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Navigating the New Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

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First, I’m still not used to saying “Bonvoy.” I suspect it will take me a while.

Second, this took me a while to digest, thus the late post. I saw it all for the first time today, just like everyone else.

When Marriott absorbed SPG, we knew that, eventually, the SPG credit cards that American Express offers would be consolidated into Marriott. Then the new Bonvoy name for the Marriott Rewards program came along, meaning that ALL of the cards needed renaming.

The currently active and available cards in the Marriott profile are:

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (Closes to new applicants February 12th – Learn More)

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express (Learn More)

Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Credit Card from American Express

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Credit Card (closes to new applicants Feb 12)

As most of you are aware, these cards became a lot less attractive for every day spend after the merger, as the earning rates for non-bonused spend dropped by 1/3 compared to before, meaning that people were finding other cards, like the American Express Blue Business Plus, which earns 2x Membership Rewards on all spend.

It seems like, in this update of the cards, there is some understanding of that as they add in a few incentives to get you spending on these cards again.

To begin with, let’s look at what won’t survive the transition:

The standard $95 annual fee Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (Learn More) will stop taking new applications on Feb 12th. The new name of this card will be the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.

We knew this was coming as Amex negotiated keeping the premium card and the business card in the new combined program. You will be able to keep an existing card, but not apply for it fresh beyond Feb 12th. Unknown (to me, anyway) at this point is if one might possibly be able to product change down to this card from a Luxury card. Good news: The Frequent Miler confirms via an Amex spokesperson that it will indeed be possible to downgrade a Luxury card, soon to be the Brilliant card, down to the $95 annual fee Bonvoy card. I personally have a Luxury card and was considering this at my card anniversary as I don’t feel the benefits justify the $450 annual fee.

They will launch a new feature to boost points accrual with the card. Starting Feb. 24th, you can register to earn 25,000 bonus Bonvoy points for every $25,000 in spend up to $100k for the year. If you spend an exact increment of $25k, you would be earning the same as you used to earn pre-merger.

As well, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Credit Card will stop taking new applications on the same date. They have not promoted this card at all for quite some time and this just removes it from the marketplace, though they will continue to serve existing cardholders as well.

That leaves these three cards for now (Marriott will launch a no-fee card later this year).

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express (Learn More) will be renamed the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

This card will remain but the annual fee will increase $30 to $125. The only additional benefit will be the opportunity to earn an additional free night of up to 35,000 points when you spend $60,000 in a year.

Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Credit Card from American Express will now be the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card.

Unless I’m missing something, this is the only card not getting a spend bonus enhancement of any kind. I think that’s a mistake, as why should the base level Amex cardholder be able to earn 50% more points at the $25,000 spend thresholds than a Luxury Brilliant cardholder?

The one benefit I see being added to this card is this: Starting March 28, 2019, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Members can get up to $100 in property credit per stay when they use their Card and a special rate code to book stays of two or more nights at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® properties.

I also don’t think the look and feel of the Brilliant card is distinguishing enough as a super premium card, much the same way the Luxury card does not have a luxury feel to it.

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card becomes the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card. The fee and benefits appear unchanged, although this card will also offer the opportunity to earn an additional free night of up to 35,000 points when you spend $60,000 in a year.

Remember, there are all sorts of rules now about getting any of these cards when you hold other Marriott cards, so be sure you *carefully* read the application pages if you are applying to make sure you don’t already hold another card that makes you bonus-ineligible.

New Welcome Bonus Offers

From February 13 to April 24, 2019, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card will offer 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $5,000 in three months.

What are your thoughts on the changes? Will you be able to keep a straight face when you say “I have the Bonvoy Brilliant card?”  Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

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