The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card Review

marriott-bonvoy-cardBon voyage, SPG Credit Card! Hello, Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card!

It’s been a few months since Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) merged their loyalty programs and discontinued the ever-popular Amex SPG Card. But it’s been replaced with a new kid on the block: The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card. With outstanding rewards, a generous welcome bonus that equals 4 free nights, and no qualifying income required, we look at why the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card is one of the best rewards credit cards in Canada.

Click here to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card: At a Glance
Purchase interest rate: 19.99%Qualifying annual income:  None
Annual fee: $120Recommended credit score: 740 – 850
Sign-up bonus points: 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points* (after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months)Rewards: 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points for every $1 in eligible card purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
2 points for every $1 in card purchases everywhere else

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card Review

Right off the bat, it’s important to note that this is a travel rewards card. Cardholders earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points, which can be redeemed for free stays with no blackout dates at over 6,500 of the world’s most desired Marriott Bonvoy hotels. You can also transfer points to frequent flyer miles with a wide selection of airlines, including Aeroplan. The potential for those who travel frequently is obvious. Plus, with a reasonable $120 annual fee, the bar isn’t too high for applicants with a good credit score.

How to Earn & Redeem Rewards

Unlike some rewards programs, there isn’t a straightforward points-to-dollars equation to share. This is because, although there are no blackout dates, there are differently rated properties (hotels on a scale of 1 to 8 categories), and standard, peak, and off-peak seasons. In other words, your points are going to go further at certain times of the year and spent on certain things at certain properties. That said, it doesn’t take a calculus degree to see that SPG points have a fair value. More on this below, but first, let’s look at how you earn points.

  • Earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points* (after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months)
  • Earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points for every $1 in eligible card purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases everywhere else

It’s pretty easy to see that your points can add up quickly—and exponentially when you use the card to purchase at Marriott Bonvoy properties.

However, a points program is only as good as its redemption process. After all, who cares how many points you accumulate if you can’t redeem them easily? Because these points are Marriot Bonvoy branded, redemption is a breeze. Simply go to Marriot.com and use your points when you reserve (and don’t forget to earn 5 points on the dollar by putting that reservation on your card!).

It is worth noting that the points are also transferable to more than 40 different airline partners, so if you want to offset a flight cost, you can do that too. The transfer ratio is 3:1 for Aeroplan but it will depend on the airline. As an incentive, you’ll get an additional 5000 miles per 60,000 points transferred.

Other Perks of The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card also carries other perks of value to the frequent traveller. As a cardholder, you receive:

  • An annual free night award each year after your anniversary, redeemable at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties worldwide (with a redemption value at or under 35,000 points).
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status
  • The ability to upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in eligible purchases on your Card each year
  • Complimentary in-room, premium internet access while staying at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Travel insurance: travel accident, car rental theft and damage, flight delay, baggage delay, lost and stolen baggage, and hotel/motel burglary insurance. Note that travel emergency medical insurance is not included, so that will be an extra expense.
  • Shopping coverage: American Express Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan doubles the manufacturer’s warranty up to a year on many purchases, while the Purchase Protection Plan gives up to 90 days damage or theft on many retail items.
  • Entertainment Access: American Express Invites and Front of the Line benefits give cardholders exclusive access to pre-sales and special events.

Pros and Cons of The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card comes with a super generous 60,000 welcome points, many easy opportunities to earn more points and fair values on redemption. The free night reward alone justifies the annual fee, and cardholders get other perks like purchase protection, special events access, and travel insurance.

But speaking of travel insurance, this package is lacking the all-important travel medical coverage. Also, while these points can be transferred to flight partners, the program is not as flexible as say, a cash-back program.

The Verdict: Is The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card Worth It?

Frequent travellers—particularly those who already purchase in Marriott Bonvoy brand family—need this card. The sign-up bonus and benefits are outstanding and easy to redeem, and it’s clear that the more you use it, the better your travel will be. The free annual night sweetens the pot even for those without a packed travel roster, so at the very least, The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card should be on the short-list as one of the cards in your wallet.

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Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson is a freelance journalist, editor, and blogger who contributes to various online and print media outlets in Canada and abroad, including The Globe & Mail, Islands Magazine, Huffington Post Canada, CAA Magazine, The Food Network Canada, West Jet Magazine, NUVO Magazine, and many others. When she's not writing from her home office, she's busy globe-trotting to new destinations in search of her next story.

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10 Comments

  1. chantl01 on June 1, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    I did the same thing…was going to shun this card because of the annual fee but when they hit me with that ‘last chance’ offer to sign up and have the fee waived for a year, I bit. The rewards are worth it. And I, too, have penciled in the date next year to switch or cancel this card. Being a personal finance geek like that, also.



  2. young on June 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    @chantl01- LOL good to know I’m not alone! Personal finance geeks unite! What do you use your starwood points for, primarily?



  3. FinancialBondage.org on June 6, 2010 at 3:20 am

    cash back, points, airline miles, free hats, tshirts, blah blah blah. All gimmicks to trick you into playing their game and getting into debt.

    Looks like you’re doing just what they want. Unless you pay the balance off in full each month. If that is the case, then no problem. 🙂



  4. young on June 6, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    @FinancialBondage- Definitely don’t sign up for all the gimmicky cards if you can’t pay the balance off each month. I am actually super obsessive about paying my balance. Almost to the point that when I charge something (e.g. like a big purchase like my annual car insurance for example) to my card, I pay it off even before I get my statements!



  5. EdM on July 8, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I don



  6. young on July 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

    @EdM- yeah, that DOES suck! Oh well, 10,000 SPG points is better than no points! I think it has always been that the US market has better credit card rewards (especially if affiliated with AMEX) than the counterparts up north. Good find (only if you can apply for an american card) =)



  7. SavingMentor on September 2, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I just came across this old post about the SPG Amex. I too used to have the MBNA SPG MasterCard as my primary credit card. I also signed up for the SPG Amex for the free year and 11,000 points. After those 11,000 my balance is now slightly over 100,000 which I will be using some of for a free trip to Europe hopefully in the next year.

    Anyway, I’ve recently done and in depth study using a scoring system that I developed to objectively determine the best credit cards in Canada. You can find it here:

    www.howtosavemoney.ca/Finan…dsInCanada

    Surprisingly, even to myself, the SPG Amex actually came out as the best credit card in Canada, even with the annual fee. I also have a full page analysis of just this card individually here:

    www.howtosavemoney.ca/Finan…arwoodAmex



  8. young on September 2, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    @SavingMentor- Wow, have you cashed out on your points at all? You must have been saving for a while. You’ll definitely get a free trip to Europe with that (maybe even on business class). Thanks for the link- I’ll go and check it out. Interesting that even with the annual fee of $120, the SPG Amex came out on top?? wow…! I do love that they give you an extra 5000 points if you transfer 20,000 points to an airlines. I love SPG!!



  9. chad madill on April 15, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Lisa, does Marriott Bonvoy offer any sort of loyalty program to its loyal customers?



  10. Lisa Jackson on April 17, 2019 at 9:29 am


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