Is The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Worth It?

Is The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Worth It?

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Link: Apply now for the refreshed Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (review) is the most premium credit card in the Marriott co-brand card portfolio, and it just underwent a major refresh.

The card has a hefty annual fee that might make some people hesitant to apply, but the perks add up. In this post I wanted to share why I think this card is worth picking up, as the perks justify the annual fee, in my opinion.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card welcome bonus

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $5,000 within the first three months. This is an excellent bonus, as I value Bonvoy points at ~0.7 cents each. To me the bonus is worth ~$1,050.

Of course the bonus is only one reason you should consider this card, as the real benefit is the ongoing value offered by the card.

Redeem your points at Santa Marina Mykonos

Why the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is worth it

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a $650 annual fee (Rates & Fees). I can totally understand how on the surface some people might say “well I don’t want to pay that much for a card if I don’t have to.”

I totally get it, but I think for most people this card will be well worth it. It’s a card that I personally have, and one that I get significant value from. In no particular order, below are the five perks that I like most about the card, and that I think make it worthwhile.

$300 annual restaurant credit

One thing that helps with justifying the annual fee on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is that it offers up to $300 in restaurant credits annually. Specifically, you can receive up to $25 per month in credits for spending at eligible restaurants worldwide.

This should be extremely easy to take advantage of — just spend $25 at a restaurant each month, and you’ll receive a statement credit for that amount. You could use this toward a nice dinner while traveling, or just for your morning coffee. There’s no registration required, and the statement credit will post automatically.

Receive a $25 statement credit for restaurants every month

Free night award worth up to 85,000 points

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a free night award on your account anniversary every year, valid at a property costing up to 85,000 Bonvoy points per night. This has a significant advantage over the free night award on some other Marriott credit cards, which are only valid at properties costing up to 35,000-50,000 points.

Nowadays you can even use up to 15,000 points to top-off your free night award, meaning you could use the certificate at a hotel costing up to 100,000 points. You could potentially use that at some pretty awesome hotels.

Personally I value this free night certificate at more than $350 per year, so between the restaurant credit and this, you’re already breaking even on the card, not even accounting for the other perks.

Use your free night award at the St. Regis Venice

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status

The single greatest benefit of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is that it offers Platinum Elite status for as long as you’re a cardmember. This is amazing, as it ordinarily requires 50 elite nights per year. This is where hotel status gets valuable, and you can unlock perks like free breakfast, suite upgrades, and more.

Use your Platinum Elite status at the St. Regis Bora Bora

25 elite nights toward Bonvoy status

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers 25 elite nights toward status annually. Since I have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (review), I receive a total of 40 elite nights toward status annually between the two cards.

Now, of course you’re already getting Platinum Elite status with the card, so what’s the benefit of this? Well, the elite nights could come in handy if you want to earn Marriott Bonvoy Choice Benefits (like Suite Night Awards) or go for Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite or Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite status.

Use a suite night award at Hotel Grande Bretagne Athens

A Priority Pass membership

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required) to the primary cardmember, getting you access to 1,300+ lounges worldwide. You can generally even bring two guests into lounges with you. This will come in handy for anyone who travels by air with any frequency.

Get airport lounge access with the Bonvoy Brilliant Card

Bottom line

I find the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to be extremely worthwhile. While the card has a $650 annual fee, personally I tend to think the $300 annual restaurant credit plus annual free night award more than justify the annual fee.

Then you can add in perks like Platinum Elite status, 25 elite nights toward status annually, a Priority Pass membership, and more, and the card really shines.

If you have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, what has your experience been?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees).

Conversations (15)
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  1. shza Guest

    For those who think, like Ben, that Bonvoy Platinum status has "real value," I'm curious what that is for you. I've had that status for the past three years and would value it, generously, at maybe $50/year. I would get absolutely zero value if I didn't affirmatively ask hotels for the things to which the status is supposed to entitle me. But even then, my upgrade rate is well under 10%, and I've only been...

    For those who think, like Ben, that Bonvoy Platinum status has "real value," I'm curious what that is for you. I've had that status for the past three years and would value it, generously, at maybe $50/year. I would get absolutely zero value if I didn't affirmatively ask hotels for the things to which the status is supposed to entitle me. But even then, my upgrade rate is well under 10%, and I've only been able to use one "suite night award" in three years, and have forfeited the other 14 (not from lack of trying).

