Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada Review | 70,000 points welcome offer

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Are you looking for a Marriott Bonvoy Amex review? I’ve got you covered. Simply put, the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card should be in every traveller’s wallet. You get a high earning rate, a free annual night certificate worth up to 35,000 points, and Gold Elite Status with Marriott Bonvoy. It’s easy to see why I think it’s one of the best travel rewards cards in Canada. Keep reading my Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada review now for more details.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

  • $120 annual fee
  • 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at participating Marriott properties
  • Earn 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at gas and travel purchases for the first 6 months (up to 15,000 points) – Offer ends May 6, 2024
  • Earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy points for per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points

Welcome bonus and earn rate

The Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada Card typically has a welcome bonus of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. However, they have better offers where you can earn 55,000 – 80,000 points. What’s interesting is that if you sign up with a referral link sent by a friend or family member (or if you use mine), you’ll usually get another 5,000 points.

As for the earn rate, you’ll get 5 Marriott Bonvoy points for every dollar spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties. All other purchases on your card earn you 2 points per dollar spent. The earn rate is pretty respectable for a co-branded Marriott Bonvoy credit card.

To give you some perspective, I personally value one Marriott Bonvoy point at about .9 cents. That means the welcome bonus is worth much more than the $120 annual fee.

Benefits and perks

It’s time to go over the benefits and perks in this Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada review. As you can imagine, most of the benefits are Marriott-related. That’s not a bad thing since Marriott International has more than 8,000 properties in 140+ countries. You’ll be able to use your points just about anywhere and you can look forward to the following benefits:

Free night certificate

On the anniversary of your cardmembership, you’ll get a free night certificate of up to 35,000 points at any participating Marriott property. The value of those points is easily worth more than the annual fee, so the card pays for itself. You can also top up your certificate with up to 15,000 points, so that gives you some added flexibility.

Elite status

With this card, you start at Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status, which gives you additional benefits such as 10% bonus points on stays and priority late checkout. In other words, if you pay for your stays with your Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card at participating properties, you get 5.5 points per $1 spent.

Gold status is given when you spend $30,000 on your card each year. If status is important to you, you may want to consider the American Express Platinum Card instead since you automatically get Gold status.

Elite night credits

At the start of every calendar year, you’ll also get 15 Elite Night credits, meaning you’ll only need ten additional nights to reach Gold Status (if you don’t spend $30,000 before then). This is handy for people who stay at Marriott hotels occasionally. 

Travel insurance

  • Flight delay insurance – $500
  • Baggage delay insurance – $500
  • Car rental theft and damage insurance – 48 days/$85,000
  • Hotel/motel burglary insurance – $500
  • Travel accident insurance – $500,000

The main travel insurance you get is travel accident insurance of $500,000. That may sound good, but it’s something you never want to collect since it mainly covers loss of body parts or death. American Express does offer generous car rental theft and damage insurance since you’re covered for car rentals with an MSRP of $85,000 on trips up to 48 days. Your flight delay insurance kicks in after four hours, while baggage delays require 6 hours. Note that the $500 in coverage for both types of insurance is an aggregate amount.

Finally, the hotel/motel burglary insurance gives you $500 in coverage. Remember, you need to charge your travel expenses to your credit card for your travel insurance to apply. One strategy I recommend is to use your Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada Card for your hotel stays since you’ll earn extra Marriott Bonvoy points and you’ll get hotel/motel burglary insurance.

Purchase insurance

  • Purchase protection – 90 days
  • Buyer’s assurance – Double, up to one additional year

Purchase protection is often overlooked, but it can save you since you’ll be reimbursed if your purchases are lost, damaged, or stolen within 90 days from when you make the purchase. There’s a limit of $1,000 for each claim, but that’s still a fair amount. Note that you do need to make the entire purchase with your Marriott Bonvoy Amex card for your purchase protection to be valid.

Buyer’s assurance is just a fancy way of saying extended warranty. Purchases made with your Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card get double the manufacturer’s warranty, up to one additional year. Just make sure you have a copy of the original receipt.

