I am not a credit card salesman. I am not advising you to get one of these cards. But I do want you to understand what they provide so you can make your own decision.

I get it — I had the same mentality for many years of “I invested in Marriott Vacation Club, I don’t need to invest more to stay in their hotels“. But then I got a Marriott credit card to pay for our annual maintenance fees and saw the Bonvoy point balance jump substantially. And I actually SAVED money! Now I’m headed to Florida on a vacation paid by free nights and Bonvoy points.

 American Express Brilliant CardChase Boundless Card
Annual Fee$450$95
 $300 Credit for any Marriott charges 
Marriott charges6 Bonvoy points/$1 spent6 Bonvoy points/$1 spent
Restaurants3 Bonvoy points/$1 spent2 Bonvoy points/$1 spent
Airline charges3 Bonvoy points/$1 spent2 Bonvoy points/$1 spent
Free Night50,000 Bonvoy point value35,000 Bonvoy point value
Marriott statusComplimentary GoldComplimentary Silver
Elite Night Credits15 night credits15 night credits
 Priority Pass to airport lounges 
 Fee credit for Global Entry and Pre-TSA Registration 
 No foreign transaction feesNo foreign transaction fees
75,000 Bonvoy bonus pointsSpend $3,000 the first 3 monthsSpend $3,000 the first 3 months

Let me give you some real numbers to understand what this all means. 

The “ouwie” $450 Annual Fee for the American Express Card isn’t as bad as it looks.  You won’t pay anything for this if you use the benefits.  $300 is credited for Marriott purchases (maintenance fees take care of that).  And their promos credits money back into your account all year long.  Right now, I am participating in the $20 credit each month this year for restaurant charges, up to $220 year.  I just ended a $10 credit for every $20 spent at small owner restaurants, up to $50.  So those two promos alone will get me $270 through the rest of this year.  That doesn’t even include the bonus Bonvoy points I’m getting with grocery purchases and gas right now through another promo. So . . . . . .   I pay them $450 and get more than $570 back.

Chase has promos as well, though they usually entail bonus Bonvoy points for grocery or gas purchases and not actual credits to your account.

That doesn’t even include the thousands of Bonvoy points you get each month and all the other benefits, all without spending any more to get them — just charging your regular expenses on the card.

I have both cards, and I personally like the American Express card better. I think their promos are better — I really liking getting credits back to my account for purchases I would have made anyway. Something to think about . . . . . . .

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x