Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex card offers great value even without immediate travel plans.

Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex card offers great value even without immediate travel plans.

Why I gladly pay the annual fee on my Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy

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A single perk from the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business card got my family a free night at the Courtyard Erie Bayfront.

  • The Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card has a $125 annual fee.
  • Even without current travel plans, I gladly pay the fee to keep the card for another year.
  • I get a value that exceeds the annual fee thanks to two of the card’s benefits.
  • Read Insider’s guide to the best credit cards.

Evaluating the value of rewards credit cards

It can be challenging to justify keeping rewards credit cards that offer travel-related perks in exchange for a high annual fee, especially if you’re not traveling as much as you used to. So it’s important to weigh your credit card’s benefits and earning potential against the cost of keeping it for another year when it’s time to renew.

That’s the situation I was in when the annual fee posted on my Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card. I’ve had the card for several years and originally applied for it because I was traveling frequently for work, and earning bonus points at Marriott hotels (and for other work-related purchases) meant I was able to rack up a nice stash of rewards. But in the past year, I’ve only taken a couple of trips.

The card charges a $125 annual fee, which is higher than many of the cards I have in my wallet. At first glance, it probably seems silly to keep paying a hefty annual fee for a card that I’m barely using right now, but the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card comes with two specific benefits that actually make it worth every penny for me.

The value of the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business annual fee

The Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card is currently offering an excellent welcome bonus of three bonus Free Night Awards (each worth up to 50,000 points) after using your new card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership.

Marriott Bonvoy® points are worth, on average, 0.7 cents each according to Insider’s points and miles valuations. I’ve had good luck getting even more than that on hotel redemptions — and that’s not even considering you can transfer Marriott points to over 35 airline partners for award flights.

The value of the welcome bonus is more than enough to offset the card’s annual fee several times over in the first year, but beyond that, the benefits are what have made it worth keeping for the long term.

Annual free night certificate

The Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card comes with a perk that can be quite lucrative if you play it right. Each year after your card renewal month, you’ll receive a free night certificate valid at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program that cost up to 35,000 points. This is the same type of certificate you’ll get with another Marriott co-branded card — the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card — and it functions in the exact same way. Marriott also recently added the ability to top-up free night certificates with up to 15,000 points, so it’s made the certificate a little more flexible.

Paid rates at Marriott hotels in this award price range can be expensive — depending on the destination and time of year, some properties can cost in excess of $300 per night. I’ve consistently been able to redeem the free night certificate at hotels that would have otherwise cost $200 or more, effectively negating the annual fee (and then some).

For example, one summer I took my family on a road trip to Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania. I redeemed the free night certificate from my Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card at the Courtyard Erie Bayfront, and had I paid cash, the rate would have been around $225 with tax.

Courtyard hotels aren’t normally anything to get excited about, but this location surprised us. The hotel is right on the water and has an infinity pool overlooking Lake Erie — and, while small, it was enough to give us the feeling of being on a “real” vacation somewhere a little more exotic. The kids were positively thrilled, and our stay didn’t cost a thing.

It’s even possible to get a stay worth $400 or more from a Marriott 35,000-point free night certificate when paid rates are high due to holidays or big events happening in a city. Marriott has been great about adjusting points expiration and the validity of free night certificates, too. Most recently, the chain paused points expiration until December 31, 2022. Normally, Marriott points expire after 24 months of inactivity in your account.

Amex Offers

American Express cards, including the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, get you access to a program called Amex Offers. These are targeted discounts or bonus points you can earn at participating merchants when you enroll your card and make an eligible purchase.

I’ve got several Amex cards in my wallet and have saved hundreds of dollars on purchases I would have made anyway — from household essentials to gas and even cell phone bill payments. I’ve done very well with Amex Offers on my Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card over the years.

American Express lets you view your total savings with Amex Offers since you’ve opened the card, and in just a few years, I’ve saved about $540. Between the free night certificates and Amex Offers, I’ve gotten a value worth much more than the annual fee on my Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card.

Other Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business perks

The Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card comes with other benefits that can save you even more money and make your travel experience better. These perks don’t really factor into my decision to keep the card, but if you can use them, they might help you decide if the card is a good long-term fit.

  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status: This comes with benefits like a room upgrade upon availability at check-in, 25% points bonus on paid stays, and priority late checkout. I’ve got Marriott Gold status from having The Platinum Card® from American Express, so this isn’t useful to me, but it could make a difference if you don’t have status through another card.

  • 15 elite night credits each calendar year: If you’re close to qualifying for the next level of status, this can be a helpful boost.

  • 7% discount on standard rates: You can get a 7% discount on standard rates for standard room reservations at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels if you pay with the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card and book directly through Marriott.

  • Secondary car rental insurance: I use my Chase Sapphire Reserve® for car rentals because it comes with primary car rental insurance, but if you don’t have a similar card, this perk can save you money at the rental counter.

  • Baggage insurance plan: I usually pay for airfare with my Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express. However, this is a nice feature if you decide to pay for flights with your card.

  • Purchase protection and extended warranty: These benefits come standard with many other cards I carry, so I’ll usually just use the card that earns the most bonus rewards.

To learn about all the benefits and features of the card, check out our Marriott Bonvoy Business credit card review.