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Cardholders earn 18.5X points per dollar at Marriott Bonvoy hotels and resorts – 6X from the card, and 12.5X from being a Marriott Gold Elite member. 3X points are awarded at restaurants and for airfare purchased from airlines, with 2X points for every other purchase.
You can earn 75,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, an excellent welcome bonus but pretty typical for expensive cards like this. Take note that you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus if you’ve had other Marriott co-branded cards in the past.
There are quite a few valuable perks, including a $300 hotel credit, Priority Pass Select membership (though it excludes non-lounge experiences, like restaurants), a Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary, and an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card costs $450 per year, so it’s not for every casual traveler. There are no foreign transaction fees.
There are currently four cards in the Marriott Bonvoy card family, with three designed for personal use and one for business:
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card||$0||
|Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (Review)||$125||
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (This review)||$450||
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (Review)||$95||
Should you book your next hotel room with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card? It might provide the best value, although there are some other cards to consider.
We give the Bonvoy Brilliant card 5 out of 5 Stars for being a premium hotel card, with high spending rewards and cost-saving extra benefits.
The Bonvoy Brilliant card is a good choice for anyone who stays at Marriott Bonvoy hotels frequently. But if you prefer other hotel brands, or tend to stay at a variety of hotels, you might want to check out some alternative cards.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders can earn a cash back equivalent of about 18.5–37% at Marriott Bonvoy properties, depending on the redemption point value. A 3–6% cash back equivalent can be earned for flights and at restaurants, with 2–4% back everywhere else.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
You’ll earn points in two different ways when you spend money at hotels: from the Bonvoy Brilliant card itself, and from your Marriott member status.
This card provides 6X Bonus points at Marriott Bonvoy properties, and your member status will provide 12.5X Base points at most properties (there are some exceptions, given below). 10X Base points per dollar are awarded for normal members, but as a Bonvoy Brilliant cardholder you’ll get Gold Elite status, which comes with a 25% point bonus. If you raise your member status higher than that you’ll get a bigger bonus.
There are many ways to redeem your points, and the overall value you earn will depend on how much you get per point.
If you assume a value of 0.8–2 cents per point, which is about the range you’ll find, that will give you a cash back equivalent of 18.5–37% at Marriott Bonvoy properties. Purchases in the 3X categories will get a 3–6% cash back equivalent, while other purchases get 2–4% back.
Take note that you will not be eligible for the welcome bonus offer if you’ve had other Marriott Bonvoy co-branded cards at certain times. You will not be eligible if:
This restriction exists because Marriott now has quite a few co-branded credit card offers, and it wants to prevent people from gaming the system and getting tons of bonus points.
Most properties within the Marriott Bonvoy brand portfolio provide 10X Base points per dollar, but there are a few exceptions.
|10X Base Points|
|AC Hotels®||Aloft®||Autograph Collection® Hotels|
|Courtyard®||Delta Hotels®||Design Hotels™|
|EDITION®||Fairfield by Marriott®||Four Points®|
|Gaylord Hotels®||JW Marriott®||Le Méridien®|
|Marriott Hotels®||Marriott Vacation Club®||Moxy® Hotels|
|Protea Hotels®||Renaissance® Hotels||Sheraton®|
|SpringHill Suites®||St. Regis®||The Luxury Collection®|
|The Ritz-Carlton®||Tribute Portfolio®||W® Hotels|
|5X Base Points|
|Residence Inn®||TownePlace Suites®||Element®|
|2.5X Base Points|
|Marriott Executive Apartments®||ExecuStay®|
The points you earn will have different values depending on how you redeem them.
You may be overwhelmed by all the different redemption options available with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. But you can simplify the situation by focusing on hotel reservations, which will generally give you the highest value per point.
The redemption options include:
Hotel reservations of some kind are usually your best bet, but there are quite a few different ways to use your points at hotels:
The higher the hotel category, the more points required for a night’s stay.
|Hotel Category||Standard Requirement||Off-Peak (coming 2019)||Peak (coming 2019)|
|8 (coming 2019)||85,000||70,000||100,000|
You can browse the full list of 6,700 Marriott Bonvoy properties, including their categories and point requirements.
