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The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is a premium Marriott credit card whose annual fee could, up until now, be easily justified thanks to two of the benefits that the card offers. Disappointingly, one of those benefits is soon to be significantly downgraded.
Ever since the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card was introduced, it has been a must-have card for serious Marriott enthusiasts. The $450 annual fee may look hefty at first glance but for a card that offers an annual free night certificate (worth up to 50,000), a Priority Pass membership, and, among other things, a $300 Marriott credit that’s usable at any Marriott property in the world, that’s not a high fee to pay – I have this credit card in my collection and I have yet to encounter a year in which the card’s benefits did not cover the annual fee.
Going forward, however, things are going to be a little different and the online benefits section for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card will show you why.
From 22 September 2022, the $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit that the card currently offers is being replaced with a monthly $25 statement credit valid for dining at restaurants worldwide – terms apply.
This is a big hit.
Yes, overall the “value” of the statement credit isn’t changing (if you use the $25 restaurant credit every month you’ll still recoup $300), but as this card is primarily held by those of us who frequent Marriott properties, a $300 Bonvoy statement credit that can be used in one hit is considerably more useful than a monthly restaurant credit.
There are two key reasons I really don’t like this change:
- Some cardholders will forget to use this credit on one or more occasions during their cardholder year and will fail to maximize this benefit. This is almost certainly what Amex is hoping will happen (it’s called breakage) and it’s why this change is being made.
- I already have a great credit card that I use for worldwide restaurant dining – the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (reviewed here) – which earns me (by my valuation) a 4.5% rebate whenever I use it when eating out so I have no wish to be forced to use the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card which (by my valuation) will earn me a woeful rebate of just 1.8%.
This change continues an ever more obvious Amex policy of offering credit cards with benefits that you have to remember to use month after month and that will undoubtedly lead to a significant number of cardholders missing out. For a card-issuer that portrays itself as the curator of premium products, this is a cheap move.
Sure, the card will still have value to Marriott fans because of the good earning rate at Bonvoy properties (6 points/dollar), the annual free night award, the 15 elite night credits handed out every year, the Priority Pass Select Membership, and the Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership credit so this change isn’t a crushing blow to the card’s value…but it’s still a significant blow.
Right now, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card can sit in my bedside drawer until I need it to book a Marriott stay and then it can go back in my bedside drawer when my stay is over but from September 22nd, that will be changing.
The card will have to be added to my Apple Wallet and I’m going to have to set myself a calendar reminder (for every month of the year) to make sure that I don’t fail to recoup the full $300 on offer. That’s going to be annoying.
I already find myself annoyed by the Platinum Card® from American Express because it makes me jump through a whole variety of hoops if I want to recoup as much of its annual fee as possible, so I’m far from pleased at the thought of Amex giving me yet more hoops to jump through to get maximum value out of my Bonvoy Brilliant Card.
If anyone from Amex is reading this, here’s a suggestion for you: Instead of continually coming up with ways to make it harder for your cardholders to maximize the benefits you’re offering them, how about you save some cash on some of your needless promotions and publicity stunts?
If money is tight I’m sure most people would prefer to see you cut back on your pop-ups, your “chef experiences”, and your sponsorships of super-niche events that only a handful of people really care about rather than messing around with their card benefits.
You claim to be a premium card-issuer, so act like one.
As of 22 September 2022, the $300 Marriott Bonvoy credit that the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offers will be history. In its place, Amex will offer cardholders a $25 monthly credit valid for restaurant dining worldwide.
While we should probably thankful that Marriott didn’t restrict this to dining in the US or, worse still, dining at Bonvoy properties, this is still a significant negative move and one that I really don’t like.