12 dream trips I'd take with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless sign-up bonus
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
The new sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is genuinely remarkable. Usually, I prefer a points or miles sign-up bonus instead of free nights. After all, points allow you to decide whether you want to redeem for a night or two at a Marriott luxury hotel or many nights at a low-category Marriott property.
I'd surely take the Boundless Card's current sign-up bonus of five up to 50,000-point free night awards over the previous 100,000-point bonus. But, I was approved for the Boundless Card shortly before this new bonus offer launched. So, today I thought it would be fun to dream about how I'd use the five 50,000-point free night awards if I'd gotten that bonus.
TPG already has a list of 13 ways to use Marriott 50,000-point free nights as well as a family-specific list. However, these lists focus on the anniversary free night offered by the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (no longer open for new applications). And, frankly, my tastes are different than the authors of either guide.
So, in this guide, I'll focus on a couple of trips I'd take to maximize the Boundless Card's new sign-up bonus in destinations Americans can visit now.
Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.
Sign-up bonus details
The new sign-up bonus for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless is incredible. You can earn five free nights after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first three months from your account opening. And, these nights are worth up to 50,000 points each.
So, the bonus could be worth as much as 250,000 points if you redeem each free night for 50,000 points. And, based on TPG's valuations, 250,000 Marriott Bonvoy points are worth $2,000.
Marriott Bonvoy moved to off-peak, standard and peak award pricing on Sept. 14, 2019. So, now award nights are priced according to the following award chart:
So, based on this award chart, you can use each 50,000-point free night at:
- Any Category 1-5 property
- Category 6 properties on off-peak and standard dates
- Category 7 properties on off-peak dates
Related: 4 ways to use expiring Marriott Bonvoy nights and perks during the pandemic (and what I decided)
Who is eligible for the Boundless and its bonus?
Many potential applicants won't qualify for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless or its sign-up bonus. First off, you'll need to be under Chase's 5/24 rule. So, you won't be eligible for the Boundless if you've opened five or more personal credit cards across all banks in the last 24 months. Second, Boundless applicants usually need good or excellent credit to be approved.
Finally, you won't be eligible for the Boundless if you currently have, or previously had and received a sign-up bonus within the last 24 months, any of the following cards:
- Marriott Bonvoy Premier credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards Premier)
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card (also known as Marriott Rewards Premier Plus)
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
Additionally, you may be eligible for the Boundless but won't qualify for its sign-up bonus if you are a:
- Current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express)
- Current or previous cardholders of either of the following cards which (1) received a welcome bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months or (2) applied for and were approved in the previous 90 days:
- Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (previously known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express)
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (previously known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card)
But, if you're eligible for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and it's five free nights sign-up bonus, you should certainly consider applying. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic will continue to be a factor in travel decisions for the foreseeable future. So, you may not want to apply if you don't think you'll be comfortable traveling and staying in a hotel before the free nights expire one year after they're issued.
Now, come with me as I discuss some dream trips I'd love to take with the five free nights sign-up bonus to destinations currently accepting American tourists.
Related: Am I eligible for a new Marriott Bonvoy card? This chart tells you yes or no
Vacation in the Maldives
Honestly, if we're talking about dream trips and getting maximum value from these free nights, we have to start with the Maldives. And, I'd likely use the five 50,000-point nights in the Maldives. Specifically, there are three options to consider:
- Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa (Category 5, opening Sept. 2021)
- Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa (Category 6)
- The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort (Category 7)
Even if you're looking at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, you'll find some blocks of five nights priced at 50,000 points next summer. So, using five 50,000-point free night certificates in a row at these resorts is certainly possible. Also, cash prices range from $252 per night at the Sheraton to $855 per night at the Westin before taxes and fees.
However, remember that you will need to pay for boat or seaplane transfers from the Male airport to the resort. And, in many cases, the cost of these transfers is high.
Related: The best ways to get to the Maldives on points and miles
Explore Mexico City
My last trip to Mexico City was back in 2012, and I can't believe I haven't returned yet. The city has excellent tourist sites and fantastic food. Plus, there are multiple posh hotels in Mexico City where you could use 50,000-point free night certificates. At the top of my list are:
- The St. Regis Mexico City (Category 7)
- JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City (Category 6)
- Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Mexico City (Category 6)
- The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City (Category 7, opening March 2021)
If I traveled to Mexico City to use the Bonvoy Boundless' free night certificates, I'd likely hop between a few of these hotels. That way, I could try a few different hotels. Hotel hopping could also help me find off-peak dates for the Category 7 hotels and standard or off-peak dates for the Category 6 hotels.
