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INSIDER SECRET: This card has an infinitely reusable $100 credit at Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis hotels. I’ll show you how it works.
With all the hotel brands offered under the new Marriott Bonvoy rewards program, there are lots of reasons to collect Marriott points right now. One of the best ways to earn tons of Marriott points is with a Marriott credit card. While there are several Marriott credit cards to choose from, the most premium card that packs the most benefits is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
While this card comes with incredible benefits, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant annual fee is $450 (see rates and fees). Let’s take a look at the card’s many benefits and perks to see if the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is worth it for you.
Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Annual Fee Worth It?
Apply Here: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
With an annual fee of $450, this card comes in as the most premium card that Marriott has to offer. Don’t let the annual fee scare you off. Many premium travel credit cards are loaded to the brim with benefits and perks. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is no exception.
To best understand the value that this card has to offer, I’ll break down all the features of the card and try to put an annual cash value on it. This way you can easily see what these perks are worth to see if it makes sense for you to get this card.
Welcome Bonus of 75,000 Marriott Points
You can earn 75,000 bonus Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Since a Marriott point’s value is ~0.9 cents apiece, we can value this welcome bonus at ~$675. Depending on how carefully you spend your points, the value of this welcome bonus could be much higher.
Earning a card’s welcome bonus is the fastest way to rack up points quickly. Just keep in mind that you can only earn the bonus for a specific American Express credit card once per lifetime, and the Marriott credits cards have some extra restrictions because they are issued by both Chase and Amex.
You aren’t eligible for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s bonus if you:
- Have or have had the Ritz-Carlton card in the past 30 days
- Have 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:
Up to $300 Statement Credit at Marriott Hotels
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express card offers up to a $300 statement credit every year that can be used toward Marriott hotel stays or any hotel room charges.
In addition to using it towards the cost of a room, it can even be used to cover hotel restaurants, spas and other Marriott purchases. Just make sure you make all charges to your room and then use your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card at checkout.
Each year on your account anniversary, the $300 credit will reset, allowing you to enjoy another complimentary $300 of Marriott expenses. There is no rollover on this credit, so to get the most of it (the full $300) you just need to spend $300+ at Marriott throughout each year. It is “use it or lose it”, but you have a full year to use it, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Considering the $450 annual fee again, this $300 credit alone makes the annual fee effectively just $150 per year.
Annual Free Night
Another fan favorite perk of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is the annual free night credit. This credit is exactly what it sounds like, and offers you one free night per year at a Marriott hotel.
Unfortunately, you can’t use this at top-tier hotels, as the credit is limited to a single night worth 50,000 Marriott points. Usually this has meant you can book up to a category 6 hotel. But as of September 14, 2019, Marriott will be adding peak and off-peak pricing, so on peak dates category 6 hotels will cost 60,000 points per night. At the same time, during off-peak dates category 7 hotels will only cost 50,000 points.
Since Marriott points are usually worth ~0.9 cents each, this perk is generally worth ~$450 (50,000 Marriott points x 0.9 cents = $450).
Again, remember that the annual fee is $450 and this perk alone can be worth that much, meaning that just this single perk can justify the annual fee for many people.
$100 Property Credit at St. Regis & Ritz-Carlton Stays
Worth: $100 per 2+ night stay
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has a new perk that can rack up value really quickly for anyone who frequents Marriott’s finest hotels. With this benefit you get a $100 property credit whenever you stay two nights or more at a Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotel.
In order to get the credit you must book the room through Marriott’s website or over the phone (800-450-4442) using the “$100 Property Credit, Luxury Credit Card Rate.” You also must pay for the room using your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card (which of course you should be doing anyway). If you book by phone reference the “$100 Property Credit, Luxury Credit Card Rate” member rate. You must confirm you are booking the correct $100 property credit rate at time of booking.
This credit will automatically apply to any room charges you accrue throughout your stay at these hotels. You can not use the credit towards the cost of the room, taxes, fees, etc., but can use it for the hotel bar, spa, restaurant, room service, and other charges to make your stay more enjoyable. Just remember to have all expenses charged back to your room.
Best of all, there is no limit to how often you can get this credit. It is only limited to one credit per stay of two nights or more. This means that if you frequent these luxury hotels, you can quickly gain HUNDREDS of dollars in value. If you don’t visit these hotel brands, then it might not be worth anything to you.
