Best offer available via Great Canadian Rebates until March 27, 2019
- Signup bonus: 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
- Minimum spending: $1,500 in the first three months
- Annual fee:
- Offset by $50 cash back from Great Canadian Rebates
- Nets to $70 for the first year
- Earning rate:
- 5 Marriott points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels
- 2 Marriott points per dollar spent on all other purchases
- Perks & benefits: Silver Elite status, anniversary free night award
- Insurance: Good
The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card offers 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points as a signup bonus upon spending $1,500 in the first three months. The card has an annual fee of $120 which, to my knowledge, has never come with a first year fee waiver.
However, you can apply via Great Canadian Rebates in order to capture $50 in cash back (offer valid until March 27, 2019), meaning you're only out-of-pocket $70 in exchange for the 60,000 points.
Meanwhile, applying via a referral link will earn you an extra 1,000 points for a total of 61,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, but you’d be faced with a higher spending requirement of $3,000 rather than $1,500.
Of course, if you already held a Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, then it’d be worthwhile to apply via that card’s referral link, since the 10,000 Bonvoy points you’d earn as a referral bonus would outweigh the savings you’d obtain via Great Canadian Rebates.
Let's face it: annual fees suck, big time. But if you do the math, you'll see that the signup bonus more than offsets your $120 outlay. To give you an idea of what the bonus can get you:
Redeem 60,000 Marriott points for a free night at a Category 7 hotel (retail cost: $500+)
Redeem 60,000 Marriott points for two free nights at a Category 4 hotel (retail cost: $400–500)
Redeem 60,000 Marriott points for five free nights at a Category 2 hotel (retail cost: $500–600)
Redeem 60,000 Marriott points for nine free nights at a Category 1 hotel (retail cost: $750+)
Transfer 60,000 points to any of 40 airline transfer partners, netting 25,000 airline miles, and redeem for flights (retail cost: $500+)
Those are just a few examples that come to mind, and you could also mix and match the options that best suit your needs. The point is, the ultimate value of the Marriott program derives from its flexibility, and as a result of that, it's almost difficult not to get multiple times' return on your $120 annual fee when signing up for this card.
The world's largest hotel loyalty program
The Marriott Bonvoy cards also offer unique benefits to make your stays at SPG/Marriott hotels more memorable. Cardholders are rewarded with automatic Silver Elite status within the program, and can also enjoy a free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points on each card anniversary date.
Finally, supplementary cards are not subject to an annual fee; as with all Amex cards, you're allowed up to nine supplementary cards per card account.
American Express Credit Card Flowchart
The optimal Amex application strategy
In terms of the return on everyday spending, you'll earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at all Marriott hotels, including room charges, food and beverages, and incidentals. You'll earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
While this card used to be one of the most powerful cards in Canada for daily spending, nowadays the value proposition has decreased.
Earning 2 Marriott points on your purchases is fine if you're primarily looking to use your Marriott points on hotel stays; however, if you're interested in transferring to airlines like Aeroplan or Alaska Mileage Plan, then it'd be a better idea to put the charges on the Amex Platinum or the MBNA Alaska.
The insurance provided by the Amex Bonvoy Card is decently far-reaching, and includes coverage such as:
Travel accident insurance, up to $500,000, for you, your spouse, and any dependent children under 23
Baggage delay insurance, up to $1,000 (aggregate total with Flight Delay insurance), for items purchased within four days when your baggage is delayed
Car rental theft and damage insurance, which helps you save the daily insurance fee that most car rental companies charge
There's a few notable omissions from the list of covered items, though. For example, there's no emergency medical insurance, which many travellers view as a necessity.
The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card is quite easy to get approved for, with no minimum income requirements.
The optimal way to apply is via Great Canadian Rebates, where you can benefit from $50 in cash back:
You also have the option of applying via a referral link, where you’ll get an extra 1,000 Bonvoy points (for 61,000 in total), but you’ll have to contend with a higher minimum spending requirement of $3,000 in the first three months. If you’d like to go this route, I’ve included my referral link below, which you can use to support Prince of Travel:
Any questions? Contact me.