Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Marriott Business Credit Card and Its Competitors, Reviewed

Editor’s Note: American Express is a partner of Fundera.

Do you stay at the Marriott when you travel on business? There’s a card for that.

For Marriott loyalists, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Business credit card from Chase has a lot to offer: free nights, elite status, and now that Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest have merged, high rewards rates on Marriott and SPG spending.

But is it the best option for business travel? We break down the Marriott Premier, compare it to other travel options, and help you decide if it’s right for you.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Review

Like many hotel and airline loyalty cards, the Marriott Premier proves its worth through perks rather than straight-up rewards. For a $99 annual fee, the card offers an annual free night’s stay, a shortcut to elite status, and Visa Signature Business benefits including baggage delay, lost luggage, and trip cancellation insurance. For those who travel internationally, the Marriott card has no foreign transaction fee. It also has no fee for additional employee cards.

This Marriott business credit card also comes with an excellent signup bonus—80,000 Marriott Rewards Points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening—as well as a solid ongoing rewards rate. It earns 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott and SPG hotels; 2 per $1 spent on airline tickets, car rentals, restaurants, office supply stores, internet, cable and phone services; and 1 point per $1 elsewhere.

Generally speaking, Marriott points are worth about $1 apiece, so the signup bonus is worth around $800 and the ongoing rewards rate 5%, 2%, and 1% respectively.

If you like to be pampered, the card provides a fast track to elite status. Typically, you need 10 elite credits to earn Silver status, 50 for Gold, and 75 for Platinum. With the card, you get 15 elite credits every year, guaranteeing you the 20% points boost, priority late checkout, and gift store discount that come with Silver status.

Additionally, you’ll receive 1 credit for every $3,000 you spend on purchases, and automatic Gold status when you spend $50,000 on purchases each account year. Gold status will get you concierge service, guaranteed late checkout, discounts, and more.

Get the Marriott Premier if:

  • You often find yourself just shy of going up a Marriott elite status tier
  • You can take advantage of the signup bonus for a few free nights
  • You typically stay at Marriott or SPG hotels and want extra perks during your stay

Skip the card if:

  • You’d rather have rewards that can be earned or redeemed on general travel (find a general travel card, not a loyalty card)
  • You want a card with long-term value (go with a higher base rewards rate)
  • You spend a lot on typical office purchases (the Chase Ink Business Cash gives good rewards in that category)

Head to Head: How Does the Marriott Premier Compare to Other Business Cards?

Marriott Premier vs. the Amex Business Platinum

If you want travel perks, you can’t do better than the American Express Enhanced Business Platinum. The card comes with a $200 airline fee credit, Gold status at Starwood Preferred Guest hotels(!), reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check, and perhaps most important, access to over 120 airport lounges with the Lounge Collection.

It does have a high annual fee—$450 a year —but its perks can easily make the cost worthwhile.

The choice between the Premier and Platinum comes down to where you want your perks. If you’d rather have late checkout and a free night, the Premier comes in handy. If your business travel nightmare is being stuck in an airport for hours, the Platinum will give you a better emotional bang for your buck.

Another key consideration: the Amex Platinum is a charge card, meaning you’ll pay through the nose if you carry a balance month to month. While the Marriott Premier’s APR isn’t great, it’s better than a charge card.

Verdict: The Amex Business Platinum is good for airline perks and general travel, while the Marriott offers better value for frequent hotel-goers.

Marriott Premier vs. the Capital One Spark Miles

The Capital One Spark Miles is as straightforward a travel card as they come: It earns a flat 2 miles per $1 spent, no caps, no rotating categories. You can use your miles as a statement credit against any travel expense, or for travel booked through Capital One’s Orbitz-powered portal. It comes with a $59 annual fee, waived the first year, but has no annual fee or charge for additional employee cards.

The choice between the Marriott Premier and Spark Miles is clear: If you spend a lot of time and money at Marriott and SPG hotels, choose a card that rewards your loyalty. If you’d rather get higher rewards on every purchase and have flexibility in redemption, go with the no-frills, no-fuss Spark Miles. The Marriott’s main value is its luxury while Capital One stakes its claim on simplicity.

Verdict: If you don’t want to deal with hotel point redemption and earning, go with the Spark Miles. Otherwise, choose the Marriott card.

Marriott Premier vs. the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Though it’s a consumer credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be a great option for business spending too. It comes with good travel perks—lounge access to over 900 airport lounges, a $300 airline fee credit, a reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check, and no foreign transaction fee.

And it has a signup bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, and an ongoing rewards rate of 3 points per $1 on travel and dining and 1 per $1 elsewhere.

The major selling point is the Ultimate Rewards program itself—points are worth 1 cent apiece when you redeem as a statement credit. But by strategically transferring your points to Chase’s airline and hotel partners (including Marriott!), you can squeeze out a value of 5 cents per point or more.

When you’re deciding between the Premier and the Sapphire, your first question is whether you’ll need employee cards. The Premier is a business credit card, so it comes with free employee cards and account-keeping features. The Sapphire is a consumer card, so using it in a business context can be a little awkward.

Past that, if you value Marriott elite status, the Premier is the clear way to go. However, if you want lounge access or maximum value from your everyday spending, the Sapphire’s perks and high point value carry the day.

Verdict: If you value the bookkeeping ease of a business credit card generally or the elite status and perks offered by the Marriott card specifically, go with the Premier. Otherwise, the Sapphire consumer card offers great value for businesses as well.


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