Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card review

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card review

Updated: December 1, 2022

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Updated: December 1, 2022

Partner Offer: Terms Apply to the offers on this page

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Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
4.9 rating
4.9 rating
4.9 / 5
Rewards Value:5.0
Annual Percentage Rate:3.0
Rewards Flexibility:4.0
Features:4.0
Issuer Customer Experience5.0

In a Nutshell:

This card offers a ton of ongoing value via its first-year and ongoing perks, but its high annual fee means it will only be viable if you spend a lot of time at Marriott hotels.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 6 points per dollar at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program
  • 3 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and on directly booked flights with airlines
  • 2 points per dollar on other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply
Very Good

Introductory Bonus

  • Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Terms apply
Excellent

Annual Bonus

  • Receive one free Night Award (redemption level up to 85,000 points) after your card renewal month at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program (certain hotels have resort fees)
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck every 4 years
  • Up to $100 credit for purchases at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton properties on any stay of two nights or longer when you book direct
  • Up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
  • Earned Choice Award benefit after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year
Excellent

Annual Fee
$650 (See rates and fees)

Poor

APR
19.49%-28.49% Variable (See rates and fees)

Fair

American Express Customer Service Ratings

  • J. D. Power 2022 customer satisfaction rating: 848 (no issuers in this category ranked higher)
  • 24/7 customer service?: Yes
  • Online chat available?: Yes
  • Google Play Store mobile app rating: 4.2/5
  • Apple Store mobile app rating: 4.9/5
Excellent

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee (See rates and fees), receive one Night Award each year after your card renewal month (category 1-6 room, up to 85,000 points, resort fees may apply), Priority Pass lounge membership, up to $100 credit for purchases at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton hotels on stays of two nights or longer when you book direct, up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck, complimentary Platinum elite status, 50% point bonus on hotel stays, enhanced room upgrades, 4 p.m. checkout, welcome gifts, dedicated elite reservation line, ultimate reservation guarantee, free premium in-room internet

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Review: More Details

If you frequent Marriott Bonvoy hotels and prefer to inject a bit of luxury into your vacations, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card is laden with plush perks. On top of a generous introductory offer, the card offers a great rate on Marriott Bonvoy purchases – making it easy to fast-track your way to your next award night.

Additionally, the card offers a bevy of travel credits and luxury benefits like lounge access and automatic Platinum elite status. On the downside, the card charges a steep Annual Fee of $650, putting it out of reach for more moderate spenders.

Introductory bonus

The current Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant welcome offer is a big step up from the card’s most recent offer. New cardholders can now earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. That’s double the card’s previous offer, which came with 75,000 points after a $3,000 spend in the first three months. Based on Bankrate’s latest hotel point valuations, we currently value Marriott points at around 0.7 cents on average, so we estimate the current offer is worth around $1,050.

This bonus could get you up to 30 nights at the lowest-tier Marriott Bonvoy properties at an off-peak time, a few stays at a mid-tier property at a normal time, or, if you’re in the mood to splurge, a single night at an luxury property at a peak time. If you use Marriott’s fifth night free perk, you could stretch this even further. Keep in mind, however, that free night certificates are tied to redemption levels, not hotel categories.

Annual bonus

Each year after your card renewal month, the Marriott Brilliant card offers a free award night with a redemption level up to 85,000 points at participating hotels in the Marriott Bonvoy program (hotels may have resort fees). You’ll just need to be sure to use your certificate quickly, as it expires after 12 months.

You can also get up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide, plus a chance at an Earned Choice Award benefit when you spend $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year. You can choose from a number of Earned Choice Award benefits, including five Suite Night Awards, an additional Free Night Award with a redemption level up to 85,000 points or a $750 discount on a mattress and box spring from Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques.

Earning points

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders can rack up points easily, thanks to a good rewards rate on travel and dining purchases. Users earn the most on stays at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, which will get you 6 points per dollar you spend. The card also offers 3 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and on directly booked flights and 2 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

While the rewards rate on the Brilliant card seems incredibly generous at first glance, it is important to note that Marriott points are worth slightly less than the average rewards currency.

What are Marriott points worth?

