Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Review: Valuable Rewards and a Free Night Each Year [2020]

Earn awesome rewards each year with this card, including a free night award and $300 Marriott credit.
Last updated Jan 16, 2020 | By Brett Holzhauer

FinanceBuzz is reader-supported. We may receive compensation when you click links to products or services mentioned in this story. The opinions and recommendations are the author's own and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Learn more about how we make money.

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 will 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

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

Benefits

  • 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy point welcome offer
  • 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Annual fee


Who should get this card?

If you frequently visit Marriott properties, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is a great option 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 will be able to zoom through security and get to your flight much quicker.

Card basics

Annual Fee $450
Intro Bonus Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months
Recommended Credit Score Excellent, Good
Foreign Transaction Fee None

Top card benefits

  • Generous welcome offer: After you approved for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, you can earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • $300 Marriott credit: Each calendar 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.
  • Free night award: For each year you renew the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card, you will earn a free night at any Marriott property that is under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. To get the best value out of this award, be sure to save it for a more luxurious property.
  • Complimentary 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 Select: With this card, you will get access to over 1,200 Priority Pass 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 give you up to $100 to enroll in either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Earning & redeeming

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 75,000 after spending $3,000 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. You can earn a whopping 6X points on participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. 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
participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels 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 points value is 0.8 cents 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 0.8 cents per point, it could be a great opportunity to use your points. If it is significantly lower than 0.8 cents 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.

Common questions about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card

Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card worth it?

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express is a great hotel credit card for someone who visits Marriott hotels frequently. With perks such as a $300 annual credit at Marriott properties and one free night each year, it is 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.

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 a large annual fee isn’t suitable, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold is 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 3X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; 1X points per $1 on everything else. In addition, you can earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card is a great card for someone that wants to earn flexible rewards that can be used in a variety of ways. When you use your Capital One Venture Rewards Card, you will earn 2X per dollar on every purchase, every day. With this flexible card, you never have to track any pesky categories; simply swipe and earn. You can get your points balance a boost by earning the sign-up bonus. You can earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Luxury Hotel Benefits

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

Special Offer

Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months

See how these cards compare:

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus offer
  • 3X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • 50,000 bonus mile welcome offer
  • 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fees

Advertising Policy

FinanceBuzz.com is an independent, advertising-supported website. Some of the offers that appear on this page are from third party advertisers from which FinanceBuzz.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear).

FinanceBuzz.com does not include all financial or credit offers that might be available to consumers in the marketplace. FinanceBuzz.com does not include all companies or all available products.

FinanceBuzz has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. FinanceBuzz and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone.