Please Note: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express & The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card are currently unavailable.
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the card of choice for travelers who regularly stay at Marriott hotels. It offers 5 points per dollar on Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest® purchases; 2 points per dollar on car rentals, restaurants, and airfare purchased through an airline; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Its signup bonus is impressive — 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. That’s enough for a free six-night stay, and you’ll earn additional free nights every year on your cardmember anniversary. The card has an $85 annual fee (waived the first year), but no foreign transaction fees, so it’s a good fit for the international traveler.
If you prefer to stay at a different hotel chain or you plan to redeem your points on more than just hotel stays, you’d be better off with a different card. Marriott doesn’t have a huge network of airline partners that allow a 1:1 transfer of reward points, so while you can redeem your points for airfare, their value will drop significantly. If that’s cause for concern, you may want to go with a more flexible travel rewards card.
A Must-Have for Frequent Marriott Guests
If you travel often and regularly stay at Marriott hotels, you’ll get a lot of value out of the 5 points per dollar earned on Marriott purchases and the 2 points per dollar earned on car rentals, restaurants, and plane tickets purchased directly from the airline. You also earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. These rewards can be redeemed at any Marriott property, as well as for airfare, car rental, cruises, and more.
Its signup bonus is one of the best in the industry and could potentially earn you six free nights at a Marriott hotel. Once you’ve spent $3,000 in the first three months of opening your account, you earn 75,000 bonus points. And if that’s not impressive enough, you get a free night’s stay every year on your cardmember anniversary. This can be redeemed at any Category 1-5 Marriott hotel or resort.
You’ll also get 15 Elite credits when you open your account and every year after on your account anniversary. This guarantees you Silver Elite status, which comes with a number of perks, including priority late checkout, exclusive Elite savings and offers, and a 20% bonus on rewards points. Every $3,000 you spend earns you an additional Elite credit and if you spend enough, you can reach Elite Gold or Platinum status, which come with even more perks.
- Redeem at any Marriott hotel. Though you can only redeem your free nights at Marriott hotels, that still leaves you with plenty of options. You can choose from budget Category 1 hotels to high-end Category 5 resorts, though of course, it will require more points to stay at a more expensive hotel.
- Earn free nights. Every year on your account anniversary, you earn a free night’s stay that can be redeemed at any Category 1-5 Marriott location.
- Great for international travel. The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card has no foreign transaction fees, which should save you quite a bit of money if you travel abroad. It also comes with EMV chip technology to help reduce the risk of your credit card information being stolen.
Where it Falls Flat
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card does allow you to earn rewards on purchases other than Marriott hotel stays, but the reward rate is significantly lower. You only earn 2 points for every dollar spent on car rental agencies, restaurants, and airfare purchased directly through an airline — and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. While you can redeem your points for things other than hotel stays, like airfare, cruises, and car rentals, the point value drops significantly when you do this. So, if you’re looking to redeem for things beyond Marriott stays, you’re better off with a more versatile travel rewards card.
Like all hotel cards, it’s only worth it if you’re a loyal customer of that chain. If you don’t regularly stay at Marriott or you don’t travel often, this card isn’t a wise investment, especially considering the $85 annual fee it costs to keep it (waived the first year). In that case, you’re better off with a different travel rewards card or perhaps a different kind of rewards card altogether.
Who It’s Good For / Who Should Pass
Frequent guests of Marriott Hotels
Someone who regularly flies or rents vehicles
Those who don’t want to be restricted to a single hotel chain
Those who want more options for redeeming their rewards
How it Compares
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is a solid option for those who are looking for a flexible travel card that gives them plenty of opportunities to redeem their points. You earn 2 points per dollar on dining and travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Points can be redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards or transferred to one of its partner airline or hotel rewards programs. It also gives you the option to redeem for cash back or gift cards. The card has an EMV chip and no foreign transaction fees, so it’s a good fit for international travelers.
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express: This card is similar to the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, but it holds a distinct advantage in flexibility. You earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels and 2 points on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card (currently unavailable): This card offers 5 points per dollar spent on IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Like the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, this card gives you a free night’s stay every year on your account anniversary. The signup bonus is great and easy to achieve. You get 80,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first three months. You’re also elevated to Platinum Elite status as soon as you sign up. The card has a $49 annual fee that kicks in after the first year.
The Bottom Line
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a great choice if you travel often and frequent Marriott Hotels, but it’s not the most flexible card on the market. Those looking for more redemption options should check out some other travel rewards cards.
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