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You just went on a big business trip with a few employees, taking a flight and then splurging on some nice rooms at a Marriott. You happily earn 10X points per dollar from your basic member status, which seems like quite a lot, and everything seems right with the world.
But what did you miss out on? You could’ve earned 17X points per dollar (6X points from the card and 11X points for Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status), taken advantage of a late checkout time, and enjoyed free premium WiFi so you didn’t have to wait for Netflix to buffer while relaxing after a hard day.
All that and more could’ve been yours with the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.
For $125 (Rates & Fees), you’ll earn 6X Bonus points per dollar at Marriott Bonvoy hotels from the card. But you’ll also get complimentary Silver Elite status at Marriott, which means you’ll earn an additional 11X Base points per dollar — for a total of 17X.
The card includes perks like a Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary, worth 35,000 points and good for stays in hotels up to Category 5. You’ll get a fast track toward the next member status level, Gold Elite, and other hotel benefits to make your stays a bit cheaper and more comfortable.
There are four different cards co-branded with Marriott Bonvoy that you can currently apply for. One’s a business card, while the other three are personal credit cards.
Is the Marriott Bonvoy Business card the right choice for you out of this lineup, or would a different option work better? Read on to learn more about this card and find out.
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card||$0||
|Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (This review)||$125||
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Review)||$450||
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (Review)||$95||
We give the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card 5 out of 5 Stars for its high earn rates, and for having more than a few valuable perks.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business card could be a great option if it matches up to your typical spending and travel habits, but you may get more out of a different hotel card. Or, if you pledge no allegiance to any hotel brand in particular, you might prefer a general travel rewards card. Check out some of those alternatives below.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card can provide a cash back equivalent of about 13.6–34% when spending at Marriott Bonvoy properties, depending on how you earn and redeem your points. Purchases in the 4X business categories will yield the equivalent of about 3.2–8% cash back.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
Marriott Bonvoy cardholders will earn points at Marriott Bonvoy properties in two different ways: from the card, and from their member status.
The card provides 6X Bonus points per dollar at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, along with 11X Base points thanks to the Silver Elite status this card grants. Normal members would earn 10X points, but Silver Elite provides a 10% bonus to equal 11X. These rates apply to most Marriott Bonvoy brands but there are some exceptions, as shown in the tables below.
The value of your points will vary depending on how you redeem them. If you assume a value of 0.8–2 cents per point, which is about the average range, you’d be earning a cash back equivalent of 13.6–34% at Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Purchases that earn 4X points will have a cash back equivalent of 3.2–8%, with 1.6–4% for all other purchases.
The 4X bonus categories, tailored towards business expenses, are a useful addition that widen your point-earning opportunities. Extra categories like these are more common on business cards; the consumer version of this card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (Review), doesn’t include any 4X categories.
You can check the eligible merchants for the 4X categories on American Express’ business reward category page.
Take note that you will not be eligible for the introductory bonus offer if you’ve had other Marriott Bonvoy co-branded cards at certain times. You will not be eligible if you:
Marriott has implemented a policy that has been referred to as the “one lane rule,” which means you can only get this introductory bonus through one card product. Since there are quite a few Marriott Bonvoy co-branded cards, the idea is to prevent people from getting multiple introductory bonuses from the same source.
Most properties within the Marriott Bonvoy brand portfolio provide 10X Base points per dollar, but there are a few exceptions.
|10X Base Points|
|AC Hotels®||Aloft®||Autograph Collection® Hotels|
|Courtyard®||Delta Hotels®||Design Hotels™|
|EDITION®||Fairfield by Marriott®||Four Points®|
|Gaylord Hotels®||JW Marriott®||Le Méridien®|
|Marriott Hotels®||Marriott Vacation Club®||Moxy® Hotels|
|Protea Hotels®||Renaissance® Hotels||Sheraton®|
|SpringHill Suites®||St. Regis®||The Luxury Collection®|
|The Ritz-Carlton®||Tribute Portfolio®||W® Hotels|
|5X Base Points|
|Residence Inn®||TownePlace Suites®||Element®|
|2.5X Base Points|
|Marriott Executive Apartments®||ExecuStay®|
Marriott rewards points will expire after 24 months of no account activity. You can keep your points active simply by making a purchase with your card once every 24 months.
You’ll have a variety of ways to redeem your points, including:
We recommend redeeming your points for hotel reservations, because they typically offer the highest value per point.
But that still leaves a few different options, because there are several ways to use your points at hotels:
The best deals will typically come from PointSavers reservations, which provide rooms at discounted redemption rates. Fifth night free stays are another great option, giving you a whole night for free. Standard room reservations will be the norm for most people, however, and these can still provide a good point value.
