My Thoughts On Marriott’s Credit Card Shakeup: A Bunt Single In 4 Opportunities

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Marriott's New Credit Cards

Marriott’s New Credit Cards

Last week the rumored new Marriott cards finally hit our shores. If there was any excitement for these cards that excitement immediately waned once the details came out. Truth be told, there wasn’t a lot to get excited about. The launch was markedly worse than the Hyatt Business card, which missed the mark but had some redeeming factors at least. In my opinion, the only real positive with this Marriot card shake up was the adjustment made to a card no one can sign up for anymore. That is the epitome of a failure to launch right there. I’ll share my thoughts on why I think Marriott went a paltry 1 for 4 last week.

New Marriott Cards, Bountiful & Bevy

The two new cards were launched in partnership with Amex and Chase. American Express for the Bevy and Chase for the Bountiful. Have fun keeping all of these names separated going forward by the way!

For some reason they decided to make these cards carbon copies of each other. The really crazy thing is the current $95 cards that Bonvoy has offer a better value proposition overall. I really don’t know who these cards are for, or why someone would want them.

The cards do not come with a free night certificate, which is confusing for sure. They could have slotted a 50K free night cert in right here, especially with the Brilliant card moving up to a 85K a night certificate (more on that later). Being able to earn a free night certificate after $15K in spend is nice but that should have been a secondary option at this price point. The closest competition is the Hilton Surpass that offers a $15K free night certificate but it is only $95 a year. The World of Hyatt card gives you a free night on your anniversary and one after $15K in spend. So these new Bonvoy cards are the most expensive of the mid tier hotel cards AND they offer the least in terms of free nights.

Some people, hi Benjy, may be intrigued by the 4X earning at U.S. Supermarkets, which is capped at $15,000 a year. That limit is on the lower end and the value proposition just isn’t there. If you value Marriott Bonvoy points at $0.0065 each that is only 2.6% back. You would be better off grabbing a Citi Premier card and cashing out your ThankYou points at 1 cent a piece on grocery spend. That would net you 3% back and you could pay cash for your hotel stays, even earning points on the bookings.  The Amex Gold card offers you 4X Membership Rewards, worth double what Marriott Bonvoy points are worth. The $25K yearly cap on U.S. supermarket spend is almost double what is offered with the Bonvoy cards too. That doesn’t even take into consideration the statement credits each month for Uber and dining you get with the Amex Gold for the same $250 annual fee.

These cards are a huge miss and there is really no point in grabbing one in my opinion.

Marriott's New Credit Cards

Bonvoy Brilliant Gets Pricier

With the launch of their new cards Marriott also took a stab at refreshing the premium Marriott card, the Bonvoy Brilliant. This is in addition the them already changing the yearly $300 resort credit with a $25 a month dining credit.

The changes to the Brilliant could be a net positive for some Marriott loyalists, but I think most will think these “enhancements” are a devaluation overall.

The most notable change is the free night certificate going from a 50K a night certificate to an 85K a night certificate. The 35,000 point increase is worth over $200 if you value Marriott points at $0.0065 each. That more than covers the annual fee increase, but that is deceiving in my opinion.

Finding a hotel to maximize this certificate at will likely be difficult and I bet a lot of them get used on stays well below 85,000 points a night. I think the bookings will often end up closer to the old 50K a night price point if I am being honest. One problem with this certificate is it would require 85K-100K points to book a second night at the same hotel, which may be too steep for some. Marriott can flaunt this as value added but they know most will never maximize it to realize that “enhanced” value.

They also added a big spend bonus when you spend $60,000 on the card within a year. The bonus spending areas are not worth chasing this though, flights and restaurants at 3X being the only bonus option outside of hotel stays.

Some may carry the card just for the increased elite night credits, increased from 15 nights to 25 nights per year. When this card is paired with a business card that gives you 40 nights a year right off the bat. I don’t value Marriott status much at all, even if the Platinum status you now get is much better than Gold, so I wouldn’t be chasing it myself.  You could get a better status with Hilton Gold for $95 a year with the Hilton Surpass card.

