The best hotel credit card in Canada is the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card and in fact is one of the best overall travel rewards credit cards! It consistently ranks in the Top 5 Cards in Canada in our annual rankings
thanks to its ability to provide huge outsized value and by providing
some amazing benefits that can be used year after year. We hope with
this review that more Canadians can learn about the value hotel loyalty
programs can provide as the last major survey showed only 13% of
Canadians participated in a hotel loyalty program.
The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is
a dream card for points maximizers, luxury travellers and really should
be a dream card for all Canadians. It has one of Canada’s best everyday
earn rates (that is, spending on non bonused categories), gives you a
free night stay on every card anniversary, has a welcome bonus that
provides huge value and makes it easier to achieve elite status within
the Marriott Bonvoy program. Then when you take into account that you
can redeem points for stays at nearly 8,000 hotels from a road trip stay
in a small town in Canada to a once in a lifetime dream vacation in the
Maldives you can start to see why this card is a dream!
Costs & Sign up Features
The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card comes
with a $120 primary card annual fee which has been the standard for
this level of credit card (a premium card) but is now becoming more
attractive as many of this card’s competitors are now charging $139 per
year. Supplementary cards are also a great deal here as they don’t cost
The standard welcome bonus for this card is 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy
points after you spend $1,500 in the first three months of having it.
That’s one of the lower end spend requirements seeing that you only have
to spend $500 per month to get that awesome bonus. Those 50,000 points
are worth at least $500 in our books since we value Marriott Bonvoy
points at a minimum 1 cent each but you can get much more value out of
them than that!
The interest rate on the card is 19.99% on
purchases. 21.99% on cash advances and balance transfers. These rates
are equivalent to or below many cards at this level. Just like all
American Express cards there is no minimum income requirement. Approvals
will be based upon credit history and other factors.
The card earns Marriott Bonvoy points on all eligible purchases and
are deposited to your Marriott Bonvoy account a few days after your
statement posts. Earn rates are as follows:
5 Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 you spend at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
2 Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 you spend on all other eligible everyday purchases
These are pretty amazing earn rates – in fact the 2 points per dollar
on all other spending ties the consumer Marriott card as the best card
out there in terms of noncategory bonus spending. Very few cards award
the equivalent of a 2% return on base level spending and in most cases
when you redeem via Marriott you should easily be able to get more than 1
cent per point hence a return of over 2%.
Recommended reading: The top credit cards for everyday non-category bonus spending
Then you have the exclusive 5 points per dollar when you spend at
Marriott and you can see that those paid hotel stays will quickly rack
up the points for free night awards!
Point Valuation Chart
|Spending Category||Points earned per dollar spent||Approximate minimum return when redeeming for Marriott Free Night Awards*|
|Marriott Bonvoy properties||5||5%|
|All other spending||2||2%|
|* We value Marriott Bonvoy points
at a minimum of 1 cent each hence the valuations above – that is a
minimum though as we typically see higher value than that, in fact
we’ve seen redemptions in excess of 3 cents per points so you could
triple those values seen above.
Being a hotel card means the points earned
go directly into your Marriott Bonvoy account. From there you can redeem
the points for free night awards at nearly 8,000 Marriott Hotels
worldwide, convert the points into frequent flyer miles/points for over
40 global airlines programs including Air Canada Aeroplan, Cathay
Pacific Asia Miles or United MileagePlus. Marriott also has redemption
options for Marriott Travel Packages, gift cards, flight+hotel packages
and the very famous Marriott Bonvoy Moments.
Recommended reading: Marriott’s New Hotel Openings in Canada for 2021 – 9 hotels in the works including the W Toronto & Humaniti Hotel Montreal
First we’ll look at the primary redemption option – free night
awards. The main premise of any hotel frequent guest program is to earn
points that you can redeem for free night stays at hotels within that
program. This is where Marriott Bonvoy excels. Being one of the largest
hotel chains in the world with nearly 8,000 hotels there are a lot of
locations to choose from to redeem those points. Like many hotel
programs the free night award redemptions follow a category chart where
there are set values for the points required for hotels that fall into
each category. Marriott has eight categories with Category 1 being the
lower end hotels and Category 8 comprising of those dream worthy ultra
Here are the current redemption rates for each Marriott Bonvoy category:
As you can see there are three levels in
each category: Off Peak, Standard and Peak. For the most part most
redemptions will fall into standard but during slower time periods you
may find the lower Off Peak rates and conversely during busy times you
could expect to pay Peak pricing. Marriott also runs PointSavers which
provides up to a 20% discount on the above rate at select hotels during
select times of the year. If you are lucky enough you could redeem as
little as 4,000 points for a night at a Category 1 hotel. The third
hotel redemption option after the above rates and PointSaver rates is
Cash+Points where you can redeem less points for a free night and have a
co-pay amount to make up the difference.
