Earn 3 free night awards, worth up to 150,000 points: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card overview
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card offers a solid return on eligible Marriott purchases (6 points per dollar) and everyday spending (2 points per dollar). It also awards an anniversary free-night certificate for a stay worth up to 35,000 points (certain hotels have resort fees). Even if you aren’t a Marriott loyalist, it may be worth seriously considering this card while it has an increased sign-up bonus of three free night awards — worth up to 50,000 points each, for a total value of 150,000 points — after spending $3,000 in the first three months from account opening. As part of this offer, you’ll also gain the ability to earn 10 points per dollar on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations within the first six months of account opening. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Marriott offers a diverse credit card portfolio issued by both Chase and American Express. However, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase is the only entry-level, mid-market personal Marriott Bonvoy card available to new applicants.
The Bonvoy Boundless card is currently offering an increased sign-up bonus of three free night awards (worth 50,000 points each, for a total value of 150,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first three months from account opening. To make the deal even sweeter, cardholders will earn 10 points per dollar on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations within the first six months of account opening.
These are more than enough points to kick-start a great vacation. But the sign-up bonus isn’t the only reason to consider the Bonvoy Boundless card — this card is also great for its ongoing benefits. For example, TPG’s Katie Genter added the Bonvoy Boundless card to her wallet in a push to earn Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status using the card’s 15 elite night credits. So, let’s take a closer look at whether or not the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless deserves a spot in your wallet.
Application link: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card available with an increased sign-up bonus of three free night awards (worth up to 150,000 points), plus earn 10x on up to $2,500 in purchases at grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations in the first six months of account opening.
Who is this card for?
Although the Bonvoy Boundless’ increased sign-up bonus with three free night awards is enticing, think through things carefully before applying. After all, Chase restricts access to the Bonvoy Boundless with its 5/24 rule. And, according to Chase’s 5/24 rule, the issuer won’t approve you for the card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards across all issuers in the last 24 months.
So, you aren’t just picking the Bonvoy Boundless card if you decide to apply. Instead, you’re potentially choosing the Bonvoy Boundless over another Chase card if you like to apply for multiple rewards cards per year. Therefore, you should have somewhat of a plan for how you’re going to use the card and its sign-up bonus before you apply.
If you’re a Bonvoy Platinum Elite or higher, this bonus can get you much more value, though. After all, as a high-level elite, your nights will come with perks such as suite upgrades and free breakfast.
Sign-up bonus: Estimated $1,200 value
Now, let’s consider the most exciting part of any new credit card: the sign-up bonus.
Right now, new applicants will earn three free night awards after spending $3,000 in the first three months from account opening. Each free night award has a redemption value of up to 50,000 points per night, so if you maximize each certificate, you’re looking at 150,000 points in value. In addition, you can book up to a standard Category 6 hotel or an off-peak Category 7 hotel with each free award night.
So, based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, this bonus is worth up to $1,200 — up from the previously offered sign-up bonus of 75,000 bonus points.
While the limited-time offer to earn 10x on up to $2,500 in combined purchases of grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations within the first six months of account opening isn’t included in our sign-up bonus valuation, this is a seriously awesome way to earn even more points beyond the three free night awards. If you maximize this spending cap, you’re looking at 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points — worth an additional $200 according to TPG’s valuations.
Unfortunately, some restrictions will stop many people from earning the Bonvoy Boundless’ sign-up bonus. The first is Chase’s 5/24 rule and the second is that Chase and Amex have cooperated to limit sign-up bonus eligibility across all the Bonvoy credit cards.
Main benefits and perks
The Bonvoy Boundless comes with a $95 annual fee, but it should be easy to get several hundred dollars of value out of the card’s perks. In fact, of all the travel credit cards I carry, it’s easiest for me to justify paying an annual fee on my Bonvoy cards, including the Bonvoy Boundless.
So, let’s take a closer look at the Bonvoy Boundless card perks.
Anniversary free-night award
Each year on account renewal, you’ll receive a free night certificate valid at hotels that cost up to 35,000 points a night.
This certificate includes almost any Category 1-5 hotel, although Category 5 hotels at peak pricing of 40,000 points per night won’t be eligible. Outside of the U.S., you will even find several luxury St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton hotels where you can use this certificate. And while you certainly can’t use this certificate everywhere, there are thousands of options at 35,000 points per night or less.
TPG’s valuations peg the value of 35,000 Marriott points at $280, nearly three times the $95 annual fee. But, it’s possible to get even more value if you’re selective about redeeming your free night. For example, the ski-out Sheraton Steamboat Villas can be booked for many nights during ski season with a 35k certificate, but paid nights can top $300+ per night or even higher, making this a tremendous use of a certificate.
However, even if you redeem your free night certificate for a lower value, you should have no trouble recouping your entire annual fee from this perk alone. For example, I’ve redeemed 35,000-point free night certificates for two nights at the W Atlanta Buckhead ($230 cash value per night) and three nights at the Westin Savannah ($255 per night). In each case, I managed to cover my annual fee and get more than $100 in excess value from the free night certificate.
Automatic Silver Elite status
Silver Elite status with Marriott won’t get you posh penthouse suites, but it’s better than nothing. In addition, silver Elite members will get a 10% points bonus, late checkout and free Wi-Fi.
