When the Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards programs combined under the Marriott Rewards umbrella in August 2018, Marriott’s credit card partners – Chase and American Express – created new rules for welcome bonus eligibility.

This comes on top of American Express and Chase’s existing rules for new applications, resulting in a complex maze of rules that restrict your eligibility for signup bonuses.

Now, Marriott has rebranded as Marriott Bonvoy and that means new card names. We’re going to help you navigate this maze and determine the best strategy for accumulating Marriott Bonvoy points through welcome bonuses.

Marriott/SPG Card Strategy

What are the credit cards?

You can currently sign up for three cards that offer Marriott Bonvoy points welcome bonuses. Two cards are issued by American Express and one is issued by Chase. The available cards are:

American Express
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Chase
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Some legacy cards have been converted to equivalent products in the new program, but these are no longer available for new cardmembers.

What are the rules?

Get ready for this, because there are a lot of them. And we mean A LOT OF DANG RULES. Don’t get too caught up on figuring out a strategy just yet though, because we’ll tackle that below.

  • Chase’s 5/24 rule: Chase is unlikely to approve you for most of its credit cards if your credit report indicates you have opened 5 or more new credit cards in the past 24 months. This rule applies to personal Marriott cards, but not the business card.
  • Chase’s 24-month rule: You generally can’t receive a welcome bonus for a card if you currently hold that card in your wallet, or if you received a welcome bonus for the same card in the past 24 months.
  • American Express’ credit card limit: American Express will typically only let you have 5 open credit cards at any one time. Charge cards like the American Express Platinum, Gold, or Green cards do not count against this limit. (Note, if you’re not sure of the difference between a charge card and a credit card, it’s this: a charge card has to be paid off every month while a credit card can be paid off over time with interest, of course).
  • American Express’ lifetime restriction. If you have held a particular American Express card in the past, you generally cannot receive a welcome bonus for that card again.
  • Velocity restrictions: Neither card issuer has hard-and-fast rules for how many cards you can open in a short period of time, but various reports suggest that Chase will probably approve you for one personal card and one business card in a rolling 90 day period, and American Express will usually approve no more than one credit card in a single day and at most three in a 90 day period. Your mileage may vary.

Marriott-spg card strategy

Marriott Bonvoy Card Restrictions

Marriott Bonvoy cards have a bunch of card-specific restrictions and it’s annoyingly complicated. For each of the three credit cards, there are three categories of restrictions:

  1. Cards you cannot have held in the past 30 days
  2. Cards you cannot have opened in the past 90 days
  3. Cards you cannot have received a welcome or upgrade offer for in the past 24 months.

Even more annoying, Chase and American Express have teamed up to enforce this across banks. For example, with the Boundless and Brilliant card, you can’t receive a Chase bonus if you have received the Amex bonus for the equivalent product and vice-versa.

If you’re considering one of the following cards, make sure you understand the specific restrictions that apply to it. We know this can be a bit confusing so feel free to join us in the 10xTravel Insiders Facebook group and ask any questions you might have.

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card: The Welcome offer is not available to applicants who have or have had the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card from JPMorgan or the J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card in the last 30 days, have acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Business from Chase, or the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or received a new Card Member bonus or upgrade offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase, Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier from Chase, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business from Chase, or the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business: The Welcome offer is not available to applicants who have or have had the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Business from Chase, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Business from Chase, or the Marriott Rewards Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 30 days, have acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier from Chase, or the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or have received a new cardmember bonus in the last 24 months on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus from Chase, or the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card: The product is not available to either current cardmembers of the Marriott Bonvoy Premier credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards Premier), or Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards Premier Plus), or previous cardmembers of the Marriott Bonvoy Premier credit card or Marriott Bonvoy credit card, who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. Existing members can call to see if they are eligible to upgrade. The welcome offer is not available to you if you are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express), are a current or previous cardmember of either Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express), or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card), and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months, or allied and were approved for Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card within the last 90 days.

Yikes!

Marriott/SPG Card Strategy

What Should You Do?

Let’s narrow this down a bit. For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to need to make a few assumptions:

  • You are only interested in Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, and no other Chase or American Express cards
  • You haven’t opened any Chase or American Express cards in the past three months,
  • You aren’t affected by the American Express 5-card limit or lifetime bonus restrictions.

If you’re under 5/24:

Your best move is likely to stick to just the American Express Business Bonvoy card.

If you’re over 5/24:

Apply for both of the American Express cards.

If you already have an SPG credit card that has been converted to a Marriott card:
Your best bet is the other cards from American Express. However, if it’s the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card that you already have, you can close or downgrade it and then be eligible to apply for either of the Chase cards after 30 days. If it’s the Marriott Bonvoy Business or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you’ll have to wait until 24 months after you received the bonus on that card.

If you already have a Chase Marriott or the old Ritz-Carlton credit card:
Your best bet is the other Marriott cards from Chase. If you have just the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, and if you have just the Ritz-Carlton Rewards card, you can still apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card. If you have the Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card, you can close or product change it and then apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card 30 days later.

Another Way to Collect Marriott Bonvoy Points

Another avenue to obtaining Marriott Bonvoy points is by applying for cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Ink Business Preferred. All of these cards can transfer points earned to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1 ratio.

If you have one of those cards, you can also transfer points earned from no-fee Ultimate Rewards cards like the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Ink Business Cash, and Chase Ink Business Unlimited.

Note that all of these cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.

Bottom Line

The new rules governing the Chase and American Express Marriott co-branded cards are seriously complicated, but it’s still possible to get a couple of cards that will help you earn Marriott points.

If you don’t fall into any of the categories mentioned above or would like some personal advice, leave a comment below or join the 10xTravel Insiders Facebook community!