Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Review

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The first premium credit card to carry the Marriott branding, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with a full suite of luxury travel perks that, if leveraged wisely, will more than cover the out of pocket expense for holding the card long term.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
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Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Annual Fee$450
Welcome Bonus Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Expires 5/12/2021.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $450 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Rates & Fees

The card currently offers a welcome bonus of 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, plus up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months, and packs top-tier benefits including:

  • $300 annual Marriott hotel credit
  • Anniversary free night valued at up to 50,000 points
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® credit

Here’s what you need to know about Marriott’s luxury co-brand rewards card.


Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Welcome Offer

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is currently offering a welcome bonus of  125,000 Marriott points plus up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of card membership.

The welcome bonus combined with the long-term benefits of holding the card place it squarely in the ‘lucrative premium cards’ category, something to keep in mind when formulating your application strategy for the combined Bonvoy program.

While the earn rate on non-bonus spending isn’t as high as the SPG cards of old, the card still earns highly flexible points that can be redeemed for stays at 6,700+ hotels, transferred to 40+ airline partners, or exchanged for unique experiences you’ll find hard to get through any other program.

Points Earning Potential and Category Bonuses

The earning structure on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is similar to that of the existing Marriott cards, with a few small contrasts. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card earns:

  • 6x points on purchases at properties that fall under the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty umbrella
  • 3x points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with the airline
  • 2x points on all other purchases

The value of these points now lies in their utility. The ability to use them across a wide range of redemptions from ultra-premium hotels to airline transfers to low-end hotels in almost 130 countries around the globe.

Now that Marriott has introduced Category 8 and peak/off-peak pricing, you can redeem properties at the low end of the Marriott award chart for as little as 4,000 points per night (off-peak PointSavers awards). Any award booking of more than four nights qualifies for Marriott’s fifth-night free policy, which drops that cost down as low as 3,200.

You’ll also receive 5,000 bonus miles every time you transfer 60,000 points to one of the 40+ airline partners, for a total of 25,000 miles in the frequent flyer program of your choice. Perfect for topping off mileage accounts across a wide range of airlines, many of which now partner exclusively with Marriott.

To be frank, the drop in earning power on the SPG cards has seen them fall off the radar as the best cards for everyday spending, but it’s worth running the numbers on how you’ll use the points before deciding on a rewards earning strategy, not focus solely on point values.

For example, World of Hyatt points claim the top spot when it comes to the most valuable hotel points, but Hyatt has such a small footprint compared to Marriott, roughly 670 vs. 6,700 properties. The lower value of Bonvoy points buys a kind of flexibility that Hyatt can’t deliver in the respect there are 10x more properties to choose from.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Feature Benefits

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card falls into the premium travel card category due to the $450 annual fee - Rates & Fees. To help offset the annual fee, and provide additional value for cardholders, Amex provides top-tier benefits you’ll receive year-on-year just for holding the card and paying the annual fee.

$300 Annual Marriott Credit

We rate the annual hotel credit on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card as a key feature of the card and assign it close to face value when offsetting the credit against the annual fee. Here’s why.

Unlike annual travel credits provided on some premium cards, which are only good for specific incidental purchases like airline baggage charges or upgrade fees, the $300 hotel credit is good for any purchase made directly with Marriott, including the cost of your room. All you need to do is charge everything to your room, and use your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to pay the bill when you checkout.

Provided you spend at least $300 per year with Marriott, that you would have spent whether you held the card or not, you can write the full value of the credit off against the annual fee. And, for what it’s worth, if you're not spending $300 in the next year at one of the 6,700 properties under the new Marriott program, this card should not be on your application radar.

Anniversary Free Night up to the Value of 50,000 Points

One of the most valuable perks of any co-brand hotel card, and often the motivation to hold it long term, is the annual free night provided when you pay the annual fee.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card provides an anniversary free night up to the value of 50,000 points, good for one night at any Category 6 Marriott property pricing out at standard rates.

