Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Review [2021]: Valuable Rewards and a Free Night Each Year

Earn awesome rewards each year with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, including a free night award and $300 Marriott credit.
Last updated Oct 11, 2021 | By Brett Holzhauer

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Staying at luxury hotels and getting free upgrades to beautiful suites may be a dream of yours, but is it possible without earning status by traveling frequently? With a card like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, you can get the luxury experience you want without earning hotel status the old-fashioned way.

Hotel status is highly emphasized by hotel properties, and they want to make sure their loyal customers are given the best treatment possible. And that is where the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card can serve you well on your next hotel stay.

In this article, I'll discuss the outstanding features of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card. This card has a long list of perks, and these perks can make your next Marriott stay even better.

Luxury Hotel Benefits + Limited Time Offer

Intro Offer

150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus Free Night Award

Annual Fee

$450

Rewards Rate

up to 6X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 150,000 bonus points and a bonus Free Night Award (limited time offer)
  • 6X points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Annual fee
  • No introductory APR offer
Card Details
  • Earn 150,000 points and a bonus Free Night Award after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months (limited time offer, resort fees may apply)
  • 6X points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

In this Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card review

Who should get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card?

If you frequently visit Marriott properties, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card could be one of the best credit cards for you.

The card does have a relatively high annual fee, but much of the annual fee can be recovered by taking advantage of the many perks such as the Marriott property credit or free night award.

Also, if you are just beginning to travel more for either work or pleasure, this card can serve you well. With the TSA PreCheck Global Entry credit, you might be able to zoom through security and get to your flight much quicker.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Credit card issuer American Express
Annual fee $450 (See rates and fees) (terms apply)    
Intro bonus Earn 150,000 points and a bonus Free Night Award after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months (limited time offer, resort fees may apply)
Rewards rate 6X points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee None (See rates and fees)

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card benefits & perks

  • Generous welcome offer: Earn 150,000 points and a bonus Free Night Award after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months (limited time offer, resort fees may apply).
  • $300 Marriott credit: Each cardmember year, you will receive $300 in credit for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. To use this credit, you can charge any incidentals such as restaurant or spa packages to your room, and then use your card to pay the room balance. If you are visiting the hotel restaurant or spa but not staying in a room, simply use the card to pay your bill.
  • Annual free night award: Each year on your account anniversary, you will earn a free night. To get the best value out of this award, be sure to save it for a more luxurious property. Resort fees may apply.
  • Automatic Gold Elite status: With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card, you receive complimentary Gold Elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy program. Gold Elite status comes with several perks, including room upgrades when available, enhanced internet speeds, a dedicated reservation line for Elite members, and late checkout when available.
  • Priority Pass lounge access: With this card, you get a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership and access to over 1,200 airport lounges around the world.
  • $100 TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit: No one enjoys going through airport security. However, you can sign up for expedited airport security programs. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express will reimburse you up to $100 when you enroll in either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
  • Baggage insurance: You and your immediate family receive up to $3,000 per covered trip for lost, damaged, or stolen luggage.
  • Car rental coverage: Cardmembers receive secondary car rental insurance for loss or damage to a covered vehicle.
  • Extended warranty: Receive up to one year of extended warranty coverage beyond the manufacturer's warranty for qualifying purchases.

  • Purchase protection: Get 90 days of purchase protection on covered items, up to $10,000 per claim or $50,000 per calendar year.

  • Note: Select benefits require enrollment

Drawbacks of this card

  • Has annual fee: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card has a relatively high annual fee of $450. This could make it cost-prohibitive for cardholders who aren't able to take full advantage of card benefits.
  • Low point value: In general, Marriott points are valued at around 1 cent apiece. While this card does offer a generous earnings rate, you might be able to get a higher point value with another card. For instance, with a travel card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when you use them to book trips through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program portal. 

Earning & redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points

Potential earnings in year one

Here's a look at how your points can add up with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 1 cent.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $1,756

Year two earnings: $256

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model which takes a look at points earned via spending, the welcome bonus, and the annual fee.

Note that the values above only account for general travel spending, not the 6X bonus points you'll earn at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. They also don't account for the value of the statement credits or free night award. If you factor these in, you could get hundreds of dollars more in value from this card.

Best ways to earn

Thanks to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant’s generous rewards structure, there are a few ways to rack up major points with this card. First, you can earn 150,000 after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months. The bonus offer alone can go a long way towards a free hotel stay.