Marriott's New Credit Cards

Ritz Carlton Card Is The Only Real Winner

As Danny covered last week, the real winner of the 4 cards is the Ritz Carlton card. This card is no longer available for new applications but you can product change other Chase Marriott cards into it. You just need to have had the card for a year or more. The Ritz Carlton card comes with a much easier to use $300 travel credit, the annual fee stayed at $450 and the free night certificate went from a 50K free night certificate to a 85K free night certificate. It didn’t get the additional elite night credits like the Brilliant did but I think this was a win overall. Your free night is now worth more and nothing else changed.

Marriott’s New Credit Cards: Final Thoughts

I was hopeful we would be getting some new hotness with these Marriott cards launching. Anytime something new comes on the market that is good for us, the consumer. This is one of the rare times that I don’t think these new cards actually offer us anything of value. The refreshes on the premium Bonvoy cards on the other hand do offer some value. Anyone that has the Ritz Carlton card woke up happier than they did the day before. While Brilliant cardholders got more of a mixed bag. Some will like the increased free night certificate and the additional elite night credits while others won’t think the changes are worth the fee.

What are your thoughts on all of these changes? Let me know in the comments!

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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16 COMMENTS

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Currently have the AMEX Brilliant and the Chase Boundless. I’m LT Platinum and currently Titanium for the year. My plan is to max out the monthly dining credit on the Brilliant until renewal time and then cancel the Brilliant. Then open AMEX Bonvoy Biz card to stack the 15 elite nights from the biz card and the Boundless card. That should keep me in titanium level.

    • It is actually a baseball reference haha. It is when the hitter drops it down a few feet in front of home plate and runs to first.

  2. Messaged Amex and confirmed for the Brilliant that before the $650 hits (for me next March), the $25/month at restaurants will work even though I already used my $300 Marriott credit for my cardmember year.
    That’s at least 7 months of $25 dining, so… just a minute… $175 at restaurants before March, at which point I drop the card.

  3. Mark, I’ll share my comment from a different article:

    “[T]he BIGGEST problem is that Marriott eliminated the award chart in favor of dynamic pricing. When the award chart was around, a Category 8 property was 85k in “regular” season and 100k in “high” season. The 15k top-off limit would work.

    With dynamic pricing, in all but the lowest of low season pricing, those same properties are well beyond the 15k top-off limit. For practical purposes, one could NEVER use an 85k certificate at a former Category 8 property even with a 15k top-off. One would be looking at former Category 7 properties at best.

    These jokers know exactly what they’re doing.

    Perhaps the next card will be named the BuFu.”

    • Yup, the 85K a night cert will probably get you what the 50K a night cert used to get you but at $200 more a year.

  4. Bonvoy Brilliant seems to be competing with Hilton Aspire. Bonvoy Platinum vs Hilton Diamond. In America mostly the same, but maybe Bonvoy Plat might be helpful abroad. Free night certs roughly the same (Bonvoy can use free night for weeknights though). Brilliant annual fee is way high, despite the credits. Hilton Aspire still wins on earning from spend. An indifferent yawn for Brilliant, unless Plat status means something. My bet is Plat will be so commonplace, it won’t be much of an advantage.

    • Yup – it is competing with Aspire for sure. It went from losing a close race to getting boat raced after these changes. Hopefully Hilton doesn’t get tempted to tamper with the Aspire card.

  5. “Finding a hotel to maximize this certificate at will likely be difficult and I bet a lot of them get used on stays well below 85,000 points a night.”

    Not in 2023, when Marriott moves to full dynamic pricing, and award stays become “uncapped.” Instead of trying to find value in using your 85k cert, you’ll be struggling to find enough Marriott pesos to cover a 300k award night.

    • Fair point there Tom. People will be paying $200 more a year to get the same hotel they used to get at 50K a night

  6. Who stays at a Marriot flagged property unless they have to? Marriott today is your Father’s Oldsmobile.
    After my 3rd bad experience at a Marriot Property I gave up.

    They will probably view their credit cards the same way they view cleaning your room during a pandemic.

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