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The first premium credit card to carry the Marriott branding, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card underwent a significant revamp in September 2022, with American Express adding additional benefits and increasing the annual fee - Rates & Fees.
Updates included a higher automatic status level, more value in the annual free night award, changes to the annual $300 credit, and an increase in the number of elite night credits received each year. These are valuable perks that can help you unlock more luxurious stays and achieve higher status tiers more easily, but they obviously came at a cost — of $200 extra per year, specifically.
There's also a new benefit coming in 2023. With all of these perks, is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card the right card for you? Let's take a look.
- Earn two 85K Free Night Awards after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Card in your first 6 months. Each award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy. Card Members could enjoy a value of up to $1,200 when redeeming each reward. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/1/2023.
- $300 Brilliant Dining Credit: Each calendar year, get up to $300 (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases made on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card at restaurants worldwide.
- With Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, you can receive room upgrades, including enhanced views or suites, when available at select properties and booked with a Qualifying Rate.
- Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
- Marriott Brilliant Free Night Award: Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
- Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases on your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, you will be eligible to select an Earned Choice Award benefit. You can only earn one Earned Choice Award per calendar year. See https://www.choice-benefit.marriott.com/brilliant for Award options.
- $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit: Enjoy your stay. Receive up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85 through a TSA PreCheck official enrollment provider) and pay the application fee with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- Each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card you can receive 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy® Elite status. Limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy® member account. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
- Enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, which offers unlimited access to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries, regardless of which carrier or class you are flying. This allows you to relax before or between flights. You can enjoy snacks, drinks, and internet access in a quiet, comfortable location.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
- With Cell Phone Protection, you can be reimbursed, the lesser of, your repair or replacement costs following damage, such as a cracked screen, or theft for a maximum of $800 per claim when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month's wireless bill was paid by an Eligible Card Account. A $50 deductible will apply to each approved claim with a limit of 2 approved claims per 12-month period. Additional terms and conditions apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
- $650 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- Rates & Fees
- 6X points on purchases at Marriott Properties
- 3X points at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery
- 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines
- 2X points on all other eligible purchases
Earn two 85K Free Night Awards Through Welcome Offer
New Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card cardmembers can earn two 85K Free Night Awards after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Card in your first 6 months. Each award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy. Card Members could enjoy a value of up to $1,200 when redeeming each reward. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/1/2023.
Points Earning Potential and Category Bonuses
- 6x points on purchases at properties that fall under the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty umbrella
- 3x points at restaurants worldwide and flights booked directly with the airline
- 2x points on all other eligible purchases
To be frank, these earning rates mean that the card falls short of the best cards for everyday spending. However, it’s worth running the numbers on how you’ll use the points before deciding on a rewards' earning strategy — not focusing solely on point values.
Redeeming Marriott Bonvoy Points
The value of points now lies in their utility. Marriott Bonvoy members can redeem points across a wide range of redemptions from ultra-premium hotels to airline transfers to low-end hotels in almost 130 countries around the globe.
Marriott is transitioning to a dynamic award pricing model — where the price of an award night varies based on demand. That means you can't count on an award chart to know how many points you'll need for a free night. However, we are still finding awards under 5,000 points per night on some nights.
You’ll also receive 5,000 bonus miles every time you transfer 60,000 points to one of Marriott's 40+ airline partners. That means you'll get a total of 25,000 miles for every 60k points transferred. That makes Marriott Bonvoy points very useful for topping off mileage accounts across a wide range of airlines.
For example, World of Hyatt points claims the top spot when it comes to the most valuable hotel points. However, Hyatt has such a much smaller footprint compared to Marriott — roughly 1,200 vs. 6,500 properties. The lower value of Bonvoy points buys a kind of flexibility that Hyatt can’t deliver in the respect there are 5x more properties to choose from.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Feature Benefits
With a $650 annual fee (Rates & Fees), the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card falls into the ultra-premium travel card category. To help offset the annual fee and provide additional value for cardholders, Amex has included top-tier ongoing benefits you’ll receive just for holding the card and paying the annual fee.
Up to $300 Annual Dining Credit
This credit gives cardholders up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide. This credit replaced the former $300 annual credit for Marriott purchases.
