Both American Express and Chase issue co-branded Marriott credit cards. The market is split between them — American Express issues the ultra-premium personal card and business card, while Chase issues the mid-range personal card and no annual fee personal card.
In this post, I wanted to take a closer look at the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, which is the most premium credit card in the portfolio. This card is even offering a phenomenal welcome offer at the moment, which is among the best we’ve seen on the card.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Basics For May 2022
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is Marriott’s most premium credit card. While the card has a hefty annual fee, the perks should more than justify the cost, in my opinion, and I’ve found the card to be well worth it. In this post I wanted to take a look at all of the details of the card, including the welcome offer, benefits, and more.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Welcome Offer
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 within the first three months of card membership.
Personally, I value Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each, so the bonus is worth $525 to me.
Marriott Credit Card Eligibility
Given how many American Express and Chase Marriott cards there are, there are some pretty complicated restrictions regarding eligibility for this card.
On the most basic level, the welcome offer is not available to applicants who have had this product, or the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card (which is briefly what this card was known as).
Furthermore, the welcome offer is not available to applicants who:
- Have or have had The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card from JPMorgan or the J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card in the last 30 days
- Have acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase or the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days
- Have received a new card member bonus or upgrade offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase, Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase or the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months
General Amex Card Restrictions
I find Amex cards easy to be approved for if you have excellent credit. Anecdotally most people I’ve heard from have reported instant approvals on this card, so it really shouldn’t be very tough to be approved for. Just make sure you know that:
- You can be approved for at most two Amex credit cards in a 90 day period
- You can have at most five American Express credit cards at any point (this doesn’t include cards without a preset spending limit)
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card $450 Annual Fee
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a $450 annual fee. You can add additional cardmembers at no extra cost (Rates & Fees).
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Bonvoy Brilliant Card has no foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees), so it could be a good option for your purchases abroad.
Earning Points With The Bonvoy Brilliant Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has some bonus categories, though, for the most part, this isn’t a card you’re going to want to start using for your everyday spending. There are much more generous card bonus categories out there.
I have this card but don’t actually spend money on it, unless there’s a very specific promotion causing me to do so. Let’s talk about how the bonus categories on the card work.
6x Bonvoy Points At Marriott Hotels
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers 6x Bonvoy points for spending at Marriott hotels globally.
Since I value Bonvoy points at ~0.7 cents each, that’s the equivalent of a ~4.2% return on hotel spending. Personally, I still prefer to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for my Marriott hotel spending, as it offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points.
3x Bonvoy Points On Restaurants & Flights
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has some bonus categories that offer 3x points, including for purchases with:
- U.S. restaurants
- Flights booked directly with airlines
Based on my valuation of ~0.7 cents per point, that’s like a ~2.1% return on spending, which isn’t amazing. Personally, I think there are better credit cards for both restaurant purchases and airfare purchases.
2x Bonvoy Points On All Other Purchases
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers 2x points on all other eligible purchases. Personally, I don’t consider 2x points per dollar spent to be especially compelling since I value that at a ~1.4% return on spending, and there are better cards for everyday spending.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Perks
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a variety of perks, ranging from a $300 annual hotel credit, to an anniversary free night certificate. For many people (including me), the benefits more than offset the annual fee on the card.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits offered by the card.
$300 Marriott Bonvoy Statement Credit
Just for having the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you receive a $300 statement credit every cardmember year for spending at Marriott properties. This benefit is available the first year, and all subsequent years.
This couldn’t be easier to use — just use this card at any Marriott property globally, and your first $300 in eligible spending will automatically be reimbursed. This can be on room rates, meals, or almost anything else purchased directly with the hotel.
Assuming you spend at least $300 per year at Marriott hotels, then I’d say this is more or less worth face value and lowers the real “out of pocket” on this card to $150 per year.
Up To 50K Points Annual Free Night Reward
The other major perk that makes the Bonvoy Brilliant Card worthwhile is that you get a free night award every year on your account anniversary, valid for a one-night hotel stay at a property costing up to 50,000 points. You receive your first one of these on your first anniversary.
The free night certificates offered on most other Marriott cards are valid at properties costing up to 35,000 points per night, so using these at properties costing 50,000 points per night is awesome. This gets you access to all kinds of luxury hotels.
There are plenty of hotels costing $500+ per night that you can use this at. Assuming you value this at a minimum of $150, then I’d say you’re just about at the breakeven point on the card. The $450 annual fee is easily offset by the $300 travel credit, and then this free night.
Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
On an ongoing basis, just for having the Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you receive complimentary Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program. This status ordinarily requires 25 elite nights and gets perks including the following:
- 25% bonus points on hotel stays
- 2 PM late check-out
- A room upgrade
Spend To Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Status
You can earn Platinum Elite status if you spend $75,000 on the Bonvoy Brilliant Card in a calendar year. This status ordinarily requires 50 elite nights. Platinum Elite status gets you the following benefits:
- 50% bonus points on hotel stays
- 4 PM late check-out
- A room upgrade, including to a standard suite
- Welcome gift, including breakfast at many brands
Platinum status is potentially really worthwhile. Whether or not it makes sense to spend $75,000 on the card to earn this very much depends on your travel patterns.
15 Elite Nights Toward Status
Just for having the Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you receive 15 elite nights toward status annually. Several co-branded Marriott credit cards offer this, and you can only receive the benefit once on a personal card and once on a business card.
In other words, if you have three Marriott personal cards, you wouldn’t get 45 elite nights. However, if you have a personal card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ Amex Card, you’d get 30 elite nights!
This makes Platinum status more attainable to earn, which is where status gets valuable. Platinum status requires 50 nights, so if you were getting 30 elite nights per year from credit cards, you’d only need 20 more elite nights. This would be my preferred way of earning this status, rather than spending $75,000 on the card.
Premium Internet At Marriott Properties
All Marriott Bonvoy members who book direct receive free in-room internet. However, if you have this credit card, you receive complimentary premium internet access while staying at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
$100 Ritz-Carlton & St. Regis Property Credit
The Bonvoy Brilliant Card also offers a $100 on-property credit at Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis when you book stays of at least two nights. The catch is that you have to book an “eligible rate,” which is going to be equivalent to the best available/non-discounted rate.
Personally, I don’t consider that to be so valuable. Why?
- You have to book a specific rate, so points stays, discounted member rates, etc., don’t qualify
- All of these hotels belong to Marriott STARS, and some of these hotels belong to Virtuoso, which offer similar benefits
Priority Pass Select Membership
The Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a Priority Pass membership, giving you access to 1,300+ lounges worldwide. You can bring two guests with you into lounges, space permitting. This is a great way to make your airport experience more pleasant.
TSA PreCheck Or Global Entry Credit
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit once every four years. Just charge the $85-100 membership fee to your card, and it will automatically be reimbursed. It doesn’t matter who the fee is being paid for, as long as you charge it to your eligible card.
One of the great features of Amex cards is access to Amex Offers, which gives members savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. There’s huge value to be had in getting as many Amex cards as possible so that you can get these offers on multiple cards.
Is The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Worth It?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have the Bonvoy Brilliant Card. It’s not a card that I put much spending on, but rather it’s a card that I have for the perks.
The way I view it, this card really costs me $150 per year — it has a $450 annual fee, but I think the $300 annual Marriott credit is more or less good as cash. In reality, I’m paying $150 per year for an annual free night certificate valid at a property costing up to 50,000 points, plus for 15 elite nights toward status annually, which helps me earn a higher status tier.
To me, that’s an excellent deal. The card has plenty of other perks that others may find valuable, but which I personally don’t get much value out of:
- The card also offers a Priority Pass membership, but personally, I have several cards that offer this
- The card offers a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit, though again, I have several cards that offer this
In addition to that, I do get value out of the consistent Amex Offers deals that I see on this card, which have saved me hundreds of dollars.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Vs. Boundless Card
- The Boundless Card offers an anniversary free night valid at a property costing up to 35,000 points per night (rather than 50,000 points)
- Both cards offer premium internet and 15 elite nights toward status (you can only receive this benefit once across all Marriott co-brand personal credit cards)
- The Brilliant Card offers a Priority Pass membership, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, and a $300 Marriott credit
- The Boundless Card is issued by Chase, while the Brilliant Card is issued by Amex, in case that impacts your approval odds
I prefer the Bonvoy Brilliant Card, since I think it’s worth paying an extra $55 to get a free night certificate valid at a property costing up to 50,000 points, rather than 35,000 points. More casual Marriott guests may prefer the Boundless Card, though, given that there’s less “sticker shock” to the annual fee.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is Marriott’s most premium credit card. The card has a $450 annual fee, but offers perks like a $300 annual Marriott credit and an annual free night certificate valid at a property costing up to 50K points, which more than justifies the annual fee. Add in all the money-saving offers available with Amex Offers, and you should easily come out ahead with this card.
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).