Great hotel rewards credit card to get & hold – Marriott Rewards Visa

Marriott Rewards was the first hotel rewards program I signed up for more than 20 years ago. Since Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels, it offers more hotel rooms worldwide than any other company, giving you plenty of options to earn and redeem points. Marriott offers a Visa credit card in partnership with Chase bank – find out whether it’s worth signing up for!

If you are new to this site, please read “how we evaluate credit cards”. I have held the Marriott Visa card in the past, but not currently, receive no compensation for this review and have no affiliate links.

Marriott Rewards Visa Card OverviewHere is a summary of what the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Signature card offers:

  • Sign-up bonus of 80,000 points, worth about $640, after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months; 7,500 for adding authorized user; good value of bonus
  • Earn Points for Spend
    You earn 5 points per US$ spent at Marriott Hotels, 2pt/$ on airlines, car rentals, restaurants and 1pt/$ on everything else – that’s a good earn rate and bonus, but behind Hilton or Wyndham
  • Anniversary bonus of 1 free night at a category 1-5 hotel (up to 25,000 points worth $200) – I like anniversary bonuses and this more than pays the annual fee
  • Visa Signature Benefits
  • $85 annual fee, not waived first year, 0% foreign exchange fee, EMV chip

The sign up bonus of 80,000 points at a value of $640 is good for a hotel rewards card, but the Citibank Hilton Reserve card offers more. You do have the chance to earn an additional 7,500 points by adding an authorized user and using that card! Since the acquisition of Starwood, you can also transfer these points to SPG at a ratio of 3:1 for stays at Starwood hotels worldwide, making them even more useful!
The Marriott Rewards card earns 5 points per USD spent at an Marriott hotel world wide, as well as 2pt/$ of travel spend on airfare, car rentals and restaurants, making it a broad and useful bonus category for frequent travelers. With a point value of 0.8 ct/pt that gives you a maximum earn rate of 4ct/$ at hotels, 1.6ct/S of bonus spend and 0.8ct/$ unbonused spend – I’d recommend to use higher-earning cards for travel spend (like the Citi Prestige card) or unbonused spend!
Fortunately, the Marriott Rewards card doesn’t carry a foreign exchange fee – a key feature for any travel rewards card. That makes it useful for Marriott spend around the world!
The card will also give you 15 nights stay credit every year towards Marriott Elite benefits – enough for Silver elite. While that is not as good as Gold with the Citi Hilton Reserve or Platinum with the IHG Rewards card, it’s better than nothing and a step towards Gold.
This card has an annual fee of $85, similar to other hotel rewards cards with comparable benefits. I very much recommend rewards cards that offer an annual renewal bonus to offset the fee. The Marriott Visa card offers a free night certificate, valid at any Category 1-5 hotel and worth up to 25,000 points (or $200). That’s much more than the annual fee and makes it a card I’d recommend to hold long-term. Keep in mind though that Category 1-5 hotels have been becoming rare in the US and Europe and the certificate expires after one year, so make sure to use it – or lose it!

WDC MarriottGeorgetown BedNewBottomline: The Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card is a great credit card to apply for and keep for the long-term. With a good sign-up bonus and a great annual renewal bonus, it pays for it as long as you make use of the free night certificates. While the Silver elite status is not much, it’s better than nothing! The current sign-up bonus of 80,000 points is similar to what it has been. Occasionally, Marriott has offered an additional statement bonus for signing up during the process of booking a hotel on their site. If you are interested in the card, I’d recommend to try a dummy booking and see, if you are targeted for this additional bonus!

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