Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex review (Now with a limited-time up to 125,000 point offer!)

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With Marriott hotels, you can choose from luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton, or book at family-friendly properties like TownePlace Suites, which offers free hot breakfast for all guests.

Either way, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is an excellent option for travelers who regularly stay at Marriott hotels or want to plan a trip for a special occasion. Even better, the card is offering a limited-time increased welcome bonus of up to 125,000 Marriott points after meeting minimum spending requirements (expires January 13, 2021) — a bonus that’s easily worth $1,000+ in hotel stays. And you’ll get complimentary Platinum elite status for 2021. Offer also ends January 13, 2021. In addition, you’ll earn a free-night award valid at select Marriott hotels each account anniversary (worth up to 50,000 points). This perk alone can help offset the annual fee of this hotel credit card.

The card even comes with a $300 travel credit each cardmember year to use toward Marriott purchases. And for a limited time, it’s WAY easier to use. I’ll explain!

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Here’s our Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex review.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex will help you stay at luxury hotels like the Miami EDITION or to stretch your points at budget-friendly hotels like TownPlace Suites. (Photo courtesy of Marriott.)

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex review

Current bonus

Through Jan. 13, 2021, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of card membership.

We estimate Marriott points value to be around 0.8 cents each, making this full bonus worth $1,000 on average toward hotel stays.

Those 125,000 Marriott points are more than enough for two nights at a luxury Category 7 Marriott hotel (at the standard rate of 60,000 points per night), like Hotel President Wilson, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Geneva, where rooms can cost nearly $600. Or you could stretch your points and use the bonus for five nights at a mid-level Category 4 hotel (with a standard rate of 25,000 points per night) like the Four Points by Sheraton Auckland in New Zealand.

What’s extra-unique about Marriott points is that you don’t have to redeem them for Marriott hotel stays — you can also transfer them to 40+ airlines for award flights.

Plan a trip to the tropical paradise of Aruba and use your Marriott points for a stay at the Ritz-Carlton Aruba. (Photo courtesy of Mihai_Andritoiu/Shutterstock.)

Benefits and perks

Earning rate

With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you’ll earn:

  • 6 Marriott points per $1 at participating Marriott hotels
  • 3 Marriott points per $1 at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2 Marriott points per $1 on everything else
  • Terms Apply

$300 annual statement credit 

Every cardmember year you’ll receive up to $300 in statement credits for Marriott purchases charged to your card. This benefit is easy to use because just about any charge made at a participating Marriott hotel will qualify. This includes charges for rooms, as well as incidentals charged to a room.

It’s so easy to use Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex annual statement credit that it’s one of the main reasons I keep my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex.

Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite status

As long as you have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card, you’ll receive automatic complimentary Platinum Marriott Bonvoy elite status for the year 2021.

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status comes with perks like:

  • 50% bonus points on eligible hotel purchases
  • 4 p.m. late checkout (when available)
  • Welcome gift of points, breakfast or an amenity, depending on the hotel
  • Lounge access (if there is one)
  • Room upgrade, including suites (when available)

Annual free-night award every account anniversary

Every year after your account anniversary you’ll receive a free-night award that is good at participating Marriott hotels that cost up to 50,000 points per night.

Category 6 Marriott hotels cost 50,000 points per night for a standard award night. So you could book a getaway to a hotel like the Westin Lagunamar Resort in Cancun and use your Marriott points to extend your stay.

$100 property credit at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotels

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card also comes with up to $100 in property credits for qualifying charges when you use your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotels.

For more info, check out our post about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex credits.

Priority Pass Select membership

With Priority Pass Select membership, you’ll have access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide.

With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex you can also bring two guests into the lounge with you for free. This membership alone is worth the card’s annual fee if you travel often (particularly internationally).

15 elite-night credits every year

Every year you keep the card you’ll get 15 free elite-night credits. This is a good head start toward the next elite status level. You’ll only need to earn 35 additional elite-night credits for Marriott Platinum.

This is a nice bump and can be extra-valuable if you’re working toward earning Platinum status. Platinum status gets you suite upgrades and free breakfast.

