Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review: Earn an elevated 100,000-point bonus

Jul 24, 2020

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Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Overview

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is a great choice for Marriott loyalists thanks to a limited time elevated 100,000 point welcome offer. It offers a solid return on eligible Marriott purchases (6x points) and everyday spending (2x) points, but the best feature of this card by far is the anniversary free-night certificate worth up to 35,000 points and potentially several hundred dollars. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with a new sign-up bonus offer.

After acquiring SPG and launching the new Bonvoy loyalty program, Marriott continues to offer a diverse credit card portfolio issued by both Chase and Amex. New cards were launched while other old favorites were closed to new applicants, leaving the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase as the only entry-level, mid-market personal card still available.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
The Bonvoy Boundless is a solid mid-level Marriott card. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Marriott has a number of personal credit cards (and a business credit card) issued by Chase and American Express. For the most part, the cards share a number of similarities. However, I’ll gladly open as many Bonvoy credit cards as I can get my hands on, thanks to the incredibly valuable anniversary free-night certificates they offer.

The up to 35,000-point free night on the Bonvoy Boundless is easily enough to recoup the annual fee. For a limited time the card is also offering an elevated 100,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Related reading: Does it make sense to hold multiple Marriott Bonvoy credit cards?

However, the Bonvoy credit card portfolio has eligibility restrictions that will prevent many would-be cardholders from successfully applying. Let’s take a look at whether or not the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless deserves a spot in your wallet.

In This Post

Who is this card for?

Al Maha resort in Dubai. Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy
Having Marriott elite status can help you get an even higher return on your award stays. Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy

Although the 100,000-point welcome bonus on the Bonvoy Boundless is enticing, it also comes at a substantial cost. This card is restricted by Chase’s 5/24 rule — which means you won’t be approved for the card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards (across all issuers) in the last 24 months. This means you aren’t just picking the Bonvoy Boundless card; you’re potentially choosing it over another Chase card. So you should have a plan for how you’re going to use the 100,000 points before you apply if you’re near the 5/24 rule.

If you’re a Bonvoy Platinum or Titanium Elite, this bonus will get you much more value, as your stays will come with elite benefits such as suite upgrades and free breakfast. This card can also be a great choice if you plan to use the points for a valuable airline transfer to Korean Air, Alaska Airlines or Japan Airlines.

Related reading: When does it make sense to transfer Marriott points to airlines?

A 100,000-point Sign-up bonus

Let’s start with the most exciting part of any new credit card — the sign-up bonus. Right now, new applicants can earn 100,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. TPG values Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, meaning this bonus is worth $800.

Including the points you earn from the minimum spending, you’ll walk away with at least 106,000 total points. For 106,000 points you have many interesting redemptions, including three nights at a Category 5 hotel at standard pricing. I think Category 5 is where you’ll find the most value in the new Bonvoy program, and it’s worth studying your options for those hotels to help you redeem your annual free-night certificate (more on that later).

Unfortunately, there are restrictions that will stop many people from applying for this card. 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, so even if you are under 5/24, you might not be allowed to use one of your slots for the Bonvoy Boundless. Make sure to check our full guide to Marriott card eligibility before applying.

Related reading: Am I eligible for a new Marriott Bonvoy card? This chart tells you yes or no

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 the Bonvoy cards, including the Bonvoy Boundless.

Anniversary free-night award — Each year on account renewal, you’ll receive a freevnight certificate valid at hotels that cost up to 35,000 points a night. This includes almost any Category 1-5 hotel, although Category 5 hotels at peak pricing won’t be eligible. You can find a number of luxury St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton hotels where you can use this certificate and you’ll also find incredible flexibility in big cities, such as Chicago, that offer more than a dozen 35,000-point hotel choices. Check out a few of our favorite options here. TPG values 35,000 points at $280, nearly 3x your annual fee, but it’s possible to get much more value if you’re selective about redeeming your free night.

The W Buckhead Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of hotel)
The W Buckhead Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of hotel)

Even if you redeem your free night certificates for a lower value, you should have no trouble recouping your entire annual fee from this perk alone. This year I’ve redeemd 35,000 point free night certificates for two nights at the W Atlanta Buckhead ($230 cash value) and 3 nights at the Westin Savannah ($255). 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 status with Marriott won’t get you posh penthouse suites, but it’s better than nothing. Silver Elite members will get a 10% points bonus, late checkout and access to an elite reservation line. You can see the full breakdown of Marriott’s elite status tiers here.

