Since its launch in May, Marriott has been offering a new cardmember bonus of 100,000 Marriott Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card. That bonus is scheduled to end tomorrow (July 12th, 2018), so some will dub this a “last chance” to get 100,000 Marriott Rewards points. Is that true, and does it mean you should rush to get this card? I’d say the answer is no for most people.
Who should consider the Marriott Rewards Plus offer?
While there are several reasons why I think most people shouldn’t rush to apply for this card, there are a few groups of people who should at least consider whether or not it’s worth it for them.
Case 1: People who spend a lot on reimbursable Marriott stays
Beginning in August, the various Marriott and SPG cards will offer 6x on Marriott spend. According to our Reasonable Redemption Values, Marriott points are worth about 0.72 cents each. That makes earnings of 6x comaprable to about a 4.32% return on Marriott spend. That’s not bad. You could do better with a card like the the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which earns 3x on travel, since you could redeem those points at a value of 1.5 cents each through the Chase travel portal. That makes for an effective 4.5% return (or transfer to partners for even more value). However, if you are put off by the CSR’s annual fee and/or strongly prefer a return in Marriott points, the Premier Plus offers a reasonable return here. I wouldn’t open it for occasional stays, but for regular stays on someone else’s dime, a 4.32% return is OK.
Case 2: People who can maximize the value of 100K well beyond the average
While our Reasonable Redemption Value of 0.72 cents each for Marriott points pegs the value of 100K around $720, it is certainly possible to do better than that depending on how you use your points. Just a few nights ago, I stayed at a Fairfield Inn that cost me 10,000 points (vs a cash rate of $161+). Cash rates at comparable properties (less-conveniently located) were as low as ~$125. In August, that newly-refurbished property will drop in price to 7,500 points per night.
If you normally use your points for low-category redemptions like this, you can certainly stretch the value of the new member bonus beyond a thousand dollars.
Case 3: People who can maximize the use of the annual free night award
Just last week, I wrote about getting rid of my Marriott and SPG cards despite the annual free night award (See: Sending the Marriott and SPG cards off into the sunset). A couple of reasons why the annual free night award doesn’t appeal to me are that the free night is still subject to resort and destination fees and it is likely to become more difficult to maximize under peak and off-peak pricing. That said, there are around 6,300 properties where you can use the “up to 35,000 points” award night that comes with the Premier Plus card, so it’s certainly possible to find many situations where you can snag a good deal.
In fact, since writing that post last week, I’ve found myself in one such situation where the free night certificate would be my most reasonable option on an otherwise expensive one-nifght stay, which might cause me to keep one of the cards after all.
Reasons why I don’t think there should be a mad rush for this card
The above cases out of the way, I think that most people do not need to rush to pick up this card and there are several reasons for that assessment:
First: This card is subject to 5/24
Despite a couple of initial reports that I would attribute to people miscounting their status, the vast majority of reports have indicated that this card is indeed subject to 5/24.
|Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months. Some exceptions that are NOT subject to the 5/24 rule include: British Airways, Hyatt, IHG, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Marriott Business.
To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status.
In other words, those who frequently open new credit cards will not qualify. However, what if you do qualify as you have opened fewer than 5 new cards in the past 24 months? I’d argue this card probably isn’t worth one of those slots. Greg wrote a post in March about The best Chase cards that ARE subject to 5/24. While the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus wasn’t yet launched at the time, its similarly-equippped predecessor was at the bottom of the list of cards to consider, and for good reason: other cards subject to 5/24 offer more valuable bonuses and/or ongoing benefits. See that post for details.
Second: You can easily get a comparable bonus (or better)
If you are under 5/24, it’s worth seeing the post above for a full list of better offers. For instance, our Reasonable Redemption Value of 1.82 cents each for Ultimate Rewards puts the 50,000-point welcome offers on the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve worth north of $900. Thanks to the flexibility of a transferable currency, you can cherry-pick for the best redemptions and get considerably more value out of your points.
