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The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card from American Express is the most premium Bonvoy credit card available and offers a variety of excellent benefits for the $450 annual fee that it charges. To some that annual fee may sound a little high, but if you’re a Marriott timeshare owner or if you own Marriott Vacation Club points, this should be one of the first cards that you make sure you have in your portfolio.
Among other things, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card may offer 15 elite night credits, an annual free night award valid at properties costing up to 50,000 points/night, Priority Pass Select membership and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, but a major element to getting as much value as possible out of the card (and a key element to getting as much of the $450 annual fee back as possible) is the $300/year statement credit that the card offers for spending at participating Bonvoy properties.
Specifically, this is what the terms and conditions of the $300 credit say:
During each year of your Card Membership (“reward year”), you are eligible to receive up to $300 total in statement credits on your Card Account for eligible purchases made directly at hotels and timeshare ownership properties participating in Marriott Bonvoy on your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card during that reward year.
As this is my first year of holding the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card I haven’t had much of a chance to test out exactly what will and will not trigger this credit, but I have always taken the wording of the terms at face value – I’ve assumed that the credit will only be triggered by spending “made directly” with one of Marriott’s participating hotels or timeshare resorts.
Well, as I own a number of Marriott Vacation Club (MVCI) units (Marriott Timeshares), and as this is the time of year where Marriott Vacation Club dues are charged to the owners of the timeshare units and the owners of Marriott Vacation Club points, I thought I’d see if the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s $300 annual credit was really only triggered by spending made directly with a hotel/timeshare resort or if a payment made to MVCI (centrally) would trigger it too.
Ordinarily, I charge all of my MVCI fees to my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card as the fees post as “travel” spending and earn me 3 Ultimate Rewards Points per dollar (which I value higher than the 6 Marriott Bonvoy Points per dollar that the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card offers me for the same spending). This year, however, I held back $300 of the MVCI fees that I owe and charged it to my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card just to see what would happen. The screenshot below will tell you all you need to know:
This is excellent news. Essentially what this means is that the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is a must-have card for anyone who has to pay MCVI dues.
If you own a Marriott timeshare or Marriott Vacation Club points, MVCI dues are a bit like death and taxes – they’re an unavoidable fact of life that you have to learn to live with – so as you cannot avoid them they’re essentially a sunk cost.
As the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has now been proven to refund this sunk cost, the $450 annual fee effectively becomes a $150 annual fee and that makes the card fantastic value. For $150/year you get:
- 15 elite night credits
- An 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
- Priority Pass Select membership
- A Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit worth up to $100 (every 4 years)
- Secondary rental card cover
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- Trip delay insurance
- Baggage insurance
- No foreign transaction fees
On its own, the annual free night award is worth at least $150/year (that’s the whole remaining annual fee covered) so everything after that is a bonus.
Most holders of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card will have to book a free night stay and at least one paid Marriott stay per year in order to make sure that they get value out of the annual fee that their card charges. Anyone who pays MVCI dues, however, just has to make the most of the free night award and, essentially, the card pays for itself. For that group of people that makes the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card an essential card to have.