American Express Re-Strategizing Its Marriott Cards

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We’ve seen American Express surveying changes to its Marriott credit cards for some time now, but haven’t seen a refresh happen.

In contrast in February the Chase Marriott cards got a refresh and right now the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card has a genuinely impressive limited-time offer to earn 5 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after $5,000 spend on purchases in your first 3 months of cardmembership.

Numerous cards have gotten updates both just before and since the start of the pandemic, from IHG to Delta and United. I’ve assumed we’d see updates to the American Airlines co-brand products with a new deal extension.

But now we’re starting to see some moves from American Express on their Marriott portfolio. First, on the spending side, the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card can earn 7500 bonus points after spending $7500 or more on purchases June 15, 2022 – August 15, 2022. No registration required. (HT: Danny Deal Guru)

For most of 2021 cardmembers could opt into an Amex Offer earning 7500 bonus points for each $7500 spend (earnable up to 10 times). So this isn’t a new idea.

The Starwood Amex used to award one point per dollar of most spend, equivalent to 3 Marriott points. Chase Marriott cards used to earn one point per dollar of most spend. With Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood and dual issuer co-brand deals earning was harmonized at two Marriott points per dollar for base spend. That was effectively an earning cut for the Amex and a doubling of earn for the Chase card. These offers from American Express represent a limited give-back on earning, but only for exact $7500 spend thresholds. (And Marriott points aren’t worth as much as when the programs merged, either.)

In addition, Doctor of Credit reports that the Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card is going to get a benefit change in September.

The card’s $300 annual Marriott Bonvoy participating hotel spend credit will no longer be available to new cardmembers effectiv September 22, 2022. Instead they’ll reecive a $25 per month restaurant credit. The card offered a $25 monthly restaurant credit for several months in 2021.

As DoC points out, “There is a play where you could sign up for the card now (or just before 9/22/22), use the $300 credit and then get almost a year of $25 dining credits” so the card becomes more lucrative for those interested in the product for a short period of time. It may also be more lucrative for a period for existing cardmembers, though I await details on the benefit transition.

Ultimately I don’t like this change because I do spend the $300 with Marriott, it’s easier to get the statement credit off of a single charge I’m already making, rather than having to make a monthly charge and on something I wouldn’t otherwise use the card. That’s American Express’ point of course. I don’t use the card for restaurant spend, and don’t use it often, and this benefit change would require me to shift that.

I keep the card because I find its annual free night worth more than the cost of the card net of the statement credit and because it comes with 15 elite night credits each year (as does the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and I have had both since they were Starwood cards). Of course so does the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card and that has an incredibly compelling free night offer.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card, click here.

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