Mexico can be an appealing destination during the coronavirus pandemic. For many of us, Mexico City requires less flight time than many U.S. destinations. And, you'll have less jet lag to contend with than most international destinations. So, if you're willing to travel domestically during the pandemic, you may get better value by traveling to Mexico.
Related: 11 things you should know before visiting Mexico
Relax in Cancun
A beach trip to Mexico has been on my mind a lot recently. After all, I'm still seriously considering a trip to Cancun or other Mexico resort areas to maximize some current hotel promotions. But, the Bonvoy Boundless' sign-up bonus would be another reason to consider a Canun trip. Specifically, the following Cancun properties look appealing:
- The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun (Category 6)
- JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa (Category 6)
TPG's Zach Griff strongly preferred the JW Marriott Cancun when he stayed at both resorts in 2019. But, as with the Mexico City hotels, I'd likely hop between resorts using my nights.
There are many resorts in Cancun that offer relatively low prices for paid nights currently -- including some of the best hotels in Mexico. So, you can extend your trip by mixing in some paid stays, which may also help you maximize hotel promotions.
Related: 7 all-inclusive resorts in Mexico’s Riviera Maya that are perfect for families
Luxury stays in Turkey
I'm currently in Turkey as part of a trip I've had planned for almost a year. And, on this trip, I'm getting my last five nights with Marriott to earn Platinum Elite status this year.
But Turkey is one of my favorite countries to visit. So, I'd certainly consider returning if I had five 50,000-point free night certificates from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card. And, if I did so, I'd stay at one or more of the following hotels:
- JW Marriott Istanbul Bosphorus (Category 5)
- The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul (Category 5)
- Le Méridien Bodrum Beach Resort (Category 5)
- The St. Regis Istanbul (Category 6)
- The Bodrum Edition (Category 7)
- Caresse, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Bodrum (Category 7)
TPG's Nick Ellis loved his stay at The Bodrum Edition. So, if I ventured outside Istanbul, I'd likely check out this property. But, in Istanbul, you can't beat the location of the JW Marriott.
I'd likely split my 50,000-point nights into a few different stays to try a variety of hotels. And, on an extended trip, I'd likely mix in some paid stays as well. But, depending on what you want out of your Turkey trip, I could see spending all five nights at any of the six properties listed above.
Related: Turkey is open to tourists – here’s how to get there on points and miles
Plane spotting on a private island in Aruba
TPG's Zach Honig enjoyed plane spotting on The Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino's private island in 2019. He was less impressed with the actual resort, but the planespotting experience put the resort on my list anyway. But, this resort may not be a good use of your 50,000-point free nights on some dates. After all, paid nights are less than $250 for some nights.
Related: 8 private-island resorts you can book with points
Stay along Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janiero
I've visited Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a few times, including this past spring for Carnival. And, each time, I've enjoyed walking along Copacabana Beach. But, it'd certainly be fun to visit again and stay at the Category 5 JW Marriott Hotel Rio De Janeiro on Copacabana Beach.
Although this property is well-located, the cash prices are currently $151 per night during the week and $118 per night on the weekends. So, you'll likely find more lucrative uses for your free nights. But, this property is undoubtedly appealing if you have a trip planned to Rio de Janeiro.
Related: Maximizing points and miles to book a trip to Brazil
Visit Dubrovnik, Croatia
TPG's Brian Kelly and Daniel Ross both visited Croatia shortly after it reopened to tourists this summer. He loved his trip, and I've been considering a Croatia trip myself since visiting some neighboring countries a few years ago. Marriott's Category 5 Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel is the best property in Croatia if you're looking to use your 50,000-point free night certificates.
This Sheraton is a beautiful property that seemingly plans to reopen on Apr. 1, 2021. The hotel is just outside Dubrovnik, has excellent views overlooking the Adriatic and has a private beach. But, rates range from $145 to $251 per night, which doesn't provide an excellent value for a 50,000-point free night certificate.
Related: Croatia now requiring U.S. travelers to pack negative COVID tests, face masks to enter the country
Enjoy resort life in the Dominican Republic
Over the last few years, I've visited the Dominican Republic for two memorable trips. First, I visited as part of JetBlue's Destination Good trip in 2018. And last summer, I returned to live at an all-inclusive for a month using Choice Privileges points. But, especially with ongoing opportunities to redeem Choice Privileges points at a high value, a few appealing Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts properties and low-cost all-inclusive resort options, I've long had another trip to the Dominican Republic on my mind.
