Several years ago, most of my hotel loyalty was directed towards Marriott. The biggest benefit to me, at the time, was the abundance of properties in the Unites States, especially in some of the smaller cities that I travel through (fat chance of a Hyatt in Colby, Kansas!).
The Marriott Rewards program was pretty good to me at the time, so I decided to sign up for the Marriott Premier Rewards Visa by Chase. The sign-up bonus offered me fifty thousand Marriott points, Marriott Silver status for as long as I had the card, and a free night at a category 1-4 property for my first year, though that would increase to categories 1-5 after one year of card membership. This card was my second rewards credit card (first being the United Mileage Plus Visa), and it came in quite handy on several occasions. Back then, our spend with Marriott was pretty substantial.
Fast forward to today, while I devote the majority of my hotel dollars to Hyatt and Hilton, I have kept the Marriott card around for the free silver status, as well as the yearly certificate for a free night at a category 1-5 property, and the ability to receive one additional elite night for every $3,000 spent on the card. As an added benefit, Chase waives foreign transaction fees for the card, which can add up on an extended international trip. On my trip to Australia for Oz Fest, I used my Marriott card for the majority of my larger charges (hotels, etc), and estimate that I saved at least sixty dollars.
Since the trip to Australia, I had not done much with the Marriott card, mostly due to the fact that I don't find Marriott points to be very useful (at least for my purposes). I would much rather direct spends towards my United Visa or my American Express Platinum card. The only thing that those cards do not offer is a chip+pin (or signature) system. Within Asia, Canada, and most of Europe, merchants generally use the chip+pin system, as opposed to swiping the magnetic strips of a credit card like we do in the United States. Although many merchants are equipped to swipe US cards, there are some occasions where a normal swipe card may not work. In my experience, I have had the most trouble when attempting to purchase train tickets in Europe, along with some restaurants in Asia that turned down both of the credit cards I attempted to use, due to the lack of a chip.
Today, I was pleased to open up my mail and see a brand-new Marriott card from Chase. It features their "smart-chip" technology, which will certainly be useful on a few international trips that I will be taking at the beginning of 2013. Furthermore, I was surprised to see that instead of sending a traditional plastic card, Chase had sent me a card that is made with metal, and is apparentely indestrucible.
If you would like to upgrade your current Marriott card, you can either send a message to CardMember Services, through the Secure Message Center, or call the phone number on the back of your card. There is no fee to upgrade.
I'm excited to use this card on my next trip, but in the mean time, has anybody used the chip & signature technology outside of the United States? I would love to hear your experiences, good or bad!