Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Benefits & Review 2021
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is a benefit-packed hotel credit card. Some key benefits include an annual free night award, up to $400 in Marriott statement credits, and earning up to 6x Bonvoy points on purchases. Here is what you should know about this rewards credit card and if you should apply.
Marriott Bonvoy loyalists who have several stays yearly will benefit the most from the card’s hotel and air travel benefits and offset the $450 annual fee.
Some of the most valuable travel benefits include:
- Annual Marriott rewards night
- Up to $400 in Marriott Bonvoy statement and on-property credits
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite loyalty status
- Priority Pass airport lounge access
You must be comfortable earning Marriott Bonvoy points on each card purchase and redeeming them for hotel rewards nights. It’s also possible to transfer them to participating frequent flyer programs but the redemption value can be lower.
If you find it challenging to maximize the card’s travel benefits or want non-Marriott rewards, other travel credit cards can be a better fit whether you want a similar or lower annual fee.
|Benefits at a Glance|
|– Annual Fee: $450|
– Current Bonus: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after $3,000 in purchases during the first 3 months. Receive up to $200 in statement credits for U.S. dining purchases during the first 6 months.
– 6x Points on Marriott Bonvoy purchases
– 3x Points on Flights Booked Directly from Airlines and at U.S. Restaurants
– Free Anniversary Night Certificate (up to 50,000 points)
– Up to $300 Marriott Bonvoy Statement Credit
– Up to $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit
– 15 Elite Night Credits
– Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
– Priority Pass Select Airport Lounge Access
– $100 Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
– No Foreign Transaction Fee
– Various Travel Insurance Benefits
– APR: 15.74% to 24.74% variable on purchases
– Great Credit Score Required (700+)
Featured Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Benefits
As you might expect, most of the card’s built-in benefits are Marriott-focused.
75,000 Bonvoy Points Signup Bonus
New cardmembers can earn a signup bonus of 75,000 Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
You can also earn up to $200 in statement credits for purchases at U.S. restaurants during the first 6 months.
Off-peak award nights start at 5,000 points making this welcome offer worth as much as 15 free nights. However, the bonus may only be worth one night at a high-end category 7 property.
Annual Free Night Award
Each card anniversary, you receive one free night certificate valid at participating properties requiring up to 50,000 Bonvoy points. Resort fees still apply, but you can still save up to $300 at popular destinations.
Unfortunately, you won’t receive this perk at account opening.
$300 Marriott Bonvoy Statement Credit
Cardholders get $300 in annual statement credits on Marriott purchases. These purchases also earn 6 Bonvoy points per $1.
$100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit
It’s also possible to get an annual $100 on-property credit on qualifying 2-night minimum stays at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis. You can redeem this benefit by booking a stay online or by phone call and requesting the special member rate.
Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
The primary card account receives automatic Gold Elite status. There are three higher loyalty tiers.
Some of the Gold Elite benefits include:
- Earn 25% bonus points on stays
- Enhanced room upgrade (when available)
- 2 p.m. late checkout (based on availability)
- Welcome gift of up to 500 points
- Enhanced in-room internet access
Having at least $75,000 in annual card purchases upgrades your loyalty status to Platinum Elite through the following calendar year. You can also accumulate 50 Elite Night Credits through Marriott stays to reach Platinum Elite.
15 Elite Night Credits
Each year, cardholders automatically receive 15 Elite Night Credits. These credits make it easier to qualify for a higher loyalty status.
Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders automatically qualify for Gold Elite status that usually requires 25-night credits. This 15-credit deposit means you only need 35 more credits to reach the next tier–Platinum Elite.
Bonus Tip: It’s possible to get 30 Elite Night Credits each year by also having a Marriott Bonvoy co-brand small business or consumer credit card with a smaller annual fee.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Consumer version with a $95 annual fee issued by Chase Bank.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business Card: For small business owners. It’s issued by American Express and has a $125 annual fee.
Earn up to 6x Bonvoy Points on Purchases
Each card purchase earns at least 2 Bonvoy points per $1 in card purchases:
- 6x points: Marriott Bonvoy purchases
- 3x points: Flights booked directly with airlines and dining purchases at U.S. restaurants (includes takeout and delivery)
- 2x points: Non-bonus purchases
You will earn unlimited points for each bonus category. International transactions don’t incur any foreign transaction fee.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Air Travel Benefits
This card has a few perks that can help frequent flyers avoid stress on future flights if you do not have another card with overlapping benefits. The Marriott hotel perks remain the best reason to apply for this card.
