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The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card from American Express is the premier Marriott co-branded credit card and comes with a host of benefits that can make stays at Marriott properties cheaper, more rewarding and more comfortable and, right now, American Express is offering a nice bundle of bonus Bonvoy points for customers upgrading to this card.
The Upgrade Offer
If you currently hold the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card (the card you would have been issued when the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card was discontinued following the Marriott/Starwood merger) there’s a good chance that Amex has an upgrade offer waiting for you in your online account.
Different cardholders may see different offers but this is what I saw when I logged in to my online Amex account:
Upon further inspection this is what the full upgrade offer looks like:
Earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you upgrade from your current Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card to the new Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card and spend $2,500 in purchases on the new Card within the first 3 months.
I value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents each so this is effectively offering me a $300 rebate for spending $2,500 on the card in the next 3 months.
The questions to now ask are these: What does the card offer and what welcome bonus would someone be forgoing if they choose to upgrade rather than apply for the card in the normal way?
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
Here’s an overview of what the Marriott Bonvoy Brillian American Express card offers:
- Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of holding the card.*
*You’re not eligible for the welcome bonus if…
- You have or have had this product or the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card at any time in the past.
- In the last 30 days, you have had the Ritz-Carlton credit card or the Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card.
- In the last 90 days, you have opened any Chase personal or business Marriott co-branded card
- In the last 24 months, you have received a welcome bonus or an upgrade bonus on any Chase personal or business Marriott co-branded card
- 6 Bonvoy points/dollar at all Marriott properties worldwide
- 3 Bonvoy points/dollar at flights booked directly with airlines
- 3 Bonvoy points/dollar at US restaurants
- 2 Bonvoy points/dollar on all other purchases
- Up to $300 in statement credits per year for spending at Marriott properties worldwide
- A free night award (up to 50,000 points/night) on each account anniversary
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as the cardholder holds the card
- $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit when using a special rate for a 2-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis
- 15 elite night credits per year (cannot be combined with elite nights earned from holding other Marriott Bonvoy cards)
- Priority Pass Select membership
- $100 credit towards Global Entry membership (every 4 years) or $85 towards TSA PreCheck (every 4.5 years)
- No foreign transaction fees
So, as you should be able to see, a frequent guest at Marriott properties should have no trouble getting back $300 of the $450 annual fee (courtesy of the statement credit) and they probably wouldn’t have any trouble clawing back the remaining $150 of the annual fee through the annual free night.
If you’re a frequent visitor to Marriott properties the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is a card that should pay for itself with ease.
The $300 of yearly Marriott statement credits reduces the effective annual fee to $150 and the free night certificate (worth up to 50,000 points) is more than worth the remaining $150.
Even if you place no value at all on everything else the card offers you should still be coming out ahead.
The only thing really left to consider is the question of the welcome bonus – should you take the upgrade offer and forgo the chance of earning the welcome bonus?
We’ve seen impressive welcome bonuses of up to 100,000 points on Marriott’s co-branded cards (the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card from Chase has this offer right now) but applying for a new card (rather than upgrading) will see a new card appear on a person’s credit record and that’s one more card that will count towards Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule.
Is the hope of another 50,000 Bonvoy points (at best) worth seeing another card added to your credit file? I don’t think it is.
If it means my credit file doesn’t get touched, I’m more than happy to upgrade and take 50,000 bonus points for my troubles – I value the ability to apply for Chase credit cards a lot more than I do 25,000 – 50,000 Bonvoy points so I’m ok with passing up on the welcome bonus.
On a personal note, I’m rubbing my hands with glee right now because, a little over two weeks ago, I decided to upgrade my existing Bonvoy card to the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and I took that decision while assuming that I wouldn’t be getting any bonus points for upgrading. Now I’ve been offered 50,000 points.
Is It Easy To Upgrade?
It couldn’t be simpler.
If you’ve been targeted for an upgrade offer, all you have to do is click on the “request upgrade” button you’ll find within the offer…
…and seconds later you should see a confirmation message like this:
There’s nothing more to do.
When Does The Annual Fee Increase Come Into Effect?
The Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card comes with a $450 annual fee so, approximately 45 days after the upgrade, Amex will charge you a prorated annual fee for your new card based on the time remaining until your next account anniversary date.
You will also receive a prorated refund for any annual fee paid on your previous Card.
How About The Free Night Certificate?
This is Amex’s policy regarding the free night certificate:
The redemption level for the Free Night Award benefit you receive is based on the Card product you have at the time of your renewal. If you transfer to a different Marriot Bonvoy American Express Card, you will still receive the Free Night Award benefit for the Card product you had as of your renewal date.
Based on this, you should receive the free night certificate (worth up to 50,000 points/night) on your next Amex Bonvoy card anniversary (the anniversary of the card that you just upgraded from).
If you’re someone who spends quite a few nights with Marriott every year the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is a credit card that you should probably have in your wallet so if you’ve been given the opportunity to upgrade from the lesser (and cheaper) basic card you should give it some serious thought.