Note:   If you have more than one Marriott Bonvoy credit card with the 15-elite-night-credit bonus, they won’t stack. So you can’t ever get more than 15 elite-night bonus credits from card perks.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit

Like many other premium travel cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card will reimburse you for the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application (a value of up to $100) every four years.

Free premium internet access

You’ll get complimentary premium internet access at participating Marriott hotels. This can be a lifesaver if the standard internet access is slow. Premium access can cost $10+ a day at some hotels.

ShopRunner membership

As an Amex card, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card comes with a ShopRunner membership that normally costs $79 per year. With a ShopRunner membership, you’ll get free two-day shipping at 100+ online stores. That could end up being a lot of savings from a perk that costs nothing extra.

Return protection

If you try to return an item purchased with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card in the past 90 days and the merchant won’t accept it, you could be covered by your card’s return protection. For eligible purchases, you could be refunded up to $300 per item and up to $1,000 per calendar year.

Purchase protection

Eligible purchases made within the last 120 days (90 days for New York residents) on your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card are covered for accidental damage or theft. You can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account per calendar year.

It’s important to note that you are only covered up to the amount charged to your card. And this coverage is secondary. You can read the full terms of this perk here.

Extended warranty

When an eligible item you purchase with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card has an original manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less, this benefit will match the length of the warranty. You can get up to an additional two years added to the original warranty.

Certain purchases, like software and vehicles, don’t qualify for this coverage. And the coverage is limited to up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account per calendar year.

Car rental insurance

For car rentals of 30 or fewer days, you’ll get secondary coverage for theft or damage to the rental. This insurance will cover you up to a maximum of $75,000 per rental agreement. Just note, it doesn’t apply to certain larger vehicles or expensive cars. You can see the specifics in the terms here.

Baggage insurance

When you pay for your entire fare with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card you (and your immediate family members) will get secondary coverage for damaged, stolen or lost luggage. You’ll be covered for up to $3,000 per person per trip.  But some “high-risk” items, like sports equipment, jewelry and cameras are only covered up to $1,000.

You can read the full benefit terms here.

Travel accident insurance

If the worst happens while you’re traveling, you could be covered for losses resulting from accidental death or dismemberment. This insurance also covers your immediate family (spouse, dependent children under 23, etc.) on an eligible trip.

To be eligible for this insurance you’ll need to pay for your entire travel fare (cruise, ticket, etc.) with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card. You can read the full terms of the card’s travel accident coverage here.

Premium global assistance hotline

This is an emergency number you can call to receive emergency medical transportation assistance. You won’t be charged if the transportation is approved and coordinated by the Premium Global Assist Hotline. You could pay thousands and thousands of dollars otherwise.

They can also help with lost passport replacement, translation services, missing luggage assistance and emergency legal and medical referrals, but you’ll be responsible for the costs.

Access to Amex Offers

If you don’t already have an Amex card, you’re missing out a lot of potential savings with Amex Offers.

Amex Offers are targeted discounts that you attach to your card from your Amex account. These include savings on everything from hotels and airfare to gas stations and restaurants. And because these deals are added directly to your card you can stack them with other discounts, like online shopping portal discounts.

It wouldn’t be hard to save more than the cost of your annual fee by taking advantage of just a few Amex Offers.

How to redeem points

The most straightforward way to use Marriott points is for award nights at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, which include:

  • AC Hotels by Marriott
  • Aloft
  • Autograph Collection Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Delta
  • Design
  • EDITION
  • Element
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • JW Marriott
  • Le Meridien
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Protea Hotels
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Residence Inn by Marriott
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Ritz-Carlton Reserve
  • Sheraton
  • Springhill Suites by Marriott
  • St. Regis
  • The Luxury Collection
  • TownePlace Suites by Marriott
  • Tribute
  • Westin
  • W

It’s easy to search for award nights online by entering your destination, travel dates and number of guests. Be sure to click “Use Points” to see available award nights and points rates for your stay.

Search for available award nights directly on Marriott’s website to redeem your points for stays at over two dozen Marriott brands.