American Express experiences

By being an American Express cardholder, you get access to some additional benefits, including:

  • Front of the line presales – Enjoy exclusive access to tickets before they go on sale to the general public to concerts, theatre products, restaurants and more.
  • Reserved tickets – American Express has deals in place where cardholders can buy exclusive tickets to various entertainment events.
  • Experiences – Enjoy specially curated entertainment and retail events such as advance screenings, private shopping, exclusive dining and more.
  • Offers – Get retail offers where you’ll get a statement credit when you meet minimum spend requirements.

How to redeem your points

I’ve written a detailed Marriott Bonvoy review so you can check that out if you want the full details, but I’m going to quickly highlight a few things about the program.

Marriott Bonvoy used to categorize their hotels. However, in recent years, they’ve eliminated the categories and introduced dynamic pricing. In other words, the number of points required for each property can vary quite a bit. This can work against people, but since Marriott has so many properties, you can usually find something that’s of fair value.

What makes Marriott Bonvoy appealing is that they have over 8,000 hotels and almost all of them have reward redemption availability at any given time. That said, if certain dates are getting full or there’s a major convention in town, you may see less reward availability.

One major perk of Marriott Bonvoy is that when you book four nights on points, you get the fifth night free. This can help reduce the overall number of points you’re using, but the five nights must be consecutive and at the same hotel. It’s also worth mentioning that Marriott Bonvoy has some of the better benefits once you reach Platinum status (50 nights per year). That’s where you get free breakfast and lounge access.

Generally speaking, if you’re getting at least .9 cents per point in value, it’s a decent deal. To calculate your cost per point (CPP), use the following formula:

Cash value of redemption X 100 / Points required = CPP

When doing your calculation, don’t forget to select add all fees and taxes so you get an accurate number.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express eligibility

It’s now time to go over eligibility requirements in this Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada review.

  • You must be a Canadian resident
  • You must be the age of majority in the province or territory where you live

What’s interesting is that American Express has no formal income requirement. In addition, American Express does not list what credit score you need to be approved. That said, it’s safe to assume that you’ll need at least a good credit score, so 700+, to be approved.

How the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card compares

The Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card is hard to compare since it’s the only consumer co-branded Marriott Bonvoy card in Canada. That said, some American Express credit cards allow you to transfer your points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio, so let’s look at some of those cards.

Marriott Bonvoy Amex vs. American Express Cobalt Card

Admittedly, it’s not a fair comparison, but I like to stack the Marriott Bonvoy Amex up against the American Express Cobalt Card. The welcome bonus is easier for the Marriott card, but the earning rate is where things get interesting. As you know, the Bonvoy Card gives you 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties at 2 points everywhere else. The Cobalt Card earns 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks, 2 points on travel and transportation, and 1 point on everything else.

Anyone who stays at Marriott properties frequently is likely better off with the Bonvoy Card since you get an increased earning rate, status qualifying nights, instant status, and an annual free night certificate. However, if you spend a lot on groceries, food, and travel in general, the Cobalt Card could be better since you can convert your points to Marriott Bonvoy or even Aeroplan, as needed.

Marriott Bonvoy Amex vs. American Express Gold Rewards Card

The American Express Gold Rewards Card is more of a multi-use travel credit card, so we’ll focus on the benefits. With this card, you get an annual $100 travel credit and a Priority Pass membership with 4 free annual airport lounge passes to Plaza Premium lounges. That easily offsets the annual fee of $250. Some would argue that holding this card and the Marriott Bonvoy card are worth it since the yearly benefits are worth more than what you pay in annual fees.

Marriott Bonvoy Amex vs. American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

It may seem odd to use a business credit card as a comparison, but it’s worth mentioning due to the welcome bonus. The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card has consistently had a welcome bonus of 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when spending $5,000 in the first three months. When factoring in the minimum spend and transfer ratio, that’s 96,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you could potentially get.

Final thoughts

My Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada review is positive. This card will likely be great for people in the following situations:

  • You want to save on hotels – Marriott has over 8,000 properties in 140+ countries. That means you’ll be able to use your Marriott Bonvoy points almost anywhere in the world.
  • You want a free hotel night – You’re given a free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points (can be topped up with an additional 15,000 points) every year on your anniversary.
  • You want to earn hotel status – With this card, you’re instantly given 15 status qualifying nights each year.

