Besides the American Express SPG Card and the Business SPG Card, the next best hotel rewards card in Canada is the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa. Its strong signup bonus, consistent first year free offer, and lack of foreign exchange fees (unparalleled within the travel credit cards marketplace) make it a fantastic choice for racking up points in the Marriott Rewards program.
The advertised signup bonus on the Chase Canada website is 30,000 Marriott Rewards points, but we can do better.
While the higher bonus offer was apparently designed for members with Marriott elite status only, the application page is public and anyone can use it to avail themselves of 50,000 Marriott Rewards points upon your first purchase.
That's enough for one night at a top-tier Category 9 hotel within Marriott Rewards, or up to seven nights at a Category 1 hotel. Even more, since points are freely transferrable between Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, the best strategy is to use all the credit cards available to you (the Chase Marriott card and the American Express SPG cards) to make the most out of both programs.
Best of all, the annual fee of $120 on the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa is always waived for the first year. And for $0 out-of-pocket (keeping in mind that you can cancel the card before the first year is up), not only do you get 50,000 bonus points, but also an extra 15 nights towards your Marriott Rewards elite status. And since Silver Elite status in Marriott's program is achieved with 10 nights per year, that means that all cardholders are automatically granted Silver Elite status just by holding the card.
If you do decide to keep the card beyond the first year, the $120 annual fee can easily be outweighed by the annual free night stay certificate valid at any Category 1–5 Marriott hotel. These nifty free night certificates can be extremely useful for quick weekend trips or overnight layovers!
In terms of the earning rate on your spending, you'll get 5 Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at Marriott or Starwood hotels – this includes the room rate, food and beverages, as well as incidentals.
You'll earn 2 points per dollar spent on certain travel purchases – including airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, as well as car rentals – as well as purchases at restaurants.As far as I know, the Chase Marriott card is one of the only travel credit cards that gives bonus points for dining.
And you'll earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Now, the question remains: should you use your Marriott Rewards Visa for your day-to-day spending? Well, if you're about to swipe your card somewhere that accepts American Express, using your Amex SPG Card or its business version will always be a better proposition!
That's because you'll be earning 1 Starpoint per dollar spent, which equals 3 Marriott Rewards points. Meanwhile, you'll only be earning 2 Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants, and a measly 1 point per dollar spent on most purchases.
But what if the establishment you're patronizing doesn't accept Amex? Well even in that case, using another travel rewards credit card, such as the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite or the MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard, is very likely to be a better value proposition.
That's because while Marriott Rewards is great in and of itself, the value of one Marriott Rewards point is rather low compared to other travel rewards programs.
So I'd definitely recommend applying for this card, nabbing the signup bonus, and putting it away somewhere to be sparingly used. I say "sparingly" rather than "never" because of one important exception...
Importantly, this card does not provide any sort of additional insurance coverage, so even though it offers 5x points on airline tickets, it's probably best to still book your flights with a card like the American Express Gold Rewards Card instead (which will grant you 2x MR points as well as flight delay insurance).
However, the standout feature of the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa is that there are no foreign currency transactions charges. Every other travel rewards credit card in Canada will ding you extra (usually to the tune of an additional 2.5%) whenever you transact in a currency other than the Canadian dollar. The Chase Marriott card is one of the rare cards in Canada with no FX fees.
It can be worth grabbing this card solely for this reason, if for example you make a lot of purchases in USD or some other currency. It's also a great card to have on your person when you're actually out travelling in foreign countries, especially since Visa is so widely accepted around the world.
While Chase doesn't publish a minimum income requirement for this card, there's sort of an "undisclosed" annual income requirement that's in the $35,000–$40,000 range. Keep this in mind before you apply for the card.
This is also a credit card where you can easily get the signup bonus a second or third time even if you've had the card before.
When you're ready to apply, make sure you do so through the below link (not a referral link), which will give you 50,000 Marriott Rewards points, rather than the default offer of 30,000.
There are several key features of the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa that make it stand out among its rival travel credit cards. The card has a first year free offer, charges no FX fees, and comes with a decent signup bonus in a powerful rewards program. It also doesn't require any sort of minimum spending to get the signup bonus, which can be a refreshing change from the American Express suite of credit cards. Now's the time to sign up if you haven't already!