Beyond that, the best way to maximize your points is to book hotel stays at Marriott properties with your Bonvoy Brilliant card. This card offers a whopping 6X points on hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. If you dine out or book flights frequently, you can also earn 3X points by using your Bonvoy Brilliant card. All other eligible purchases will net you 2X points.

Categories Rewards rate
Hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program 6X
U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines 3X
All other eligible purchases 2X

Maximizing your redemptions

Earning Marriott Bonvoy points is half the battle, but the other half is using them well. It can be tempting to assume that a free hotel room is a great redemption, but there is a bit more to the formula.

Just like the dollars in your wallet, your Marriott Bonvoy points also have a set value. While Marriott doesn’t reveal the “true” value of their points, many credit card rewards experts estimate that Marriott Bonvoy are valued at 1 cent per point. With that in mind, you should aim to get that value when using your points for hotel stays.

To calculate a hotel room’s value, simply use this formula: (Cash price of hotel room with taxes and fees / number of points needed). If the number you end up with is near or above 1 cent per point, it could be a great opportunity to use your points. If it is significantly lower than 1 cent per point, you may be better off saving your points for another time.

In fact, you may want to consider hotel booking sites such as Expedia or Hotels.com to see if their rates are significantly lower. Remember that paying cash isn’t always the worst-case scenario if you want to maximize your points.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card transfer partners

The Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program has 40 airline partners, giving you some flexibility with how you redeem your rewards. But there's one important thing to be aware of: Bonvoy points typically transfer at a 3:1 ratio to airline partners. This isn't necessarily the most valuable redemption option, so that's something to think about as you're planning future trips. 

If you're interested in using your Bonvoy points to offset the cost of airfare, you can transfer them to the following partners:

  • AEGEAN Miles+Bonus
  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Aeroflot Bonus
  • Aeromexico ClubPremier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints
  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia
  • American Airlines AAdvantage
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • Asiana Airlines Asiana Club
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Copa Airlines ConnectMiles
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • FRONTIER Miles
  • Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus
  • InterMiles
  • Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass
  • Multiplus Fidelidade
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Saudia Alfursan
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Vueling Club

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card FAQs

Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card worth it?

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express could be one of the best hotel credit cards for someone who visits Marriott hotels frequently. With perks such as a $300 annual credit at Marriott Bonvoy properties, one free night each year, and complimentary airport lounge access, it's a good deal.

What credit score do you need for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card?

You will need good to excellent credit to qualify for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card.

Does the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant have a foreign transaction fee?

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant does not have a foreign transaction fee. If you are outside the United States, don’t hesitate to pull this card out of your wallet to continue earning Marriott Bonvoy points.

What are the Marriott Bonvoy levels?

The Marriott Bonvoy program levels are as follows: General member, Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite, and Ambassador Elite. From here, it escalated into Lifetime status. The Lifetime status levels are: Lifetime Silver Elite, Lifetime Gold Elite, and Lifetime Platinum Elite.

Which brands are in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio?

Marriot has several brands in its portfolio, including but not limited to The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, and Rennaissance Hotels.

Other cards to consider

If the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card isn’t the best fit for you, there’s no need to worry. Other credit cards may be better suited for your needs.

If you're a Marriott loyalist, but a large annual fee isn’t suitable, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold could be a great alternative. The card comes with a $0 annual fee, but you can still earn valuable points. With the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card, you will get 14X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status); 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; and 1X points per $1 on everything else. In addition, you can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Read our Marriott Bonvoy Bold review.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for frequent travelers who want to earn flexible rewards that can be used in several ways. You can give your points balance a boost with the sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

Luxury Hotel Benefits + Limited Time Offer

Special Offer

Earn 150,000 points and a bonus Free Night Award after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months (limited time offer, resort fees may apply)

See rates and fees

See how these cards compare:

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus offer
  • Up to 14X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% anniversary point bonus each year
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Author Details

Brett Holzhauer Brett Holzhauer is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. He writes about using points & miles for travel, travel industry news, utilizing credit cards as financial leverage, and investing for the future. He has been featured in publications such as The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets, The Money Manual, Recruiter, Travel Pulse, and Bald Thoughts. He is a full-time digital nomad with his wife, Kiersten.