2018 Marriott Credit Card Review – WalletHub Editors
This content is not provided or commissioned by any issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of an issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by an issuer.
The Verdict: There’s no better credit card than Marriott Rewards Premier for brand-loyal customers who have excellent credit, pay their balances in full every month and spend at least $1,000 through the chain each year. In fact, the more one spends at Marriott locations, the better the deal gets. But superior options may exist if you have some flexibility in terms of which hotel chain you patron – especially if you’re just looking for a few free nights up front and aren’t as concerned with ongoing use.
After all, the card’s most notable feature is the ability to earn 5 points per $1 spent on Marriott-related purchases, and you won’t be able to take full advantage of this maximum earning rate if you don’t regularly patron the chain. Its 75,000-point initial bonus and first-year fee waiver do, however, allow you to audit Marriott and its rewards program, so to speak. So, if you’re considering shifting your allegiances to one particular hotel brand, Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card can provide quite a lucrative trial period.
- 75,000-Point Initial Bonus: Most of the top-tier rewards credit cards these days offer enticing initial bonuses; Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is no different. In return for spending $3,000 during the first three months, cardholders receive 75,000 bonus points. That equates to roughly $765, or about 3 free nights, or up to 10.6 nights if you redeem the points for stays, according to WalletHub’s analysis of redemption rates in seven of the most popular destinations for U.S. travelers.
One Free Night Each Year: The fact that cardholders receive one free night each year more than makes up for the $85 annual fee, considering that Marriott’s average daily room rate is roughly $181 in North America, according to public financial statements. This perk also assures users of at least some value no matter how often they use the card or spend money through Hilton.
Keep in mind, however, that this deal only applies to Category 1-5 hotels (there are 9 categories in total). This should still give you plenty of options, but it does mean that luxurious sub-brands like Autograph Collection are off-limits as far as Marriott’s anniversary gift is concerned.
- Valuable Points For A Hotel Credit Card: Each point you earn with the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is worth roughly $0.0102 when redeemed for a free night. That might not sound like a lot – and it’s not compared to cash back credit cards, which typically offer at least 1.04% cash back per dollar spent – but it’s a better redemption rate than many other leading hotel credit cards.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee: This card won’t hold you back when traveling abroad, as it does not charge the 2% to 4% foreign transaction fee assessed by 90% of all credit cards. More and more issuers are stripping such fees from their cards, especially those with a travel focus, but it’s nevertheless good to know that Marriott Rewards Premier is among them.
- Automatic Silver Elite Status: Cardholders automatically benefit from perks such as 20% bonus points on Marriott stays and weekend rate discounts. This certainly helps put the Premier Card’s annual fee into perspective, considering that you would otherwise need to pay for 10 or more nights each year just to qualify and retain Silver Elite status.
- Moderate Ongoing Costs: This card’s rewards more than pay for its $85 annual fee. But you’d obviously rather pay nothing at all, and the fixed cost does dilute the card’s value to people who don’t spend at least a few nights at Marriott properties each year.
- Most Redemption Options Offer Little Value: Marriott Points are worth about half as much when exchanged for merchandise, airfare, and rental car reservations than when redeemed for free nights at a Marriott-owned hotel location. This just underscores the importance of using credit cards for their intended purpose – if you’re going to get a hotel rewards card, use it for hotel rewards – but it’s certainly a downside to this particular offer nonetheless.
Other Things To Consider
- Low Regular APR: This card’s 17.49% - 24.49% (V) APR might seem pretty low, but it’s actually well above the 13.98% charged by the average credit card for excellent credit. This just underscores the folly in carrying a balance on a card designed for rewards.
Chip & Signature Security: All credit cards are transitioning to EMV technology, which utilizes a computer chip for transaction verification and fraud prevention. This is a positive trend generally, but the presence or lack of a computer chip should not influence your credit card decision. No matter what type of credit card you have, you’ll benefit from a $0 fraud liability guarantee. That means you’ll never have to pay for fraudulent charges that appear on your credit card account.
What’s more, the type of smartcard currently being introduced in the U.S. relies on so-called chip-and-signature technology, which won’t give users much of an advantage in terms of international usability relative to traditional magnetic-stripe credit cards.
- Metal Card: The fact that this card is made of metal and not plastic is the definition of window-dressing. It won’t save or cost you any money, so it’s best left out of your decision-making process.
Compared To The Competition
To provide some perspective in terms of the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card’s place in the hierarchy of hotel credit cards, we compared the offer to three of its biggest competitors in the space – each of which is backed by a similarly ubiquitous international hotel chain. This, of course, assumes that you have some choice regarding which chain you frequent. If Marriott is your sole option, you may want to check out WalletHub’s Best Overall Rewards Cards to make sure Premier is right for you.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
|Annual Fee||None 1st year, $85 after||$89||$29||None 1st yr, $95 after|
|Rewards Bonus||75,000 points||80,000 points||60,000 points||$200 statement credit|
|Rewards Rate||1 - 5 points / $1||1 - 10 points / $1||1 - 5 points / $1||1 - 2 points / $1|
|Purchase Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered|
|Transfer Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered|
|Regular APR||17.49% - 24.49% (V)||17.49% - 24.49% (V)||17.49% - 24.49% (V)||16.99% - 20.99% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||4.0 / 5||N/A||N/A||4.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
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