So, it could be fun to use a few of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card's 50,000-point free nights at the Category 6 Westin Puntacana Resort & Club as part of a more extended trip. The Westin has three miles of beach, golf courses and three restaurants. But, cash rates usually range from $128 to $241. So, you may not get a very high value from your 50,000-point free nights in the Dominican Republic.
Related: How to book a trip to the Dominican Republic using points and miles
Stay along the Nile River at the Ritz-Carleton or St. Regis in Egypt
Before the coronavirus pandemic halted travel, I had a trip planned to Egypt this summer. After all, there are some great low-category World of Hyatt, Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy properties in Egypt.
Egypt is one of the countries where U.S. passport holders can currently travel. Plus, there are Category 5 Ritz-Carleton and St. Regis hotels located along the Nile River in Cairo. So, you can use the 50,000-point free nights from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card's sign-up bonus even for peak nights at these hotels.
Cash rates usually range from $86 to $185 for the Ritz-Carleton and are generally around $215 per night for the St. Regis. So, although you'd likely get a great experience from your 50,000-point free nights at these properties, you wouldn't be redeeming them for a very high rate.
On the other hand, if you have Ritz-Carleton Club Level upgrade certificates, you may want to consider an inexpensive paid stay at the Ritz-Carleton that is eligible for these certificates.
Related: This year or next might be the perfect time to visit Egypt: A reopening guide
Relax at a resort in Puerto Rico
If you're looking for a tropical vacation, but don't want to go all that far, Puerto Rico may be a good option. And, several Marriott options in Puerto Rico may be a good use of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card's sign-up bonus of five 50,000-point free night certificates:
- Courtyard Isla Verde Beach Resort (Category 5)
- San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino (Category 6)
- La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort (Category 6)
All of these resorts have beaches and resort amenities, so it comes down to which rooms and resort amenities you prefer. I'd choose the La Concha Renaissance since you can use the free night certificates to book into an oceanview room. But, I also might spend a few nights at one resort and then a few nights at another resort. Cash rates are in the $200-$300 range for most nights at these resorts, so you'd be getting a decent, but not excellent, value for your free night certificates.
Related: How to get to Puerto Rico on points and miles
Ample options in Dubai
Dubai is currently accepting U.S. passport holders. And, there are 16 Marriott hotels in the city that are Category 5, 6 or 7. So, you have ample options if you want to see Dubai and even hop from hotel to hotel using your five 50,000-point free nights. My top choices would be:
- Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort (Category 6)
- La Ville Hotel & Suites CITY WALK, Dubai, Autograph Collection (Category 6)
- Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai (Category 6)
- JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai (Category 6)
- W Dubai - The Palm (Category 7)
- Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah, Dubai (Category 7)
- Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa (Category 7)
- The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina (Category 7)
I'd likely choose one of the properties located on The Palm for the experience. But, check current tourist restrictions before traveling, especially if you plan to explore outside Dubai at all.
Related: Open for business: What to know about getting to Dubai on points this fall
Stay at Disney World
Despite being in my 30s with no children, I loved visiting Disney World last winter. Plus, I have fond memories of staying at Disney World resorts as a child. So, it would be fun to spend at least a couple of the 50,000-point free nights at the Walt Disney World Swan or Walt Disney World Dolphin.
Both properties are Category 6, though. So, I'd need to look for off-peak or standard nights. It's also worth noting that cash prices for almost every date at these properties are currently sub-$250. So, redeeming your 50,000-point free nights for a Disney World trip isn't the most lucrative way to use your nights.
Related: The best hotels at Walt Disney World: Magic for every type of traveler
I've planned a few trips around using hotel free night certificates in the past. I usually only have one or two free night certificates as a perk of a hotel credit card, though. So, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card's current sign-up bonus provides a unique opportunity: five free night certificates to use at Marriott Hotels for nights costing 50,000 points or less. And, five nights is certainly enough to justify planning a dream trip.
If I were eligible for this bonus, I'd almost certainly apply, meet the minimum spending requirements and then plan a trip to the Maldives to use the five free nights. Sure, hotel and resort transfers cost a lot in the Maldives. However, these five free night certificates would be an excellent catalyst for an experience I wouldn't use points or cash to obtain.
However, as with all Marriott hotels, be sure to check the What to Expect webpage for your property. After all, some Marriott properties have closed restaurants, lounges and spas and many offer decreased elite perks. But, if I'm going to use my 50,000-point certificate for an aspirational stay, I want to get the full experience.