The Bonvoy Boundless also offers a path to Gold Elite status by spending $35,000 on purchases each account year. However, you’ll usually be better off earning higher status organically via the Boundless’ 15 elite night credit as well as some stays booked directly with Marriott, as I’ll discuss in the next section. And, if you want a card that provides Gold Elite status with Marriott automatically, you should consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (enrollment required).
15 elite night credits annually
Many Bonvoy credit cards share this benefit. But, this perk can be immensely valuable if you’re aiming for mid or higher-tier status with Marriott Bonvoy.
You can get one set of elite night credits from a Marriott personal card and one more set of elite night credits from a Marriott business card. So, with the Bonvoy Boundless, you’d only need to stay 35 nights (instead of 50) to earn Platinum Elite status. And, if you have the Bonvoy Boundless and a Marriott business card like the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, you can get 30 elite night credits each year just from credit cards.
Together, the above benefits represent a few hundred dollars in value each year and easily outstrip the $95 annual fee. But, the card also offers a few other perks:
- Baggage delay insurance: If a passenger carrier delays your baggage for over six hours, Chase may reimburse you for essential purchases up to $100 a day for five days
- Lost luggage reimbursement: If a passenger carrier damages or loses your check or carry on luggage, Chase may reimburse you up to $3,000 per passenger
- Trip delay reimbursement: If you are delayed by more than 12 hours or required to stay overnight when traveling by common carrier, Chase may reimburse you for select otherwise unreimbursed expenses up to $500 per ticket
- Purchase protection: Chase covers most new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim (capped at $50,000 per account)
- No foreign transaction fees
How to earn points
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card earns 6x on eligible Marriott purchases and 2x on all other eligible purchases. Based on TPG’s valuations, this works out to a 4.8% return on Marriott purchases and 1.6% everywhere else.
On paper, you can do better using the Chase Sapphire Reserve for Marriott stays. After all, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar (for a 6% return based on TPG’s valuations) on all travel.
But, you have to consider the value you can get from your Marriott points. As I mentioned before, Platinum and Titanium Elites get a much better return on their award redemptions thanks to a great set of elite benefits. So, I pay for all my Marriott stays with a Bonvoy credit card to earn 6x.
How to redeem points
When it comes to maximizing your Marriott redemptions, there are a few strategies to keep in mind. First, you’ll want to take advantage of the fifth night free on award stays perk whenever possible. The fifth-night free benefit is an easy way to get up to a 20% discount and stretch your points.
I prefer to use my Marriott points for hotel stays, but Marriott also has 40+ airline transfer partners. So if you’re going to transfer Marriott points to an airline, you should use this opportunity to top up on some otherwise hard-to-earn mileage currencies.
Alaska Airlines, Korean Air and Japan Airlines are three fantastic examples of highly flexible and valuable miles that are hard to earn any other way. In fact, one of my favorite redemptions to date was transferring 195,000 Marriott points to 80,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles to book a first-class seat in the nose of the Korean Air’s Boeing 747-8.
Points transfer to most airlines at a 3:1 ratio with 5,000-mile bonuses for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. So, transferring 60,000 Marriott points to Alaska Airlines, for example, would net you 25,000 miles. However, note that most transfers take at least a few days. So, if award availability is scarce, the award you want to book may be gone by the time the transfer completes.
Which cards compete with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless?
The first lesson you learn when you start building a credit card strategy is how sacred your 5/24 slots with Chase are.
So, if you don’t have one already, you should strongly consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card first. You’ll pay the same $95 annual fee as the Bonvoy Boundless and you’ll get a valuable sign-up bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
TPG values this bonus at $2,000 thanks to its immense flexibility; you can transfer those points to any of Chase’s three hotels and 10 airline transfer partners, including Marriott Bonvoy. And, you’ll continue to rack up points at a fast clip with 2x on travel and dining.
Even if you decide to add a Marriott Bonvoy card to your wallet, the Boundless Card might not always be the best option. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card carries a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees), but it can quickly pay for itself. After all, you’ll get an annual Marriott property statement credit of up to $300 (each card membership year), which can be used toward room rates, effectively dropping your out-of-pocket cost to $150.
Plus, the anniversary free night with the Brilliant card is valid at hotels costing up to 50,000 points a night, literally one-upping the level of luxury you can experience. Likewise, instead of Silver Elite status, you get complimentary Gold Elite status and the chance to upgrade to Platinum by spending $75,000 a year. Right now, with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card, you can earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is in an interesting spot. One of two entry-level consumer credit cards in the Bonvoy program (the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is the other) is the logical first choice for many Marriott travelers. But strict bonus restrictions and fierce competition from other Chase cards mean you should think hard before applying.
Still, if you’ve already built out your Chase trifecta and confirmed that you are eligible for this bonus, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is a great addition to a wallet. I have no trouble getting $250-$300 of value out of my anniversary free night certificate and if I can get that sort of return on a $95 investment each year, it’s an easy win.
Plus, the current sign-up bonus of three free night awards (worth up to 150,000 total points) after spending $3,000 in the first three months is pretty great, too.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, click here.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Chris Dong.
Featured image by John Gribben for The Points Guy.
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