A couple of days ago the new Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program launched, and as part of that we saw rebranding of all co-branded Marriott and Starwood credit cards, which are issued by both American Express and Chase.
Many people are reporting that there are upgrade offers available to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (review). We’ve seen these a couple of times in the past when the card was known as the SPG Luxury Card, but for the first time I see this upgrade offer on my account.
So I figured I’d go through my thought process on deciding whether or not to upgrade.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card upgrade offer
I have both the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, previously known as the personal and business versions of the SPG Amex. The former card is no longer open to new cardmembers, while the latter card is.
When I log into the account for my Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card there’s a banner at the top offering 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points if I upgrade my card to the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex by April 24, 2019. Again, this is targeted, so not everyone will be eligible.
The process of upgrading is really easy — I can upgrade directly online, and I can earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $5,000 within three months.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card benefits
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a $450 annual fee and offers:
- A $300 annual Marriott statement credit; each cardmember year you’ll get a $300 credit that will be applied when you spend that amount at a Marriott hotel
- An anniversary free night award that can be redeemed at a property costing up to 50,000 points per night
- Platinum Elite status when you spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year
- Complimentary Gold Elite status for as long as you have the card
- 15 elite qualifying nights per year just for having the card (you can receive this benefit for at most one card)
- A Priority Pass Select membership that allows you to take up to two guests into eligible lounges
- A TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit once every four years
- Premium internet access when staying at Marriott hotels
- Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at over a million hotspots around the world
For me personally, most of those benefits are redundant. I already have lifetime Platinum status, I already get premium internet thanks to my Platinum status, I already get 15 elite qualifying nights through other cards, I have more Global Entry fee credits than I know what to do with, I already have a Boingo Wi-fi subscription, I already have several Priority Pass memberships, etc.
So for me, the value proposition of this card comes down to two things. Is it worth paying a $450 annual fee for a $300 annual Marriott credit and a free night certificate at a property costing up to 50,000 points?
To break it down even further, I value the $300 credit more or less at face value (since I spend way more than $300 per year with Marriott). So is it worth paying a $150 annual fee to get a free night annually at a property costing up to 50,000 points? Yes, I’d say that’s worth it… marginally.
Pros of upgrading to the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex
Then there’s the question of whether it makes sense to apply for this card outright or upgrade to it. Usually, when you upgrade a card you don’t get a bonus that’s as good as what you’d get if you applied outright for the card.
However, at this point the bonus is the same for me as it would be if applying outright — you get 100,000 points (which I value at $700+) when you spend $5,000 on the card within three months.
The benefit of upgrading the card would be that I don’t have a credit pull. The reality is that my credit score is excellent, so that doesn’t matter that much one way or another.
However, the other benefit is that the card I’d be upgrading is one of the cards I’ve had for the longest time, as I’ve had it for over a decade. So it’s good for my credit score to be able to maintain that credit history.
The other benefit is that I already have five American Express credit cards (not including charge cards), and that’s the maximum Amex allows:
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
- Marriott Bonvoy American Express® Card
So otherwise, if I wanted this card I’d have to cancel an existing card.
Cons of upgrading to the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex
What’s the downside of upgrading the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card? Well, the former card is no longer open to new applicants, and it’s compelling in its own right.
The card has a $95 annual fee and offers a free night award annually valid at a property retailing for up to 35,000 points.
Personally, I’m not sure if I’d rather pay $95 per year for a 35,000 point free night award, or the equivalent of $150 per year for a 50,000 point free night award. It’s more or less a wash, as far as I’m concerned.
So, what’s my decision?
All things considered, I think it makes sense to upgrade to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card with the current 100,000 point offer (I’m waiting to do it until I get feedback from you guys, though). It’s rare to see an upgrade offer that’s as good as a welcome bonus, and this is a card that I’ve been eying.
So it seems to me like it makes sense to pick it up, as I’ll avoid a credit pull, I’ll maintain my credit history, and I’m also already at my limit as to how many Amex credit cards I can have.
Did you receive a Marriott Bonvoy Amex upgrade offer, and if so, do you plan on taking advantage of it?
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, has been collected independently by One Mile at a Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.