Like with many hotel loyalty programs, Marriott Bonvoy points are a bit inflated. When redeemed for a free night award, we estimate the average Marriott point is worth 0.7 cents based on Bankrate’s latest point valuations. While this is not quite as valuable as the average rewards currency (usually around 1 cent per point), Marriot points are slightly more valuable than other hotel loyalty programs. For comparison, Bankrate estimates Hilton Honors points are only worth about 0.6 cents.

Marriott hotel network

The Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program is huge, encompassing Marriott, SPG and Ritz-Carlton hotel brands. With more than 7,000 properties in more than 110 countries, there is likely a Marriott location wherever you are traveling. Additionally, brands range from midlevel properties like TownePlace Suites to luxury properties like the St. Regis – so the program is suited for travelers of any budget.

How many Marriott points do you need for a free night?

Marriott Bonvoy award nights are priced by property category. Peak times of year will also cost you a bit more. You can score an off-peak award night at a category 1 property for as little as 5,000 points, but more luxury stays can cost you upwards of 70,000 points.

The following chart shows how many points you’ll need for an off-peak, standard or peak award stay:

CategoryOff-peak awardsStandard awardsPeak awards
15,0007,50010,000
210,00012,50015,000
315,00017,50020,000
420,00025,00030,000
530,00035,00040,000
640,00050,00060,000
750,00060,00070,000
870,00085,000100,000

Luckily, Marriott doesn’t impose any blackout dates on award night stays. However, many properties (especially higher-tiered properties) have limited standard room availability. To ensure you can score the award night stay you want, we recommend looking as far in advance as possible.

Transferring Marriott points

With the Marriott Brilliant card, you have the option of transferring your points to more than 40 travel partners at a 3:1 rate. You’ll also get a 25 percent bonus (15,000 points) for every 60,000 points that you transfer.

See Related: Transferring Marriott points

Unfortunately, you’ll almost always lose some point value when you transfer – due to the less than ideal transfer rate. Even with the 25 percent transfer bonus and many airline programs offering a mile value greater than 1 cent per mile, transferring is not your best option in most cases.

Ongoing Marriott elite status

Cardholders will automatically receive Platinum Elite status with this card. This typically requires 50 stays in a calendar year and comes with all sorts of luxury perks, including complimentary room upgrades based on availability. Platinum Elite members also enjoy late checkout, complimentary Wi-Fi and more.

Priority Pass lounge access

One of the many luxury benefits that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is Priority Pass Select membership. This perk grants access to more than 1,200 airport lounges, restaurants and Minute Suites around the world. Plus, cardholders are allowed two complimentary guests anytime they visit a lounge – an added benefit for those who travel with family.

Hotel credit

Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders receive up to a $100 property credit for any stay of two nights or longer at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton properties. This perk covers incidental purchases and can be used multiple times per year on any qualifying stay.

If you regularly make on-property purchases during your hotel stays, these credits can make a big dent in the Brilliant card’s $650 Annual Fee.

Other benefits

On top of generous travel credits and lounge access, the Marriott Brilliant card comes with plenty of additional perks that make it a valuable choice for frequent travelers.

  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit – When you pay for your Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee with your card, you can be credited up to $100 to cover the cost.
  • No foreign transaction fees – You won’t be charged a fee on purchases made abroad.
  • Cell phone insurance – If you pay your wireless bill with the Bonvoy Brilliant, you can get reimbursed for costs to repair or replace your damaged or stolen cell phone up to $800 (subject to a $50 deductible, for 2 approved claims per 12-month period).
  • Baggage insurance – For fares paid entirely with your card, you can be reimbursed for items in your bags if they are lost by the carrier.
  • Car rental insurance – For cars booked and paid for with your card, you can receive secondary coverage in the case of damage or theft.
  • Extended warranty – On eligible warranties of five years or less, you can add an additional year to the original manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Purchase protection – If an item purchased with your Brilliant card is stolen or damaged in the first 120 days, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per occurrence ($50,000 max per year).

Keep in mind that while the Marriott Brilliant card does not charge a foreign transaction fee, American Express cards are not accepted as widely abroad as they are in the U.S.

