member (except at Element, Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites, where you’ll earn 5 base points per dollar) and 10% more points per stay with Silver status.
As far as other perks, this no annual fee card may not come with the same level of features as other Bonvoy cards, but you’ll still get a few basic benefits:
15 Elite Night Credits Annually — In addition to the 10% point bonus on stays, you’ll get priority late checkout, access a dedicated elite reservation line and more. It also 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 $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.
Which Cards Compete With the Bonvoy Bold?
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 3 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.
Competitors also include Bonvoy’s own other credit cards, which offer better rewards rates and additional perks. The additional value that comes with other Bonvoy cards often makes the annual fees worth it for a vast majority of travelers, and I would seriously consider choosing one of those over the Bold if you’re staying at a Bonvoy hotel more than one or two nights a year. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, for example, comes with a higher sign-up bonus, more competitive rewards rate and perks like a Free Night Award every account anniversary — all for only a $95 annual fee.
To be blunt, 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 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.
Featured image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Card, click here.