Compared to the 35K annual free nights offered on Marriott’s mid-tier co-brand cards, the 50K free night is enough to put you well inside the luxury hotel category, redeemable at top-tier hotels like The Westin New York Grand Central, or the iconic Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel which can comfortably fetch $400+ per night. Between the $300 hotel credit and the annual free night, you can more than account for the $450 annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

Another benefit is receiving Gold Elite status in the newly combined Bonvoy program, with the opportunity to spend your way to Platinum Elite by spending $75,000 in a calendar year. Earning Gold Elite the organic way would require you to stay a minimum of 25 nights in a calendar year. Gold Elite status provides:

  • 25% Bonus Points on Stays
  • 2 p.m. Priority Late Checkout (Based on Availability)
  • Enhanced In-Room Internet
  • Gold Welcome Gift (Points – Varies by Brand)
  • Enhanced Room Upgrade (Based on Availability)
  • Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
  • Complimentary In-Room Internet Access
  • Member Rates
  • Mobile Check-In/Services
  • Dedicated Elite Reservation Line

If you plan on sleeping your way to elite status with Marriott, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers 15 Elite Qualifying Nights every year you hold the card. Unfortunately, if you hold more than one Marriott personal co-brand card, you can no longer stack the elite night credits as Marriott has capped the maximum credits allowed across personal cards at 15 per year. However, if you hold both a personal and a business card, you can stack the 15 elite night credits from each card for a total of 30 elite night credits, a huge incentive to get a business and a personal card.

Priority Pass™ Select Membership

Complimentary airport lounge access has become ubiquitous with premium travel rewards cards, and 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, providing unlimited complimentary access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide for the primary cardholder + 2 guests (when permitted). Additional guests are charged at $27 per person.

Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card provides a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application costs every four years. Global Entry and TSA Pre provide streamlined access through the security lines at airports and select major events in the U.S. Global Entry includes access to TSA Pre✓, and also wears a higher price at $100 as opposed to $85, so if you want to maximize this credit we recommend applying for Global Entry over TSA Pre✓®.

Application Restrictions

Marriott has introduced new (and overly complex) application restrictions for its revamped credit card lineup. In addition to the Amex ‘once per lifetime per card’ policy on receiving welcome bonuses, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is also subject to complicated new application restrictions laid out by Marriott that affect both the Amex and Chase co-brand cards.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is considered a brand new credit card product which means all-new card applicants qualify to receive the welcome bonus provided they meet the rest Marriott’s criteria.

The first restriction is one we all 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.”

The second part is where it gets a little tricky. I think this policy will trip a lot of applicants up as they apply across both card providers, and contain provisions restricting applicants from acquiring personal cards if they hold, or have held, the business card and vice versa.

“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 Boundless from Chase, the Marriott Rewards®Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier from Chase, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Business from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a new Card Member bonus or upgrade offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase, Marriott Rewards®Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier from Chase, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.”

These new application restrictions will lock a huge portion of the points and miles community out of getting the welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card.

Final Thoughts

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is open to applications and is offering a 125,000 point welcome bonus for new cardmembers, plus up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months. The card features an array of premium perks including a $300 annual Marriott credit, an annual free night to the tune of 50,000 points, complimentary Gold 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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  • Avatar

    Despite upgrading to the American Express SPG Luxury Card on 14 Sept 2018, I have not been upgraded to Gold Elite in the SPG/Marriott program. I have telephoned both American Express and SPG/Marriott multiple times, gotten different stories, and am now doubting the worth of this card as they cannot get their acts together for a $450 card.

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      Sorry you’re having problem — unfortunately, you’ll need to keep working with them to make it happen. The terms don’t specifically state how long it should take for Gold to be applied to your account. Platinum indicates 12-16 weeks — I certainly hope it doesn’t take this long for Gold.

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    Many people seem disappointed with the welcome bonus. I’m new to this game, so I don’t have much perspective on that. However, I received a targeted offer in the mail for 125,000. Is that a number people would feel is worthwhile, or are they looking for an even higher number?

