Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Review
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is one of the most premium options in the Bonvoy lineup with premium rewards to match. True globetrotters with a preference for Marriott hotels and resorts will appreciate this card’s benefits, but those not partial to the brand may find better value elsewhere.
For a $450 annual fee, you can earn 6X points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy locations, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2X points on all other purchases.
In addition to points bonuses, the Bonvoy Brilliant offers up to $300 in statement credits for Marriott Bonvoy purchases each year of card membership, a free night award (up to 50,000-point value) after each cardmember anniversary and up to $100 in property credit annually for eligible two night minimum stays at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties.
Platinum members earn additional benefits from Marriott, such as 50 percent bonus points earnings on stays, enhanced room upgrades, a dedicated Elite reservation line and late checkout.
The card’s welcome bonus is currently up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
The Bonvoy Brilliant carries a variable APR ranging from 15.74 to 24.74 percent and charges no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
Is this the right card for you?
If you are a frequent traveler who stays in Marriott hotels often, you can easily earn back the Bonvoy Brilliant’s annual fee in rewards. The statement credits alone nearly make up the cost of the annual fee.
The Bonvoy Brilliant stands apart from the others in the Bonvoy lineup for its premium perks. If you stay at Marriott properties more than a few times per year, it could be a great addition to your wallet. And this card really shines for cardmembers who value luxury and convenience. Benefits like Priority Pass lounge membership, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credits will ensure that your travel experiences will be top-tier.
If you’re a fan of Marriott but still on the fence about the steep annual fee, you can compare the Bonvoy Brilliant to other options in the Bonvoy lineup, both from Chase and American Express to determine which is best for you.
It’s important to remember that American Express has strict rules for earning welcome bonuses with its co-branded cards. The issuer only allows a welcome bonus to be earned once per lifetime. Also,Because of the merger between Marriott Rewards and Starwood’s SPG program that became Marriott Bonvoy, American Express prohibits anyone who has or has had the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card.
That said, if you’ve been waiting for the best time to apply to maximize your welcome bonus, now is the time: This is one of the highest welcome bonuses the card has offered in its history.
Bonvoy isn’t known to have the best redemption values of rewards programs, but you can earn more value per point during off-peak seasons. Your redemption value will depend on the category of the property you book. You’ll get more value by booking budget-friendly brands like Springhill Suites, but you also have the option to embrace luxury with brands like St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton. Use this chart for a more in-depth look at redemptions by category:
Award Night Chart
How much are the rewards worth?
The Bonvoy Brilliant’s 75,000-point welcome bonus is equal up to $600 in value according to thepointsguy.com (Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.), according to valuations by The Points Guy.
If you take full advantage of the card’s annual statement credits, you’ll earn up to an additional $400 back. And the annual free night award, if redeemed for the maximum 50,000 points, can rake in up to another $400 in value.
In your first year of ownership, you can max out these benefits for up to $1,800 worth of stays in Marriott properties, and that’s before even considering your regular spending with the card.
If, while redeeming the Bonvoy Brilliant’s statement credits and benefits, you spend just another $5,000 at eligible Marriott properties at an earnings rate of 6X points per dollar, you’ll add an additional 30,000 points to your account. Spend another $5,000 at U.S. restaurants (3X points), $5,000 on airfare booked directly with airlines (3X points) and $5,000 on additional expenses (2X points) for another 40,000 points. Those 70,000 points can add $560 to your total value, according to the same valuations.
Using these numbers as an example, you could earn $2,360 in Marriott Bonvoy points in your first year of card membership, easily wiping out the $450 annual fee.
How to get the most value from this card
The best way to cash in on the Bonvoy Brilliant’s full potential is by traveling and staying at Marriott properties. If you take enough trips throughout the year to fully max out each of the card’s annual benefits and you take advantage of the added perks of Platinum Elite status, you’ll easily make back the cost of the card.
Your points may also be transferred to airline partners at a 1-1 ratio and or redeemed for cruises, car rentals or merchandise, but generally, you’ll find the most value by redeeming for hotel stays and upgrades with Marriott.
If you’re not a big spender, have other cards that you use for categories like dining out and air travel or you don’t travel frequently enough to take full advantage of the credits, you’re not going to find as much value in the Bonvoy Brilliant. If you’re unsure if you can get the full value from this card but you’re a fan of Marriott properties, consider a less expensive option in the Bonvoy lineup, like the Bonvoy Bold Credit Card from Chase.
If hotel stays (namely at Marriott properties) make up a large portion of your annual budget and you’re looking to take your earnings values to the next level, the Bonvoy Brilliant may be a great card to add to your wallet. Before applying though, do the math to ensure you’ll be able to take full advantage of the statement credit benefits and double check that you’re eligible for the welcome bonus under American Express’ lifetime restrictions.