How to maximize the benefits of the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Family Checking In At Hotel Reception Smiling because they're paying with their stay using points from their Marriott cardImage: Family Checking In At Hotel Reception Smiling because they're paying with their stay using points from their Marriott card

In a Nutshell

Want to maximize the benefits of the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card? Use your card to earn Marriott Rewards® points, secure Silver Elite status and purchase items abroad with no foreign transaction fees.
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These offers are no longer available on our site: Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

The issuer no longer offers the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card. For another option, check out our review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.

Do you frequently stay in Marriott® and SPG® hotels? If so, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card can help you earn points and enjoy some serious perks.

This rewards credit card offers tremendous value for travelers, starting with benefits you can use at the largest hotel chain in the world.

That’s right — with the recent acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and its Starwood Preferred Guest® rewards program, Marriott now has the most extensive network of hotels where your card perks can come in handy.

While some may see the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card’s $0 intro, $85 after first year annual fee and get a little nervous, have no fear.

If you use all (or even most) of this card’s benefits, the value will likely outweigh that annual fee and then some.

Let’s jump right into five simple ways you can maximize the benefits of the [ck-Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card.


5 ways to maximize the benefits of the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

  1. Make sure you qualify for the sign-up bonus
  2. Don’t skip your free anniversary night
  3. Transfer points around for the most flexibility
  4. Take advantage of automatic Silver Elite status
  5. Pack it in your wallet when you travel

1. Make sure you qualify for the sign-up bonus

First and foremost, one of the most valuable things about this card is its sign-up bonus. You’ll get 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Nightly stays at a Category 1 hotel start at just 7,500 points, so you can find a lot of value in your sign-up bonus. You can save even more when you tap into PointSavers reward rates during off-peak times, which start at only 6,000 points for a Category 1 hotel.

2. Don’t skip your free anniversary night

Another major benefit of the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the free night stay you’ll earn each year after your account anniversary. You can redeem this reward at any Category 1–5 hotel, and it holds some serious potential to offset the cost of the annual fee.

Category 5 hotels are typically pricier compared with the lower categories, so redeeming at this level will give you the most value. Depending on how and when you redeem, Torsten Jacobi of MightyTravels.com notes that this perk alone can “translate into a $150 to $200 value at any renewal.”

We know what you may be thinking: Why not wait a few years and accumulate a bunch of free night stays to use on a single vacation? A fine idea, but it won’t work. Each free night stay expires 12 months after it’s credited to your account, so plan ahead and make sure you use it within a year.

3. Transfer points around for the most flexibility

You already know that the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card can help you earn more points on purchases at over 5,700 participating Marriott Rewards® and SPG® hotels. But what you might not know is that you can move your Marriott Rewards® points to the Starwood Preferred Guest® or the Ritz-Carlton Rewards programs. It’s fast, it’s free and it unlocks a potentially huge amount of flexibility for your rewards.

“The option to transfer to Starwood [Starpoints®] adds many more options,” notes Jacobi. Not only can you redeem Starpoints® for hotel stays, but you can also transfer them to more than 30 airline frequent flyer programs, mostly on a 1-to-1 basis.

Let’s see how that looks in practice.

Say you qualify for the sign-up bonus of 75,000 Bonus Points. If you wanted, you could convert those Bonus Points points into 25,000 Starpoints® (the conversion rate is 3-to-1 when transferring Marriott Rewards points to Starpoints®).

Of course, you also run the risk of devaluing your points when you move them around. So remember to plan ahead and transfer them to where you’ll need them most.

4. Take advantage of automatic Silver Elite status

With the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you’ll receive 15 Elite credits after account opening and another 15 Elite credits each year after your account anniversary. That will automatically grant you Silver Elite status, which requires only 10 Elite credits to qualify.

As a Silver Elite member, you’ll earn a 20% bonus on base points earned during stays, plus free standard in-room Wi-Fi, priority late checkout and a slew of other perks.

If you’re already a big spender, you can earn one additional credit toward Elite status for every $3,000 you spend to get you closer to enjoying Gold Elite benefits.

5. Pack it in your wallet when you travel

If you’ve ever traveled internationally, you know it’s important to carry a card that won’t tack on pesky foreign transaction fees.

Fortunately, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card has no foreign transaction fees. It also carries some serious benefits that can protect you and your trips. The card’s suite of travel and purchase coverage benefits includes baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and trip delay insurance.

That last perk is especially nice. We all know that weather can come out of nowhere and turn travel plans upside down. But with this card, you’ll be reimbursed up to $500 per ticket for certain unreimbursed expenses like meals and hotels if your travel is delayed by more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.

So use this card when you make travel plans and enjoy some extra peace of mind on your next trip.


Bottom line

If you plan on staying loyal to the Marriott® and SPG® brands of hotels, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card can unlock some serious value for your travels.

Even if you find yourself worried about the annual fee, this one’s worth considering. You may find that the benefits easily offset the cost of that fee.

And if you stay at a Marriott® or SPG® property only once in a blue moon? Don’t necessarily rule this card out, but you may also want to consider a more general travel rewards card that offers more benefits on your everyday purchases.


About the author: Brian Spychalski is a former Credit Karma freelance contributor now based in San Francisco. He has a background in corporate finance and a deep knowledge of the consumer credit market. When he’s not working, Brian can… Read more.