    I get the breakfast thing if you're a blogger or single/without kids, but if I'm traveling alone, it's for work, so every meal is reimbursed and thus "free" to me anyway. My room is quieter and easier to work in than a lounge (the existence/location of which I can't remember ever being told about without specifically asking at check-in), and free $1 sugary yogurts and mediocre coffee don't make it feel any more elite (caveat: entirely different experience in Asia -- if I traveled there more, the lounge access would be a true perk).

    Am I missing something, or is this just an "only valuable for a narrow group of people" kind of thing?

    1. Eskimo Guest

      For someone who hardly pays anything out of pocket on these stays.
      Means you
      1. Have meals expensed (breakfast or lounge not useful)
      2. Don't have much choice of destination which some are more elite friendly i.e. Asia (recognition not useful)
      3. Get paid to stay in a sleepable bed with 4 walls alone. (upgrades welcome but not useful)

      Your main benefit therefore is "50% bonus points" something you can still...

      For someone who hardly pays anything out of pocket on these stays.
      Means you
      1. Have meals expensed (breakfast or lounge not useful)
      2. Don't have much choice of destination which some are more elite friendly i.e. Asia (recognition not useful)
      3. Get paid to stay in a sleepable bed with 4 walls alone. (upgrades welcome but not useful)

      Your main benefit therefore is "50% bonus points" something you can still use on vacation. Staying 1k per night would mean 5000 extra points every night. That adds up.

    2. Frog Guest

      Couldn’t agree more. I only stay at a Marriott when travelling for work and get all expenses / meals reimbursed so no value from a free hotel breakfast. I’m already Platinum Elite and earn enough nights to keep it, so limited use there. When travelling on holiday I do everything I can to avoid a Marriott. I prefer staying in local, boutique hotels or a nice Airbnb so the points are of little value to...

      Couldn’t agree more. I only stay at a Marriott when travelling for work and get all expenses / meals reimbursed so no value from a free hotel breakfast. I’m already Platinum Elite and earn enough nights to keep it, so limited use there. When travelling on holiday I do everything I can to avoid a Marriott. I prefer staying in local, boutique hotels or a nice Airbnb so the points are of little value to me.

      Overall, this card is useful for 1)travel bloggers, 2) People who are willing to surrender their lives, freedom and happiness to a corporate brand.

    3. Anthony Diamond

      As pointed out by Eskimo, the main tangible benefit is better earnings rate, which can be worth a couple hundred bucks for someone without status.

      Also, I believe the breakfast benefit is for two people as a Plat, so that can add up for leisure travel. In terms of business travel, I would argue that free breakfast leaves more money for other meals in a per diem system, so I would say breakfast benefit is...

      As pointed out by Eskimo, the main tangible benefit is better earnings rate, which can be worth a couple hundred bucks for someone without status.

      Also, I believe the breakfast benefit is for two people as a Plat, so that can add up for leisure travel. In terms of business travel, I would argue that free breakfast leaves more money for other meals in a per diem system, so I would say breakfast benefit is worth it even for business travel.

      Lounges at business travel oriented hotels in the US can provide some value.

      The card gives you 25 elite nights - now it only takes 25 nights to earn SNAs a year (or only 10 nights if you pair it with the business card). I know you said SNAs ads hard to use but they can have value.

      Ultimately, the card gives you an 85K night plus Platinun status for $350. I would argue that is well worth it for someone that stays at Marriott at least 10-15 nights. Aspire is an uncapped weekend night and Diamond for $450 (less if you value any of the credits - I don’t at all). Worth it as well

  2. Chris Guest

    Do you think as a lifetime Titanium you can extract 350 dollars in value?

  3. Alex77W Guest

    Perhaps, the card is worth something for folks without status, but as LT Titanium I see a diminishing value in the new card at a much higher fee. Yes, one can easily use $25.month credit for lunches etc. but if you go to a restaurant and spend $300 for a dinner, you are loosing $7-$10 in kickback for charging the dinner to this card vs. available competition. The 85k 1 night certificate is great but...

    Perhaps, the card is worth something for folks without status, but as LT Titanium I see a diminishing value in the new card at a much higher fee. Yes, one can easily use $25.month credit for lunches etc. but if you go to a restaurant and spend $300 for a dinner, you are loosing $7-$10 in kickback for charging the dinner to this card vs. available competition. The 85k 1 night certificate is great but when going for a vacation I tend to stay more nights. Then I will be paying at least $350 for that certificate (or even more because the dining credit is also a loss opportunity) and this will be like buying 85k Bonvoy point at 0.41 cent per point which is a good value. But are always paying $350 and up for night for you staying on your own? The other even larger problem are diminishing returns of the Bonvoy program. The value of the Marriott point continues its near linear decline...
    Overall, I will take the previous version of the card over this one.