The higher the hotel category, the more points required for a night’s stay.
|Hotel Category||Standard Requirement||Off-Peak
|8 (coming 2019)||85,000||70,000||100,000|
You can browse the full list of 6,700 Marriott Bonvoy properties, including their categories and point requirements.
You’ll find the best redemption values at the lowest and highest hotel categories, particularly in the lower categories. The middle categories generally provide less value per point, so it will typically be better to pay the cash price at those hotels and save your points for later.
The value you get per point will also depend on which dates you book. Different dates will have different cash prices, but the point requirement is always the same. That means you’ll need to check each date to see if you’d get a good value for your points, or if it would be better to just pay the cash price.
Here are some examples of the best redemption options. First we compare a PointSavers reservation to a standard room reservation, and then we show a fifth night free redemption.
PointSavers reservations require 1,500 to 10,000 fewer points than standard reservations. You won’t always find them, and it’s just a matter of luck if they happen to line up with your travel plans, but you should definitely take advantage of PointSavers deals when possible.
Each hotel category has its own PointSavers redemption level:
|Hotel Category||PointSavers Requirement||Off-Peak
|8 (coming 2019)||80,000||65,000||90,000|
Here’s a PointSavers reservation compared to a standard reservation, using examples from three different hotel categories. You can see how much your points are worth in each case, and how the value changes with the hotel category.
The three hotels we’ll use for this example are:
Here are sample prices for a high-cost standard room at each hotel, after taxes and fees. We’ve included how many points you’d need to redeem for that hotel category, and the value of those points. The cash back equivalents assume you’re spending at Marriott Bonvoy properties, earning points at the Silver Elite status level.
Keep in mind that these hotels and booking dates were chosen somewhat randomly, so you’ll probably find slightly different redemption values.
Standard Room Reservations
|Hotel||Cash Price||Points Required||Point Value (cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Courtyard Harlingen (Cat 1)||$151||7,500||2.01||34.16%|
|Sheraton Bay Point Resort (Cat 4)||$178||25,000||0.71||12.10%|
|The St. Regis San Francisco
|Hotel||Cash Price||Points Required||Point Value (cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Courtyard Harlingen (Cat 1)||$151||6,000||2.52||42.78%|
|Sheraton Bay Point Resort (Cat 4)||$178||22,500||0.79||13.44%|
|The St. Regis San Francisco
So a standard room redemption at the Category 1 hotel we included would give you a point value of 2.01 cents each, which is very good when it comes to Marriott points. But the same room with a PointSavers reservation will give 2.52 cents per point, quite a nice bonus.
As you can see, your points won’t go as far for rooms at higher category hotels, with the middle categories providing the worst redemption values. As you get into the higher categories you’ll start to see a better return on your spending, but those rooms will also cost way more points to book.
You’ll have to decide whether you want to use your points for more night stays or for higher-quality rooms. You could redeem 60,000 points for a luxurious night in a Category 7 hotel, for example, or you could use those points to get 8 nights at a Category 1 hotel.
Your fifth night is free on award stays of five nights or more. For stays of ten nights you’ll get both the fifth and tenth nights for free.
Fifth night free deals are only available when booking with points, not when paying cash prices.
This deal only applies to standard room reservations. And you only need enough points for four nights — when you book five award nights you’ll automatically get a one-night discount.
Using the three hotels above, here’s how much you’d normally pay for five nights. We show the cash prices and point requirements, along with the point values you’d get. The cash back equivalents assume you’re spending at Marriott Bonvoy hotels and earning 17X points per dollar (6X points from the card and 11X points for Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status).
|Hotel||Cash Price: 5 Nights||Points Required: 4 Nights||Point Value (cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Courtyard Harlingen (Cat 1)||$755||30,000||2.52||48.73%|
|Sheraton Bay Point Resort
|The St. Regis San Francisco
So you’ll obviously be saving a significant number of points compared to the standard reservation requirements. The point values you’ll get for fifth night free redemptions will sometimes resemble the values you’d get for PointSavers reservations.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business card costs $125 per year (Rates & Fees). You should be sure to use it enough to offset that fee and recoup your costs, so you get a positive expected value every year.
Luckily enough, you can completely offset that fee just by using a single benefit: your annual Free Night Award, which begins after your first year.
The Free Night Award can be used for room redemptions up to 35,000 points, so it’s good for standard rooms in hotels up to Category 5.
