Marriott's new (inferior) Bonvoy Boundless bonus: Why you shouldn't apply
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
It's not uncommon to see two different welcome offers available for the same credit card at the same time, as card issuers and their cobrand partners might use different advertising approaches to target different segments of the market. It's always important to compare the offers to make sure you pick the one with higher value and don't deviate from your credit card strategy based on a single ad.
If you're looking to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, you can earn 75,000 bonus Marriott points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. TPG values Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, making this bonus worth $600. You can find this 75,000 point offer directly on the Chase website or you can apply here at TPG. However, if you make a new Marriott reservation, you'll see a unique offer for the Bonvoy Boundless card on the checkout page.
Upon closer inspection, we can see that this offer includes a $250 statement credit after making your first purchase within three months from account opening, plus a free night certificate -- worth up to 35,000 points -- after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
The good news is that the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year through this offer, which it is not with the standard 75,000-point offer — but that's the only good thing about it. Based on TPG's valuations, 35,000 Marriott points are worth $280, bringing the total value of this offer up to a lowly $530.
I love the 35,000 point free night certificates that most of the Marriott Bonvoy credit cards offer, but I'd much prefer to just have 35,000 points in my account. That way I won't end up wasting any points if I want to book a cheaper hotel for only 25,000 points per night. Having the points, as opposed to the certificate, also gives you the flexibility to upgrade your stay by spending more points for a luxury hotel. You can't change your certificate to make it worth more than 35,000 points.
Additionally, while the free night certificates expire one year after being issued, it's easy to extend the expiration date of your points indefinitely with the occasional qualifying activity on your account. Another way to look at it is that the 75,000 point offer gives you much more flexibility in how you redeem the benefit, and flexibility is the most valuable thing you can possibly have when it comes to award travel.
Marriott's marketing makes it quite tempting to hit the "apply" button when you see an offer for an "immediate" $250 savings on your next hotel booking, but most people will come out ahead exercising some patience and applying instead for the 75,000 point offer on the exact same Bonvoy Boundless card. It might be worth adjusting your plans to jump on a limited time elevated welcome bonus offer, but you shouldn't ditch a carefully made plan every time you see a new credit card ad without determining if it is the best deal available.