It’s always funny when a friend or colleague learns of my credit card collecting hobby. Just the other day a friend of mine with just one or two credit cards asked how many cards I have. When I replied that I currently have 7 open accounts they seemed confused and frankly concerned. Although 7 credit cards may seem like a lot, I realize it is, there are specific reasons why I carry each of the cards in my wallet. Of all the cards there is really only one that I see myself keeping open in perpetuity and that is the Marriott Rewards card from Chase. The card offers a variety of benefits, but two benefits alone make the card worth keeping open any paying the annual fee.
Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card Benefits
Key benefits of the Marriott Rewards credit card include:
- 80,000 Marriott Rewards points sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
- 5X Marriott Rewards points per $1 spent at participating Marriott and Starwood properties.
- 2X Marriott Rewards points per $1 spent on air travel, car rentals, and restaurants.
- 1X Marriott Rewards points per $1 spent on all other qualifying purchases.
- 15 Elite Nights each card member year.
- 1 Elite Night per $3,000 spent each year.
- One Free Night Certificate (Category 1-5) each card member anniversary.
- $85 Annual Fee
The Marriott Rewards Premier card offers some incredible benefits considering the card only carries a $95 annual fee. The 80,000 Marriott Rewards points was once a seasonal increase, but seems as though it’s the standard sign-up bonus as of late. Additionally, the sign-up bonus is not available to anyone who currently carries the card or received a sign-up bonus in the prior 24 months.
This card also offers 50,000 Marriott Rewards points annually for referring friends to the card. Each card referral earns 10,000 Marriott Rewards points which is then capped at 50,000 points. All in all this card makes it extremely easy to earn a huge stockpile of Marriott Rewards points.
How To Maximize The Marriott Rewards Premier Card’s Benefits
ThePointsGuy values Marriott Rewards points at $0.007 per point. Using that calculation the sign-up bonus alone is worth at least $560! If you also successfully refer 5 friends to the card each year you’ll earn an additional $350 of value each year. In addition to the sign-up bonus, each card member year you’ll earn 15 Elite Nights. These elite nights count toward both annual Marriott elite status and Marriott Lifetime status. On top of the elite nights you’ll also earn one fee night at a category 1-5 Marriott property each year.
The free night certificate alone makes this card worth keeping open. Marriott makes it easy to search hotels by category and brand which helps narrow down your redemption opens. You can further narrow the search by location, brand, amenities, etc. After a quick search I found the Renaissance Austin Hotel with a nightly room rate of $190/night. Considering this card only has a $85 annual fee you’d definitely be coming out on top if you used the free night at that property. There are a ton of category 1-5 hotels out there and hopefully even more next year when Marriott and Starwood officially merge.
Although I have this account open I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually used this card to pay for anything. Of course the card earns 5X Marriott Rewards points for all Marriott & Starwood purchases, but other premier credit cards still offer greater overall value. For example a $1,000 stay at a Marriott hotel earns 5,000 Marriott Points on the Marriott Rewards card. Those points are worth an estimated $0.007/point or $35.00. The same $1,000 stay earns 3X Ultimate Rewards points if you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at $0.015/point which makes the value of the stay worth approximately $45.00. As you can see you’re better off using the Chase Sapphire Reserve over the Marriott Rewards Premier card even at Marriott properties.
The value of Marriott Rewards points vary greatly based on the hotels you choose to use points. Obviously the same can be said for where you choose to use the free night certificate. Some economy hotels which are considered a category 5 feature insane room rates while other premium brands have low paid nightly rates. If you’re looking to maximize the benefits from the Marriott Rewards Premier card, as I am, you simply have to make sure to pick hotel with a nightly rate greater than $85 to realize a profit from this card.
Oh, and if it wasn’t clear, the Free Night Certificate and the 15 Elite Nights are the reasons why I’ll never close this account. Not to mention it always help to have a credit card age to improve your credit score.