While Marriott’s newly relaunched Bonvoy Brilliant credit card is probably the right choice for frequent travelers, the entry level Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is a great option for more casual travelers, and now, it has the same lucrative welcome offer as its big brother.
For a limited time, the Bonvoy Boundless comes with the same 100,000 point welcome offer as the Bonvoy Brilliant, after you spend $5,000 in your first three months. That’s a high minimum spending requirement for a relatively inexpensive card, but if you think you’ll be able to hit the threshold, 100,000 points don’t normally come this easy.
Of course, Marriott Bonvoy points aren’t as flexible as transferrable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards, and at a valuation of about .9 cents per point (according to The Points Guy), they’re far from the most valuable travel currency out there. But still, that’s good for roughly $900 in hotel stays, and potentially more if you play your cards right.
Just note that there are a lot of rules governing who is eligible for this bonus. If you’ve ever received a welcome bonus from an SPG Amex card, or currently have a Marriott Visa, you likely aren’t going to be eligible. You should get a pop-up warning when you apply if that’s the case, but if you want to be extra careful, your safest bet would be to call Amex and ask before applying.
In addition to your welcome bonus, you’ll earn six points for every dollar you spend at Marriott properties, and two points per dollar on all other purchases. Those are the same rates as the Bonvoy Brilliant, but it lacks the Brilliant’s 3x tier on flights and dining in U.S. restaurants.
The Boundless’ $95 annual fee puts it right in line with other entry level hotel-branded credit cards, like The World of Hyatt Credit Card, and the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card card. That said, the perks should more than cover the cost of the card.
Every Bonvoy Boundless cardholder is entitled to the following:
- A free night award (up to 35,000 points) on your cardmember anniversary. You may still be on the hook for resort fees, however. Depending on the property and date you choose, this can be worth hundreds of dollars.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver elite status, which is bumped to Gold if you spend $35,000 on the card (inclusive of all purchases) during the calendar year.
It’s a fairly meager offering compared to the $450 Brilliant card—Marriott Silver Status in particular is all but worthless—but even so, you should have no trouble finding a 35,000 point night worth more than the $95 annual fee.
We’ll publish a more comprehensive comparison between the two Bonvoy cards in the near future, but I think the $450 Brilliant is the right choice for anyone who stays at Marriott properties more than a few times per year. That annual fee seems high, but the travel credits and perks mean it’s not that much more expensive than the Boundless, all things considered.
But if you’re just out for an annual free night and a lucrative welcome offer, without a major cash outlay on an annual fee, the Boundless is a solid option normally, and a very good option while its 100,000 point offer is active.