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 such as 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
Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months
6X points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3X points at worldwide restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases
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.
|Credit card issuer||American Express|
|Annual fee||$650 (Terms apply)|
|Intro bonus||Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months|
|Rewards rate||6X points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3X points at worldwide 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|
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card benefits & perks
- Generous welcome offer: Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months.
- $300 Marriott credit: At card renewal each year, receive up to $300 in statement credits (up to $25 per month) for eligible spending at restaurants worldwide.
- Annual free night award: Each year after your card renewal month, you will earn a free night worth up to 85,000 points. To get the best value out of this award, be sure to save it for a more luxurious property. Resort fees may apply.
- Automatic Platinum Elite status: With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card, you receive complimentary Platinum Elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy program. Platinum Elite status comes with several perks, including room upgrades when available, free breakfast, lounge access, a dedicated reservation line for Elite members, and late checkout when available. Platinum Elite members can also earn 50% more points for each eligible purchase at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
- Elite Night Credits: Receive 25 Elite Night Credits each year to help you on your way to higher elite status levels.
- 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 $650. 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: $1056.00
Year two earnings: $106.00
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. For that reason, even though our number is negative for year two, you could actually be getting a lot of value out of this card if you use all the benefits available.
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 95,000 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.
|Hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program||6X|
|Worldwide 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 a hotel room with taxes and fees divided by the 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
- 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® Credit Card 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 can earn up to 14X points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy; 2X points on other travel purchases; and 1X points per $1 on everything else. In addition, you can earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Read our Marriott Bonvoy Bold review.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.
Luxury Hotel Benefits
Why We Like It
Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months
See how these cards compare:
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
- Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- 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® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- 5X points on travel purchased 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