15 elite night credits annually — This benefit is shared by all Bonvoy credit cards but it’s limited to one set of elite credits from any Marriott personal credit card and one more set of credits from any Marriott business card. For those who have their sights set higher than Silver, this perk can be immensely valuable, as it lowers the qualification threshold for Marriott Platinum status by 30%, from 50 nights a year to 35. If you also hold a card such as the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card you can get 30 elite night credits a year just from credit cards, meaning you only need 20 nights on the road to unlock Platinum status.

Together, these benefits represent a few hundred dollars in value each year and easily outstrip the $95 annual fee.

Related reading: 11 best uses of Marriott 35,000-point certificates for family vacations

Earning

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card earns 6x points on eligible Marriott purchases, as do all the other Bonvoy hotel credit cards (including the premium Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card). It earns 2x points on all other eligible purchases, making it a decent option for everyday spending. Terms apply.

Based on TPG’s valuations, this works out to a 4.8% return on Marriott purchases and 1.6% everywhere else. On paper it would seem like you can do better using a Chase Sapphire Reserve for your hotel stays (and earning 3x Ultimate Rewards points or a 6% return), but you have to consider the value you can actually 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 generous set of elite benefits, which is why I continue to pay for all my Marriott stays with a Bonvoy credit card.

Related reading: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Chase is running a limited time promotion on its Marriott credit cards. Now through Sept. 15, you can earn 10x points per dollar on your first $3,500 spent on restaurants and gas, including food delivery services such as DoorDash and Grubhub. If you max out this promotion you’d end up with an additional 35,000 Marriott points, which will go a long way towards helping you plan your next getaway.

Redeeming

Use your points at stunning category 5 properties like the Mira Moon in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of the hotel
Use your points at stunning category 5 properties like the Mira Moon in Hong Kong. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy)

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 “Stay for 5, pay for 4” perk for award stays whenever possible. This is an easy way to get up to a 20% discount and stretch your points further. If you’re staying at Category 1 hotels and leveraging this benefit, you could even turn your Bonvoy Boundless sign-up bonus into 17 standard award nights that way. Or you could find a Category 4 hotel such as the W Bangkok and get exactly five standard award nights (25,000 points a night plus the fifth night free).

I prefer to use my Marriott points for hotel stays, but Marriott also has 40+ airline transfer partners. Points transfer to most airlines at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. Transferring 60,000 Marriott points to Alaska Airlines, for example, would net you 25,000 miles.

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 JAL 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 carrier’s 747-8.

Related reading: Analyzing Marriott’s 2020 award category changes

Korean first class is now harder to book with points and miles after being removed as a Chase transfer partner. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy)
Transferring Marriott points to Korean Air to book a first-class award on the carrier’s 747-8 is an incredible redemption opportunity.. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy)

Which cards compete with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless?

(Photo by Riley Arthur for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Riley Arthur for The Points Guy)

The first lesson you learn when you start building a credit card strategy is how sacred your 5/24 slots with Chase are. If you don’t have one already, you should strongly consider opting for a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card first. You’ll pay the same $95 annual fee as the Bonvoy Boundless and you’ll get a valuable welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. TPG values this bonus at $1,600 thanks to its immense flexibility; you can transfer those points to any of Chase’s hotel and airline transfer partners, including Marriott Bonvoy. You’ll continue to rack up points at a fast clip with 2x points on travel and dining and receive trip delay and cancellation insurance, primary rental car insurance and baggage loss and delay insurance.

Related reading: The best ways to use your 5/24 slots

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Even if you settle on a Bonvoy card as the next addition to your wallet, the Boundless might not be the best option. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card carries a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees), but it can easily pay for itself over time. First, you’ll get an annual Marriott property credit of up to $300, which can be used toward room rates, effectively dropping your out-of-pocket cost to $150.

Your 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. Instead of Silver status you get complimentary Marriott Gold status (which comes with a 25% points bonus, room upgrades and a welcome amenity) and the chance to upgrade to Platinum by spending $75,000 a year.

Bottom line

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is in a bind. As one of two entry-level consumer credit cards in the Bonvoy program (the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is the other), it’s 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, this card is a great addition. 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.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, click here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.