Customer experience

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is issued by American Express, which has a great customer service reputation. In J.D. Power’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey, Amex scored 838 – ranking first among 11 major issuers. On top of 24/7 customer service and an online chat feature, the issuer has a highly-rated mobile app.

Approval odds

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is designed for users with excellent credit (above 740), so you’ll want to ensure you meet those qualifications before you apply. Additionally, the introductory offer on the card is restricted to new cardholders. If you have had the Brilliant card (previously named the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card from American Express), the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express or the Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card from JPMorgan, you will not qualify for the offer.

How does the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant compare to other rewards cards?

While the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card can be a great option for Marriott loyalists looking for luxury perks, many travelers might be better off opting for a card with a lower annual fee or more flexible rewards. Here’s a quick look at a few popular alternatives:

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Rewards rate

  • Up to 17 points per dollar at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 2 points per dollar on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 12 points per dollar on eligible purchases directly with a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio
  • 6 points per dollar on U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on other eligible purchases
Rewards rate

  • 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5 points per dollar on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3 points per dollar on other travel purchases
  • Earn elevated rewards on all travel purchases immediately after earning the $300 annual travel credit
  • 3 points per dollar on dining
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Welcome bonus

Limited-time offer: 100,000 points after spending $3,000 in your first three months

Welcome bonus

130,000 Hilton Honors points if you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.

Welcome bonus

60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$550

Other things to know

  • Annual free night stay in a hotel up to 35,000 points
  • Automatic Silver Elite status
  • No foreign transaction fee
Other things to know

  • Free weekend night each year you spend $15,000
  • Automatic gold elite status
  • Diamond elite status each year you spend $40,000
  • 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes
  • Terms apply
Other things to know

  • $300 annual travel credit for any travel purchase
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • Priority Pass lounge access
  • 50% higher point value when redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards
  • Primary car rental insurance

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless

If you are a loyalist of Marriott Bonvoy hotels – but can’t quite afford a $650 Annual Fee – the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is another great option. It comes with a generous introductory bonus and automatic Silver Elite status. Unfortunately, the card only awards elevated bonus points on Marriott stays, making it a bit more difficult to rack up points with this card than with the Brilliant.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass

If you aren’t particular about staying at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, the Hilton hotel network also has great coverage around the world – with more than 5,100 properties. With the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card, you’ll get a better rewards rate than the Marriott Brilliant – despite a much lower annual fee. Even though Hilton Honors points are worth less than Marriott points, the inflated rate on U.S. restaurant, supermarket and gas station purchases boost the Surpass’s earning potential.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

For travelers who prefer a bit more flexibility in their rewards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our most popular travel cards. It charges a hefty $550 annual fee, but it offers up to $300 per year in travel credits for any travel purchase (including ride-shares, parking garages and more) that offsets a big portion of it.

Ultimate Rewards points are also incredibly flexible and can be applied toward purchases with any airline or hotel brand – giving you the potential to use your points toward any great deal. If you redeem those points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, they have a high 1.5-cent-per-point value.

Who should apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card?

  • Marriott Bonvoy loyalists who enjoy luxury travel perks.
  • Cardholders looking for a generous introductory welcome offer.
  • Frequent travelers looking for automatic Platinum elite status with the world’s largest hotel program.
  • Cardholders who will take advantage of perks like Priority Pass lounge access.

How to use the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card:

  • Spend at least $5,000 in the first three months to earn the introductory offer of 150,000 bonus points.
  • Use the card for all Marriott Bonvoy and restaurant purchases and on airfare booked directly with airlines to earn bonus points.
  • Put all major travel purchases on the card to take advantage of protections and travel credits.
  • Shop through the Shop My Way portal when shopping online to earn a few extra points.
  • Use Marriott PointSavers deals to book stays with fewer points.
  • Book five rewards nights at a time to earn a fifth night free.

Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card worth it?

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card comes with a high annual fee, but frequent travelers can offset a big portion of this cost by taking advantage of travel credits and benefits like airport lounge access. If you are a Marriott Bonvoy loyalist, the card comes with plenty of perks to cover the cost. Travelers who aren’t loyal to a particular brand, however, might be better off opting for a general rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, please click here

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