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

Sep 24, 2019

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While the Marriott-SPG merger was a long time in the making, many people still have the same hotel credit cards that they did pre-merger, including the legacy Chase-issued Marriott cards and Amex-issued SPG cards (though all have since been rebranded under the Bonvoy name, at least in your online accounts). Even after the merger closed, both Chase and Amex continued to issue Marriott cobranded cards. While some, like the Marriott Bonvoy Amex and the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Business Visa Signature, have since closed to new applicants, the following cards are still available to apply for:

While there are slight differences between these cards, there are also a lot of similarities. For example, with the exception of the no-annual-fee Bonvoy Bold card, all the Bonvoy credit cards earn the same 6x points at Marriott hotels, whether you have the entry-level Marriott Bonvoy Amex or the premium Bonvoy Brilliant. Each card also offers 15 elite night credits, but you’re limited to one set of credits per Bonvoy account, so it doesn’t matter which credit card you earn them from. Given this redundancy in benefits, many people might think that they only need one Bonvoy credit card in their wallet — but I disagree.

Why I keep four Bonvoy credit cards

As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium elite, I plan my travels beginning and ending on Marriott.com. I currently have four Bonvoy credit cards — three from Amex and one from Chase — and I’d happily get more if I was allowed. Most of these cards sit in my desk and don’t see much sunlight (although I do put a good amount of spending on my Bonvoy Business Amex), but I’m happy to pay the annual fees year after year for one singular reason: the free night certificates.

Each Bonvoy credit card offers an anniversary free night worth up to 35,000 points, with the exception of the Bonvoy Brilliant, which is worth up to 50,000 points (but we’ll come back to that in a minute) and the Bonvoy Bold which doesn’t offer a free night. TPG values Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, meaning that a 35,000-point free night is roughly worth $280. Compare that to the annual fees on these entry level cards, which range from $95 to $125 (see rates and fees). If you ignore every other perk of these cards and only focus on the annual free night, you’re getting twice as much value as you’re spending on your annual fees.

35,000 points roughly maps over to Category 5 on the Marriott award chart (excluding Category 5 peak rates). I think Category 5 is the best sweet spot in the entire award chart, and I have no problem getting $300 or more out of these 35,000-point free nights at some of my favorite properties in the Marriott portfolio, such as the Mira Moon Hong Kong

Sheraton Sydney

or W Chicago Lakeshore.

When you add in the suite upgrades, bonus points and free breakfast I get as a Titanium elite, my actual value ends up being a few hundred dollars above whatever the cash rate would’ve been. If you’re telling me I can pay ~$100 a year for a $500+ hotel stay, that’s just a no-brainer.

The same logic applies to the Bonvoy Brilliant, though there is one extra step involved. That card carries a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees) and offers an up to 50,000-point anniversary free night. You also get up to $300 in Marriott property credits each card membership year, valid on room rates and incidental charges such as food and drinks. This is as good as cash to me, and drops the out-of-pocket cost on the card to $150. In exchange for that, you get a free night, which TPG values at $400, but can potentially be worth a lot more.

50,000 points unlocks many more luxury properties, including Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis hotels. One surefire way to max out this free night would be to book the Mykonos Theoxenia, which sells for $750+ during peak season. If you have Marriott elite status, the benefits you get at a high-end property will also be worth more.

Bottom line

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
The more Bonvoy cards, the merrier — potentially, at least. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

To me, the Marriott Bonvoy credit cards are some of the easiest ones to keep open year after year. I’m able to make the case to do so by ignoring 99% of the card, and just focusing on the annual fee and the free night certificate you receive. When you start to add back in the other perks like bonus categories, Marriott elite status and more, the scales tip even further in favor of holding multiple Bonvoy cards.

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

Featured photo courtesy of the W Chicago Lakeshore.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card offers a lot of the same benefits and a great sign-up bonus. If you're looking to jump start your Bonvoy rewards earning, this card is a good option.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
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.

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