Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Review
The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card is a hotel rewards business card that provides a 100,000-point sign-up bonus as well as big bonuses and several different types of purchases.
The card is one of three different Marriott credit cards, one of which is a luxury card called the Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express and the other which is called the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase.
This particular one is the only card designed for business owners, a fact that makes the purchases that get extra rewards a little different than what you see with the consumer version of Amex’s Marriott credit card.
In this review, we’ll cover the card’s rewards and benefits, then talk about how much value they have on a first-year basis as well as subsequent. Doing so will help you understand how your particular business purchasing habits will affect the card’s value.
Then, we’ll discuss the card’s benefits, its rates and fees and how it compares to other hotel rewards business credit cards.
At the end of this review, our analysis will have given you the information and actionable advice you’ll need to make a smart choice about your next business credit card.
When we talk about this card’s “rewards”, we’re referring to the fact that with nearly every purchase you make, you can earn Bonvoy points, which are like frequent flyer miles but for Marriott hotels. When you sign up for this card and get approved, Amex works with Marriott to set up a Bonvoy account if you don’t already have one.
At the end of the month, Amex calculates how many points you earned and automatically transfers those points to your Bonvoy account.
You can earn these points two ways: spending a certain amount of money in the first three months and then using the card to make purchases.
100,000-Point Sign-Up Bonus
If you can use your card to spend at least $5,000 in the first three months you own the card, you’ll earn 100,000 Bonvoy points. It will take between two and three months for the rewards to show up in your account, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you can redeem your bonus as soon as you hit the spending threshold.
Our past research about the spending habits of small businesses indicates that you shouldn’t have any problem hitting that spending requirement.
Keep in mind that interest payments and balance transfers don’t count toward the spending requirement.
Bonuses on Everyday Spending
As you’re using your card to make purchases, you’ll earn Bonvoy points depending on where you’re spending your money.
Just like consumer rewards cards that give bonuses for spending categories popular with consumers, the Bonvoy gives you bonuses for spending categories popular with businesses.
6x Points on Bonvoy Purchases
Whenever you use your card to make a purchase at a Marriott property, you’ll earn 6 points for every dollar you spend. So, if you use your card to book a $1,000 hotel stay, spend $300 in the hotel restaurant and get a $200 spa treatment at the Marriott’s spa, you’ll earn 9,000 points on those purchases.
The fine print notes that the 6x bonus doesn’t count for purchases made for or at Marriott homeshare properties.
4x on Restaurants, Gas, Wireless Service, and Shipping
This category is where your business can take advantage of the most bonuses, especially if your employees or you drive often for work and frequently bill the company for your own meals and/or meals with clients.
Don't forget the shipping bonus, either, which could be a great perk for e-commerce stores as well as eBay sellers who ship frequently.
Each of these categories comes with specific restrictions, though. For example, you can get the gas bonuses for purchases made at wholesale clubs like Costco, B.J.’s and Sam’s Club. Also, you only earn the 4x rewards on purchases made with U.S. companies.
For example, if you have to travel to Switzerland for work for a year and you make restaurant and gas purchases with your Bonvoy card while you’re there, you won’t get the 4x bonus.
2x on Everything Else
Any purchase that doesn’t fall into the previous two categories will earn two Bonvoy points per dollar. Remember, though, that interest payments, balance transfers and any fees you pay on the card won’t earn points.
For example, you’ll learn later that this card’s late fee can be as much as $39. You won’t earn 78 points on that purchase like you would if you spent $39 at Target.
The Value of Marriott Bonvoy Points
This credit cards points can be redeemed for stays at Marriott hotels, which includes all brands with “Marriott” in the name, W hotels, Ritz-Carlton properties and more.
Booking those nights will cost between 7,500 points and 85,000 points. The cheaper hotels are lower-end establishments like Fairfield Inns and Courtyards, where the more expensive hotels will be brands like J.W. Marriott, W hotels and Ritz-Carlton.
Now, keep in mind that those points totals will fluctuate based on the location of the hotel, too. So, a Fairfield Inn that may otherwise cost 7,500 in Alabama may cost more than 50,000 points if it’s in Times Square.
Also, Marriott’s points-pricing system fluctuates based on the high and low seasons. High-season prices range between 10,000 and 100,000 points, whereas low-season prices range from 5,000 points to 70,000 Bonvoy points.
So, take a minute to run the numbers on how much your company spent at Marriott properties, gas, restaurants, wireless service, shipping and everything else this past year. Doing so will give you an idea of how many points you can earn each year with this card.
As far as points values go, Marriott is pretty competitive for the lower-end hotels but their point totals for top-tier hotels are considerably higher than hotels in the Hyatt portfolio.