Here are the current Cash+Points rates:
If you take a quick look over the chart you can see that it
doesn’t take a lot of points to start redeeming for free nights with
Marriott Bonvoy program but for a lot of us the highlight is being able
to use the points at the higher end hotels. So ultimately you are
looking at being able to use points to redeem for a stay at a place like
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort or The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice
just to name a few! For example here’s a five night stay at The St.
Regis Maldives – with points for an upgraded room and the same room with
From the above example, we picked an upgraded room – an Overwater
Villa, 1 Bedroom Villa, 1 King, Sofa bed, Private pool for five nights
that cost an extra 5,000 points per night at this Category 8 hotel. That
means every night is 90,000 points instead of 85,000 but wait – you
might be asking why is it only 365,000 points and not 450,000? That
brings us the one of the best features of the Marriott Bonvoy program –
when you book 5 awards nights you get one free – the one that costs the
least of course (for example if you have a mix of off-peak and standard
rates, one of the off-peak nights would be free). It also doesn’t cover
the upgrade fee in points. Any ways back to our example – you are
redeeming 365,000 points for the equivalent of US$9839.98. That works
out to 2.7 cents per point in USD or 3.4 cents per point Canadian. That
puts your 2 points per dollar earned on this card at a 6.8% return and 5
points at 17.14% – yes a 17% return on any Marriott spending you have!
That’s just one example from thousands that we could provide!
Ultimately your rate of return will be different as hotel prices are
constantly changing and a big portion of that amazing return counts on
getting that 5th night free. If you are only redeeming for three nights
it drops. For the example above it moves down to US$ 2.2 cents per point
– still an awesome return but as you can see that free night makes a
Recommended reading: A look at how The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card provides huge value!
Now onto the next best redemption option
from the Marriott Bonvoy program and that’s the transfer option to over
40 airline frequent flyer programs. It is more than well known
in the points and miles circles that the only hotel points that have a
meaningful conversion rate to airlines are Marriott Bonvoy points. The
reason why is they have a very good conversion ratio and also provide a
bonus when redeeming enough points. The conversion ratio for most of
their airline partners is 3 to 1 with the exceptions being Air New
Zealand, JetBlue and United. The first two are based on how the points
work in their programs hence a difference while United has an special
partnership with Marriott so you get a higher conversion rate where
you’ll receive 1.1 Miles for every 3 points transferred.
Now ideally, you only want to convert to airlines in 60,000 Marriott
Bonvoy point increments and that’s because Marriott will kick in an
additional 5,000 miles or points from the partner program. For example
if you convert 60,000 Bonvoy Points to Air Canada Aeroplan you’ll 20,000
points from the 3:1 conversion ratio plus an extra 5,000 for a total of
25,000 Aeroplan Points. This bonus counts for all of their frequent
Next up you have Marriott Bonvoy Travel Packages – these used to be
an amazing redemption option in the program a few years but some changes
made them less attractive but in some cases they can still be a great
deal. Marriott Travel Packages allow you to redeem points for 7 nights
at a hotel plus airline miles to the program of your choice.
As you can see you need to redeem 750,000 points for a 7 night stay
at a Category 8 hotel and get 100,000 airline miles. To do that
separately it would take 835,000 points. So you can see this is where
there is still some value in this package however you should do the math
before redeeming for one of these travel packages to see if it is
You can also redeem points for flights, car rentals and gift cards –
all of which provide less value than redeeming for actual hotel award
Finally the last redemption option that is on hold due to the
pandemic but is one to take note of once it returns are Marriott Bonvoy
Moments. These are typically one of a kind experiences that you can
redeem your points for. Some are auction based whereas some others a
flat rate redemptions and your redeeming points for things like tickets
to premium seats and suite access at the U.S. Open tennis, exclusive
access to concerts, VIP access to car racing events and so much more.
We’ll update this review with a closer look at Moments once they become
Features and Benefits
Not only does this card shine when it comes to value on the
earn and burn side it is a bright light when it comes to extra
benefits. The first benefit is one of the best out there in our market
from any credit card available. And that benefit is an Annual Free Night
Award that is provided each year on your card anniversary date. This
voucher provides a free night at any Marriott hotel worldwide up to a
value of 35,000 points. That means you can redeem it for up to a
Category 5 hotel at a standard point level or if you are lucky enough a
Category 6 hotel that is running a PointSavers rate and has Off-Peak
availability. The value of this free night alone is worth more than the
annual fee you pay on this card. Many Category 5 hotels cost C$200 or
more per night so you can see how paying the $120 makes it worthwhile
just for the free night alone!
