Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Review

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Best for loyal Marriott customers

Annual Fee:
$450
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

Bankrate Rating

Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards.

 

Best for annual bonuses

  • Rewards Rate: 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines plus 2X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Purchase Intro APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 15.74% to 24.74% variable

If you’re a die-hard Marriott customer and want to take advantage of many travel benefit and reward-earning opportunity available, then the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card could be the best hotel credit card for you.

Not only is it the premier Marriott credit card, but it’s also the only consumer Marriott card from American Express. This means you get access to exclusive Amex perks on top of its prime travel protections and loyalty benefits, such as complimentary award nights and first-year elite status. These swanky perks, however,  come at a premium $450 annual fee.

Dive into the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card’s rich portfolio of benefits to see if these perks are worth the steep price tag.

Current welcome offer

Compared to other co-branded hotel credit card welcome bonuses, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is one of the best offers available—not just for Marriott loyalists—and this bonus keeps on giving year-round.

Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You’ll also automatically receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, which unlocks elite perks and reward-earning opportunities.

Based on Marriott Bonvoy points’ latest 0.8 cent valuation from The Points Guy, the 75,000-point welcome offer alone could be worth up to $600. This is a fantastic incentive considering the additional lasting value—as long as you spend enough time and money at Marriott to justify the annual fee.

Rewards

Naturally, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card carries more Marriott Bonvoy reward categories than other Bonvoy cards. But the Bonvoy Brilliant Card’s real rewards value comes from its complimentary, one-year Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, which boosts the value of your points by 25 percent on qualifying purchases—among other valuable benefits.

Earning rewards

Participating Marriott Bonvoy hotel purchases will net you 6 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar. You’ll also get 3 points per dollar on U.S. restaurant purchases and flights booked directly with airlines, along with 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.

These reward rates might not seem much better than the up to 17 points per dollar you’d earn with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, but adding the Brilliant’s complimentary 2021 Gold Elite status makes a big difference.

For example, let’s say you booked a night at the New York Marriott Downtown for $117. You’d earn 10 points per dollar as a Bonvoy rewards program member and another 6 points per dollar with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card. You’d also get a 25 percent earnings boost as a Gold Elite status member, for a total of up to 2,340 points per night.

Gold Elite members get a few extra ways to earn rewards, too. Linking your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to the Eat Around Town by Marriott Bonvoy program can give you another 6 points per dollar on eligible restaurant purchases on top of the 3 points per dollar you’d already earn at U.S. restaurants.

You can also earn extra points by traveling with United Airlines or Emirates Airlines. Flying with Emirates can rake in 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar plus any Emirates Skywards Miles you’d already earn thanks to the Your World Rewards program, and United’s MileagePlus program is the only airline partner rewards program that can convert miles to Marriott Bonvoy points (at a 1:1 ratio, too). Interestingly, you can also elect to earn miles instead of points for your stay with one of the more than 40 Marriott airline partners.

Redeeming rewards

You can redeem your points for award nights at more than 7,000 Marriott Bonvoy hotels or for other travel options, including flights, car rentals and travel packages. If you’ve found your hotel stays will be limited, you can also choose to transfer your points to over 40 frequent flyer programs at a 3:1 ratio and Marriott Bonvoy will add 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points you convert to miles.

Unfortunately, your only non-travel option is to redeem for gift cards, but you can also book travel with cash and points to cover the difference if you’re short a few points. You can also buy up to 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per year, though your money might be better spent on your room.

How much are points worth?

Depending on the “hotel category” and whether you travel in or off-peak, your point value can vary since Marriott Bonvoy doesn’t use a flat-rate reward booking scale. Booking an off-peak night at a Category 1 hotel might only take 4,000 points, while a Category 8 property’s peak night skyrockets to 90,000 points.

If you need a helpful baseline, The Points Guy estimates Marriott Bonvoy points have a 0.8 cent market value—which makes them more valuable than Hilton Honors and IHG Rewards Club points but less valuable than World of Hyatt and Wyndham rewards.

Benefits

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card carries a laundry list of valuable benefits, including a host of annual credits, travel perks and upgrades thanks to your complimentary Gold Elite status for 2021. Don’t forget that this is also Marriott’s only American Express card, which grants you access to exclusive American Express Experiences and Pay It Plan It alternative payment plans.

Marriott hotel credits

These recurring credits alone nearly recoup the annual fee, but considering that booking four consecutive nights earns you a free fifth night, these combined features can stretch your points’ value significantly:

  • Up to $300 in annual Marriott Bonvoy hotel statement credits each year
  • Up to $100 credit when directly booking a two-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis
  • Earn annual Free Night Award after your card account anniversary (for stays valued at 50,000 points or less)
  • 15 Elite Night credits toward your next Elite status level each calendar year

Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status

The current welcome offer includes complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for 2021, which is normally available only after staying 25 nights in one year.