In general, you can expect to get a better value for your points when redeeming at either low or high category hotels. If you’re willing to scrape the bottom of the barrel or splurge on a room, you’ll often end up getting a better deal. The middle categories tend to give the worst redemption values.
We’ll go over two of the most valuable hotel redemption options: PointSavers reservations and fifth night free on award stays.
PointSavers reservations are probably the best option for most people because you’ll get a discount of 1,500 to 10,000 points, depending on the hotel category.
This means you’ll get a better value per point, compared to standard reservations. You may not always find a PointSavers option when traveling, but they’re worth looking for when booking rooms.
The redemption requirements for PointSavers reservations are as follows:
|Hotel Category||PointSavers Requirement||Off-Peak (coming 2019)||Peak (coming 2019)|
|8 (coming 2019)||80,000||65,000||90,000|
So, what does a PointSavers reservation look like?
Let’s say you want to reserve a room at the Aloft Cleveland Airport, in Ohio. This is a category 1 hotel, so a night would usually cost 7,500 points. But if you find a PointSavers deal you can book a room for just 6,000 points.
That same room would normally cost $123 for non-Marriott members, after taxes and fees. What are your points worth in this example?
|Reservation Type||Cash Price||Points Required||Point Value (cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
In this case you’d be getting 2.05 cents per point, which is an excellent value. The cash back equivalents above assume you’re making purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, earning 18.5X points per dollar (6X points from the card and 12.5X points from Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status).
This is probably one of the highest valuations you’re likely to find for Marriott points, and that’s because we’re looking at a category 1 hotel. You may find similar point values with hotels in the highest categories, although those will obviously require many more points to book.
You’ll get your fifth night for free when redeeming points for five nights or more. You must book at least five award nights to get the fifth free. If you book ten nights, you’ll get the fifth and tenth nights free.
You only need enough points to book four nights — when you book five or more nights with points, one night will be discounted automatically. Only standard room reservations are eligible for this offer.
Let’s use two hotels for this example:
Category 4 hotels require 25,000 points per night, so five nights would require a total of 100,000 points (because you only need enough points for four nights). And category 7 hotels require 60,000 points per night, so you’d need 240,000 points to book five nights.
We’ll use standard room prices for non-Marriott members to calculate the point values for five nights, after taxes and fees.
|Hotel||Cash Price||Points Required||Point Value (cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Courtyard Lake Placid (Cat 4)||$871.35||100,000||0.87||16.10%|
|JW Marriott Nashville (Cat 7)||$2,196.50||240,000||0.92||17.02%|
These point values are not bad, probably around the average you can expect. Keep in mind that the hotel category, location, and time of year will all play a role in determining the value of your points when redeeming.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has a $450 annual fee, so you should make sure to get more out of the card than you put into it.
Each year you’ll get a $300 hotel credit, good for Marriott Bonvoy hotel stays. This reduces the effective annual fee down to just $150, which should be pretty reasonable for anyone who stays with these hotel brands frequently.
So, how much would you need to spend to earn $150 in points? The answer depends on what you buy, and how you redeem your points.
Here’s how much you’ll need to spend at several different point values (CPP = cents per point). We’ll assume you’re spending at Marriott Bonvoy properties, earning 18.5X points per dollar (6X points from the card and 12.5X points from Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status).
|Earn Rate||0.8 CPP||1 CPP||1.5 CPP||2 CPP|
|18.5X points per dollar||$1,014||$811||$541||$406|
If you can manage to get 2 cents per point, you’ll only need to spend $406 per year to offset the remaining $150. But that uses a relatively high redemption rate, which you’ll probably only find using PointSavers redemptions at lower category hotels. Your mileage will vary depending on where and when you redeem points.
Keep in mind that we didn’t include any of the other cost-saving benefits in these calculations, which can go a long way towards offsetting the annual fee.
You’ll get a Free Night Award every year after your cardmember anniversary, with a redemption value of 50,000 points — that will get you a room in a category 6 hotel, which could be worth over $500, depending on where you use it.
Cardholders also get complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, providing free access to airport lounges (but not restaurants or other non-lounge experiences) all over the world. Gold Elite status with Marriott is automatic, which includes more intangible benefits like late check-out and welcome gifts. And there’s a fee credit for the application for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, worth up to $25 per year.
