With only the MBNA World Points World MasterCard in my wallet, I felt a little empty. Since I cancelled the TD Aeroplan last year to avoid paying an annual fee, I needed another Visa. Therefore after some deliberation, I decided on the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa card. It's definitely no Aeroplan card, but it'll do, especially since I want to avoid getting dinged even more on the foreign currency conversion from CAD to USD.
Perhaps I was reminiscent of the amazing MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest credit card which later turned into the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest, where I got to stay at Sheraton Hotel on the Waikiki strip for $50 a night, or the Westin Moana Surfrider for $100 a night. Ahh, I heart Sheratons and Westins!
There are some good things going for this card, and reading the reviews on this card, many people either have this or the Amazon Chase Visa because they are basically the only credit cards in Canada that don't charge the foreign currency conversion charge, which is usually 2.5% on top of the regular crappier exchange rate. That's you getting nailed another 2.5% on top of the already horrific (circa early 2016) CAD to USD exchange rate! (You know when you do the mental calculation in your head when you're shopping south of the border, and then it doesn't seem so bad, then you get your credit card bill, and you're like what?! Yeah, well that's the 2.5% foreign currency conversion charge that many people don't know about.
Here are some of the specs, pros, and cons of the Visa credit card.
- The annual interest rate is 19.99%, so don't sign up for this unless you can use credit cards wisely!
- When you stay at a Marriott location, you get 5 points for every $1 spent. I see this being great for those who travel on business or those who travel a lot. I stayed at a Marriott only a few times in my life (and I think even ordered room service at it which was the first time in my life, in my early 30's haha) because it's a bit too rich for my blood without using points.
- When you buy a ticket directly with an airline website, or when you purchase any car rental or dine at any restaurant you get 2 points for every $1 spent.
- When you make purchases on anything else, you get 1 point for every $1 spent.
- The $120 annual fee, is waived for the first year
- Just for signing up, you get 30,000 Marriott Points on your first purchase. This is equivalent to 5 FREE nights at a Category 1 hotel. It sounds great, but there are no category 1 hotels in Canada. Milan Italy (albeit near the Airport) is a category 1, so that's 5 nights in Italy right there!
- You get a free e-certificate after your first purchase for any 1-night Marriott stay at a category 1-4 Marriott location redeemed within 12 months
- There is no foreign currency conversion charges– this is the only
- Additional Supplementary cards are free
- You get charged $120 for an annual fee whether your card is activated or not. However, they lessen the pain by offering you a free Category 1-5 Marriott stay after 12 months on your anniversary date.
- Converting your Marriott points to Aeroplan doesn't have an optimal conversion rate. 10,000 Marriott points equals 2000 Aeroplan points, which is a 5:1 ratio. You can check out the conversion chart here to other travel rewards programs. The exchange is even worse for JetBlue Airlines, Air China, Asia Miles, or Air France/ KLM.
- Another downside is that Marriott can choose to change up their hotel categories, so a property that was Category 1 may not be Category 1 another year.
- For a self-professed travel card, it doesn't have that much in terms of travel benefits. The only insurance it really offers is the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver insurance.
- Scotiabank (aka the bank known for “So I moved some things around and found you $1500 a year” and “You're richer than you think”) recently purchased the Chase JP Morgan Canada credit card portfolio (fall of 2015) for a cool $1.7 billion, so who knows what will happen to the current benefits. This may change, perhaps the foreign currency exchange charge will be added on.
Readers, do you have the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa? What do you think about it?