Credit card showdown: Marriott Bonvoy Bold vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless
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Marriott offers three personal credit cards, ranging from no annual fee to $450 per year. There’s something for every traveler, whether you’re a die-hard Marriott fan or an occasional traveler looking for free award nights.
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Chase issues the two most affordable co-branded options: the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit card. Both cards offer enhanced sign-up bonuses, so we’ll break down each offer to help you decide which one is a better fit for your long-term card strategy.
|Feature||Marriott Bonvoy Bold||Marriott Bonvoy Boundless|
|Sign-up bonus||Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months from account opening||Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening|
|Earning rates||Earn 3x points at participating Marriott hotels, 2x points on travel and 1x on everything else||Earn 6x points at participating Marriott hotels, 2x points on everything else|
|Marriott perks||Automatic Silver Elite status (with 15 elite night credits annually)||Automatic Silver Elite status (with 15 elite night credits annually), path to Gold status by spending $35,000 or more on your card annually, annual free night award (valid for hotels that cost up to 35,000 points), free premium wifi|
|Other perks||Baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, purchase protection, Visa Concierge, no foreign transaction fees||Baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, purchase protection, Visa Concierge, no foreign transaction fees|
These entry-level cards into Marriott Bonvoy offer similar perks — both granting you automatic Silver Elite status and strong travel and purchase protections from Chase. Plus, you won’t pay any foreign transaction fees with these cards when traveling internationally.
Beyond the sign-up bonus, where the differences lie between the two cards is the rewards rate and the annual free night certificate. While the Boundless comes with a $95 annual fee, you’ll earn Marriott Bonvoy points at a much higher rate (6x vs. 3x on Marriott purchases and 2x vs. 1x on all other purchases) and receive a free night certificate valid on a stay up to 35,000 points.
According to Marriott’s award chart, you can use this certificate up to a standard Category 5 hotel. If used strategically, you can score a free night at a hotel that can make up for the annual fee each year. Plus, you’ll be able to reach Gold status with annual spend of $30,000 or more on your card.
We’ll consider these similarities and differences when assessing the best fit for you and your travel habits.
Since Chase issues both cards, it’s important to note that the 5/24 rule applies here. This means you automatically won’t qualify for either card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards (from any issuer) in the past 24 months.
Likewise, you’ll want to choose wisely to make sure that the card you’re opening is worth taking one of these precious slots. Since both cards are currently offering elevated sign-up bonuses right now, let’s take a look at their potential:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless: Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
TPG values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents each, effectively making the Bold’s sign-up bonus worth $400 and the Boundless’ sign-up bonus worth $800.
Which card is better for you?
After you earn the sign-up bonus, you’ll want to determine which card will make more sense for you in the long run. By signing up for the Boundless, you’re on the hook for a $95 annual fee each year. But if you’re able to maximize all of the card’s benefits, it may actually be worth this cost rather than opt for the no-annual-fee Bold card.
Why the Boundless is better
While $95 is certainly not an outrageous annual fee, you’ll want to examine all of the perks that come with the card to justify this cost each year. At face value, you’re earning automatic Silver Elite status. At the lowest level of Marriott Bonvoy status, you’ll receive a 10% points bonus on stays, priority late checkout and more.
If you’re a Marriott loyalist, you should have your sights set on Gold status. This is where you’ll earn substantial perks, such as a 25% points bonus, room upgrades (upon availability), welcome gifts and more. TPG pegs Silver status at just $45 per year and Gold status at $845 per year, so the value of being an elite member starts to really shine through here.
There are a couple ways to earn Gold status with this card. If you’re a high spender, you’ll be bumped up to Gold if you spend $30,000 or more on purchases in a year. If this is unrealistic for you, remember that you’ll automatically gain 15 elite night credits annually with this card — meaning you’ll just need 10 more nights per year to achieve Gold.
One of our favorite perks on the Boundless card is the annual free night certificate of up to 35,000 points — arguably the easiest way to make up for that $95 annual fee each year. You can use this for almost any Category 1-5 hotel (except Category 5 peak pricing), so use this award wisely. TPG values 35,000 Bonvoy points at $280, almost three times the value of the annual fee. Taking advantage of this certificate alone will make the Boundless a no-brainer for most travelers.
Last but not least, the sign-up bonus of 100,000 points allows you to use it for one night at peak pricing at a Category 8 hotel, two nights at a standard Category 5 hotel or 10 nights at an off-peak Category 2 hotel. You can certainly mix and match this bonus to how you want to travel — whether you’re looking for ultimate luxury or free nights at any hotel.
Related: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless review
Why the Bold is better
Even if the Bold card lacks many ongoing Marriott benefits (such as the free night certificate), there are plenty of reasons why it’s a card worth applying for. Even for the expert award traveler, opening another card with an annual fee may not be appealing for you right now. If you’re just looking for a way to earn a considerable amount of Bonvoy points and automatic elite status, the Bold may be a great match for you.
As mentioned above, Silver status doesn’t get you too many Marriott-related benefits. However, if you stay at least 10 nights at Marriott properties in a year, you’ll get Gold status. It’s not often that a no-annual-fee card can expedite you to the next level of elite status — especially one as lucrative as Bonvoy Gold.
Finally, the sign-up bonus is another terrific reason to apply for this card. 50,000 bonus points can get you up to one standard night at a Category 6 hotel. While the other top-tier Marriott cards can get you enhanced perks, the Bold is still appealing thanks to the potential of fast-tracking your way to higher Bonvoy status levels.
Related: Marriott Bonvoy Bold review
Regardless of the card you choose, both Marriott cards are a great way to introduce yourself to the Bonvoy program and all the redemption possibilities. You truly can’t go wrong with either as there are thousands of properties to choose from worldwide. So long as you can take advantage of that free night certificate each year, the Boundless provides a better value proposition for most travelers. Otherwise, the Bold is a solid choice for those who just want to enhance their Marriott experience for no annual fee.
Related: The best hotel credit cards for 2021
Application link: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card available for 100,000 bonus points.
Application link: Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card available for 50,000 bonus points.
Featured photo by Marriott
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WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
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.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
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