Credit card showdown: Marriott Bonvoy Bold vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
Marriott offers three personal credit cards with annual fees ranging from none at all more than $400 per year.
In short, there’s a card for every traveler, whether you’re a die-hard Marriott fan or an occasional traveler looking for free award nights.
Chase issues the two most affordable cobranded options currently open to new applicants: the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card.
And right now, both cards come with excellent limited-time welcome bonuses.
Let’s break down which card is a better fit for your long-term card strategy.
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|Feature||Marriott Bonvoy Bold||Marriott Bonvoy Boundless|
|Sign-up bonus||Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.||Earn five free nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.|
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 bonuses, there are a few other notable differences between the two cards.
Boundless cardholders will earn Marriott Bonvoy points at a much higher rate (6 points vs. 3 points per dollar on Marriott purchases and 2 points vs. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases) and receive a free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points — plus the ability to use up to 15,000 more points to top off the difference between the 35,000-point threshold and the price of your stay.
If used strategically, you can score a free night at a hotel that can easily make up for the $95 annual fee each year.
Since Chase issues both cards, it’s important to note that the 5/24 rule applies here. This means you likely won’t qualify for either card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards (from any issuer) in the past 24 months.
In addition, there are Marriott-specific eligibility requirements that cover products issued by both Chase and American Express. Be sure to verify your eligibility prior to submitting an application.
If you are eligible, you’ll want to choose wisely to make sure that the card you apply for is worth adding to your wallet. Here’s a look into these cards’ limited-time welcome bonuses, which are both elevated from their previous offerings:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless: Earn five free nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
TPG values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.84 cents each, effectively making the bonus on the Bold worth $504 and that on the Boundless worth a whopping $2,100 (assuming you can use the free nights at the maximum value of 50,000 points apiece).
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 be worth this cost rather than opting 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. However, this same perk is offered on the Bold — so this by itself isn’t a reason to pick the Boundless.
That said, if you’re a Marriott loyalist, you should have your sights set on earning Gold status. This is where you’ll earn more 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 shine through here.
There are a couple of ways to earn Gold status with the Boundless. If you’re a high spender, you’ll be automatically bumped up to Gold if you spend $35,000 or more on purchases in a year.
If this spending requirement unrealistic for you, remember that the Boundless gives you 15 elite night credits every year. This means you’ll only need 10 more qualifying nights per year to earn Gold, and holders of the Bonvoy Boundless card earn one elite night credit for every $5,000 you spend.
Now, it’s probably not worth spending the full $50,000 on the Boundless to grab those additional 10 nights and reach Gold. However, you can combine spending and regular stays at Marriott properties to hit that tier — and this is something not offered on the Bold card.
In regards to spend, you’ll earn the following on the Boundless card:
- 6 points per dollar on Marriott purchases (a 5% return, based on TPG’s valuations).
- 3 points per dollar on gas, grocery stores and dining up to the first $6,000 spent (2.5% return)
- 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases (1.7%).
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. 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: 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. And then 25 additional nights would get you to Platinum — including a Choice Benefit selection. It’s not often that a no-annual-fee card can expedite you to the next level of elite status — especially ones as potentially lucrative as Bonvoy Gold or Platinum.
While the other top-tier Marriott cards can get you significantly better perks, the Bold is still appealing thanks to the potential for fast-tracking your way to higher Bonvoy status levels with no additional out-of-pocket cost.
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 of its 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 (and unlock solid travel protections) for no annual fee.
Related: The best hotel credit cards for 2022
Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card.
Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card.
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox.