Is the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Worth Its Annual Fee?

The free award night and fast-track to elite status can be worth a lot more than the annual fee.

Michael McHughJuly 21, 2020

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The Marriott Bonvoy program partners with both American Express and Chase to issue a variety of co-branded credit cards. Before applying for an entry-level card like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, we recommend asking yourself, “Is this credit card worth its annual fee?” In this article, we cover everything you need to know to help you answer this important question.

How much is the annual fee?

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card has a $95 annual fee. This fee is not waived the first year and will most likely appear on your first billing statement.

Who is not eligible to apply for this card?

New potential cardmembers are ineligible for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card if:

  • You already have a Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (formerly known as the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus).

  • You are a current Marriott Bonvoy Premier (also known as the Marriott Rewards Premier) or Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card cardmember.

  • You were a cardholder of one of the above cards who received a new cardmember bonus in the past 24 months, regardless of whether your card is still open.

What is the current welcome offer?

Here's the current offer: Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card!

Before applying, it’s important to know that the bonus points are not available to some customers who have had previous approvals or bonuses for related Marriott products. If in doubt, check the Chase “Offer Details” and read the fine print to ensure you qualify. NerdWallet values Marriott points at 1 cent each.

Credit card perks

15 elite night credits

You’ll receive 15 elite night credits that post to your account within 60 days of account opening. Your 15 elite night credits put you only 10 nights away from qualifying for Gold status. So if you’re someone who easily spends 10 nights per year in a Marriott, this perk of 15 elite night credits can save you thousands of dollars you would have spent on earning those 15 nights. If you don’t think you’ll stay 10 nights in the year, then this perk will have no value to you.

Nerd tip: You can earn an additional 15 elite night credits (for a total of 30) by holding both a personal Marriott card (such as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card) and one of Marriott’s business credit cards. This qualifies you for Gold status through the following year and puts you only 20 additional nights away from Platinum Elite.

Free award night

The free award night is a high-value benefit offered to Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card customers. You receive a free award night at participating properties, good for nights valued up to 35,000 points each. The free night will post to your account up to eight weeks after your account anniversary.

So what is this worth? Well, Marriott rooms run on dynamic pricing, but if you shop around you can get a lot of value out of this free night. A standard-rate Category 5 goes for 35,000 points per night, and you could get a free night at plenty of properties both domestically and internationally:

  • JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa, which can cost around $165/night.

  • The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio, which can run over $300 per night.

  • Even the Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort, Corfu in Greece slots into a Category 5 with prices that can exceed $500 per night.

Silver Elite status

Silver Elite status is an automatic benefit that Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card cardmembers receive. Whether you stay zero nights or nine nights per year, you’ll always have Silver status if you hold this card (and you’ll be eligible for Gold status after staying 10 nights). Silver status perks include:

  • 10% earning bonus on stays.

  • Priority late checkout.

  • Free Wi-Fi.

  • Access to exclusive member rates, "cash + points" redemptions, PointSavers and more.

Earn Gold status

Travelers who can spend a substantial amount on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card can earn Gold Elite status by charging $35,000 or more in purchases in a year. This status is valid through the end of the following calendar year. As mentioned previously, you can also earn Gold status by logging 10 qualifying nights, which will get you to the Gold threshold when combined with your card’s 15 elite nights.

No foreign transaction fees

While the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is generally more useful for spending on Marriott stays and is usually not a card for your everyday spending (because it lacks solid bonus categories), it can provide value in that it does not have foreign transaction fees. This has the potential to save you 1%-3% on purchases during international trips.

Earning rewards points with spending

Marriott makes earning rewards with spending on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card pretty easy. Cardmembers earn 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. For example, a $500 Marriott hotel charge on your card would net you 3,000 points. NerdWallet values Marriott points at 1 cent each, so those points would be worth $30.

In addition, you earn 2x points on all other purchases.

The bottom line

It is pretty easy to justify the $95 for this card: If all you do is use your free night certificate at a decent Marriott hotel, you’re probably going to break even with the annual fee. Additionally, the welcome bonus in year one is worth several hundred dollars when redeemed at even average redemption rates.

You can further justify the annual fee in years two and beyond — all it takes is a single Marriott stay for a work or vacation trip to reap the benefits, thanks to 6x points and Silver status. The card also becomes a great option for those who plan to stay 10 or more nights at a Marriott in a given year and can start to take advantage of Gold status in addition to the free night certificate and 6x points.

So is the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card worth the annual fee? If you have any travel plans that include a Marriott, the answer is yes.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:

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