So, if you make good use of the card benefits, you could potentially offset the annual fee without any actual spending after the first year, using your annual Free Night Award.
Each cardmember year, you’ll get up to $300 in statement credits for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy properties, including room reservations.
You must pay with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card to get the credits. Any incidental expenses must be charged to your room, and then paid for using the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card.
Statement credits will take eight to 12 weeks to post to your account.
You’ll get one Free Night Award every year after your card membership anniversary, after paying the annual fee and renewing your Bonvoy Brilliant card. That means you’ll need to wait a full year before getting your first free night.
The Free Night Award will show up in your loyalty member account eight to 12 weeks after your acccount anniversary, as an e-certificate. You’ll also receive an email confirmation.
Free Night Awards are good for stays with redemptions levels of 50,000 points or less. That will get you a room in a hotel up to category 6. You can check the Free Night Award Chart to see the redemption requirements for each property.
You can use your Free Night Awards by applying the e-certificate while booking rooms. Each Free Night Award e-certificate will expire one year after being issued.
Free nights are commonly awarded with premium hotel cards, although you don’t always have to wait a full year. The Hilton Honors Aspire card, for example, offers a free night every year but it’s only good for weekend stays. You also have a chance to earn an extra free night per year by spending $60,000 with that card.
Beginning March 28, 2019, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders can earn up to $100 in property credits per stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis by booking at least two nights direct using a special rate code.
These credits can only be used to cover incidentals, but they make it easy to shave a bit off your bill with either of the aforementioned luxury hotel brands.
Unfortunately, the Priority Pass Select membership available through this card excludes non-lounge experiences, like credits for restaurants, bars, and cafes. The good news is that most other cards that provide Priority Pass perks still include these benefits.
You must manually enroll in this benefit, after which you’ll receive a Priority Pass Select membership card.
Authorized users of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card do not get their own Priority Pass memberships.
Premium travel cards like this usually offer some form of airport lounge access. The most common is this Priority Pass Select membership, but there is some variety. Airline credit cards sometimes offer access to their branded lounges, while the The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) is the best overall, providing wide-ranging access to a variety of lounges.
Cardholders will receive a statement credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre✓ ($85).
You must pay with the Bovnoy Brilliant card, and whichever program you apply to first will get the credit. The statement credit will be given whether you’re approved or not.
This credit is available once every four years. That means you’re getting a yearly value of up to $25, assuming you apply for Global Entry.
Many high-end travel cards provide this credit, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review). But out of all the Marriott Bonvoy co-branded cards currently available, this is the only one that provides an application fee credit.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders get complimentary Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy, which comes with a variety of perks.
Gold Elite is two steps above the basic Member status, and includes:
These benefits can definitely enhance your stays, although you’re only getting a mid-range member status. This is a bit disappointing compared to some other cards. The Hilton Honors Aspire, another $450-per-year card, provides Diamond status with Hilton, the highest member level.
Spend $75,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card to earn Platinum Elite member status with Marriott Bonvoy.
This upgrade will last for the remainder of the current year and also the subsequent year.
Platinum Elite perks include:
Each year you’ll get 15 Elite Night credits towards a higher member status.
Your card account must be linked to your active Marriott Loyalty Program account to get the credits. You can only get a maximum of 15 Elite Night credits per year from credit cards, even if you have other cards that provide this benefit, like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card or Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card.
Each member status level requires a certain number of Elite Nights in a given calendar year:
|Membership Status||Elite Nights Required|
Since Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders get automatic Gold Elite status, these Elite Night credits will count towards Platinum Elite status. Take note that automatic Gold status does not reduce the requirement for Platinum Elite status. You’ll just get 15 Elite Night credits per year, which leaves you with 60 nights required to reach Platinum Elite status.
You can transfer your points to over 40 airline loyalty programs, where you may find a better value for them.
Marriott will add 15,000 bonus points for every 60,000 points you transfer. So if you transfer 60,000 points you’ll get credit for transferring 75,000. If you transfer 120,000 points you’ll get credit for transferring 150,000, etc.
