Our bottom line
With this card you can earn points when you spend, which will, in turn, unlock free hotel stays and a host of other travel offers. If you use your card at any of the properties participating in Bonvoy you will receive 6 points for every £1. If you use the card elsewhere it’s 2 points for every £1 spent. Add in a welcome offer of 20,000 bonus points when you spend £3,000 in the first three months (subject to eligibility) and the ability to upgrade the Elite status of your card if you meet the requirements, and you have an attractive package for a frequent traveler looking for a high-end credit card. Just be aware that the card does carry a £75 annual fee.
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What’s great about this card
Welcome bonus – It’s always nice to receive a little bit extra, and that’s what new cardmembers get if they meet eligibility requirements (see below) and spend £3,000 in the first three months of membership. As a new cardmember you stand to receive a welcome award of 20,000 points if you meet the minimum spend requirements — a nice little boost to start your points collection.
Reward points – As it is part of the Marriott Bonvoy scheme, this card has a two-tiered system for earning reward points. Cardmembers can earn 2 points for every full £1 spent on their card. It gets even better when you use your card at any property that participates in the Bonvoy scheme. Here you will receive 6 points for every full £1 spend. Essentially, you will be rewarded generously if you decide to flash the plastic at any of the group’s qualifying properties.
Additional perks – If you are a high spender then you stand to receive even higher rewards. If you spend £15,000 in purchases each year then you will be automatically upgraded from Silver Elite status to Gold Elite status. This will then unlock extra perks such as late checkout options and enhanced room upgrades. Separately, you will receive a Free Night Award (FNA) worth up to 25,000 points when you spend £25,000 on the card.
Complimentary Elite Night credits – With this card you can benefit from 15 Elite Night credits each year. Now this is not a free night award, it is instead a boost in the tally for unlocking higher tiers of status in the future. So with your 15 Elite Nights, you automatically qualify for the Marriott Silver Elite status (which normally requires 10 nights). But the real advantage comes from using these credits to lower the requirements for higher tiers of status. So for the Platinum Elite status, which requires 50 Elite Night credits, you would only need to stay 35 nights in a Marriott hotel to qualify.
What’s not so great
Annual fee – This card has an annual fee of £75, which, considering it is a high-end credit card, isn’t that surprising. And in fact, it’s not as high as some other high-end credit cards. But it would be a worthwhile exercise to factor in this cost alongside the minimum spend requirements and compare it against what you receive in terms of rewards.
Welcome award eligibility – This is the same across most American Express cards, but you will not be eligible for the welcome award if you hold a personal American Express card or have held one in the past 24 months. It is typical to have some sort of restriction for existing customers and welcome rewards, but two years is at the higher end.
Minimum spend requirements – In order to benefit from some of the perks of the card, you will need to be prepared to spend a certain amount. The welcome award has relatively high spend qualifying criteria at £3,000 in the first three months, and in order to take advantage of upgrade to statuses or free night awards you are looking at spending multiple thousands of pounds.
How it compares
While this card does offer a lot in terms of rewards, it is very specific in how they can be earned. Firstly, there is a definite emphasis placed on spending at Marriott properties. Secondly, there are high minimum spend requirements in place before cardmembers can unlock some of the most attractive awards. However, while it does carry an annual fee, this is relatively low when you compare it against other high-end credit cards.
Co-branded credit card perks
Having a co-branded credit card means that you can unlock a range of rewards with that certain company or merchant.
Day-to-day, a co-branded credit card acts as a normal credit card. You still have a credit limit, a minimum monthly payment and an APR. You will still be required to pay off your balance in full in order to avoid interest charges. However, just because it is associated with a specific brand, it doesn’t mean that you are required to only use it when spending with them.
Having said that, typically the real perks of a co-branded card come when you do spend with the brand. If your card carries a points scheme, this is where you are likely to see a higher points yield on your spending. So for example, if you use your card for regular spending, you stand to earn 1 point for every £1 spent. But, if you use your card with the affiliate brand you could earn 2 points (or more) for every £1 spent.
And when it comes to redeeming your rewards, you typically find rewards are tailored to that company. If you have an airline co-branded credit card, you could, for example, redeem your rewards against free flights. If you have a hotel chain co-branded credit card, you may be able to achieve a number of free stays.
Co-branded credit cards really work if you are a regular user of that brand and are loyal. If you regularly stay with one hotel chain, why not earn yourself some stays for free? If you are likely to spend with that retailer anyway, why not earn yourself some rewards points in the meantime?
These types of credit cards are lifestyle cards. If you were likely to use that brand and spend the required amounts to unlock certain rewards anyway, then it makes a certain amount of sense to commit to a co-branded credit card. However, if you would have to change your lifestyle dramatically in order to take advantage of what the card is offering, then it probably isn’t for you.
How do you apply?
You can apply through the American Express website. The application will reportedly take less than 10 minutes, and you will receive a response in 60 seconds.
You will need to provide personal information, including your income and employment details.
Who is this card great for?
If you are a Marriott Bonvoy member and travel a lot, then this card is primed to reward you generously. If you are happy with a £75 annual fee, then you look to gain from reward points, free nights, access to Gold Elite Status, and a boost in Elite night credits. However, if you are not a Marriott Bonvoy customer, this may not be the best fit and you could be better off considering an American Express card that offers more generalized rewards.
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