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Is the Marriott Bonvoy Business worth the annual fee?

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Every credit card in your wallet that carries an annual fee should merit a yearly question: Is the annual fee worth it to keep the card for another year?

The Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card packs a decent number of benefits into an annual fee of $125 (see rates and fees), but that doesn’t mean this card is a slam dunk for everyone. In fact, it may lack some of the perks you’re looking for in a hotel credit card. But to be fair, hotel credit cards typically aren’t the best card in your wallet for maximizing your spending beyond purchases at that hotel chain.

So can the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex find a happy middle ground between super-luxury perks and no perks at all — and do so in a way that justifies its $125 annual fee? Let’s take a look.

Welcome bonus

You can earn five free night awards — each valued up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a total of up to 250,000 points — after you use your new card to make $8,000 in eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership. Per TPG valuations, that means this welcome bonus is worth $2,100. Note that certain hotels have resort fees. This offer ends March 20, 2024.

You may wonder whether you qualify for a business credit card — if you’ve determined that you’re eligible for one, perhaps you’re considering the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex.

Related: How to apply for an Amex business card

CHRISTOPHER CYPERT/RITZ CARLTON, MELBOURNE

Some of the best uses of Marriott Bonvoy points include award stays at places like The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos, The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, The West Hollywood Edition and the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane. Those who enjoy skiing or snowboarding may enjoy properties like The St. Regis Aspen Resort, The St. Regis Deer Valley or The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.

Related: Why now is a great time to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex

Keep in mind that American Express has restrictions that will limit your ability to collect a new member bonus if you’ve had Marriott credit cards from Chase. Fortunately, a pop-up will tell you if you are not eligible for the bonus when you apply before Amex runs your credit — and our chart can help clarify things as well.

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Annual free night award

Each year after your card renewal month, you’ll receive a free night award worth up to 35,000 points. Cardmembers can receive a second free night award by spending $60,000 on the card within a calendar year.

You can redeem these awards at places like The St. Regis Bangkok, The St. Regis Doha, W Atlanta — Downtown and several hotels near national parks.

Related: 11 best uses of Marriott 35,000-point certificates for family vacations

ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY

That said, due to the dynamic pricing mentioned earlier, you’ll want to do a calendar search for flexible dates to find nights that cost 35,000 points or less. It can be especially difficult to use your free night awards on or near holidays since award prices on those dates also tend to be higher.

Related: How to use a Marriott Bonvoy 35,000-point certificate

With minimal effort, you should be able to redeem this free night award for $125 in value — but likely double that amount. Thus, this perk alone can be worth the card’s annual fee.

Elite status and related perks

Holders of the Bonvoy Business Amex receive Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy, which TPG values at $800 per year.

At this level, you can expect benefits like upgrades to preferred rooms (but not suites), late checkout and a welcome gift of bonus points at check-in.

CHRIS DONG/THE POINTS GUY

Cardholders also receive 15 elite night credits in their Marriott Bonvoy account each year. You need these to reach higher levels of status, and they can be stacked if you also hold a personal credit card from Marriott.

For example, if you hold the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase, this card will give you another 15 elite night credits — meaning you start the year with 30 elite night credits automatically. The Boundless card has a $95 annual fee, for reference.

Related: Here’s why you need both a personal and business Marriott Bonvoy credit card

To earn Platinum Elite status — where benefits like suite upgrades and complimentary breakfast kick in — you need 50 nights per year with Marriott Bonvoy, and holding these two credit cards would put you more than halfway there.

Related: What credit score do you need for business credit cards?

Other perks

Cardholders get access to a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program when booking directly through Marriott. Terms and conditions apply.

However, we tested this benefit, and it’s not as good as it sounds. You’ll typically receive 2%-5% off the member’s rate but can often do even better using other discounts — rather than the one offered by this cardmember perk.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex credit card review

THE POINTS GUY

In terms of earning points, cardmembers earn:

  • 6 Marriott points per dollar of eligible purchases when spending at Marriott Bonvoy participating properties
  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping
  • 2 points per dollar on other purchases.

Based on TPG’s valuations, that’s essentially a return of 5.04% on Marriott purchases; 3.36% at restaurants and U.S. gas stations and on select phone and shipping purchases; and 1.68% on everyday spending. Those rates aren’t jaw-dropping but aren’t bad for a cobranded card.

Related: 10 considerations for your small-business credit card strategy

Cardmembers also gain access to Amex Offers, which can provide targeted discounts or bonus points on eligible purchases, as well as extended warranty and purchase protection.

Note: Eligibility and benefit levels vary by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for details. Policies are underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

Related: Your complete guide to shopping protections on American Express cards

ANDREA ROTONDO/THE POINTS GUY

Bottom line

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex isn’t a flashy card offering perks like lounge access or top-tier elite status. However, it offers a valuable mid-tier status — with no effort required — within a hotel program with a massive worldwide footprint.

It also can help you achieve higher status when you pair your business card with a Marriott personal credit card, thanks to the elite night credits you’ll receive on your account.

That, and an annual free night that you can redeem for over $200 in value with very little effort, should justify the cost of keeping this card in your wallet. However, that’s dependent on you actually making sure you take advantage of the perks each year.


Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card — Earn five free night awards after you use your new card to make $8,000 in eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership. Offer ends March 20, 2024.


For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Amex, click here.

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