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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.
185,000 points after you make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of card membership (offer ends 5/1/24)
American Express Customer Service Ratings
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 solid 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.
You’ll earn 185,000 bonus points after making $6,000 in purchases in your first six months of card membership. Previously, the card offered 95,000 bonus points for the same spend requirements.
That’s a considerably higher total value, almost doubling your potential earnings. However, this introductory bonus is a limited time offer that ends on 5/1/24, so you’ll need to act quickly to take advantage of the lucrative offer.
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 (one per 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 $1,000 discount on a mattress and box spring from Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques.
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), Marriott 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 used to price award nights by fixed-value property categories, but discontinued this in March 2022 in favor of the typical dynamic values for each stay, based on factors like peak travel times, property amenities and more. How many points you need for a reward night varies, but Bankrate’s latest point valuations estimate Marriott Bonvoy points to be worth around 0.7 cents each on average. This value can vary based on your booking, but it can be a helpful figure to work from when planning your stay.
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 39 airline partners – and at a 3:1 rate to many of them. You’ll also get a bonus 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points that you transfer to an eligible partner program.
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 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 unlimited airport lounge visits to over 1,200 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.
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.
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 or TSA Precheck credit – Receive a statement credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee. Up to $100 statement credit every 4 years for Global Entry or up to $85 through TSA Precheck® official enrollment provider every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership.
- 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.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is issued by American Express, which has a great customer service reputation. In J.D. Power’s 2022 customer satisfaction survey, Amex scored 848 – 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.
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® Credit Card
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Earn 5 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors points if you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership.
60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first three months
|Other things to know
|Other things to know
|Other things to know
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.
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 7,000 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 increased rate on U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases boost the Surpass’s earning potential.
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:
- 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 visits. 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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