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Marriott Adds Value to Rewards Credit Card

The credit card linked to Marriott's Rewards program is now more rewarding.

The Marriott Rewards Visa card, issued by Chase, boasts two new benefits: one elite night credit for every $3,000 charged to the card, and 15,000 bonus points for seven-night redemption stays at Category 7 and 8 hotels.

For context, Gold elite status is earned after staying 50 nights, Platinum after 75 nights. And a seven-night stay at a Category 7 hotel is priced at 210,000 points (including the fifth-night-free feature), so the 15,000 bonus points amount to an effective discount on the award price of about 7 percent.

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The new perks are in addition to the card's existing benefits, including 22,500 bonus points after the first purchase; a free night at a Category 1 to 4 hotel; and guaranteed Silver elite status (normally awarded after ten nights).

Deal or No Deal

With the fee waived for the first year and a solid package of features and benefits, this would be an easy card to add to your collection.

But it's a mistake to evaluate a rewards credit card solely on its own merits (unless it's one that allows you to readily convert the points into different programs, as the Starwood card does).

The sensible approach to choosing a credit card is to first choose a primary program—the one program that best complements your travel and spending behavior, yielding the most rewards with the least effort. Then, as a follow-up decision, sign up for the credit card that awards points in that program.

Put another way: The "best" credit card isn't the best if it commits you to earning points in a program that doesn't fit your lifestyle.

So, if the Marriott Rewards program works for you, the Marriott Rewards Visa card is probably a good choice, with or without the new features. And if Marriott Rewards doesn't have a place in your travel life, neither should its Visa card.

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