  4. Regis Guest

    This card was on my chop list this year but now I will keep it. No other hotel branded credit card offers anything close. The 85K certificate alone offers up to one grand in value.

    1. Andrew Guest

      The aspire lets you use the certificate at any property for Hilton. The 85k still excludes top properties. I was just trying to use it to book Al Maha and it was 104k. Classic bonvoyed again! And with prices going up even more next year, I’m pretty much over Marriott. The dining credits are just an attempt at breakage. Give me the old card any day of the week.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      I'm still going to say the Aspire still has the edge.

      Is 85k worth one grand in value, not even close. You hardly get those values anymore.

    3. Anthony Diamond

      85K cert isn’t worth $1k - it’s closer to $400 to $500. But that clears the net fee quite easily.

      To me, the card is a clear upgrade from the prior version, largely due to Platinum status and additional nights (making SNAs easier to get). The sweet spot seems to be staying 25 nights a year at Marriott and holding this card.

    4. GSBEWR Guest

      I will also agree that the Hilton Aspire is a better card. The Aspire give you 14x on stays and 7x on restaurants. The Brilliant still only gives 6x on stays and 3x on restaurants. Oddly the new $250 Marriott cards from Chase and Amex both offer 6x on stays, but 4x on restaurants (up to $15K on Chase; it appears to be unlimited on Amex). Even stranger, though, is that to get a free...

      I will also agree that the Hilton Aspire is a better card. The Aspire give you 14x on stays and 7x on restaurants. The Brilliant still only gives 6x on stays and 3x on restaurants. Oddly the new $250 Marriott cards from Chase and Amex both offer 6x on stays, but 4x on restaurants (up to $15K on Chase; it appears to be unlimited on Amex). Even stranger, though, is that to get a free night with the $250 cards, you need to spend $15K. But you get a free night with the Chase $95 card.

  5. Lee Guest

    Whether or not a person can earn Platinum on nights alone without the card, it's easy to extract enough value from the card to overcome the annual fee. William, yes, a second card is worth it if you dine out enough and can use the second 85k certificate with sufficient value.

  6. Liam Guest

    I had been planning to get the Bonvoy Boundless this month, but just got the Brilliant instead. The annual fee is easy to offset and the 25 elite nights are also helpful for working towards lifetime status. Unless Platinum status loses significant value in the coming years this is certainty a keeper card for me.

  7. William Guest

    Does it make sense to have two of the same card ?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

shza Guest

For those who think, like Ben, that Bonvoy Platinum status has "real value," I'm curious what that is for you. I've had that status for the past three years and would value it, generously, at maybe $50/year. I would get absolutely zero value if I didn't affirmatively ask hotels for the things to which the status is supposed to entitle me. But even then, my upgrade rate is well under 10%, and I've only been able to use one "suite night award" in three years, and have forfeited the other 14 (not from lack of trying). I get the breakfast thing if you're a blogger or single/without kids, but if I'm traveling alone, it's for work, so every meal is reimbursed and thus "free" to me anyway. My room is quieter and easier to work in than a lounge (the existence/location of which I can't remember ever being told about without specifically asking at check-in), and free $1 sugary yogurts and mediocre coffee don't make it feel any more elite (caveat: entirely different experience in Asia -- if I traveled there more, the lounge access would be a true perk). Am I missing something, or is this just an "only valuable for a narrow group of people" kind of thing?

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Anthony Diamond

85K cert isn’t worth $1k - it’s closer to $400 to $500. But that clears the net fee quite easily. To me, the card is a clear upgrade from the prior version, largely due to Platinum status and additional nights (making SNAs easier to get). The sweet spot seems to be staying 25 nights a year at Marriott and holding this card.

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Anthony Diamond

As pointed out by Eskimo, the main tangible benefit is better earnings rate, which can be worth a couple hundred bucks for someone without status. Also, I believe the breakfast benefit is for two people as a Plat, so that can add up for leisure travel. In terms of business travel, I would argue that free breakfast leaves more money for other meals in a per diem system, so I would say breakfast benefit is worth it even for business travel. Lounges at business travel oriented hotels in the US can provide some value. The card gives you 25 elite nights - now it only takes 25 nights to earn SNAs a year (or only 10 nights if you pair it with the business card). I know you said SNAs ads hard to use but they can have value. Ultimately, the card gives you an 85K night plus Platinun status for $350. I would argue that is well worth it for someone that stays at Marriott at least 10-15 nights. Aspire is an uncapped weekend night and Diamond for $450 (less if you value any of the credits - I don’t at all). Worth it as well

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