Priority Pass Lounge Access
The Priority Pass Select membership gives you complimentary access to one of the largest airport lounge networks with over 1,300 locations. You can bring up to two guests for free for each visit.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Fee Credit
Global Entry is the better option as you it includes the TSA PreCheck benefits. But if you only travel within the United States, TSA PreCheck lets you avoid the lengthy domestic airport security lines and less invasive screening process.
Both of these programs are unrelated to CLEAR, which can be another timesaver as you rush to the gate.
Frequent Flyer Miles Transfer Bonus
If you have a surplus of Bonvoy points but not enough frequent flyer miles to book your next flight, you can convert your hotel points to airline miles for over 40 frequent flyer programs.
Transferring at least 60,000 points at a time lets you receive a 5,000-mile transfer bonus. Most airlines have a 3:1 transfer ratio making 60,000 Bonvoy points worth 20,000 airline miles if you want to earn the 5,000 bonus miles.
Other Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Benefits
Several other consumer and travel benefits add additional value.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
There are zero foreign transaction fees on international purchases. Foreign purchases will also earn the corresponding number of Bonvoy points for the purchase rewards category.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
You can receive up to $10,000 per trip in trip cancellation and interruption insurance for qualifying non-refundable expenses for covered medical and weather reasons. The coverage limit is up to $20,000 in 12 months.
Trip Delay Insurance
When your trip incurs delays of at least six hours, you can receive up to $500 in total reimbursements for essential expenses. You can file up to two claims in 12 months.
Your lost, damage, or stolen carry-on and checked baggage can qualify for reimbursement on common carrier travel such as commercial air, rail, cruise, or bus.
For most cardholders, the coverage limit is $3,000 with a $2,000 maximum for checked bags. New York State residents are eligible for up to $2,000 per bag and up to $10,000 for all covered persons per trip.
Auto Rental Collision Damage Insurance
Free secondary coverage is available on most domestic and international car rentals for theft and collision damage. You will need to decline the rental agency’s collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage option.
The Vacationer Tip
With secondary coverage, you still need to file a claim with your personal auto insurance first.
The purchase protection benefits apply to eligible purchases for 90 days if an item is stolen, accidentally damaged, or lost. You can get up to $10,000 per purchase and $50,000 per calendar year in benefits.
It’s possible to get up to $300 per item ($1,000 per year maximum) in return protection on qualifying purchases. The seller must refuse to issue a refund within 90 days of the original purchase date.
Qualifying purchases with manufacturer’s warranties of five years or less can qualify for one extra year of warranty protection.
American Express offers curated one-time shopping offers to receive cash back at participating stores. The offers can be valid at physical or online stores.
Redeeming Marriott Bonvoy Points
As this is a co-brand Marriott Bonvoy rewards card, you will redeem all rewards through your Marriott Bonvoy account.
Here are the most valuable redemption options.
Hotel nights are the most valuable redemption value with over 7,000 participating properties.
On most redemptions, expect your points to be worth between 0.5 and 1.0 cents each, with an average of 0.8 cents. This is a competitive redemption value for hotel points.
Several factors determine the award night cost:
- Hotel category: There are eight hotel categories with category 8 being the most expensive. The majority of properties are between categories 3 and 5.
- Travel season: Reward nights have a variable pricing model based on the travel season and current demand. Rates can have off peak, standard, or peak night pricing.
- Multi-night discount: All Bonvoy members qualify for the “Stay for 5, pay for 4” benefit. You get the fifth night free when booking the first four nights with points.
- PointSavers: Select properties qualifying for a limited-time PointSavers rate for discounts up to 20%.
The cheapest award nights start at 5,000 points for an off-peak night at a category 1 property. The priciest nights can command as many as 100,000 points for peak season in a category 8 property.
In general, anticipate spending between 12,500-50,000 points per night.
Point redemptions start at 10,000 points for award flights, car rentals, and vacation packages.
Airline Transfer Program
You can convert Bonvoy points to most domestic and international frequent flyer programs. Most programs have a 3:1 transfer ratio (3,000 Bonvoy points equal 1,000 miles).
There are two ways to get more mileage from your hotel point transfers:
- United MileagePlus transfers get a 10% mileage bonus (3:1.1 ratio)
- Transferring at least 60,000 points at once deposits an extra 5,000 miles for any airline
Here is a review of the common card fees:
- Annual fee: $450 ($0 for secondary cards)
- Foreign transaction fee: 0%
- Introductory APR: None
- Purchase APR: 15.74% – 24.74% variable on purchases
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Compared to Similar Cards
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is one of the few premium hotel credit cards. While the card can be worth it if you stay at Marriott properties several times each year, other travel credit cards can be a better fit for your budget and rewards preferences.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless:
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless doesn’t pack as many features but it has a budget-friendly $95 annual fee.
