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Some hotel credit cards come with one free award night per year — maybe two if you reach the required annual spending threshold. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card blows the other hotel credit cards out of the water with its new welcome offer: Earn 5 Free Nights after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
These free nights can be redeemed for award nights up to 50,000 points each, so the bonus is equivalent to 250,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s more than three times the card’s typical welcome offer, which is usually 75,000 points.
NerdWallet values Marriott points at 0.9 cent each. If you maximize the value of the free nights, you can more than offset the $95 annual fee. In fact, that’s why we gave this card a positive review in the first place.
With this new welcome offer, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is a strong contender for your collection if you plan to stay at Marriott properties in the next year.
Where can I go with the free nights?
Compared to typical Marriott offers, the free nights make a huge difference in terms of what kinds of hotels you can book when you take a look at the Marriott Bonvoy award chart. With a 50,000-point value on each free night, Marriott Bonvoy members can book standard award nights at Category 6 hotels, including the Autograph Collection of boutique hotels.
You might also be able to score off-peak award nights at Category 7 hotels, which is the second-highest tier of Marriott properties (think the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Italy, or Hawaii's famous Moana Surfrider hotel in Waikiki). If you’re traveling during a busy travel season, you’ll also be able to book Category 5 hotels at peak prices.
» Learn more: Best hotel credit cards for free nights
How does this offer compare to other Marriott credit cards?
The other Marriott credit cards offer bonus points, instead of free nights, as part of their welcome offer. Considering the free nights from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card’s welcome bonus are worth 250,000 points in total, the welcome offers on the other Marriott co-branded cards are substantially lower.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (annual fee: $450): Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card in your first 3 months from account opening. Terms apply.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (annual fee: $125): Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 of eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
The 50,000-point free nights earned through the bonus are also an upgrade from the 35,000-point free night awards earned after each account anniversary with the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (which has a higher annual fee). An important note: The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card still comes with the 35,000-point anniversary free night.
There are some limitations to the free night awards, though. With this new welcome bonus, you are limited strictly to just five nights, while the chunk of bonus points from the other cards’ offers are more flexible. You could frugally use those points and stretch them into more than five nights at lower category hotels, or upgrade to just a couple nights for a Category 8 experience.
You might also want to consider if you’ll be able to use these nights within the next 12 months. Like everything else in the COVID-19 era, there is a lot of uncertainty around travel. While Marriott has announced that their members with current free nights will get an extension to use them until Jan. 31, 2021, due to the pandemic, there’s no telling if they will offer extensions on newly earned free nights that already come with 2021 expiration dates.
The bottom line: Who should jump on the new bonus offer?
Even with the limitations on free nights, anyone who plans to stay at a Marriott for at least five nights next year should consider this card. Five is pretty easy to accomplish if you’re doing a weeklong regional road trip or even a few staycations over extended weekends.
Plus, you’ll get a more elevated experience because of this card’s benefits, including automatic Silver elite status and even Gold elite status, if you stay 10 more nights or spend $35,000 on the card. The card also comes with 15 elite night credits and no foreign transaction fees. And your Marriott Bonvoy points will be multiplied several times when you stay at participating properties, thanks to the card’s 6x earning rate.
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 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card