Recommended Reading: 10 great Marriott Hotels in Canada to use your anniversary free night award from the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
The next feature or benefit that comes with the card is 15
elite night credits that are awarded each and every year you have the
card. Those 15 nights count towards your Marriott Bonvoy elite status
qualification and with Silver status only requiring 10 nights that means
you automatically receive Silver status by having this card. Gold elite
status requires 25 nights so you actually only have to complete 10
actual nights to earn Gold Status (or see the next benefit), 35 nights
to achieve Platinum status or 60 nights to earn Titanium status.
If you spend $30,000 or more on your Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card each
year you’ll receive an upgrade to Gold elite status so this is your
other option to reach this level if you can’t complete the 10 additional
nights as mentioned above.
On the insurance side the card comes with a standard range
of coverage including travel accident insurance, flight delay,
lost/stolen/delayed baggage insurance, car rental CDW coverage, hotel
burglary insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty.
Finally the card provides access to Amex Offers, Amex Front
of the Line and Amex Invites. These are all exclusive programs limited
to American Express. Amex Offers is an amazing benefit that provides
statement credits or bonus points for shopping at various merchants. I
would recommend checking out our Guide to American Express Canada ‘Amex Offers‘
for more details. Amex Front of the Line is a service that provides
presale and/or reserved ticket options for events across Canada
including concerts, theatre productions and more. Amex Invites provides
exclusive offers like advance screening for movies, exclusive shopping
events and more.
What is good about this card
The first thing that is good about this card is the welcome
bonus – 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points are worth at least $500 in our
books but if you take our Maldives example above that 50K can be worth
$1,700!! Keeping on the topic of points the earn rates are also great – 2
points per dollar on base spending and 5 points per dollar at Marriott
properties provides big time value for your spending.
No fee on supplementary cards! This makes the card $50 – $75 cheaper per card when compared to many of its competitors.
Next are the the benefits – the annual free night alone
makes it worth it to pay the annual fee. The elite night credits and
Gold status after spending $30,000 are also great benefits that come
from this card.
The ability to use points for
hotel stays or convert to so many different airlines. In fact for most
of the airline partners in the Marriott Bonvoy program the only way to
earn points or miles on everyday spending in Canada is with a Marriott
Bonvoy credit card.
The Amex related benefits, mainly
Amex Offers also add to the list of good things about this card as that
can provide some much appreciated savings for cardholders.
What is not so good about this
The lack of increased earn rate on select spend categories.
For example the business version of the card has 3 points per dollar
for gas, dining and travel.
The fact you cannot combine the 15 elite nights earned from
this card with the 15 elite nights earned from the consumer card. This
is allowed in the U.S. so their members are earning 30 nights per year
if they have both cards so I’m not sure why they didn’t allow it here in
While amazing – your redemption options are limited. If you
are someone who doesn’t like to be tied into one program or that
program’s partners you’ll be better off with a card that has more
flexible reward options.
The lack of No Foreign Transaction fees – this card would
stand to benefit immensely from offering a 0% foreign transaction fee
seeing that over 7,700 of the hotels that you can earn your 5x points at
are not in Canada, So to have that extra little savings on Marriott
stays would be huge!
Who should get this card
- Marriott Bonvoy point collectors – the
fact that you can have this card and the business card in your wallet at
the same time you’ll make sure your Bonvoy points earning is
- People who are interesting in pulling the maximum value out of each dollar they spend on their credit card
- Members of one of Marriott Bonvoy’s
partner airlines that have no other method of collecting points or miles
in that airline program
- People who want to stay at luxurious hotels but can not typically afford paying the cash rates for those hotels
There’s a reason why the this card has been one of the best
travel rewards credit cards in Canada for years on end. It has the
potential to give the cardholder huge outsized value for each dollar
spent on it. From 2% to 17%, there aren’t many cards that can offer
this. Plus hotel programs are often overlooked in Canada and they can be
the ideal reward program for single travellers and families alike.
Think about – how much spending would you have to put on a credit card
to get business class tickets for a family of four versus how much
spending you need to get a luxurious hotel room for a week for four
people. And would you rather have 7-14 hours of luxury or 7 days of
luxury? Ideally you’d want both but for many Canadians that just not
feasible. Ultimately what you have with this card is a lot of travel
options with great benefits and great value for every dollar you spend
on the card. That’s why Rewards Canada family has the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card in our wallets and use it for our Marriott purchases and any of our non category bonus spending!
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