We’ve found rooms in Category 5 hotels going for over $300 per night, while others are as low as $130 or so. Say you use your Free Night Award for a room that’s somewhere in-between, worth about $200.
That would offset the annual fee for about a year and a half, giving you far more than $125 in value, and making it fairly simple to make up for the year you had to wait before getting your first credit. Use your award every year for a room like that and this card will completely pay for itself, and then some. And if you use it for more expensive rooms you’ll make out even better.
This makes the Marriott Bonvoy Business card a safe bet even if you don’t travel very often. As long as you can use that free night every year for a good deal, you’ll be getting more out of the card than you’re putting in. And we didn’t even take into account any of the other benefits or rewards you can earn, which also provide plenty of value and serve to offset the annual fee even further (Rates & Fees).
Every year you’ll get a Free Night Award after your account anniversary, beginning after your first year with the card. So you’ll need to wait a year before getting your first free night.
This Free Night Award is good for hotel rooms at Marriott Bonvoy brands, with redemption requirements of 35,000 points or less. That will get you a room in a Category 5 hotel.
The award will appear as an e-certificate in your Marriott rewards account 8 to 12 weeks after your card account anniversary. It will be expire one year after being issued.
You can explore the Free Night Award Chart to see where you can use your Free Night Awards when planning your next trip. There are no blackout dates for Free Night Award redemptions.
Free nights are a pretty common perk to find on hotel credit cards, although they come in various shapes and sizes.
Some other cards make you work for the free night, like the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. It provides a “free” Weekend Night Reward, but you’ll need to spend $15,000 in a calendar year to get it. And if you spend a total of $60,000 in a year you’ll get a second Weekend Night Reward.
Bonvoy Business cardholders who spend at least $60,000 per calendar year earn an additional Free Night Award, valued at up to 35,000 points, for use at any Marriott Bonvoy property.
You’ll get automatic Silver Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy, which provides:
This comes with free WiFi, but cardholders get complimentary premium WiFi as well just for having the card.
It’s nice to get a complimentary member status, but Silver Elite isn’t quite as good as what you’d get from some other loyalty programs. Hilton’s Gold status, for example, which you’ll get with co-branded cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, comes with an 80% point bonus and complimentary breakfasts, among other perks.
Cardholders can earn Marriott’s Gold Elite status by spending $35,000 or more in a calendar year with the Marriott Bonvoy card.
If you reach the spending requirement you’ll get Gold status for the remainder of that year, along with the entire following year. So if you want to maximize this perk you should aim to hit the requirement as early in the year as possible.
The upgrade to Gold will take effect within 8 to 12 weeks of meeting the requirement.
Gold Elite status comes with all the perks of Silver Elite, plus a few more:
The spending requirement is quite high, but if you’ll be spending that much anyway it’s great to get something more out of it. But if you plan to spend that much you should consider using the premier Marriott Bonvoy card, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card.
That card costs $450 per year but the fee is offset by a $300 travel credit, a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (excludes non-lounge experiences), and the same Free Night Award you’ll get with the Marriott Bonvoy business card. The Bonvoy Brilliant card also comes with complimentary Gold Elite status, with a fast track to Platinum Elite.
Cardholders get premium on-property WiFi internet access at participating locations. You must provide your loyalty member account number when checking in.
Internet access is limited to one room only, regardless of how many rooms are booked.
Link your Marriott Bonvoy Business card account to your Marriott rewards account to get 15 Elite Night Credits per year.
You can earn a maximum of 15 Elite Night Credits every year through credit cards. So even if you have other cards that provide the same benefit, like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, you’ll only get 15 credits per year.
Your Elite Night Credits will be awarded on or before March 1st.
Elite Night Credits are used to increase your Marriott member status. Each status level has an Elite Night requirement:
|Membership Status||Elite Nights Required|
Your automatic Silver Elite status does not affect your Elite Night requirements. So Gold Elite will require 35 Elite Nights after getting your credits, and Platinum Elite will require 50.
The points you earn can be transferred to over 40 different airline partners, where you may find a better value for them. But in general we recommend avoiding point transfers and sticking with the redemption options described above to get the best return on your spending.
Marriott will add 15,000 bonus points for every 60,000 points transferred. So a 60,000-point transfer will actually be credited for transferring 75,000 points. A 120,000-point transfer will be credited for 150,000 points, etc.
You can transfer 3,000 to 240,000 points per day. Most transfers are at a 3:1 rate (3 Marriott points for 1 airline point or mile).
