Credit card showdown: Marriott Bonvoy Bold vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless

Apr 27, 2021

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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.

Related: Choosing the best Marriott credit card for you

In This Post

Card comparison

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
Annual fee $0 $95
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.

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

Sign-up bonus

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

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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.

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

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.

Related: Best uses of Marriott 35,000-point certificates

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

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

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.

Related: How to redeem points with the Marriott Bonvoy program

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

Bottom line

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 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.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
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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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