[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. For current terms and conditions, please see card agreements.]
If you prefer to stay at Marriott hotels when you’re on the road, you should check out the Marriott Rewards Credit Card. I’m not particularly loyal to a specific brand, but I’ve often stayed at Marriott properties, especially when I travel with my family because the rates are usually pretty good.
I’ll let you know right up front that you need excellent credit to qualify for this card. As soon as you get approved, you get two free night e-certificates. You know what else I really like about this card? After your first use, you get 30,000 Bonus Points, which you can redeem for up to four free nights. See, I really like it when you can get the bonus without spending a lot of money. Hey, buy a cup of coffee and you’ve got the 30,000 bonus points.
Rewards and Benefits
Stay loyal to Marriott and you can rack up points quickly. To give you an idea of what the points are worth, a Category 1 hotel requires 7,500 points for a free night and a Category 8 hotel requires 40,000 points for a free night. You can get more information about rewards here, but I’ll give you a quick rundown:
- Earn three points for every $1 spent at Marriott locations.
- Earn one point for every $1 spent on other purchases.
- Get one Elite Night Credit for each $3,000 spent. There’s no limit to the number of elite nights you can earn.
- Get a credit for 10 nights toward Elite status every year.
You start out with Silver elite status, which gives you oodles of perks, such as priority late checkout (something I always seem to need!) and a 20 percent bonus on top of your Marriott Rewards base points when you stay at one of the properties. This card is also a Visa Signature card, which means you get an abundance of benefits, such as 24/7 concierge service, access to tickets to major sporting events, and special discount travel packages.
Rates and Fees
Rewards credit cards always have interest rates on the high side, but this one is reasonable. Here are a few of the basic costs:
Purchase APR: You get a variable 14.24 percent. There’s only a 21-day grace period so be on your toes and pay the bill on time to avoid interest. Note: The penalty rate is a variable 29.99 percent. So there’s another incentive to pay your bills on time!
Balance Transfers: There’s a 3 percent transfer fee. There’s no intro rate, so you get the purchase APR, which is a variable 14.24 percent. There are better cards than this for a balance transfer.
Foreign transaction fee: 3 percent
Annual fee: Waived for the first year; after that, it’s $45 a year.
For the Marriott loyalist, this card is a good option. You can redeem your points at Marriott hotels when you travel, but you can also redeem them for airline miles, travel expenses and more. So you have some flexibility.