Credit card showdown: Marriott Bonvoy Bold vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless
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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 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.
Chase issues the two most affordable co-branded options: the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card. 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 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months from account opening.||Earn three free nights (worth up to 50,000 points each) after you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening.|
|Earning rates||Earn 3x on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 2x on travel and 1x on all other eligible purchases.||Earn 6x on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 2x on all other eligible purchases.|
|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).|
|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, with both granting you automatic Silver Elite status and their 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, the differences between the two cards are 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.
For now, you can use the annual free night certificate for up to a standard Category 5 hotel. While Marriott is eliminating its award chart in favor of dynamic pricing effective March 2022, there are still a few months left to book your stay with the pricing we’re familiar with. If used strategically, you can score a free night at a hotel that can make up for the $95 annual fee each year. Plus, you’ll be able to reach Gold status with an annual spend of $30,000 or more on the Bonvoy Boundless.
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 likely 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. Here’s a look into these cards’ current offers:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months from account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless: Earn three free nights (worth up to 50,000 points each) after you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening.
TPG values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents each, effectively making the Bold’s sign-up bonus worth $240 and Boundless’s sign-up bonus worth $1,200.
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.
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 shine through here.
There are a couple of 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 only need 10 more qualifying 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. 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 gets you three free nights of up to 50,000 points each. You can undoubtedly 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 potentially lucrative as Bonvoy Gold.
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.
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 for no annual fee.
Related: The best hotel credit cards for 2021
Featured photo by Marriott.
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- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
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