One of the big stories in the world of rewards credit cards in 2019 was Marriott’s rebranding of its loyalty program, which took the disparate Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz-Carlton Rewards programs, and collected them under one unified banner. Marriott Bonvoy is the combined loyalty program’s new umbrella branding, and it allows millions of customers to tap into its myriad benefits across thousands of hotels.

You can do that by applying for one of the Marriott Bonvoy cards — like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. To entice you to sign-up, it’s currently running an elevated limited-time offer: 100,000 welcome bonus points after you spend at least $5,000 with the card in your first three months.

There’s a very good chance this card might be for you. It happens to be one of two entry-level cards still available after Marriott rejiggered its card portfolio in the wake of the branding change, by closing some cards to new applicants and tweaking its co-branded card portfolio with the Bonvoy launch.  

The highlights

The Bonvoy Boundless card comes with a mere $95 annual fee. In exchange, you get:

  • An additional Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after your account anniversary.
  • 6X Bonvoy points earned for every $1 spent with this card at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

You can also earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points with this card and get Free Night Stays faster, to enjoy at tons of properties. However, to give you one more thing to consider before you pull the trigger and sign up for this one — there’s also a sister Bonvoy card that’s similarly running a welcome offer with a lineup of benefits that rivals the Bonvoy Boundless. That card is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, and it pays to be aware of both and stack them up before making your call.

Image source: The Points Guy

The Bonvoy Brilliant

This one is definitely a useful card for frequent travelers. There are no foreign transaction fees, and while this card, unfortunately, does come with a $450 annual fee you can earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Additionally, you can rack up 3 points at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, as well as 2 points on all other eligible purchases.

Frequent travelers will also no doubt be pleased with the ability to earn one free night award every year after your card anniversary, an award that can be used for one night at a participating hotel for a redemption level at or below 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. You’ll also enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits after you enroll in Priority Pass Select membership.

Perhaps most important, this one, too, has a solid offer to be aware of: 75,000 welcome bonus points after spending just $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

Final note

Getting hundreds of dollars’ worth of return in the form of perks like a hotel anniversary free-night certificate worth up to 35,000 points, in our view, justifies the $95 annual fee you’ll pay for Bonvoy Boundless all by itself. The Bonvoy Brilliant, on the other hand, helps mitigate its heavier annual fee thanks to perks like the $300 annual credit on Marriott purchases which gets automatically applied to your account — and the great thing is it’s a credit that applies to room rates as well as other hotel charges such as dining or spa treatments.

On the one hand, that six-figure welcome bonus looks mighty enticing with the Boundless, but the Bonvoy Brilliant offers more longer-term value through a combination of annual statement credits, the free night certificate, and better elite status. In our view, though, you can’t go wrong with either card.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.