News & Resources

Credit Card Review: Marriott Rewards Premier Visa

March 26, 2013
3 mins
A young boy sits on his father's shoulders and covers his eyes while the mother smiles

If you frequently cross the border for work or play, you’re likely familiar with the challenges of coordinating your currency. Whether you’re shelling out for a stateside hotel, renting a car from an international airport or even ordering online from a foreign company, you can expect additional charges on top of your payment.

A new travel rewards credit card geared to minimizing these travel expenses has hit the Canadian market. Introduced by American lender Chase Bank, the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa comes with fee minimizing features and rewards that translate to free hotel stays. It is also the first credit card in Canada to completely waive Foreign Exchange Fees.

Why It Pays To Be Forex Free

Here’s a little known fact: you’re paying for more than the exchange rate when shopping internationally with your credit card. Lenders also charge a Foreign Transaction Fee for the service of converting your cash. This fee is generally around 2.5% - meaning for every $1000 you spend on your card internationally, you’ll spend $25 purely on fees. While many American banks have waived this fee on their credit cards, Canadian lenders continue to nickel and dime their cardholders - Marriott Rewards is the only credit card north of the border not to charge this fee.

For business or frequent travellers constantly purchasing items in the U.S., this fee can total to thousands of extra dollars over time. One way to avoid them is to take out an American credit card or one specializing in U.S. dollars, such as the BMO US Dollar MasterCard. This card makes it possible to make American purchases in U.S. dollars, eliminating the need for conversion. However, using that credit card in Canada would still subject the cardholder to conversion and foreign exchange fees.

Get Away, Right Away

In addition to its unique fee-free structure, this card offers a huge sign up bonus of 30,000 points with the first purchase made on the card - that’s enough to stay four free nights in a Marriott Category 1 hotel. You’ll also receive one free stay for a Category 1 to 4 hotel each year. Together, that’s enough to stay at five Category 1 hotels, or four category 2 hotels.

Cardholders are also rewarded by Marriott, earning a 15-night credit toward their Marriott Rewards Elite status, elevating them to Silver membership or higher.

Emergency medical and legal assistance, guaranteed hotel reservation service and emergency cash replacement services are also part of this card's service lineup.

While this card does come with a $120 annual fee, the first year is free. As well, the aforementioned annual free hotel stays effectively counters what you’d be paying for the card.

Who’s This Card For?

This credit card is a great option for frequent international travellers, especially those regularly flying abroad for business. The fee-waiving features will save thousands over the years on business expenses, transportation, restaurant and shopping purchase. Free hotel stays are an effective way to minimize business travel costs, and an automatically increasing Marriott rewards profile will ensure travellers receive VIP treatment during their stay.

The Earning Rate

This card’s rewards system is designed for travel purchases, earning two points on the dollar for money spent on airline tickets, car rentals and restaurants. Purchases made at Marriott hotel locations earn five points on the dollar, with one point on the dollar earned on all other purchases.

The Big Numbers

Interest Rate: 19.99%

Balance Transfer: *1.0% of the Balance Transfer amount

Annual Fee: $120 - first year is free

Cash Advance: *1.0% of the Cash Advance amount, minimum $5.00

Penelope Graham


A first-time homeowner and newbie investor, Penelope Graham is the quintessential millennial, navigating the world of personal finance and wealth management. A self-professed monetary policy nerd, she follows the often-controversial housing market closely and specializes in mortgage, credit card and personal finance news.

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