Redeem at 7,000+ hotels worldwide
The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card offers 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points as a signup bonus upon spending $3,000 in the first three months, when you sign up through a referral link.
The card has an annual fee of $120, which to my knowledge has never been waived. Great Canadian Rebates (GCR) also occasionally offers cash back on this card, but the offers have been extremely inconsistent as of late, so feel free to check their website every now and then to see if there’s an offer at the moment.
Applying through a referral link will earn you 51,000 Bonvoy points, which is 1,000 points higher than the public offer, but comes with a higher spending requirement of $3,000 in the first three months (compared to $1,500 for the public offer).
Of course, if you already held the business version of this card, then it’d be worthwhile to apply via that card’s referral link, since you’d earn 10,000 Bonvoy points as a referral bonus from that card.
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 of 50,000 points within the Marriott Bonvoy program can get you:
Redeem 50,000 Marriott points for a free night at a Category 6 hotel (retail cost: $500+)
Redeem 50,000 Marriott points for two free nights at a Category 4 hotel (retail cost: $400–500)
Redeem 50,000 Marriott points for five free nights at a Category 2 hotel (retail cost: $500–600)
Redeem 50,000 Marriott points for seven free nights at a Category 1 hotel (retail cost: $500+)
Earn 10,000 more points and 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 Marriott Bonvoy cards also offer unique benefits to make your stays at SPG/Marriott hotels more memorable. Cardholders are rewarded with 15 elite qualifying nights, which gives you instant Silver Elite status, and can go a long way towards earning higher-tier status levels.
Moreover, cardholders can also enjoy a free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points on every card anniversary date, which, if redeemed wisely, can easily outweigh the card’s $120 annual fee.
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.
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.
You also have the option of applying via the public offer, which only gives you 50,000 Bonvoy points, but with a lower minimum spending requirement of $1,500 in the first three months (and as mentioned above, you could also check the Great Canadian Rebates website to see if they have any cash back offers at the moment).;