Pro tip: Marriott offers the ability to book air travel and rental cards with your points but, based on our research, we found that the conversion rate was so low (about 2.5 points to pay for $1 of air travel) that it wasn’t worth it to use your points that way.
Hotel and Travel Benefits That Come with the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express
In addition to the sign-up bonus and points on purchases, you get a few other perks with this card.
First, you’ll get complimentary Silver Elite status in the Bonvoy loyalty program. This membership level affords you late checkout, free Wi-Fi, as well as a 10% bonus on all points you earn during the stay.
This membership level is just above “Member,” which is what you get when you sign up for the Bonvoy program without having a Marriott credit card. Also, there are four tiers that are higher than Silver and afford much better benefits.
However, you can upgrade to Gold Elite status by spending at least $35,000 per year. This higher level of membership entitles you to 25% points bonuses, a small welcome gift of 250 or 300 points and complimentary room upgrades when available
Another benefit you get is a free night every year on your cardmember anniversary. The free night is redeemable for hotel rooms that cost up to 35,000 points.
A few other business-related benefits include no-fee employee cards, the ability to assign an account manager to oversee all employee cards, expense tracking as well as integration with QuickBooks.
The Rates and Fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card
While rewards and benefits can add a lot of nice perks to your life, paying interest, late fees and other card-related charges can hurt your wallet.
Here’s a quick list of this card’s rates and fees:
- APR for purchases: 17.99%–26.99%
- Cash advance APR: 27.49%
- Penalty APR: 29.99%
- Annual fee: $0 1st year, then $95 after
- Cash advance fee: 3%
- Late/returned payment fee: Up to $38
- Foreign transaction fee: None
The list of fees here is pretty standard for a travel-related rewards card for businesses. The one thing you need to watch out for is the penalty APR, which is a rate that kicks in when one of the following things happens, according to Amex’s fine print:
- You make two late payments in a 12-month period
- The payment you make is below the minimum payment amount
- A payment is returned
This penalty APR will apply to any balances that are left after your due date and will continue to apply, the fine print says, until you have 12 months of perfect payments – nothing late, nothing returned and at least the minimum due.
Pro tip: The card’s annual fee will go up to $125 for all applications submitted on or after March 28, 2019.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Versus Two Other Marriott Cards
Aside from the business tools that you get with this card, there isn’t much that makes this Bonvoy a “business” card in terms of how it functions on a day-to-day rewards basis.
Because of this, we want to compare this card to the two other Marriott cards available at the time of publishing: the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless (Chase) and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant (Amex):
|Bonvoy Business||Amex Bonvoy Brilliant||Chase Bonvoy Boundless|
|Cheapest Rewards Room||7.500||7,500||7,500|
|Status Upgrade||Silver Elite||Gold Elite||Silver Elite|
|Yearly Travel Credit||None||$300||None|
|# of Anniversary Nights||1||1||1|
|Annual Fee||$0, then $95*||$450||$95|
*The annual fee will increase to $125 for applications on or after March 28, 2019
The big differences between these cards are in the status upgrade, the yearly fee and the travel credit. As you can see, the Bonvoy Business is most like the Bonvoy Boundless, Chase’s personal Marriott credit card.
The cards have the same status upgrade and sign-up bonus. At the time of publishing, their annual fees were the same but the business card’s fee will be higher than the Boundless in the long run because it will go up to $125.
With that being said, you have to decide if you’re set on a business card and, if not, how you see yourself using the card. If you know you’re going to carry a balance and you have bad credit scores (650 and below), there’s a good chance you’re going to get the highest rate the card has to offer. In this case, you’re going to pay more in interest with the Bonvoy Business.
If it’s a luxury experience you want, then the Bonvoy Brilliant is the best choice. It’s a personal card but using it only for business purposes will help you mitigate any mixed transactions you’ll have to sort out come tax time.
In general, we think the Bonvoy Business card’s rewards and benefits are on par with the Bonvoy Boundless. It isn't a mindblowing rewards card but it does offer some good points-earning potential if you can spend money in the bonus categories we talked about earlier.
The Final Word: How to Use This Card to Your Advantage
We believe, based on our analysis of this card, that its greatest strength is the 4x rewards categories that cover common business expenses like eating out, gas, shipping and wireless services.
Therefore, we believe that a company who has higher-than-average spending in these areas will be able to best leverage this card to earn rewards.
However, if you’re after a card that’s going to give you luxury perks either for yourself, your employees or clients, then this card isn’t going to have the premium power to meet your needs.
In general, we see this is a great card for someone whose business requires travel and who doesn’t require luxury accommodations while they’re on the road. Marriott has the largest chain of hotels of any chain in the world and provides plenty of options to help you spend your Bonvoy points wisely.