As some of you know, I recently acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Mastercard by Emirates NBD. After using the card for a few weeks, these are my thoughts in a nutshell.
- Sign-up bonus of up to 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
- Earn up to 6 points per US$ for Marriott spends, up to 3 points per US$ for other spends
- Complementary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
- Great metal design
- Get 1 free night (up to 35,000 points) on renewal of credit card
- Emirates NBD has the widest range of partners – particularly for restaurant discounts
- As a World Mastercard, there are some nifty benefits offered
- Supports Google Pay and Apple Pay and many others
- Reduced earnings rate for a lot of categories. Effective points earned quite low
I will write in more detail on some of these points. Before that, let us look at some of the key features of the credit card.
Emirates NBD Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card
Annual Fee – AED 1,500 + VAT
Minimum salary – AED 25,000 per month
Card Type: Mastercard World
Foreign Currency Charges – 2%
The first thing you would notice is that this card feels very heavy. This is because it is a metal design. The difference is so stark that some of the staff at billing counters will comment on it.
This is a Mastercard World Credit Card (note that World and World Elite are different categories). This comes with several perks including
- Free travel insurance
- Airport lounge access
- Free nights at Marriott properties (3 for 2 or 4 for 3 nights)
- Discounts on Careem rides and Cleartrip
For a full list of these benefits visit my earlier post – Nine great Mastercard Benefits in UAE and Middle East.
Sign-up bonus of up to 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
Emirates NBD is giving 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy points if you sign-up for the revamped credit card. The bonus is divided into two parts. You get 100,000 points on payment of the annual fee. And another 100,000 points if you spend more than $10,000 on retail purchases within first 3 billing statements.
As is the case with many Emirates NBD credit cards, the spending requirement is high. However, high spenders and those who have school fee etc. to pay can achieve this.
Even without the additional bonus, AED 1,500 is a reasonable fee for a card that offers 100,000 Marriott points. For comparison, co-branded Marriott credit cards in US have the following bonus
- American Express Bonvoy Brilliant – 75,000 points for an annual fee of $450 (AED 1,650). You need to spend US$ 3,000 in the first 3 months
- Chase Bonvoy Boundless – 100,000 points for an annual fee of $95 (AED 350). You need to spend US$ 5,000 in the first 3 months
These points can take you to a lot of places. For some of the best redemption opportunities in Middle East, read my earlier post.
Earning Rates of Emirates NBD Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card
The headline earning rate for this card is as follows
- 3 points per US$ of spend in local currency
- 3 points per US$ of spend in international currency
- 6 points per US$ of spend in Marriott properties
Once again, if you compare this with co-branded Marriott cards in USA
- American Express Bonvoy Brilliant – 6 points per US$ on Marriott spends, 3x at US restaurants, 2x on other spends
- Chase Bonvoy Boundless – 6 points per US$ on Marriott spends, 2x on other spends
This makes the Emirates NBD Marriott card one of the highest earning co-branded Marriott cards in the world! While this sounds good on paper, there are plenty of terms and conditions as you will read in a bit.
Complementary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
The card will upgrade you to Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program. The benefits include
- Late checkout (till 2pm)
- 25% bonus points on stay
- Upgraded internet access during your stay
There is another great benefit if you fly Emirates. As a Marriott Gold Elite member, you can earn 3 points per US dollar spent on all eligible Emirates flights (on top of Skywards Miles). For this, you need to link your Emirates Skywards and Marriott Bonvoy accounts. For more details. visit this link.
If you are a Marriott Gold Elite or higher, you can get 5 tier nights on signing up for the credit card.
The sign-up bonus with Emirates NBD Marriott credit card is great. However, should you hold on to the card after a year?
Fortunately, this card provides a retainer benefit. On paying the renewal fee, you get a free night at any Marriott property. The only catch is that the redemption must be lower than 35,000 points. If you use this judiciously, it is easy to get a value between AED 500 to AED 1,000. Therefore, you can offset a substantial portion of the fee. Further, you will retain Marriott Gold Elite status.
Due to its size of its banking operations, Emirates NBD has the largest network of retail partners. This includes restaurants, tourist attractions, hotels etc. In fact, the bank has a dedicated page and a twitter handle for the deals it has to offer.
I wouldn’t specifically visit any place just for the discount (unlike Entertainer and Zomato Gold). However, quite often I find myself at a restaurant which is an Emirates NBD partner. A discount of 10-25% on your bill never hurts.
Another cool trick here. The easiest way to find an Emirates NBD restaurant partner is using Zomato. You can filter for Banking discounts and select Emirates NBD. Or just visit this link.
Actual Earnings Rate with Emirates NBD Marriott Card
I know what you are thinking. This card looks great. Where can I sign up? Is there any catch?
To answer your first question. You can visit this link to sign-up.
To answer your second question, let me paste a section of T&C from the Emirates NBD website.
“In a given statement cycle, points can be earned for all eligible spend and calculated based on category of spend. Earn 3 points per US$1 of retail spend (base points). Retail spend made under
- the categories ‘Grocery and Supermarkets’, ‘Insurance’, ‘Car Dealership Related’ and ‘Quick Service Restaurants’ (i.e., fast-food restaurants) as defined by Mastercard will earn 0.75 points per US$1 spend.
- Retail spend made under the categories ‘Real estate’, ‘Education’, ‘Petroleum’, ‘Government Services’ and ‘Bill Payments’ (including Utility and Telecommunication) as defined by Mastercard will earn 0.30 points per US$1 spend.
Effective 1 November 2019, retail spend made on merchants located in European Union will earn 50% of the international spend points.”
There you go. There are as many as 9 categories where you will not earn 3 points per US$. In fact you would earn only 10%-25%. And if you travel to EU, you will earn only 50% of the points.
Long story short, in my first statement I earned only ~1,800 points for a spend of ~AED 5,000 (US$ 1,360). This translates to 1.32 points per US$.
Nobody likes to earn less points. However, credit must be given to Emirates NBD for being fully transparent here. Not only this, if you login to their banking website, you can get a breakdown of points earned for every single purchase! This is very impressive for those who like to keep track.
Despite a lower effective earning rate, I strongly recommend this card. The benefits are great and the sign-up bonus is fantastic.
I will continue to put all my spends on this card for the first three months. I am hoping to cross the threshold needed to get additional 100,000 bonus points.
Beyond that, this will still be my go to card for restaurants and shopping. For all other expenses, I will look no further than Citi Prestige (review here).