Some of the participating airline loyalty programs include:
|Marriott Rewards Airline Transfer Partners (partial list)|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||American Airlines|
|British Airways Executive Club||Delta SkyMiles||Emirates Skywards||Etihad Guest|
|Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns||JetBlue TrueBlue||Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||United MileagePlus|
Get complimentary unlimited WiFi at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide, for up to four devices.
You must register for the Boingo American Express Plan and authenticate your Amex card before you’ll have access to this service.
American Express business card activity will end up being reported to the credit bureaus. You’ll be able to improve your business credit, but negative activity will hurt your personal credit as well.
As long as your account is in positive standing, the activity will be reported to Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE). SBFE is not a credit bureau, but it relays data to three business credit reporting agencies: Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax Business, and LexisNexis.
If your account enters a negative status, such as from late payments or charge-offs, the activity will be reported to other agencies. An account with a negative status will be reported to:
So your positive activity will be reported to SBFE. But your negative activity will be reported to a business credit bureau, plus the three typical consumer credit reporting agencies. All American Express business credit cards and charge cards report activity in this way.
This means you can use the Marriott Bonvoy Business card to improve your business credit, but not your personal credit. However, you can still hurt your personal credit with it.
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|17.24–26.24% Variable||Not Available||26.99% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$125||None||Not Available||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|29.99% Variable||Up to $39||Up to $39|
The terms and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business card are typical for a credit card, and should be easy to understand.
You’ll have a $125 annual fee to deal with (Rates & Fees), but as described above you can completely offset that fee using your Free Night Award. So rather than costing you $125 per year, it should be easy to come out on top.
Any purchases you make will accrue interest at your given APR, unless you pay your full statement balance every month. This strategy lets you completely avoid accruing interest on purchases.
This card does not allow balance transfers (meaning you can’t transfer a balance to this card; you can still transfer balances away from it). If you’re looking to move a balance to a lower-interest card check out the Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards.
There’s no fee on foreign transactions, so feel free to use this card outside the U.S. without worrying about extra charges (Rates & Fees).
There is no specific minimum or maximum credit limit for the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card. Your credit line will be based on your overall creditworthiness, including your credit scores and other finances (especially income).
You can request a credit limit increase from American Express whenever you’d like. If you want higher limits we recommend requesting an increase once every 6 to 12 months or so.
|Amex Business Customer Support||1-800-492-3344|
You’ll be served by a few different customer support teams if you have this card. Contact Marriott for any concerns about using your points, or anything related to booking and staying in hotels. Contact American Express for questions about your card account, regarding payments, credit limits, and similar topics.
American Express is known for having top-notch customer support, at least compared to other card issuers. In J.D. Power’s annual Credit Card Satisfaction Survey it came in 2nd out of 11 issuers in 2018, and has been ranked highly in previous years as well (it came in first in 2017).
With the Marriott Bonvoy Business card you’ll be dealing with Amex’s business customer support, which is typically a grade above the customer support for personal cards. This is basically true for every card issuer.
So, in general, you can expect to speak with competent customer service reps if you have reason to call. But if you’re having a problem getting your point across, don’t be afraid to ask to speak to someone else. Or you can always hang up (politely) and call again to get a different rep.
|Amex Twitter Customer Support||@AskAmex|
Anyone can tweet to Amex’s customer support account with questions, @AskAmex. Be sure never to reveal personal or account information on Twitter or other social media networks.
American Express cardholders can also contact Amex through its live web chat system. A prompt for this will appear after you log in to your account.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card could be an excellent way to earn rewards for your business spending, especially if you spend a lot of time in Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
Using this card is an easy way to get complimentary Silver Elite status, which will provide 11X points per dollar at eligible hotels in addition to the 6X points you get from the card. So you’ll be earning points at a much higher rate than normal members.
Try to put as much of your business spending as possible on the card, taking advantage of the 4X categories. The more spending you can run through the card, the more rewards you’ll earn.
You won’t really need to worry about this card’s $125 annual fee if you use your annual Free Night Award wisely, for a room valued at more than that (Rates & Fees). This should be pretty easy to do because that award will get you a night at a Category 5 hotel, which could be worth over $300.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business card has some useful perks, but you might be better off with a different co-branded Marriott Bonvoy card, like the upgraded Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. You may prefer a card associated with a different hotel brand, or maybe a general travel card that’s good for booking with any hotel or airline. Check out some alternative cards like that below.
You can apply for this card securely on the American Express website.
They may check your credit reports from all three of the major consumer credit bureaus. Most applications are processed in just a minute or two, but in some cases it can take longer. Amex may request more information to verify your identity or income.
