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Marriott Bonvoy Boundless vs Bonvoy Brilliant: Which card is right for you?

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Marriott Bonvoy Boundless vs Bonvoy Brilliant: Which card is right for you?

Joseph HostetlerMarriott Bonvoy Boundless vs Bonvoy Brilliant: Which card is right for you?Million Mile Secrets Team

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If you’re looking to open any of the best hotel credit cards, the Marriott brand is a fantastic place to start. There are four Marriott credit cards to chose from — but if you’re like most of us, you’re trying to decide between the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

Let’s take a side-by-side look at the most important benefits of each card to help you decide which is the best fit for your lifestyle.

Marriott points provide you with free stays in the locations of your wildest dreams. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless vs Brilliant

Best welcome bonus

First, the eye candy.

For a limited time, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant offers 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. We estimate Marriott points value to be 0.9 cents each on average, so you shouldn’t have trouble receiving $900 from this bonus — and it’s possible to squeeze much more value from your points. I’ve got this card, and used the points for a portion of my stay at the St. Regis Maldives. We received a value of 2.3 cents per point for that stay. If you can achieve a similar value, this bonus would be worth $2,300 to you!

On the other hand, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless comes with 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Again, you can usually expect to receive at least 0.9 cents per Marriott point (which makes this bonus worth at least $675), but it’s possible to receive a vastly higher value. It’s a smaller bonus, but a smaller spending requirement, as well. If you can’t meet the Bonvoy Brilliant’s $5,000 requirement in the first three months of account opening, this is a great alternative.

Also note that the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless occasionally offers 100,000 points after meeting spending requirements. It may be a good idea to wait and see if the bonus rises in the near future.

Winner: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant

Best points earning

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless earns:

  • 6 points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases

The Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant earns:

  • 6 points per dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels
  • 3 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms Apply

Winner: Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant

Best travel benefits

These cards have several similar benefits, such as 15 annual elite night credits and basic rental car insurance (Though they’re far from the best credit cards for car rentals). But they differ in very important areas — I’ll outline them below.

Both cards offer an annual free night every year upon renewal. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless comes with a free-night certificate valid at participating Marriott hotels that cost up to 35,000 points per night. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant earns a free-night award valid at select Marriott hotels that cost up to 50,000 points.

You can stay at the THE TIMES SQUARE EDITION during off-peak dates with your Bonvoy Brilliant annual free night certificate. Rooms here can easily cost $500+ per night. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

The credit cards also come with varying degrees of Marriott Bonvoy elite status. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless comes with automatic Silver Elite Status, which offers perks like:

  • 10% points bonus on paid stays
  • Priority late checkout (based on availability)

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant comes with Gold Elite Status, which provides:

  • 25% bonus points on eligible hotel purchases
  • Free enhanced internet
  • 2 p.m. late checkout (when available)
  • Room upgrade (when available)
  • Welcome gift of 250 or 500 Marriott points, depending on the brand

Both cards also come with

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant also has these added perks:

  • Up to $300 in statement credits for Marriott purchases charged to your card each year. In other words, the first $300 you spend at Marriott each year is reimbursed
  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit (worth up to $100)
  • Priority Pass Select membership (a value of at least $429 per year)
  • 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

Winner: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant

Best annual fee

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless comes with a $95 annual fee, while the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant incurs an annual fee of $450 (see rates and fees). The discrepancy between these annual fees isn’t quite as wide as it appears once you factor in the up to $300 annual Marriott credit with the Bonvoy Brilliant. It effectively brings the card’s annual fee down to $150 per year for anyone who intends to spend $300 per year with Marriott.

Winner: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless

Best foreign transaction fees

Neither of these cards charge foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees for Marriott Brilliant, so they’re perfect to take on your next overseas excursion.

The benefit of waived foreign transaction fees is particularly handy for hotel credit cards. When you reserve a hotel stay in a foreign country, you can be subject to foreign transaction fees — even if you’re reserving the room from the U.S. You won’t have to worry about this with either card.

Winner: Tie

Best worldwide acceptance

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless is a Visa credit card, which means it’s accepted by 44 million merchants in more than 200 countries worldwide. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is an American Express credit card, which is currently only accepted by 31 million merchants in over 130 countries. While you’ll likely never run into trouble with either card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless has a clear edge.

Winner: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless

Bottom line

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless has a very manageable annual fee, and it comes with fantastic perks that make it a no-brainer to keep year after year (such as the annual free night certificate, worth up to 35,000 points). Read our review of the Marriott Boundless card for all the details.

However, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant offers superior travel benefits, worth potentially $1,000+ each year you hold the card, including Priority Pass lounge membership, a $300 annual Marriott credit, and an annual free night certificate worth up to 50,000 points. Despite its higher annual fee, it’s a far better deal.

Let us know which card you choose! And subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card comparisons and analysis delivered to your inbox.

For rates and fees of the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, click here

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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