On top of the 25-percent boosted reward rate, you’ll receive a wide array of premium Marriott Bonvoy privileges beyond basics like complimentary upgraded internet access. Participating Marriott Bonvoy properties also provide a welcome gift upon arrival (in the form of points or credits) and enhanced room upgrades at check-in (if available). What’s more, Marriott’s Ultimate Reservation Guarantee will compensate you for similar local lodgings in case you can’t be accommodated.

Travel and purchase perks

Ponying up for the hefty annual fee could be worth it since the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is one of the best credit cards for travel insurance. Paying with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card protects your purchases, returns and travel with money-saving perks such as:

  • Access to 1,200+ Priority Pass Select lounges around the world
  • Trip cancellation, interruption and delay insurance
  • Up to $100 Global Entry and TSA Precheck application fee credit
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Baggage insurance

Rates and fees

The Bonvoy Brilliant card’s silver platter of reward opportunities and benefits is a fantastic deal. You just have to overcome the elephant in the room: a $450 annual fee. Assuming a point value of 0.8 cents per point and accounting for the extra 10 points per dollar on eligible hotel purchases you get as a base Marriott Bonvoy member, you’d need to spend $3,516 per year (or about $293 per month) on Marriott Bonvoy hotel purchases to offset the fee. Spending at U.S. restaurants and on directly-booked flights and general purchases will help chip away at this cost faster.

Other than that, the card’s rates and fees are par for the course. There are no foreign transaction or over-limit fees but unfortunately, there are no intro APR offers to help you avoid interest charges. If you carry a balance, there is a 15.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR, as well as a 1.33 percent fixed finance plan fee (of each purchase moved into a plan based on the plan duration) if you use the Pay It Plan It alternative payment feature.

How the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card compares to other hotel cards

Although the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is the most rewarding Marriott card, you might not feel comfortable forking over $450 each year if you’re not loyal to one brand. General-purpose travel cards might provide a bigger bang for your buck in that case.

Depending on which issuer’s benefits you prefer, going with either The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card would give you better flexibility and more valuable points to earn or redeem on every leg of your trip.

If you’re looking to downsize or couple with a Chase credit card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless or the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card are more budget-friendly sources of Marriott rewards.

Card name Rewards rate Annual fee Welcome bonus Other details
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card
  • Up to 17X Marriott Bonvoy Points on eligible Marriott Bonvoy hotel purchases
  • 2X Marriott Bonvoy Points on all other purchases
$95 Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases + 10X total points on eligible purchases in select categories.
  • Automatic Silver Elite status each anniversary year, plus path to Gold Elite status after spending $35,000 on purchases each account year
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year
  • One Free Night Award after account anniversary per year (for stay with a 35,000-point redemption value or less)
  • Travel protections include trip delay and lost luggage reimbursement
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • 1X Membership Rewards points on all other purchases
$550 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within six months
  • Up to $200 in airline fee credits (annually) for incidentals with a select airline
  • Access to Priority Pass Select lounges, The Centurion Lounge, The International American Express Lounge and Delta Sky Clubs (for Delta flights only)
  • Up to a $100 reimbursement credit (every five years) for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on eligible dining and travel worldwide (after earning your $300 travel credit)
  • 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on up to $1,000 in combined grocery store and eligible delivery service  purchases per month until Apr. 30, 2021
  • 10X points on Lyft rides through Mar. 2022
  • 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all other purchases
$550 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within first three months
  • Special benefits at top locations in Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • 50% boosted rewards value when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Access to Priority Pass Select lounges
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits

Best cards to pair with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant’s high annual fee means that you’ll probably want to use it as your primary rewards card, so any complimenting credit card should reward you for purchases outside hotels, restaurants and directly-booked flights.

A flat-rate travel card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card would be a great choice because it can earn miles on everyday purchases. Similarly, a United Airlines credit card could be a solid choice since you can convert your miles to Marriott Bonvoy points at a 1:1 ratio and vice versa.

Bankrate’s take—Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card worth it?

For those who spend more than 50 nights per year in a Marriott bed, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is a no-brainer, as its plethora of reward opportunities, annual hotel credits and first-rate travel benefits can easily make up the pricey annual fee.

But if you’re not a dedicated Marriott Bonvoy guest, a general-purpose travel card or Marriott credit card with a lower annual fee is probably a better fit.

Pros

  • Earns a total of 16 points per dollar on Marriott Bonvoy hotel purchases (6 points per dollar with the card and 10 points per dollar via the loyalty program)
  • Over $300 in potential annual Marriott Bonvoy credits
  • Prized travel protections like trip interruption, cancellation and delay insurance
  • Amazing welcome bonus of complimentary Gold Elite status for 2021

Cons

  • $450 annual fee
  • Currently, complimentary Gold Elite status only offered for the first year
  • Low point value

The information about the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.