Highest offer yet worth up to 175,000 points: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review

Sep 23, 2021

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Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card overview

Even if you aren’t a Marriott loyalist, it may be worth seriously considering this card while it has an increased welcome offer of 125,000 points and a free night award up to 50,000 points — worth up to 175,000 points total — after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from 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.

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The Bonvoy Boundless card is currently offering an increased welcome bonus that’s worth up to 175,000 points and is in fact, the card’s best-ever offer. You’ll not only get 125,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, but you’ll also get a free night award that’s worth up to 50,000 points.

These are more than enough points to kick-start a great vacation. But the welcome offer 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 welcome offer of 125,000 points and a free night award up to 50,000 points — worth up to 175,000 points total — after spending $5,000 in the first three months from account opening.

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 of the Al Maha Resort by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

Although the Bonvoy Boundless’s highest-ever offer is enticing, 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 welcome offer 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.

Finally, this card can also be an excellent addition to your wallet if you’re looking to transfer Marriott points to valuable airline partners such as Korean Air, Alaska Airlines, and Japan Airlines.

Related: What credit score do you need to get the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card?

Welcome offer: Estimated $1,400 value

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Now, let’s consider the most exciting part of any new credit card: the welcome offer.

Right now, new applicants will earn 125,000 points and a free night award (up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 in the first three months from account opening. That’s the best-ever offer, as it’s more flexible than the previous promotion of three free award nights.

Not only is it worth 25,000 more points overall, but you also get the added flexibility of using the lump sum bonus of 125,000 points however you wish. 

So, based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, this bonus is worth up to $1,400 — up from the previously offered bonus worth up to $1,200.

Main benefits and perks

Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
Enjoy elite perks when staying at Marriott properties such as the Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

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.

View from the Sheraton Steamboat bookable with Marriott points (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

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). I managed to cover my annual fee and get more than $100 in excess value from the free night certificate in each case.

Related: Six great uses of Marriott 35,000-point free night certificates

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 complimentary Gold Elite status with Marriott, you should consider The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Business Platinum Card® from American Express or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (enrollment required).

15 elite night credits annually

Renaissance Chelsea
It may not take many stays at hotels like the Renaissance Chelsea to earn Platinum Elite status if you play your cards right. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

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.

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

Other perks

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

Related: Four ways to use expiring Marriott Bonvoy nights and perks during the pandemic (and what I decided)

How to earn points

JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa (Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)
Earn 6x points at Marriott properties such as the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card earns 6x on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program and 2x on all other purchases. Based on TPG’s valuations, this results in 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.

Related: 17 ways to earn lots of Marriott Bonvoy points

How to redeem points

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 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.

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 Boeing 747-8 is an incredible redemption opportunity. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

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.

Related: How to redeem points with the Marriott Bonvoy program

Which cards compete with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless?

The first lesson you learn when 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 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

TPG values this bonus at $1,200 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 3x on dining.

(Photo by Sara Wass/The Points Guy)

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 for use at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program), 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.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless vs. Bonvoy Brilliant: Which card is right for you?

Bottom line

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 an excellent 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 welcome offer is the best we’ve ever seen.

APPLY HERE for Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card.

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.

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.