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Marriott credit cards: 125k bonus points & $200 in credits

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With travel likely to begin opening up in the next few months, you might be starting to think about your next vacation — even if it’s just a short drive away. And since the Marriott hotel chain has such a large presence both domestically and globally, you may be considering whether a Marriott credit card makes sense for you.

If it does, there’s probably never been a better time to score a terrific welcome offer, because American Express is offering increased bonuses on its Marriott credit cards right now.

For a limited time until May 12, 2021, new card members can earn 125,000 Marriott bonus points with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card after you make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months after opening the account. Plus, you can also earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases made on your new card at US restaurants within the first six months of card membership.

Meanwhile, also through May 12, 2021, the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card is offering 100,000 Marriott bonus points after you make $5,000 in purchases within your first three months of card membership, plus you can earn up to $150 in statement credits for all eligible purchases made on your new card within your first three months of card membership.

You’ll get excellent value with both of these card offers, so deciding which offer to choose probably depends on which card is right for you. Let’s dive into the details of each card.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is a card for people who frequently find themselves at Marriott hotels, as it comes with a slew of elite perks but also a high $450 annual fee. However, one of the best features of the card is up to $300 in statement credits annually for Marriott purchases. If you can use those credits in full each year, you’re effectively only paying a net annual fee of $150.

The card earns 6 points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points per dollar at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.

You also get 15 elite night credits with the Marriott Brilliant Amex, which means you’ll get automatic Silver elite status every year you have the card, and you can upgrade to Gold elite status by spending $35,000 on the card each year.

When it comes to the welcome bonus, you might be wondering how much 125,000 Marriott points are worth. Based on the point valuations of frequent flyer website The Points Guy, Marriott points are worth 0.8 cents apiece, making this bonus worth $1,000. Add in the up to $200 in credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants in your first six months as a card member, and it’s clear this bonus is a sizable haul.

Redeem 60,000 points from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card for a night at the Marriott Miami Edition.

PHOTO: Marriott Hotels

Redeem 60,000 points from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card for a night at the Marriott Miami Edition.

Plus, at the start of your second year with the card (and every year thereafter), you’ll get a complimentary award certificate that can be used at any Marriott hotel for one night costing 50,000 points or less. This means you can use it at any category 1 through 5 property on the Marriott award chart, plus off-peak and standard redemptions at category 6 hotels, and off-peak redemptions for category 7 properties.

Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card.

If you’re a small-business traveler who expects to be back on the road more often in 2021, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card could be a good fit. The card comes with a much lower $125 annual fee but also has the same 15 annual elite credits as the Marriott Brilliant card, which you can “stack” together for a total of 30 elite nights if you also hold one of the other personal Marriott cards that offer elite credits.

With the Marriott Business Amex, you’ll earn 6 points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 4 points per dollar at US restaurants, at US gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers and on US purchases for shipping, and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.

Just like with the Marriott Brilliant card, you’ll get a complimentary award night each year starting with your second card member year, but with the business card, the free nights can be used at Marriott properties with a redemption level up to 35,000 points. That means you can use it at any category 1 through 5 property on the Marriott award chart except for category 5 hotels during peak periods.

The JW Marriott in Rio de Janeiro is a category 5 hotel.

PHOTO: Marriott Hotels

The JW Marriott in Rio de Janeiro is a category 5 hotel.

Given that easy access to travel is currently an unknown, the timing on this certificate actually works out fairly well. Since you don’t receive your first certificate until you’ve had the card for a year, you won’t have to worry about trying to use it right now, but you’ll have access to it a year from now when it’s more likely you can really use a free hotel night, perhaps for a sorely needed vacation. You can also earn a second award night after you spend $60,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year.

The 100,000 bonus points on the Marriott Business Amex are worth $800 based on The Points Guy’s valuations, but you also get up to $150 in statement credits for eligible purchases made with your card in the first three months after opening the account. So if you can maximize the points and credits, you can get as much as $950 in value from the bonus.

Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card.

The Heathrow/Windsor Marriott Hotel in the United Kingdom.

PHOTO: Marriott Hotels

The Heathrow/Windsor Marriott Hotel in the United Kingdom.

Marriott has about 30 different brands under its umbrella, which means there are plenty of opportunities across the globe to redeem your Marriott points or use free nights. Whether you want to stay at an ultra-luxury beach destination in the Caribbean or a few miles down from your favorite amusement park, there’s generally a Marriott property for everyone.

Obviously, if you don’t stay at Marriott hotels very often, then a Marriott credit card probably isn’t a good fit. But if you do expect to be at a Marriott even a few times in 2021, then either of these Marriott credit cards are worth considering for their welcome offers alone, and then to keep on an ongoing basis, especially for the annual complimentary award certificates.

So if you’re a small business with an owner or employees who make a lot of Marriott stays, choose the Marriott Bonvoy Business card from American Express. And Marriott fanatics who can use all the perks — and the up to $300 in annual statement credits — should grab the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express and get the best that Marriott offers.

Find out which credit cards CNN Underscored chose as its best credit cards of 2021.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.



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