There is no business version of this luxury card, but if you’ll be spending plenty of time and money with these hotel brands you should strongly consider it anyway. It doesn’t have business-related benefits, but it includes all of the other perks of the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, plus more.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
So the rewards program here is a bit different than the Marriott Bonvoy Business card’s. You’ll earn slightly more points per dollar at Marriott Bonvoy hotels because this card grants Gold Elite status, which ends up providing 12.5X Base points per dollar among other benefits, plus the 6X points from the card.
That means you’ll get a total of 18.5X points per dollar, and if you redeem those points for 0.8–2 cents each you’d earn a cash back equivalent of 14.8–37%.
The other bonus categories are different as well. Rather than earning 4X points for certain business-related expenses, this card provides 3X points for flights and at restaurants.
Despite having a much higher fee, the Bonvoy Brilliant card has the same introductory bonus as the Marriott Bonvoy Business card. This isn’t a huge surprise because business cards tend to have bigger-than-average introductory bonuses.
All of the redemption options mentioned above for the Marriott Bonvoy Business card also apply to the Bonvoy Brilliant card.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has a much better set of benefits than the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, which are sure to make your trips more comfortable — at both hotels and airports.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card costs $450 per year. There are no foreign transaction fees.
This may seem like a high price to pay for a credit card, but consider a few of the cost-saving benefits you’ll get: a $300 annual travel credit, a Free Night Award, and Priority Pass Select lounge access. Those could serve to fully offset the fee, leaving you with a premium-level card that won’t cost you a dime.
Read more in our Review of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
If you’re not a huge fan of Marriott, you might like the The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (Review). It’s a hotel card on the same fee level (Rates & Fees) as the Bonvoy Business card, but it’s co-branded with Hilton instead.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
You’ll earn quite a lot of points per dollar at Hilton properties with this card, although those points are not valued as highly as Marriott rewards points. This card grants automatic Hilton Honor Gold status, for an 80% bonus on Base points earned at Hilton. That gives you 18X Base points per dollar for Gold status, in addition to the 12X points you get from this card for a total of 30X.
At a value of 0.4–1 cent per point, you’d be getting a cash back equivalent of 12–30% at Hilton properties. That’s not quite as good as our estimates for the Marriott Bonvoy card, but it’s not bad either.
There are quite a few additional bonus categories where you can earn 6X points per dollar, and this selection is wider than what you’ll get with the Bonvoy Business card. Purchases at the 6X rate will get a cash back equivalent of 2.4–6%, at the point values given above. All other purchases, earning at the 3X rate, will be equivalent to 1.2–3% cash back.
The introductory bonus here is pretty big, but while the cash value is basically the same as the Bonvoy Business card’s, you have to spend $2,000 more to get it. Fortunately, you have an extra month to do so.
The Hilton Business card offers a set of perks that are mostly comparable to the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, although some of the benefits are better with one card than the other. The free nights you can get with the Hilton card aren’t as useful as those of the Marriott Bonvoy card, for example, because you have to earn them by spending. But the Hilton Honors Gold status you’ll get is generally considered better than Silver Elite with Marriott.
The Hilton card also includes limited access to Priority Pass airport lounges, a rare find on a hotel card at this fee level.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card costs $0 per year. There are no foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees).
So it’s a bit less expensive than the Marriott Bonvoy Business card. But if you’d take a Marriott over a Hilton hotel, you’ll probably get more out of Marriott’s co-branded business card.
Read more in our Review of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (Review) is a general travel rewards card. Unlike the other cards mentioned here it’s not co-branded with any particular hotel, making it a good choice for any travel expenses that might come up.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
This card provides 3X Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on a wide variety of travel expenses, which include hotels, airfare, car rentals, parking garages, and more. The other 3X categories include some purchases you’ll also find in the Marriott Bonvoy Business card’s 4X category, mainly shipping and phone services.
UR points are typically worth 1 cent each, but you’ll get a 25% bonus when redeeming for travel expenses through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. So that bumps them up to 1.25 cents per point.
At that rate you’d be earning a cash back equivalent of 3.75% in the 3X categories. Other purchases will get just 1.25%.
But the Ink Business Preferred also allows you to transfer your points to hotel and airline loyalty programs, including Marriott. Depending on the travel accommodations you book that could let you get more out of your rewards, as much as 2 cents per point or more.
At 2 cents per point you’d be earning a cash back equivalent of 6% in the 3X categories, and 2% for every other purchase.
The Ink Business Preferred has benefits that are more suited for travel in general, rather than being focused on one particular hotel brand.
The Ink Business Preferred is a bit less expensive than the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, with a $95 annual fee starting at year one. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
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