Credit Card Review: Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express card replaced the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express personal card. All cardholders were transferred to the new card but there’s a chance you’re still holding the SPG card as the cards will only be replaced as they expire.

The SPG Amex used to be one of the best cards out there, but there’s no need to relive the past. Those days are gone and the Marriott Bonvoy AMEX is what’s left. The question is now, what benefits does the card provide and it is worthwhile keeping?

NOTE: This card is no longer available to new applicants. If you are looking to sign up for a new card, please check out our reviews of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa by Chase

Signup Bonus

Since no one can sign up for this card, there’s no signup bonus.

Annual Fee

$95 Annual Fee

Spending Categories

When spending on the card, you earn points in the Marriott Bonvoy program as follows:

  • Earn 6 points for every dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • Earn 2 points for all other eligible purchases

Now, I’ll admit that’s not a very exciting list of bonus categories. Even at Marriott hotels, you’ll earn 6X points but you can earn 3x points on all hotel spending by using the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. You have to decide if you value Ultimate Rewards 2X more than Marriott Bonvoy points.

Card Benefits

Let’s look at what benefits you get with Marriott for having the card:

  • Free in-room premium internet (when booking directly through Marriott). There’s quite a list of hotels that don’t participate in the free premium internet benefit including all of the AC Hotels, Ritz Carlton and Vistana properties. A full list can be found here.
  • Complimentary Silver Elite Status. Ability to earn Gold Elite status is you spend $35,000 or more on eligible purchases in a calendar year
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits to be used to reach the next level of status. You only receive 15 nights no matter how many Bonvoy credit cards you have.
  • Unlimited Wi-Fi access with up to four devices at Boingo hotspots worldwide. You need to enroll for this benefit and I removed the Boingo app from my phone because it was keeping me from logging in to some WiFi networks.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. The award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Ways to Use Starpoints

Points earned with the Marriott Bonvoy AMEX card can be used to stay at Marriott properties. In addition, you’re able to transfer points to many different Airline Frequent Flyer programs (possibly with a bonus, depending on how many points you transfer). That’s not counting the additional options of Marriott Bonvoy Moments (which I explain later in this post).

Hotel Stays

Points can be used for award stays at any of the Marriott Bonvoy hotels. This covers 30 chains worldwide:

  1. The Ritz-Carlton
  2. St. Regis
  3. JW Marriott
  4. Ritz-Carlton Reserve
  5. The Luxury Collection
  6. W Hotels
  7. EDITION
  8. Marriott Hotels
  9. Sheraton
  10. Marriott Vacation Club
  11. Delta Hotels
  12. Le Meriden
  13. Westin
  14. Autograph Collection
  15. Design Hotels
  16. Renaissance Hotels
  17. Tribute Portfolio
  18. Gaylord Hotels
  19. Courtyard Hotels
  20. Four Points
  21. SpringHill Suites
  22. Protea Hotels
  23. Fairfield Inn & Suites
  24. AC Hotels
  25. Aloft Hotels
  26. Moxy Hotels
  27. Marriott Executive Apartments
  28. Residence Inn
  29. TownPlace Suites
  30. element

Flights

You can transfer points to the frequent flyer programs of over 30 different airlines. The transfer ratio is 3 points to 1 mile for most airlines and you get a bonus of 5,000 extra miles when you transfer 60,000 points. That means it’s best to transfer only in 60,000 point increments, when your 60,000 points will give you 25,000 miles. A change from the previous transfer ratio is with United Airlines. Whereas a transfer to United was a previously a horrible deal, you’ll now get a 10% bonus when sending points to United.

FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAMS POINTS : MILES
Aegean Airlines 3:1
Aeroflot Bonus 3:1
AeroMexico ClubPremier 3:1
Air Canada Aeroplan 3:1
Air China Phoenix Miles 3:1
Air France/KLM Flying Blue 3:1
Air New Zealand Airpoints™ 200:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan® 3:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia 3:1
ANA Mileage Club 3:1
American Airlines 3:1
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club 3:1
Avianca LifeMiles 3:1
British Airways Executive Club 3:1
Asia Miles™ 3:1
China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles 3:1
China Southern Airlines 3:1
Copa Airlines ConnectMiles 3:1
Delta SkyMiles® 3:1
Emirates Skywards® 3:1
Etihad Guest 3:1
Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns® 3:1
Hainan Airlines 3:1
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles® 3:1
Iberia Plus 3:1
Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank 3:1
Jet Airways JetPrivilege® 3:1
JetBlue TrueBlue™ 6:1
Korean Air SKYPASS 3:1
LATAM Airlines LATAMPASS 3:1
Lufthansa Miles & More (Suspended) 3:1
Multiplus 3:1
Qantas Frequent Flyer 3:1
Qatar Privilege Club 3:1
Saudia Airlines 3:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer® 3:1
South African Airways Voyager 3:1
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® 3:1
TAP Air Portugal 3:1
THAI Airways 3:1
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles 3:1
United MileagePlus® 3:1.1
Virgin Atlantic® Flying Club 3:1
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer 3:1

Other uses for Marriott Bonvoy points

There are also other interesting ways for you to spend your points. One of those is the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program. Some of the events they offer a set price are:

  • Access Marriott Bonvoy Luxury Suite for the Billy Joel, Queen + Adam Lambert. and Hootie & The Blowfish at Madison Square Garden
  • Watch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field from the Marriott Bonvoy Luxury Suite

Besides the fixed price tickets, they also have auctions for more “once in a lifetime” events:

  • Wellness weekend in Mauritius
  • Savor an Unforgettable Private Dinner at Michelin Star Restaurant The French Laundry + Meet Chef Thomas Keller
  • Indulge in VIP Access at Eat Drink SF
  • Celebrate at Canal PRIDE 2019 plus Three-Night Stay at W Amsterdam

For one of the most expensive uses of points, here’s an article by Dan, of the website Dan’s Deals, who won an auction to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 7 of the World Series at Wrigley Field for 1,060,500 Starpoints (the equivalent of over 3 million Bonvoy points).

Final Thoughts

I’ve held onto this card for a long time because I found Starpoints to be really useful due to their value and flexibility. The ability to transfer points to airlines is a huge bonus but the earning on everyday spend on this card was cut 33% when the merger between SPG and Marriott’s rewards programs was completed. This is no longer a great card to use for everyday spending like it once was. So why keep it?

Luckily, I’ve found that using points for hotel stays can also be a great value. I wish we could stay somewhere for 5 nights more often, so I could take advantage of the fifth night free on reward stays like I did at the Residence Inn Times Square New York.

The new perk of this card is the addition of the free night certificate for a room costing 35,000 points or less. Is that worth keeping it for the $95 annual fee? Honestly, it will be easy to find a room costing over $100 where I can use the free night each year. I’m still deciding if saving that amount is worth the increased restrictions put on where we want to stay. Am I stuck staying at a Marriott just because I need to use the certificate up? If so, I might just let the card go.

For now, I’m going to hold onto my Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.

What about you?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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