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Last week, I discussed why the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card no longer has a place in my credit card portfolio and I mentioned that rather than canceling the card, I would be downgrading to a card that some readers may not even realize exists. This article covers what you need to know about the less well-known Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card.
The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card
There’s no welcome offer on this card because it’s not open to new applicants and Amex doesn’t even publicize this card’s existence, but that doesn’t affect how important it can be. If you hold (or are thinking of holding) the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, this is a card that you need to know about.
Why? Because while no one can apply for the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, holders of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card can downgrade to it if they decide that the $450 that their card charges is too rich for their blood.
Here’s what you need to know about the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card:
Earnings (terms apply)
- 6 points/dollar at Marriott Bonvoy properties worldwide
- 2 points/dollar on eligible spending in all other categories
Key benefits (terms apply)
- Receive a free award night valid at properties costing up to 35,000 points/night on every card anniversary
- 15 elite nights credit towards status
- Earn Bonvoy Gold status when you spend $35,000 on the card each calendar year
- No foreign transaction fees
Effectively, this is Amex’s version of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® credit card that Chase issues – both cards offer similar benefits and earning rates with a key difference being that the Amex card doesn’t offer 3 points/dollar on the first $6,000 spent in combined annual purchases made at grocery stores, at gas stations, and on dining – and it’s the card that holders of the old Starwood Preferred Guest Amex card were transitioned to when Marriott took over Starwood.
Amex cannot issue this card to new applicants because it only holds the right to issue premium Bonvoy consumer cards and Bonvoy Business cards. In the US, Chase holds the right to issue regular Marriott Bonvoy co-branded cards.
A quick comparison
For anyone considering downgrading to the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, this is how it compares to the Bonvoy Brilliant Card.
*From 22 September 2022.
Important to know
Anyone getting this card before 22 September 2022 will get the $300 annual statement credit valid at Marriott properties worldwide so for the next couple of months, it will still be relatively easy for Marriott fans to get good (and easy) value out of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
Also, keep in mind this extract from Amex’s terms and conditions:
“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 Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, you will still receive the Free Night Award benefit for the Card product you had as of your renewal date.”
What this means is that holders of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card who wish to downgrade but who haven’t yet used their annual free night certificate (worth up to 50,000 points), will keep that certificate through to its expiry date even once a downgrade has been processed – Amex/Marriott will not cancel the certificate and will not downgrade it to a certificate worth less.
When you downgrade from the Brilliant Card to the regular Amex Bonvoy card your cardholder year remains unchanged. This means that you will receive a prorated rebate of the annual fee that you paid for the Brilliant Card and you’ll pay a prorated annual fee for the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card.
If you no longer wish to hold the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card cancellation is not your only option. You can downgrade your card to the $95/year Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card and retain the option to earn 15 elite night credits per year and to earn 6 points/dollar on all eligible Marriott spending (terms apply).