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 the past year, and 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.
Last year I used this for a free night at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota over Thanksgiving. 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
$300 in further statement credits
There are the published benefits of cards, and then there are the unpublished and promotional benefits of cards, which come around every so often. This is an area where Amex is particularly good, thanks in large part to the Amex Offers program.
In 2020 alone, I received over $300 in additional statement credits by using this card.
At the beginning of the year, my account was targeted for an offer for a $25 statement credit for spending $25 or more at a Marriott property. That was easy, and I took advantage of that.
On top of that, I got an offer for a $100 statement credit for spending $1,000 on the card, regardless of what the spending was on. I already took advantage of this as well.
Lastly, in 2020 alone there were three offers on my account for saving money when spending a certain amount at Marriott properties:
- In the spring I had an offer for $75 back when spending $250+
- In the summer I had an offer for $50 back when spending $200+
- In the fall I had an offer for $75 back when spending $250+
Between those five offers, that’s another $300 back in my pocket. Not bad, eh?
I’ve received a further $300 in statement credits with the card
15 elite nights towards Bonvoy status
This 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.
Within the past year, I’ve received an additional $300 in statement credits (beyond the Marriott $300 travel credit), a free night award at a hotel costing 50,000 points, and much more.
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).