Those who prefer free hotel stays may favour this card from my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada. The welcome bonus and free annual night certificate more than pays for the annual fee, which is why the Marriott Bonvoy Card is one of the best American Express credit cards. It’s a must-have card for anyone who stays at Marriott properties regularly.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

17 Comments

  1. Spunky on April 10, 2019 at 8:19 AM

    Excellent article. I had no idea that my Amex Bonvoy card had NO TRAVEL INSURANCE. I guess I won’t be holding this card as long as I thought (thank God, the lowly President’s Choice mastercard still gives me 10 days travel insurance for free).

    • Barry Choi on April 10, 2019 at 10:15 PM

      Spunky,

      The card does come with an annual free night certificate worth up to 35K points which is a good reason to keep the card.

  2. Chrissy on April 19, 2019 at 4:48 PM

    Hi Barry – just wondering if you know: if I was an SPG Amex cardholder several years ago, does this disqualify me from getting the bonus points on this new card?

    • Barry Choi on April 19, 2019 at 5:01 PM

      Technically yes, but 99% of people who had the card years ago report that they’ve been able to get the sign up bonus. That being said, Amex is within their rights to deny you them.

      • Chrissy on April 19, 2019 at 5:06 PM

        Ah, I’ve heard this too! Well I’m glad to hear from a Canadian expert. I think I’ll give it a shot. Thanks so much Barry!

  3. Jeff on October 21, 2019 at 12:02 PM

    If you have a family, this card sucks because none of the rooms we fit in are included in the points redemption. Marriott will let me acquire points by booking suites and other rooms that sleep my 5 family members, but none of those rooms are available for us when we try to use points. USELESS!!!! TERRIBLE CARD if you can’t spend the points you’ve accumulated!!!!! And there’s no flexibility, no humans who can override their inflexible computer system. It’s terrible!!

    • Barry Choi on October 21, 2019 at 3:24 PM

      Jeff,

      You could just try lowering the # of people when making a reservation.

      • Jeff on October 18, 2020 at 10:48 AM

        I have a family of five – I want a hotel room that sleeps five. Booking a room for four, while easy, wouldn’t actually provide us with five places to sleep.

    • Thomas on October 18, 2020 at 7:07 AM

      I have a family of 5 and never pay for hotel rooms, I do it all on points. You can easily book larger rooms on points by just calling in and often you will not need to because once you are platinum or titanium they will almost always upgrade you for free.

  4. Jeff on October 21, 2019 at 3:43 PM

    Well that wouldn’t help us book the type of room we need so we all have beds to sleep in. I can book rooms to fit us when I pay for the rooms, but if I want to use the points I’ve collected, I cannot book the very same type of room that we always pay for. Case in point: a 2 bedroom suite that has 2 queens and a sofa bed in Bloomington. I can pay $174/night but it’s not available AT ALL using points or even points plus cash. It’s a useless “reward” system for my family as it is currently structured.

    • Thomas on October 18, 2020 at 7:11 AM

      Have you tried calling to book, I have found many times that rates not available on the internet are available if you ask one of their reservations agents.

    • Jeff on November 2, 2020 at 1:50 AM

      You could just stay at home, Jeff. You seem upset. Maybe a warm bath with some Epsom salt would relieve some of that anger. Or perhaps, just book a room for one, and do the remaining four family members the favour of a few nights without your negativity.

  5. James C Hendrickson on September 28, 2021 at 1:46 AM

    Ummm… why would you want a credit card that has an annual fee? If you keep the card you’ll probably use the rewards in the first couple of years, but after that you’ll be stuck with the fees.

  6. James on October 4, 2023 at 1:47 PM

    Since the card charges foreign exchange fees, when staying at a Marriott outside Canada, it is better to use a no forex card, if you have one. Which in my mind defeats the purpose of this card if it is not used at Marriott properties.

    • Barry Choi on October 4, 2023 at 2:18 PM

      Hey James,

      Since you get 5 points per dollar spent and 1 point is worth about .9 cents, you’re getting 4.5 cents in points for a 2.5% fee. To me, that’s reasonable. That said, I wouldn’t use the card for any other foreign purchases.

  7. Jeff on December 10, 2023 at 5:43 PM

    Do the Marriott points earned through the Amex card get automatically applied to your Marriott account? If so, when will they show up?

    • Barry Choi on December 11, 2023 at 6:12 AM

      Hey Jeff,

      Yes, your points are automatically transferred to your Marriott account when your monthly statement posts.

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