Some might prefer transferring Marriott points to airline partners for award flights. You can transfer Marriott points to most of the ~40 airline partners at a 3:1 ratio, and when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll get a bonus of 15,000 Marriott points added to your transfer. So you’ll get 20,000 miles with airlines with a 3:1 transfer ratio, plus an additional 5,000 bonus miles (from the 15,000 Marriott point bonus).

Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card worth the annual fee?

Because the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant annual fee is rather large ($450) (see rates and fees), its value will depend on your own spending habits and personal travel goals.

Where you’ll get the most value from this card is through its perks. You’ll earn a free night award at participating Marriott hotels (worth up to 50,000 points) each account anniversary, which can more than offset the $450 annual fee.

Other benefits, like the annual statement credit of up to $300 at Marriott hotels, automatic Gold elite status and a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit all help offset the card’s annual fee.

Meghan’s sister has this card and we used her $300 annual statement credit to have an amazing family dinner at Angel Oak, the award-winning steakhouse at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, California. (Side note: If you’re planning to travel to Santa Barbara, she highly recommends this hotel. From the pools to the spa, to the numerous dining choices, this luxury hotel is a treat.)

You’ll have a wonderful culinary experience at Angel Oak at the Ritz-Carlton Santa Barbara. (Photo by Meghan Hunter/Million Mile Secrets)

In addition to the $300 in annual statement credits, the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card also comes with property credits of up to $100 for qualifying charges when you book direct using a special rate at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotels.

This credit comes from Marriott – it isn’t a statement credit issued through your Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card like the up to $300 credit I mentioned above. Instead, it is applied as a credit from the hotel at checkout and is not valid for property fees, taxes, gratuities or the cost of a room. You can only use it toward other purchases made at the hotel, like spa services, dining, activities, equipment rentals, etc.

To ensure you get the credit, you must book your stay of two nights or more online or over the phone at 800-450-4442. Best of all, you can use this credit for an unlimited number of qualifying stays each year.

Who is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant for?

Marriott has a hotel that fits everyone’s travel goals, from boutique and off the beaten path to ultimate luxury on your favorite tropical island. If you like free hotel stays, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is for you. But there are a couple of things to know before you apply.

You aren’t eligible for the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card’s intro bonus if you have or have had the Ritz-Carlton card in the past 30 days.

You’re also ineligible for its welcome bonus if you’ve opened any of the following cards in the past 90 days or have earned a welcome bonus or upgrade bonus from any of these cards in the past 24 months:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Premier Card
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Card
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Credit cards similar to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card

If you’re considering a premium hotel credit card, you could also look into the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. With it, you can earn 150,000 Hilton points and a weekend-night reward after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Similar to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, it offers up to $250 in statement credits each cardmember year for eligible purchases at participating Hilton resorts. And you’ll get a weekend-night reward every year after renewal.

Don’t forget, Marriott is also one of the Chase transfer partners, so you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio. This is a good option if you need to top off your account to book another award night.

One strategy is to earn lots of flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points with credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Then, transfer points to Marriott and other travel partners when you’re ready to book an award.

You can transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn with any of these cards to travel partners:

Credit cardWelcome bonus and minimum spending requirementsOur review
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your accountInk Business Preferred review
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.Chase Sapphire Preferred review
Chase Sapphire Reserve®50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your accountChase Sapphire Reserve review

Bottom line

You can earn up to 125,000 Marriott points with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card. You’ll earn 100,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. And an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of card membership.  

You can easily use the welcome bonus to get $1,000+ in travel at otherwise expensive hotels and resorts. Or stretch your points for more nights at lower-category brands.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a valuable ongoing perk that can save you more money: You’ll get a free night certificate after each account anniversary to use at participating Marriott hotels costing 50,000 Marriott points or less. You’ll also get up to $300 in annual statement credits to use each card membership year at participating Marriott hotels. Plus, the card comes with great shopping benefits and return and purchase protection. Perks like these definitely help offset the card’s annual fee. But let us know if you think the card benefits are worth the $450 annual fee each year! And subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card reviews like this.

For the rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please click here.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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