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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I took advantage of the $7,500 spend and stopped when the benefit went away. Would be better if they lowered it to a more reasonable amount. Platinum gives a 1.5 benefit for $5,000 spend. My Delta card has not been used in over three years, time to replace it. The points value makes no sense to earn a single point there.

  2. These credit cards that earn less than 3 Bonvoy points per $ spent aren’t worth putting any spend on. With variable pricing in effect, all half-way decent properties previously redeemable with a 35k cert+15k top-off are priced just over 50k. Similarly luxury properties typically redeemable with 50k cert + 15k top-off are priced just over 85k, making both certs relatively worthless for me. I’m sure others may have had better luck redeeming their Bonvoy certs, but for me, the WoH & IHG certs are way easier to redeem for worthwhile properties.

  3. Is that it? Pretty weak refresh imo… should I stick around for the promos or just bail to avoid the hassle?

  4. I don’t like this change and am now considering closing this card. My card renews in August, does this mean I’ll receive the $300 hotel credit this year and the “re-strategy ” will go into effect after 9/22?

  5. So the 300 dollar credit is grandfathered in for old members permanently?
    and the new 25 dollar a month credit will apply to pre-existing cardholders?

  6. @dwondermeant What makes you think the $300 is somehow grandfathered for current Brilliant card holders?

  7. It’s unreal a ‘Marriott’ card would encourage restaurant spending over Marriott stays?

  8. @2802 Heavy, maybe the statement “The card’s $300 annual Marriott Bonvoy participating hotel spend credit will no longer be available to new cardmembers effectiv September 22, 2022”. It applies to all cardholders. I plan to ditch the card at renewal. Unfortunately me renewal date is after Sept. 22. I have the Platinum card which will let me keep my gold status.

  9. I’m typically getting $250 value from the free night very as I can’t use it at RC or St Regis. So with the $300 credit the card was a keeper. But I don’t do monthly credits so I will be cancelling when the next AF hits. Will be interesting to see the attrition #s next year

  10. The uncapped two points on everything that would be one point with all other ccs is a nice feature.

  11. Why are you and OMAAT being so overly nice to Amex about this? This is a BS move by Amex and you guys know it. They know their card is worthless so they think they can force us to keep it and actually use it every month? Screw that. Closing.

  12. I wish they would re-strategize their Amex Travel site instead. Try to book United’s “Economy Plus” domestic product through Amex Travel and they’ll charge you for it, then force you to select Economy seats only. Then call Amex Travel and they’ll swear up and down that on a United Embraer 175 aircraft with 24 total rows, Premium Economy/Economy Plus starts at row 21, leaving 3 – THREE – rows of standard Economy seating. The Amex Travel backend apparently doesn’t understand United’s Economy Plus seat map, even though they’re happy to charge you for it. Good grief, even SeatGuru has the correct seat map. And prepare to spend over 2 hrs on the phone talking to overseas support that put you in ‘on hold hell’ while they try to locate a supervisor. Makes me wish I’d gone with the consumer Amex Platinum vs the Biz version, at least then I could book direct for 5x points instead of dealing with the Amex Travel mess.

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