If you have your sights set on luxury properties, the Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa, not subject to 5/24, comes with 2 free nights in a Ritz Tier 1-4 property. We have speculated that those certificates might become valid at any Marriott-Ritz-SPG property when the programs merge. Further, opening the card before August would grant you automatic Gold status, which would transition to Platinum status in the new program (note: If you apply in August or after, you’ll only get Gold in the new program — see Consider getting the Ritz-Carlton card right now for more info on all of the above). While I’d generally consider focusing on cards that are subject to 5/24 first, the Ritz card is a current exception due to the potentially very rich signup bonus and ability to snag a year of free breakfast/lounge access at most of the Marriott//SPG portfolio.
But if it is points that you prefer, you can amass nearly 100K Marriott points pretty easily. If you have a business, the new member bonus on the Ink Business Preferred is even more compelling at 80,000 points after meeting $5,000 in spend in the first 3 months. That is an ongoing offer — while offers are always subject to change without notice, there is no published end date in sight — and those points could be transferred 1:1 to Marriott Rewards if you found the rare situation where Marriott offered the best value for your points. In other words, any day of the week you could get a signup bonus of nearly the same quantity of points that have the added flexibility of being transferrable to other partners. If you have a connection with a branch Business Relationship Manager, you may even be able to get a 100,000-point opening bonus.
|Applying for Business Credit Cards
Yes, you have a business: In order to sign up for a business credit card, you must have a business. That said, it's common for people to have businesses without realizing it. If you sell items at a yard sale, or on eBay, for example, then you have a business. Similar examples include: consulting, writing (e.g. blog authorship, planning your first novel, etc.), handyman services, owning rental property, renting on airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc. In any of these cases, your business is considered a Sole Proprietorship unless you form a corporation of some sort.
When you apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, you can use your own name as your business name, use your own address and phone as the business' address and phone, and your social security number as the business' Tax ID / EIN. Alternatively, you can get a proper Tax ID / EIN from the IRS for free, in about a minute, through this website.
Is it OK to use business cards for personal expenses? Legally, it's fine. And, anecdotally, almost everyone I know uses business cards for personal expenses. That said, the terms in most business card applications state that you should use the card only for business use. Also, some consumer credit card protections do not apply to business cards. My advice: don't use the card for personal expenses if you're not comfortable doing so.
In fact, if you are under 5/24, there are many other cards you should be considering ahead of the Marriott card. Since most business cards do not count against your 5/24 status, you’d be better off pursuing a number of business cards before picking up the Marriott card (See: Over 600,000 points and well under 5/24 for one man’s example strategy).
Third: I expect this offer to return
The final reason why I think there is no particular rush on this offer is that I fully expect it will return. Further, I can’t imagine a remarkable decrease in value on the new cardmember offer. With both Chase and Amex issuing Marriott/SPG cards for the foreseeable future, there will be two banks issuing cards with nearly identical benefits. If that isn’t a recipe for good old-fashioned capitalist competition, I’m not sure what is.
Before the launch of the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card, its no-longer-available predecessor card (The Marriott Rewards Premier – no “Plus”) often carried an 80,000-point bonus (with an additional 7,500 points for adding an authorized user), and that had bumped up to 100,000 points earlier this year. I have no insight into what the new “standard” bonus will be on the new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card when the current offer ends, but I have to imagine that a similar offer will come back again in the future. Sure, it’s possible that Chase could decimate the value of the signup bonus the way that Amex has slaughtered the welcome offers on the SPG cards, but I think it is more likely that we will see some enhanced competition moving forward.
On the other hand, Doctor of Credit has reported a rumor that Amex and Chase will share information and potentially limit customers to earning one new cardmember welcome offer on a Marriott card within 24 months beginning with the launch of the SPG Luxury card next month. Despite the fact that I trust DoC has a good source, I have a hard time jumping on board with that rumor. However, if it does happen, I suspect competition for customers would become even tighter. That new rule would instantly eliminate a huge portion of the potential customer base for each bank and they would each then be competing for a narrow niche of consumers. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I’d expect that to encourage good welcome bonuses.
The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card might be a good fit for some people. The current 100K offer on that card, scheduled to end tomorrow, certainly can be maximized for a good return. That said, I don’t think it should be a top priority for most people who qualify. Those under 5/24 have easy ongoing access to more valuable offers and would do better focusing on Ultimate Rewards cards for both the ability to transfer to Marriott in times when that makes sense and to have greater flexibility to choose more valuable uses of the points.