Key benefits include:
- Free night award each card anniversary (35,000 points or less)
- Earn 6x Bonvoy points on Marriott purchases
- Earn 2x Bonvoy points on all non-bonus purchases
- Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status
- 15 Elite Night Credits each year
- No foreign transaction fee
This card can be a better option if you stay at Marriott properties infrequently or don’t want to pay a higher annual fee for the additional hotel and airline travel perks.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card:
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold card has no annual fee, which makes it great for infrequent Marriott guests.
Key benefits include:
- No annual fee
- No foreign transcation fee
- 15 Elite Night Credits each year
- Earn 3x Bonvoy points on Marriott purchases
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best overall travel credit cards as you can redeem Ultimate Rewards for flights, hotel nights, car rentals, and experiences. Its $95 annual is also appealing.
Travel benefits include:
- Earn a minimum of 2x Ultimate Rewards on travel purchases.
- Earns 3x points per dollar spent on dining.
- 25% redemption bonus on award travel bookings (1.25 cents each)
- 1:1 point transfers to airline and hotel loyalty programs (includes Marriott Bonvoy)
- Various travel insurance benefits
Chase Sapphire Reserve®:
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel credit card. It has several overlapping benefits as the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant but can be better for frequent flyers.
Core benefits include:
- Annual $300 travel statement credit
- Priority Pass Select membership
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
- Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection on-property benefits
- Earn up to 3x Ultimate Rewards on purchases
- 50% award travel redemption bonus (1.50 cents each)
- 1:1 point transfers to airlines and hotels
The annual fee is $550 for the primary card plus $75 per authorized user.
The Platinum Card® from American Express:
The Platinum Card from American Express is another premium card worth your consideration. While the annual fee is $695 for the primary card and a combined $175 for the first 3 additional cards, this product has numerous travel benefits.
Some of the best benefits include:
- Annual $200 airline fee credit
- Up to $200 in annual Uber rides and eats
- Annual $179 CLEAR credit
- $300 Equinox credit
- $200 hotel credit (for select prepaid bookings)
- Global Lounge Collection (i.e., Centurion, Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club networks)
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
- Fine Hotels & Resorts on-property amenities (average $550 value)
- Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
- Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status
- 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers (includes Marriott Bonvoy)
- Earn 5x Membership Rewards on qualifying flights and hotel purchases
While you won’t get Marriott Bonvoy purchase credits, the built-in Bonvoy benefits include Gold Elite loyalty status and 1:1 point transfers in 1,000-point increments.
The annual fee is $450 for the primary card and $0 for secondary cards.
No non-United States purchases are subject to a foreign transaction fee. The fee is 0% on all international purchases.
Cardmembers receive a free night award at each card anniversary. You can redeem this certificate at participating properties worth 50,000 points or less at Marriott.com.
The annual $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit reimburses the first $300 in Marriott credit card purchases. Qualifying expenses can include room reservations, room upgrades, and on-property spending.
The $100 property credit for select minimum 2-night stays at The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis properties.
Marriott Bonvoy purchases made directly from Marriott or the local hotel earn 6 Bonvoy points per $1. All other hotel reservations earn the base rate of 2 points per $1.
Flights you book directly from the airline earn 3 points per $1.
Dine-in, takeout, and delivery purchases at restaurants in the United States earn 3 points per $1. All dining purchases outside the United States earn 2 points per $1.
Hotel reward nights in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio are usually the most valuable way to redeem Bonvoy points.
The current signup bonus is 75,000 Bonvoy points after making $3,000 in purchases during the first 3 months.
You can also get up to $200 back in cash statement credits at U.S. restaurants during the first 6 months.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card requires good or excellent credit to qualify. You should apply with a minimum 700 credit score but a score above 720 means you’re more likely to get an instant approval decision.
Points only expire if your account has been inactive for 24 months. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, point expiration is paused until March 31, 2022.
Points are worth around 0.8 cents per point.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is a great option if you can utilize the various Marriott benefits regularly. Frequent flyers will have an easier time getting maximum value from this card but it can still be a good option if you only use it for hotel travel.
As this card has a $450 annual fee, more affordable travel credit cards let you redeem points for Marriott Bonvoy stays for the same value as flights and nights with other travel brands.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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