Complimentary Marriott Gold Elite Status (Upgradable to Platinum)
Worth: ~$25 to $50 per night at Marriott
As a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholder, you will enjoy complimentary Gold Marriott Bonvoy elite status. This status offers tons of unique perks that will just make your stay at Marriott hotels nicer.
Some of the best features of Gold Elite Status include:
- 25% bonus Marriott points
- Priority late checkout (up to 2pm, subject to availability)
- Complimentary enhanced internet
- Free upgrades to enhanced rooms
- Welcome gift of up to 500 points
It is hard to put a monetary value on this, but for me, it significantly improves my stay. Just the fact that you occasionally get a room upgrade is often worth $30 to $50 per night. The premium internet is generally sold separately at $5 to $10 per night. Plus the 500-point welcome bonus is worth $4.50 on average.
All together, I would say that this perk is worth about $50 per night if you are staying at mid-scale or fancy hotel brands (maybe closer to ~$25 at low-category hotels).
Also, folks that spend $75,000+ with their Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card each year can get their status upgraded to Platinum Elite Status. This status allows for more bonus points, a bigger welcome gift and better room upgrades (up to a suite). This spending requirement can be met with any spending on your card, not just Marriott purchases.
Priority Pass Select Airport Lounge Membership
Worth: ~$28 to $56 per Airport Visit
Priority Pass is available on lots of credit cards now, and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has it, too. With this membership, you can visit participating Priority Pass airport lounges across the world (there are more than 1,200).
This is one of the best ways to make your airport travel more comfortable. Airport lounges generally have comfortable seating, free snacks and drinks, and free Wi-Fi (although exact accommodations vary greatly between lounges). Another Priority Pass benefit is accessing participating airport restaurants that will give Priority Pass members ~$28 towards food (which can be doubled when traveling with a guest).
While it is hard to put a value on the airport lounge visits, a day pass is usually around $30 per person, and with Priority Pass Select you can bring yourself plus two guests. In lieu of a lounge, you can use a Priority Pass restaurant which is worth up to $56 when traveling with a guest per airport visit.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Credit
Worth: ~$25 per year with Global Entry every 4 years
Like many other premium travel cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card will reimburse you for the cost of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
TSA PreCheck allows you to use special priority lanes (that are usually shorter) at airports to get through security faster. Global Entry allows for the same, but also lets you speed through customs when entering the US from abroad. Normally it costs $85 for TSA PreCheck and $100 for Global Entry, and they both last five years. But you can enroll in either of these programs for free via a statement credit when you use your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card to pay the application fee.
You can only use this credit once every four years (4.5 years for TSA PreCheck). It is usually best to apply for Global Entry if you can, because it includes TSA PreCheck and the extra cost is covered by the card. Since you can earn this $100 credit once every four years with Global Entry, I will put the value of this perk at $25 per year ($100/four years).
The new AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is Marriott’s most premium personal travel credit card. But with the $450 Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant annual fee, it is easy to question whether this card is worth the annual cost.
Your exact mileage will vary depending on your travel habits, but even travelers who stay with Marriott just a few times a year can benefit from this card and make up the cost of the annual fee through the perks and benefits. The more you travel with Marriott, the more you stand to gain from this card.
To recap, here are the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s most valuable perks:
- Up to $300 statement credit (Worth: $300)
- Annual free night credit (Worth: ~$450)
- $100 property credit at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton (Worth: $100 per stay)
- Complimentary Gold Elite Status (Worth: $25 to $50 per night)
- Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (Worth: $28 to $56 per airport visit)
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit (Worth: ~$25 per year)
Considering the value of the perks offered by this card, it is definitely more than worth the cost of the annual fee, even for casual travelers. Let us know what you think of this card in the comments.
To learn more about Marriott points, check out:
- Here’s how to earn Marriott points in 2019
- All about Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant AMEX benefits
- How to transfer Marriott points to airlines
- Here’s our Marriott Bonvoy elite status review
- How to use Marriott points
- Why Marriott points are best for free flights
- How to set up a Marriott account
- Do Marriott points expire?
- Our permanent page for current Marriott promotions
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For the rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, please click here.