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    i’ve been winding down my spend on SPG cards after Aug 18th.

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    I’ll probably hold on this as I already have a bunch of Marriott points

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    I notice that we are now Gold level w/ Marriott (just silver before the merger). With Hilton, that comes with free breakfast, but I don’t see it on the list for Marriott. What level with Marriott gives you free breakfast?

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    Not sure I totally understand. If I currently hold the SPG business credit card, am I eligible for this SPG luxury card?

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    Pretty sure I’m going to pass on this one. I’m at the point now where my AF’s across a lot of cards I have is beginning to add up per year to a tidy sum. Time to tread lightly.

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    Should have got the Ritz card 🙁

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    I’ll echo others comments that this 100k sign up bonus is disappointing considering the cost. Not worth using a 5/24 slot.

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    Hey Howie,

    Just got off the phone w/ a SPG rep. He said Marriott Rewards aren’t transferring to airlines and there’s no date for a fix. Any word on this on your end? Thanks for the great content!

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    I don’t see the value in this one.

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      big welcome bonus, solid benefits for holding the card. Sure, if you have other $450+ annual fee cards you’ll find overlap, but if not, this is a worthwhile consideration for an SPG/Marriott loyalist.

  • Avatar
    Darshak Thakore says:

    I think unless you are an avid Marriott/SPG user (i.e you already plan to stay enough to be Platinum), this card doesn’t make much sense. Getting Gold status is somewhat diluted now (i think Hilton Gold status is more valuable than the new Marriott Gold status). And the points earning is pretty disappointing.

    Also agree with others, that the signup bonus could have been better.

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    Put opportunity cost into consideration, I don’t suggest applying one. But it’s a sweet deal if you get a meaningful upgrade offer (50k or 100k) on your existing SPG card.

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    Since the sign up bonus isn’t so great for a card with that annual fee (although, the bonus plus annual benefits are worth it for at least the bonus year, I’ll wait, and maybe they’ll have a targeted or limited time offer.

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    Just got approved, but probably only a one year keep for the bonus. The regular Marriott card ears 6 times now and spending $450.00 for a $300.00 credit and one extra free night doesn’t seem worth the expense.

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    Juliana Ross says:

    Well, the restrictions are a problem for me.

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    Bernard Say says:

    Amex is just aligning their program to that of Chase which handled Marriott. Now that SPG has been bought by Marriott, Amex is competing with Chase for the same pool of customers.

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    Not a convincing enough offer. Missing the old days of SPG…

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    This looks interesting, a lot better offers than on the old SPG Amex.

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    sign up bonus disappoints, the annual credit disappoints too… Ritz Carlton card had much better benefits

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    Doesn’t seem to be a fit for my wallet right now.

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    Although the annual fee of this card can easily be justified due to the 300 credit and the free night, the lack of bonus categories for everyday spend is disappointing. Like another poster said, I think I’m just going to keep my SPG business card.

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    Bill from Maine says:

    I’m going to sit this one out. Something tells me the bonus offering will be raised once the dust settles.

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    Perhaps worth getting for welcome bonus the first year. Not convinced it’s a keeper after that, though…

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    I am going to pass on this card with the 100k bonus. I am very satisfied with my Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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    A good option for sure. I still think I’m going to stick with the business card.

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    Going to be a pass for me. Have enough points to get hotels free nearly every time so a credit doesn’t have a lot of need. Most the benefits can be had in other cards with lower fee or better overall benefits. Amex Hilton Aspire is a much better high end hotel card IMO. Get top status for $0 spend.

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    I’m pretty disappointed in the 100k sign up bonus. that’s what the $95 Marriott card was introduced at. bummer.

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    The sign up bonus is pretty disappointing.
    Only 100K Marriott points for a card for which the annual fee is $450??
    I hope American Express will seriously consider raising it in the near future.