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The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is the top Marriott credit card on the market and it offers a variety of excellent benefits in return for a $450 annual fee. To some, that annual fee may sound a little high, but if you’re someone who stays with Marriott more than once or twice a year, this card’s benefits can easily make that fee more than worthwhile.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card offers cardholders a combination of credits towards Marriott Bonvoy elite status, a great earning rate at Marriott properties worldwide, an annual free night that no other widely available Marriott card offers, a Marriott stay credit that helps cardholders offset most of the annual fee, and travel benefits that make can make trips considerably less stressful and noticeably more enjoyable. In short, it’s the best Marriott co-branded card for a Marriott fan to hold.
Here’s what you need to know about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card:
Cost of Authorised User Cards
- $0 (zero)
Current Welcome Bonus
- 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after a successful new applicant spends $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months (find out more).
- Earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
I value Marriott Bonvoy Points at 0.6 cents each (based on the value that I know I can get out of them with ease) and that values this welcome bonus at $750.
- 6 points/dollar on spending made with Marriott*
- 3 points/dollar on dining at U.S. restaurants (includes takeout and delivery)
- 3 points/dollar on flights booked directly with airlines
- 2 points/dollar for spending in all other categories
*No Marriott Bonvoy credit card offers a better earning rate at Marriott properties.
- Annual $300 Marriott credit
- Annual free night award valid at properties costing up to 50,000 points/night
- A $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit valid on 2-night bookings at Ritz-Carlton or St Regis properties
- 15 elite night credits every year
- Priority Pass Select Membership
- Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership credit
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
- Trip delay reimbursement
- No foreign transaction fees
Are You Eligible For The Welcome Offer?
Current or past holders of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card or the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card are not eligible for the welcome offer.
The welcome offer is also not available to applicants who have or have had the following cards in the past 30 days:
- The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card from JPMorgan
- The J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
Likewise, the welcome offer is not available to applicants who have acquired any of the following cards in the past 90 days or who have received a new Card Member bonus or upgrade offer for any of these cards in the past 24 months:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card (review)
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card (review)
- Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase
- Marriott Bonvoy Premier Credit Card from Chase
- Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
- Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase
- Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase
Make sure you check these restrictions carefully before submitting an application.
Thoughts On The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card
If you enjoy spending time at Marriott properties or if you own a Marriott Timeshare (or Marriott Vacation Club Points) this is a card that you should almost certainly have in your wallet. Here’s why:
The Annual $300 Credit
The $300 annual credit that the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers will be triggered by hotel bookings made through Marriott, room charges that are added to a final bill at checkout, Marriott Vacation Club annual dues, Marriott Vacation Club Maintenance fees, and Marriott gift card purchases so this is one of the easiest statement credits to earn.
If you spend any time at all at Marriott properties anywhere in the world there’s little chance that you won’t use this credit up through natural spending and that, therefore, effectively reduces the card’s annual fee to just $150.
The Annual Free Night Certificate
The annual free night certificate that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card can be used at properties costing up to 50,000 points per night. That makes it valid at any time of year for properties in Bonvoy Categories 1 through 5, at Bonvoy Category 6 properties in standard and off-peak seasons, and at Bonvoy Category 7 properties in off-peak season.
Even if I put an incredibly conservative valuation on this free night certificate (e.g $150), this benefit and the annual credit benefit together cancel out the card’s annual fee so every other benefit is effectively free.
$100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit
Unlike the $300 annual credit that’s triggered by most Marriott spending, the $100 Marriott property credit that the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card card offers is a little more limiting as it can only be used at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties when making a stay of at least 2 nights. Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of these brands and are likely to make a 2-night (or longer) stay every year, this is another $100 back in your pocket that you otherwise would not have. If you can use this benefit as well as the two benefits discussed above, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has just put you in profit.
15 Elite Night Credits
Holders of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card will receive 15 Elite Nights credited to their accounts within 60 days of opening their new account and will continue to see 15 Elite Nights credited to their accounts on or before 1 March every year.
Without setting foot in a Marriott property the Brilliant card gets a cardholder 60% of the way to Bonvoy Gold status (25 nights), 30% of the way to Platinum status (50 nights), and 20% of the way to Titanium status.
In addition, when the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is paired with the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card (review) a cardholder will earn a total of 30 elite night credits per year (more details on how that works).
These two cards together would automatically give a cardholder Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status every year and would leave them needing just 20 elite night credits to earn valuable Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status.
