The Marriott Bonvoy Business card is the hotel chain’s brand-new business credit card. This card used to be the American Express SPG Business Card but has since taken on Marriott Bonvoy branding. When SPG and Marriott merged in the summer of 2018, the combined points “currency” has been heavily devalued.
This card has recently made headlines because American Express is raising its annual fee to $125 on March 28. Such an increase is yet another unwelcome change from Marriott. However, you can still get the card for $95 per year (waived the first year) if you apply before March 28.
If you apply before March 28, your first year will have no annual fee. Your second year will cost you $95 and every subsequent year will cost you $125. In other words, you can be grandfathered in with the current annual fee until 2021 if you apply before March 28.
Unfortunately, American Express will stop waiving the first year’s annual fee after the increase. But still, this card is a less expensive alternative to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card.
The annual fee for the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express® Card is $125. If your application is received before 3/28/2019, the introductory annual fee will be $0 for the first year of Card Membership, then $95.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the card review.
The Marriott Bonvoy card has a sign-up bonus of 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus is a limited time offer that expires on April 24.
This card’s earning highlight is its 6x points on Marriott purchases. However, it also has some nice 4x categories intended for businesses. These categories include US Restaurants, US Gas Stations, Shipping purchases, and Cell Phone Services (purchased directly from U.S. service providers). All other purchases earn 2x points.
The business version of the Marriott Bonvoy Card is a much better earner than its personal counterpart. Even individual consumers can use the gas stations and restaurants categories to boost their Marriott point counts. I wish any of the personal cards had at least one 4x category.
This is the most obvious and basic way to redeem Marriott points. To determine how much a night is worth in points, you can use the table below:
Transfer partners are a lesser known redemption option for this card. More than 40 airlines are partners with Marriott, including United, Emirates, Delta, China Eastern, and Lufthansa. The transfer ratio is three Marriott points per one airline mile.
Marriott Bonvoy Air + Car Program
This redemption option is exclusive to the Marriott Bonvoy Business card. It’s basically air travel and a rental card in a pre-done package. Your mileage may vary with this option. But don’t expect more than 1 cent per point (CPP) in value for the package.
All airline tickets are subject to a $20 (or 5,000-point) booking fee for each traveler. Each car reservation is also subject to a $20 (or 5,000-point) booking fee. These fees ruin this redemption option as each airline ticket and car reservation is valued at a terrible 0.4 CPP.
As a mid-tier travel card, the Marriott Bonvoy Business card includes some benefits that can make life easier when away from home. Some of them can even pay for the annual fee with enough use.
This benefit is where the Marriott Card’s value lies. Because most rooms at Marriott hotels cost more than $125 per night, you will likely receive positive expected value from this benefit alone. The annual free night can be redeemed for rooms costing up to 35,000 points (Categories 1-5). Most properties are between Categories 1 and 5, so the free night is quite accessible.
The free night can only be earned and redeemed after holding the card for 12 months.
You can receive another free night each time you spend $60,000 on your card. Like the annual fee night, it can only be redeemed for rooms costing up to 35,000 points. I don’t recommend trying to get this free night because $60,000 in spend can go much further.
Complimentary Silver Status
Marriott Silver Status is not worth much. All you’re getting is a 10% points bonus for Marriott purchases. Room rates and gift shop purchases are included.
This perk is becoming a standard amongst American Express business cards. You can easily link your Marriott card to your company’s QuickBooks account for organization and accounting. This is a handy feature for many business owners and entrepreneurs.
Secondary Car Rental Insurance
This benefit covers the entire loss, damage, or theft of your car rental after your regular insurance’s policy kicks in. American Express cards only provide secondary coverage. Secondary coverage means that you must go through your own car insurance company first before calling Amex to activate this benefit.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
You will save 3% on all purchases made outside the United States with the card.
If you’re unhappy with a purchase, this benefit enables you to get your money back with the backing of Amex. American Express is the best in the credit card industry in helping cardholders with returns. This card comes standard with all American Express cards.
Rules & Regulations
Like all American Express cards, this card is subject to Amex’s Once Per Lifetime Rule. This rule states that you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card once. The key is to apply for this card when a balance is struck between maximum points and minimum spend. If you cannot afford the spend to hit the bonus, apply when the threshold is lower.
This card is NOT considered a new product, despite and because of the re-branding. Therefore, you will not be able to receive a sign-up bonus if you have already done so for the former SPG Business Card.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is a personal card, but it can be a better option for you if you like perks. This card offers complimentary Gold Status and a more accessible free night over its “cousin”. Marriott Gold Status lets you upgrade your room for no extra cost if there are nicer rooms available.
Like it’s “cousin”, the Brilliant Card offers a 100,000-point bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. You will also receive the following perks:
- $300 annual statement credit
- A free night after (spending $60,000 per year on the card)
- Priority Pass airport lounge access
- 10 Boingo airport Wi-Fi passes
- Global Entry or Pre-TSA membership fee waiver
This card will offer you way more for your money than any of the other Marriott Bonvoy Cards despite having a $450 annual fee (NOT waived the first year),
Hilton Honors Business Card
This card from Amex and Hilton offers an annual free night and complimentary Hilton Gold Status. It has a $95 annual fee that’s not likely to increase within the next month.
The Hilton Honors Business card has a sign-up bonus of 125,000 Hilton Honors (HH) points. The points can be earned after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
You can earn 12x HH points on Hilton hotel purchases. The card also offers six 6x bonus categories:
- Gas Stations
- Cell Phone Services (purchased directly from a provider)
- Airfare (booked directly from airlines)
- Car Rentals (booked directly with agencies)
All other purchases earn 3x HH points. Each point is worth about 0.5 cents, making this card a better earner than the Marriott card for business (and even personal) expenses. I am impressed by how many 6x categories there are with this card. It’s the longest list of bonus categories that I have seen on any credit card so far.
This card might be the way to go if you’re unhappy with Marriott and its recent shenanigans.
While I’m not impressed by the changes Marriott has made to its branding, this card is a surprising winner. Even at $125 per year, the boosted earning structure and extra benefits make this card a nice alternative to the personal Marriott Bonvoy card. The “free” night could also make this card a long-term keeper card for some people.
I personally have no use for this card only because I have an Amex Business Platinum Card. That card gives me Marriott Gold Status and more ways to derive value than the perks this card offers.