Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Welcome Bonus
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card welcome bonus comes in two parts:
- Earn 75,000 Bonvoy bonus points after spending $3,000 within the first three months
- Earn $200 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made at U.S. restaurants within the first six months
Why the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is worth it
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a $450 annual fee (Rates & Fees). I can totally understand how on the surface some people might say “well I don’t want to pay $450 for a card if I don’t have to.”
This is a card I have, and in this post I wanted to explain how this card has been oh-so-worth-it to me, and why I think this would be the case for lots of others as well.
In no particular order, here’s how the benefits of this card have worked out for me:
$300 Marriott travel credit
Personally, I view the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card as actually costing $150 per year, rather than $450 per year. Why? Because the card offers a straightforward $300 annual Marriott travel credit.
This couldn’t be easier to use, and there are no hoops to jump through — you’ll receive statement credits for the first $300 you spend each cardmember year at a Marriott family property with the card:
- This is valid at virtually all properties, both in the US and abroad, and at a variety of brands, ranging from Four Points to Ritz-Carlton
- This is valid for virtually all hotel spending, ranging from room rate, to food & beverage purchases, to spa treatments
The $300 travel credit posts automatically
If you spend at least $300 per year at Marriott properties, this should just about be worth face value, plain and simple. And I guess to reverse it, if you don’t spend at least $300 per year at Marriott properties (even on incidentals), then chances are that this card isn’t for you.
You can use the credit for food & beverage purchases at Marriott properties
Free night award worth up to 50,000 points
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a free night award on your account anniversary every year, valid at a property costing up to 50,000 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 points.
For example, over Thanksgiving of 2019 I used this for a free night at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. We decided to celebrate the holiday there with family (it was convenient for my mom, and it was her first time really leaving the house after a surgery a couple of months prior), and we had a great time.
It just happened to be that the hotel cost 50,000 points per night, so I could use a certificate for a night, when the paid rate would have been over $350 including taxes.
As far as I’m concerned, at this point I’m already coming out ahead with the card, between the $300 travel credit and the night at a hotel that would have cost $350+.
I redeemed my free night award at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota
$240 in further statement credits in 2021
American Express has introduced temporary card perks in 2021 in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In each month of 2021, those with the Bonvoy Brilliant can receive a $20 monthly dining credit, worth up to $240.
Note that this only applies to those who register, and you must have had the card prior to January 1, 2021, to take advantage of this (so new cardmembers can’t take advantage of this). The point is to illustrate how valuable this card has proven to be for existing cardmembers as well, so this isn’t just a card you should consider for the bonus.
15 elite nights towards Bonvoy status
The Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers 15 elite nights towards status annually. Since I have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, I receive a total of 30 elite nights towards status annually between the two cards.
For many people, this will make Platinum Elite status quite attainable, as it requires 50 nights per year, so having those two cards gets you 60% of the way there long term.
Having the card makes status easier to earn
The Bonvoy Brilliant perks I haven’t used
In addition to the above perks, there are several more Bonvoy Brilliant Card perks that others may get value out of, but that I personally don’t:
- A Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you access to 1,300+ lounges around the world; personally I receive this perk through several cards, so an incremental member doesn’t get me much
- Premium in-room internet at Marriott properties; since I have status with Marriott, I get this benefit anyway
- A Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit once every 4-4.5 years, which ordinarily costs $85-100; this is potentially valuable, but I get this benefit on so many cards
Get airport lounge access with the card
Personally, I find the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to be extremely worthwhile. While the card has a $450 annual fee, the $300 annual Marriott travel credit is more or less worth face value, so to me the card is really only costing me ~$150 per year.
Then there are all the extra statement credits I’ve received (beyond the $300 annual statement credit), including at least $240 in credits in 2021, plus a free night award at a hotel costing up to 50,000 points, and much more.
If you don’t yet have the Bonvoy Brilliant and are eligible, I’d highly recommend considering applying with the current offer, because this is a card that can more than pay for itself.
If you have the Bonvoy Brilliant, what has your experience been like?
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).