If you’ve been considering the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card, now might be the perfect time to try it. Recently, this card began offering a second free night for any customers who spend more than $60K annually on this card. The card, which is cobranded with Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, offers a 100K bonus point reward for new customers who spend $5K during the first three months (this is only going to be available until 4/24/19, so hurry!). The card also offers a free-night hotel certificate for every anniversary. You don’t have to actually do anything extra to earn this free-night bonus, which is worth 35K in points (and will get you a Category 5 free night according to the Marriott reward charts).
There are many Marriott category 4 or 5 options that you can qualify for, using your free-night certificate. There are also plenty of Ritz-Carlton options that are available, if you choose Category 5 or below.
Let’s talk about the second free night. It doesn’t actually come for “free.” You need to spend $60K annually to earn this reward. You do have other options when it comes to earning a second free night, like the Hilton Honors American Express Business card, which offers an additional free weekend night for two different annual spending levels, $15K and $60K. Let’s compare the two options and see how they rank.
What’s the Value of Your Second Free Marriott Night?
Each Marriott point is worth about 0.8 cents. So, a Category 5 night (valued at up to 35K points) is basically worth about $280. Paying out-of-pocket for one of these nights can cost far more than that, depending on where you want to stay, and what time of year it is. The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card allows you to earn 4X points for all restaurant, gas station, wireless phone services, and shipping costs. You will earn 6X points for all Marriott hotel stays. All other purchases will earn you 2X points per dollar spent. Basically, this translates into at least 1.6 cents for every dollar spent, on average.
If your business spending is $60K or more without any specific category bonuses, you would earn 120K points, which is worth somewhere around $960. When you add in the value of a free night (estimated at approximately $280), you are earning about $1240 in bonuses after spending $60K. This is about a 2% return.
If the same small business spent only 25% of the same $60K in the bonus categories that earn 4X points, you would earn an extra 30K in points. Because 150K Marriott points would equal about a $1200 return, with an extra $280 from the free night, you are earning about $1480 in value for the same amount of spending (this is a 2.5% return). This is an excellent value.
What if You Spent $60K on Other Cards?
Are there other cards that can earn you a solid 2.5% on your spending? Maybe, but not many. One option may be the Blue Business Plus Credit card from American Express. This card gets you 2 Membership Rewards points for each dollar, up to $50K in spending.
After that, you earn 1 point per dollar spent. So, if you spent the same $60K each year, you would earn 100K Membership Rewards points for the first $50K in spending, then another 10K for the next $10K in spending, adding up to 110K points. You should note that Membership Rewards points are typically valued higher than Marriott points, at about 2 cents per point. Using this formula, the 110K Amex points are worth about $2200, which is about $500 more than you would get from the same spending on the Marriott Bonvoy card.
Another option is the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which earns you 3X Chase Ultimate Reward points for every dollar spent, up to $150K per year. You have many categories to choose from, including travel, shipping, internet, online advertising, and social media.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth about 2 cents each, so if your business puts all expenses into non-bonus categories, you would earn 60K points for spending $60K. This is worth about $1200. But, if you spent in the bonus categories, you would get up to 90K in points, worth about $1800.
Again, this is worth far more than the points you can earn from the Marriott Bonvoy card, even if you count the second free night.
What’s the Value of New Cards and Minimum Spending?
Opening a bunch of brand new credit cards with spending thresholds of $60K makes the $1480 in Marriott Bonvoy value less competitive. Most new cards require between $1K-3K in spending for the first three months, which offers opportunities to earn tons of points using the minimum spending thresholds, if you could open many cards during the same year.
But, since this is not a practical option for most people, it is important to consider the options if you can’t meet the minimum spending thresholds for the Marriott Bonvoy Business card and earn the second free night. It takes between 2-3 new welcome bonuses to be equivalent to thee Marriott business card, which has an opening bonus value of about $900.
Other cards come with an opening value of $500-1600, including the Capital One Spark Cash for Business, the Ink Preferred Credit card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card, and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card has great value when you include the potential for a second free night after spending $60K in the first year. But, you should seriously consider other options if you have the opportunity to earn additional welcome bonuses from other cards, which can easily outweigh the $280 benefit of that second free night, based on how you use your points.