Priority Pass Select Membership (No Access To Priority Pass Restaurants)
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers cardholders the same Priority Pass Select membership that you get with the Amex Platinum Card (review). This means that cardholders can access all Priority Pass lounges worldwide for free (and bring up to two guests with them if they wish to) but they will not receive a credit when dining at restaurants participating in the Priority Pass program.
Despite having airline elite status that gets me into some very nice airport lounges, I like having a Priority Pass membership as it covers me at times where my airline status lets me down.
When my trips take me to locations where my airline status doesn’t get me into a lounge Priority Pass usually has me covered, and when I’m traveling with the family and my airline status won’t allow me to guest both Joanna and MJ into the lounge, Priority Pass usually has me covered once again. Priority Pass may not be my number one way of getting lounge access, but it’s a great insurance policy to have so this is a useful benefit for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to offer.
Global Entry/TSA Precheck Membership Credit
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card gives cardholders a statement credit available every 4 years after they apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit available every 4.5 years after they apply for a five-year membership of the TSA Precheck program (up to $85).
As someone who travels internationally, I love having Global Entry membership (it makes returning to the US easy and mostly line-free) and as Global Entry membership also includes membership of the TSA Precheck program, this Amex credit is a benefit that I value highly and that I never fail to use.
The Welcome Offer
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is currently offering successful new applicants 125,000 bonus Bonvoy points after they spend $5,000 on their card in the first three months after they open their account as well as up $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants.
The statement credits should be very easy to earn and they effectively reduce the card’s annual fee (in year 1) to $250. Once you factor in the $300 credit that the card offers every year for spending with Marriott (a credit I discussed earlier), this card is effectively returning cardholders a net profit of $50 in year 1.
As I value Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents each (based on the value I know I can get out of them will ease), the points on offer as part of the welcome bonus are worth $750.
For reference, I’ve posted the Marriott Bonvoy award chart below and from it you should be able to see that the 125,000 points from the welcome offer would be enough to book a night at the best Marriott properties in the world regardless of the season (and you’d get change), two nights in standard and off-peak seasons at Marriott’s Category 7 properties, or three nights or more at Marriott properties in Category 5 and below.
By using the points from the welcome offer with care, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a great deal of value out of the 125,000 points and you may even be left with change.
There are, for example, some very good Marriott Bonvoy properties around the world at which a room can be booked for just 50,000 points per night (e.g. the St Regis Langkawi, The Ritz-Carlton Abama, Marriott’s Ko’Olina Beach Club, and Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club to name just a few), and these are properties at which room rates frequently exceed $400 per night.
The Marriott Earnings
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers 6 points per dollar for spending at all Marriott properties worldwide and no other card offers a better return at Marriott properties than this one.
If Bonvoy Points are what you’d like to accumulate, the Brilliant Card is an excellent card to use at Marriott properties worldwide. If it’s the best return on spending that you’re looking for, the Chase Sapphire Reserve (review) would be a better choice.
While I value the 6 Bonvoy points/dollar earned on Marriott spending by the Brilliant Card at 3.6 cents (a 3.6% rebate), I value the 3 points/dollar that the Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns on all travel spending at 4.5 cents (a 4.5% rebate).
Speaking personally, I usually pay for my Marriott stays with my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and I hold the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card for all the benefits that it offers.
Trip Delay Coverage
At the beginning of 2020, American Express improved the travel benefits on a number of its cards and one of those improvements was the addition of Trip Delay coverage to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card.
If a roundtrip is paid for entirely with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and a covered reason delays a cardholder’s trip more than 6 hours, Trip Delay Insurance can help reimburse certain additional expenses purchased with the same Platinum Card. Coverage is for up to $500 per trip with a maximum of 2 claims per Platinum Card per 12 consecutive month period.
There are a number of better credit cards to use when it comes to the returns offered on spending made with airlines, but the only commonly available consumer cards to offer the level of trip delay cover that the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers are the Platinum Card from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. If you don’t have either of those cards and you’re keen to have good trip delay cover, this is the card to use to book your airfare.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers the best earning rate at Marriott properties worldwide; statement credits and a free night certificate that should allow most Marriott fans to claw back all of the card’s annual fee with ease; a nice boost towards Marriott elite status every year; complimentary access for the cardholder and up to two guests to Priority Pass lounges around the world; a solid welcome offer that will get a cardholder a stay at a top Marriott property anywhere in the world; and it covers a cardholder’s Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee when their membership is up for renewal. As premium credit cards go, this card has the easiest annual fee to justify and it’s a card that all serious Marriott fans should have.