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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. The card’s welcome offer of 75,000 Marriott points after meeting minimum spending requirements is easily worth hundreds in hotel stays. Plus, 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!
Here’s our Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex review.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex review
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. We estimate Marriott points value to be around 0.8 cents each, making this bonus worth $600 on average toward hotel stays.
Those 75,000 Marriott points are more than enough for a night 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 three 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.
Benefits and perks
With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you’ll earn:
- 6 Marriott points per $1 at participating Marriott hotels
- 6 Marriott points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (May through July 2020)
- 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. And from June to August 2020, you can use up to $300 of your annual travel credit towards any purchases at U.S. restaurants (takeout and delivery included). That’s great news, considering any Marriott reservations you had coming up are likely postponed.
Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status
- 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
If you spend $75,000 on purchases in a calendar year, you’ll earn Platinum Elite status, which comes with perks like a welcome gift of either points, breakfast or an amenity, depending on the hotel, plus lounge access where available and room upgrades (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.
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.
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.
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.
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 onto 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.
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.
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
- Autograph Collection Hotels
- Courtyard by Marriott
- 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 Reserve
- Springhill Suites by Marriott
- St. Regis
- The Luxury Collection
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott
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.
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 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?
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.)
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 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
As mentioned above, this card comes with 15 elite night credits, meaning you’ll only have to stay 35 nights per year to achieve prestigious Marriott Platinum elite status. However, if you also open the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, you’ll receive an additional 15 elite night credits each year.
In other words, by holding both cards, you’ll receive 30 automatic elite night credits each year — meaning you’ll only have to stay 20 nights per year to earn Platinum status!
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 card||Welcome bonus and minimum spending requirements||Our review|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account||Ink Business Preferred review|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account||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 account||Chase Sapphire Reserve review|
You’ll earn 75,000 Marriott points with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. There’s a $450 annual fee, not waived for the first year.
You can easily use the welcome bonus to get hundreds of dollars 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 cardmembership 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 $450 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.