Marriott Rewards Cards Review: Save On Hotel Stays

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2011-08-313

If you often stay at hotels for business or personal trips, and you prefer to stay loyal to one hotel chain, then a specialty hotel credit card can become an essential tool. These can help you gain points to make future stays less expensive or even free. To narrow down your choices, consider which chain you prefer and the frequency of your stays.

Marriott is one well known chain that provides specialty cards that can offer you big savings. If you frequently use this hotel, then it would make sense to pick up one of their cards to let you accumulate points you’re more likely to use. So for perks like bonus points and free nights, let’s examine a pair of Marriott rewards cards.

Comparison Table For Marriott Cards

Marriott offers two cards, which you can compare via this table. We’ll discuss them both in more detail below.

Marriott Rewards Card
Marriott Rewards Premier
Get 30,000 bonus points after making your first purchase. This is equivalent to 4 nights free. Get 50,000 points after your initial purchase.
Get 2 free nights upon approval of your account. Get 1 free night once you’re approved as a cardmember.
Receive 3 points per dollar you spend at a Marriott property. Receive 5 points per dollar spent at a Marriott location.
N/A Get 2 points for each dollar purchase on rental cars, dining and airfare.
For both cards, receive 1 point for each dollar spent on all other purchases.
Use and redeem your Marriott points at various Marriott locations such as Fairfield Inn & Suites, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Renaissance Hotels.
For each $3,000 on purchases, earn 1 Elite Night Credit.
Receive 10 nights of credit towards Elite status each year. Receive 15 nights of credit towards Elite status PLUS an anniversary bonus of one extra free night each year.
Annual fee waived on first year, but regular fee of $45 later. Annual fee waived on first year, but regular fee of $85 later. NO foreign transaction fees.
Marriott Rewards Credit Card
Apply for the Marriott Rewards Credit Card
Marriott Rewards Premier Card
Apply for the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

The Marriott Rewards credit card and the Marriott Rewards Premier card can both earn you at least 4 free nights. The regular card differs from the Premier version with regards to the number of bonus points that are initially earned as well as the lower annual fee (after the first free year). These cards are both subject to the Marriott Rewards Program. Note that this is considered a personal card, so groups and companies won’t be eligible to join the program. Points are transferable under very strict requirements.

The Marriott Rewards Program

This program spoils you with some great perks such as:

  • An easy redemption process aptly called “Instant Redemption”.
  • Access to fancy hotel amenities like spas, restaurants and so forth.
  • Room upgrades depending on your benefits level (more on that later).
  • Free nights at a Marriott branded site.
  • Accessibility to partner locations such as The Ritz-Carlton. Stays at special clubs, resorts and international stops.
  • Convenient hotel, air and travel packages.
  • Reward point conversions to miles according to your frequent flyer program.
  • Access to a Marriott online shopping site.
  • Leisure rewards including access to the Faldo Golf Institute.
  • Have fun with adventurous activities that include helicopter tours, cruises and even skydiving.
  • Join the “Luggage Club”, which provides extra services for convenient luggage transport.
  • Priority Pass and China Fast Track for additional airport services.
  • Train rewards galore.

As a member of the Marriott Rewards Program, you’ll also receive an exclusive privilege called the “Elite Membership”. Sure sounds fancy, but it’s Marriott’s way of measuring your rewards point status and determining the type of benefits you can earn and use. This Elite Membership structure looks as follows:

Elite Membership Status
% Bonus Points Earned During Stays
# of Nights To Earn Status At Marriott Locations
Silver Status 20% 10 to 49 nights
Gold Status 25% 50 to 74 nights
Platinum Status 50% 75 or more nights

This simply indicates that you can earn more points with higher Elite status levels and that more nights (free or charged) are required to earn that particular status. There are also more benefits enjoyed by those who are at Gold or Platinum levels. Here are a few:

  1. You can make free local phone calls without any limits from certain hotels and resorts under the Marriott umbrella. Some of these places are the SpringHill Suites, Renaissance Hotels, the Courtyard by Marriott, etc.
  2. You can also make domestic long distance calls for cheap at certain North American locations (US and Canada). You can also fax for free at some of these locations.
  3. Enjoy access to Executive and Club lounges as well as receive Concierge services at Marriott properties.
  4. Get a free room upgrade based on the availability of rooms (inquire during the check-in process).
  5. Get high-speed internet connectivity at no cost at certain properties.
  6. Room preference priority is made based on your Elite Status membership level. That is, the higher your level, the greater is the priority placed on your preferred room type.
  7. Platinum members receive a free “arrival gift” or extra bonus points — your choice. The number of points and the type of gift will depend on where you stay. A hotel stay will yield you an extra 500 points or more, while an inn or suite will yield you a bonus 200 to 250 points.
  8. Platinum members are given a special Elite Reservations Line as part of the extra services they are entitled to.

Visit the site for more details on Marriott Rewards.

Marriott Cards Terms & Other Features

You’ll find that the terms on these cards are pretty similar. For the regular Marriott rewards card, the foreign transaction fee is 3% of the transaction amount. Balance transfers have a fee of 4% of the transaction amount or a minimum of $5, while cash advances cost 4% or a minimum of $10. Late fees, returned payments, and returned checks can cost you up to $35 for each instance. For the regular rewards card, purchases and balance transfers have an APR of 14.24% variable; by contrast, the premier version goes for 15.24% APR. Cash advances and overdraft advances have a rate of 19.24% variable. The penalty APR is 29.99% variable.

When you find yourself on the road, it makes sense to have your current trip help pay for the trips in your future. I would look to use Marriott rewards cards as one way to earn a ton of bonus points and free nights. Of course, by doing so, you’d be committing to the Marriott Rewards Program as a member (as opposed to other card programs).

Created November 16, 2010. Updated August 31, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jared November 17, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Thank you for the informative post. There are so many options out there with regards to hotel credit cards and it’s often difficult to determine which is the best. I appreciate the tips and suggestions!

Sarah Long December 14, 2010 at 11:20 am

These are some really great awards for these hotel chains. I would love to start taking advantage of this.

Silicon Valley Blogger October 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Marriott Cards have undergone a bit of a facelift right now. They have increased the points rewards that are being offered when you sign up while also increasing the purchase and balance transfer APRs. The regular annual fees after the first year have also been raised. Take note of many of the changes above!

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