Is The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Worth It?

Is The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Worth It?

11
In the interest of full disclosure, OMAAT earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers (terms apply) that we have found for each product or service. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, hotel chain, or product manufacturer/service provider, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about our partners, and thanks for your support!

Link: Apply now for the 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. 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 benefits justify the annual fee, in my opinion.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card welcome offer

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a welcome offer where you can earn 95,000 points after spending $6,000 within the first six months. For what it’s worth, I value Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each, so to me 95,000 points are worth $665. Of course, the bonus is only one reason you should consider this card, as the real benefit is its ongoing value.

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 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 many 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.

Admittedly there are better cards for dining spending, so you may not want to use this card for all of your restaurant spending. My strategy is to just load $25 into my Starbucks account at the beginning of each month, and that does the trick.

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.

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.

Just to give an example, this year I used my free night award at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto. The property was charging 100,000 points for the night I wanted to stay, so I could use the free night award, plus top it off with 15,000 points. If paying cash, the room would have cost over $2,000. What a deal!

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, guaranteed late check-out, and more.

Note that the years of Platinum Elite status earned with this card also count toward lifetime status with Marriott Bonvoy, if that’s something you’re going for.

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 (11)
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.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Alex77W Guest

    Remember that the certificate is for one night only. When I travel for leisure, I like to stay for more than 1 night. Yes, one can pick a nice Marriott property to use the certificate but then it also pushes me to spend cash or points for more nights in the same hotel. I am LT Titanium so the night credits are generally useless as I mainly staying in Hyatt nowadays.

  2. DSK Guest

    Such mixed feelings. I am LT Titanium and find minimal value in the suite upgrades that never seem to clear for a real suite so I’d love to nix this one. On the other hand, my certificate from a net $350 card just covered a $1500 room at the St Regis New York, so not sure what to think.

  3. Andrew Guest

    It’s a very borderline card unless you’re using it for for status. I downgraded recently. I much preferred the Marriott hotel credit the card used to have that I could use all at once vs the dining coupon book. I definitely see how this card would be in Ben’s wallet though, especially now that he has a kid. He’s probably in that sweet spot… traveling enough where the card is worth it for platinum but...

    It’s a very borderline card unless you’re using it for for status. I downgraded recently. I much preferred the Marriott hotel credit the card used to have that I could use all at once vs the dining coupon book. I definitely see how this card would be in Ben’s wallet though, especially now that he has a kid. He’s probably in that sweet spot… traveling enough where the card is worth it for platinum but he might not naturally earn platinum otherwise (especially since he seems to prefer Hyatt).

    1. Flygo Guest

      What're the downgrade options now?

    2. Andrew Guest

      They have a $95 annual fee card with an annual 35k certificate. Not great for aspirational travel, but solid for what it is.

  4. Mantis Guest

    No.

    This could have been your shortest post ever.

  5. Kyle Guest

    One thing that irritates me about a lot of these premium cards is they have less generous earning options than some of the lower tier ones.
    But I recently just got the Brilliant card because of the 2-night award bonus. The $300 restaurant credit helps knock off almost half of the annual fee, and Platinum status at Marriott is pretty good with 4 pm checkout and breakfast at most properties.
    I do wish there was more earning potential.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Kyle -- Indeed, often there's not a great value proposition to actually spending on these cards, and the Bonvoy Brilliant Card isn't alone in that regard.

  6. Bgriff Guest

    Curious how you haven't written about how Marriott has devalued most awards by 20% or more, making the 85K cert useful at a lot fewer properties than it used to be.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Bgriff -- I've written about how Marriott has moved to dynamic pricing and award costs at many hotels have creeped up. However, I haven't found the changes to be that drastic, or necessarily as bad as they could have been.

      I mean, look at World of Hyatt, which hasn't officially had an award chart devaluation, but between hotel category changes (including quite a few properties moving to Category 8), peak and off-peak pricing, etc.,...

      @ Bgriff -- I've written about how Marriott has moved to dynamic pricing and award costs at many hotels have creeped up. However, I haven't found the changes to be that drastic, or necessarily as bad as they could have been.

      I mean, look at World of Hyatt, which hasn't officially had an award chart devaluation, but between hotel category changes (including quite a few properties moving to Category 8), peak and off-peak pricing, etc., we've seen what amounts to similar increases in award costs.

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.

Alex77W Guest

Remember that the certificate is for one night only. When I travel for leisure, I like to stay for more than 1 night. Yes, one can pick a nice Marriott property to use the certificate but then it also pushes me to spend cash or points for more nights in the same hotel. I am LT Titanium so the night credits are generally useless as I mainly staying in Hyatt nowadays.

0
Andrew Guest

They have a $95 annual fee card with an annual 35k certificate. Not great for aspirational travel, but solid for what it is.

0
Flygo Guest

What're the downgrade options now?

0
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
5,163,247 Miles Traveled

32,614,600 Words Written

35,045 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT