American Express is surveying customers about a new suite of benefits for their premium Marriott credit card, and a potential new Marriott card with stronger earning than Chase’s Marriott Visa but at a lower price point than the current $450 annual fee product Amex offers.
Today the $450 annual fee Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant offers 2 points per dollar (plus 3x at U.S. restaurants and on flights purchased directly with airlines and 6 points at eligible Marriott hotels); Platinum status after $75,000 spent each year; a $300 Marriott credit; Priority Pass Select; and an annual free night up to 50,000 points.
They’re evaluating annual fees for this card up to $650 or even $750, but might offer benefits such as:
- Stronger earning such as 3 points per dollar instead of just 2, put another way restoring the earning power of the old Starwood American Express card. They also tested a 5000 point bonus points per Marriott stay paid with the card.
- Waived resort fees. Hyatt waives resort fees for top elites, and neither Hyatt nor Hilton charge resort fees on free night redemptions. Marriott’s CEO says resort fees are good for you. Are resort fees the new checked bag fees, something only non-cobrand cardholders pay? Hotels should get rid of these entirely. If they encourage people to pick up the credit card it’s because these fees are so hated by consumers.
- Guaranteed Suite Upgrades 5 nights per year. If this was akin to Hyatt’s confirmed at booking suite upgrades there would be real value. On the other hand if it’s providing a certain number of ‘Suite Night Awards’ those don’t clear anyway and oddly that hasn’t changed during the pandemic when hotels are empty.
- 50% off a second room. Watch out for potential restrictions like ‘rack rate only’ on the first room, Starwood used to offer the SPG50 rate which you could spend 1000 points for – this had a similar restriction but was occasionally useful, especially on premium suites. My mental model though is this is ‘worth’ 3000 Marriott points each time you use it, and that’s about a $20 value.
There’s also an option for a one-time second room free (buy one get one). If that’s limited to the highest rates it’s not really a 50% savings on two, and of course this is mostly going to be useful for families and not necessarily for road warriors without kids.
- Improved value for free nights instead of a room up to 50,000 points it might be uncapped, or valued at 80,000 points, underscoring that Marriott rooms cost more than they did when the card was first introduced a couple of years ago. In one option the free night would come only after $50,000 spend.
- $100/stay on-property credits. Usefulness of which would be dependent on any property list or rate restrictions.
- Automatic Platinum status or reduced spend for Platinum. Spend $50,000 for Platinum instead of $75,000. Oddly they separately tout the benefit of free breakfast, which you’re supposed to get with Platinum. Maybe surveyed customers don’t understand this. They also surveyed offering 30 nights of elite credit each year rather than the current 15 nights.
- More flexible annual statement credit they surveyed reducing the Marriott credit from $300 to $250, and also surveyed allowing use of the credit at restaurants (including reducing it to $240).
They also surveyed a new $195 or $250 annual fee card without Priority Pass and a lower annual Marriott credit, but with stronger earning for ongoing spend.
Finally they tested a new highest annual fee card, new $250ish annual fee card, and the Chase-issued Marriott card against each other, and just their new cards separately against Chase.
(HT: A generous reader)