A $300 dining credit is great; however, the $25 per month restriction isn't the best outcome for this credit. It's easy to maximize the value of a $300 credit if you can utilize the entire credit in one go. Making the most of the $25 monthly credit will not always be as convenient. That being said, most people will have no problem spending $25 on restaurant purchases each month.
Anniversary Free Night Valued up to 85,000 Points
One of the most valuable perks of any co-branded hotel card is the annual free night provided when you pay the annual fee. The free night on Marriott's top-tier card knocks this perk out of the park. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card provides an anniversary free night worth up 85,000 points!
That compares to the 35K annual free nights offered on Marriott’s entry-level co-brand cards. The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card offers a 50K free night, but the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is the only currently-available Marriott card that offers an 85K free night. That is a powerhouse benefit and enough to put you in some of Marriott's top properties around the globe.
You also can add up to 15,000 points to these free night awards to redeem for higher value.
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Status
Complimentary Marriott Platinum Elite status may be the most valuable ongoing benefit of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card. Earning Platinum Elite status otherwise requires a minimum of 50 nights in a calendar year, and you'll enjoy these perks:
- 50% bonus points on stays
- 4 pm guaranteed late checkout
- In-hotel welcome gift (choice of points, breakfast offering, or amenity — varies by brand)
- Room upgrades — including select suites (based on availability)
- Lounge access
- Guaranteed room type
- Annual Choice Benefit after 50 Qualifying Nights: Choose from 5x Suite Night Awards, 40% discount on a Marriott bed purchase, 5 Elite Night Credits added to your account, Gift Silver Status to someone, or $100 Charity Donation in your name
- Dedicated elite support line
While the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card provides complimentary Platinum Elite status, note that you still must earn 50 qualifying nights in a year to receive the Annual Choice Benefit. Luckily, you're halfway there with this card, since it offers…
25 Elite Night Credits Annually
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card also offers 25 Elite Qualifying Nights every year you hold the card. You can use this boost to achieve even higher tiers in the Marriott elite program.
Other Marriott co-branded cards offer 15 Elite Night Credits. But unfortunately, you can't stack elite night credits earned on multiple personal cards. However, if you hold both a personal and a business card, you can stack the elite night credits from each card. That's a huge incentive to get a business and a personal Marriott credit card.
Priority Pass Select Membership
Complimentary airport lounge access has become ubiquitous with premium travel rewards cards. You would be hard-pressed to find a top-tier rewards card that doesn’t offer some form of lounge access. To that end, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card receives a full Priority Pass Select membership.
This membership provides unlimited complimentary access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide for the primary cardholder, plus up to two guests (when permitted). Additional guests are charged at $27 per person. Enrollment is required for select Amex benefits.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card provides a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application costs every four years. Global Entry and TSA PreCheck provide streamlined access through the security lines at airports and select major events in the U.S.
Global Entry includes access to TSA PreCheck for a slightly higher price of $100 — as opposed to $85. If you want to maximize this credit, we recommend applying for Global Entry over TSA PreCheck. Enrollment is required for select Amex benefits.
Annual Earned Choice Award
This benefit begins in January 2023. Each calendar year, cardholders can select an Earned Choice Award benefit after making $60,000 in purchases on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card.
Marriott has overly complex application restrictions for its credit card lineup. In addition to the typical Amex restrictions on earning welcome offers, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is also subject to complicated new application restrictions that affect both Amex and Chase co-brand cards.
Amex ‘Once Per Lifetime' Language
The first restriction is one experienced credit cardholders know well:
“Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.”
Marriott-Specific Card Restrictions
The second part is where it gets a little tricky. So much so that we wrote an entire article to lay out Marriott's credit card restrictions. This policy can trip up a lot of applicants as they apply across both card providers.
“Welcome offer not available to applicants who
(i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton® Credit Card from JPMorgan or the J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card in the last 30 days
(ii) have acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase, or the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or
(iii) received a new Card Member bonus or upgrade offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase, or the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.“
These application restrictions may lock many in the points and miles community out of getting the welcome offer on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is sporting an excellent welcome offer of two 85K Free Night Awards for new cardmembers.
The card features an array of premium perks, including a $300 annual dining credit, an annual free night worth up to 85,000 points, complimentary Platinum Elite status, and international lounge access via a Priority Pass Select membership.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (Rates & Fees)
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