Most transfers are at a 3:1 rate (3 Marriott Bonvoy points for 1 airline point or mile), although some are a bit different. You can transfer 3,000–240,000 points per day.
Some of the participating airline loyalty programs include:
|Marriott Bonvoy Airline Transfer Partners (partial list)|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||American Airlines|
|British Airways Executive Club||Delta SkyMiles||Emirates Skywards||Etihad Guest|
|Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns||JetBlue TrueBlue||Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||United MileagePlus|
Cardholders get complimentary access to over one million land-based Boingo WiFi hotspots around the world. Up to four devices can be connected at once.
You must register for the Boingo American Express Plan and authenticate your Amex card before you’ll have access to this service.
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|17.74%–26.74% Variable||17.74%–26.74% Variable||27.24% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$450||None||3%, $5 minimum||5%, $10 minimum|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|29.99% Variable||Up to $39||Up to $39|
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has a lot of fancy features but the terms and fees are very simple, like most credit cards.
You’ll pay a $450 annual fee for the privilege of using this card. But as we saw above you can offset that fee with as little as $406 in spending at Marriott Bonvoy properties, assuming you get a very good redemption value and make use of your $300 hotel credit.
There are no foreign transaction fees, which is expected for travel cards (especially expensive travel cards like this).
There is no specific minimum or maximum credit limit for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant. Your credit line will be based on your overall creditworthiness, including your credit scores and other finances (especially income).
You can request a credit limit increase from American Express whenever you’d like. If you want higher limits we recommend requesting an increase once every six to 12 months or so.
|Amex Customer Support||1-800-528-4800|
As a Bonvoy Brilliant cardholder you’ll have customer support from American Express and Marriott Bonvoy. Generally, if you have a question about earning or using your points you should call Marriott. Contact American Express for other issues with your card.
American Express is known for having excellent customer service compared to the other major credit card issuers. Each year J.D. Power publishes its Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, ranking all the card issuers by several criteria. In 2018, American Express came in second out of 11 issuers, earning 4 out of 5 points in the “Interaction” category, which includes customer support experiences. That gives them a “Better Than Most” rating by J.D. Power.
Occasionally we’ve had some trouble when contacting Amex with questions. Sometimes the reps don’t seem to quite understand, and it might take a few moments to get the point across. But in general we’ve been able to get the answers we need, even if we had to be transferred around a bit.
|Amex Twitter Customer Support||@AskAmex|
As an Amex cardholder you can reach out to customer support through the live web chat, which will pop up after you log in to your account. The customer service reps you’ll speak with have access to your account, so you can ask them questions about anything.
Anyone can contact Amex at its Twitter customer support handle, @AskAmex. Be sure not to give any personal or account information out on Twitter or other social networks.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card is your high-end option for Marriott Bonvoy stays, and if you spend a lot of money with these hotel brands it should be a strong contender.
You’ll be getting 6X more bonus points per dollar than a normal Marriott member, plus the status boost to Gold Elite for 12.5X more points per dollar. You may want to consider a different rewards card for other purchases to get a better value, although the 3X rate for airfare and at restaurants is pretty good too.
The $300 travel credit goes a long way towards offsetting the $450 annual fee. And when you consider the Free Night Award and other perks, like airport lounge access, you may conclude that the fee is actually on the cheap side.
There are some other cards designed for Marriott Bonvoy spending, along with cards that are co-branded with other hotel chains. And then there are general travel cards you can use with any hotel brand, and with airlines too. Check out some of those alternatives to the Bonvoy Brilliant card below.
Click the “Apply Now” button below to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card. American Express will typically check your credit reports from the three bureaus.
Most applicants will get an instant decision, although in some cases it can take longer. American Express may request more information to process the application, like income verification.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (Review) is another option for spending at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, but this card is issued by Chase instead of American Express. It’s also much less expensive than the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card at just $95.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless provides complimentary Silver Elite status, rather than Gold Elite like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. So you’ll earn slightly fewer Base points at Marriott Bonvoy properties, although it doesn’t come out to a huge difference.
Take note that you won’t be eligible for this card’s introductory bonus if you’ve had any other Marriott co-branded cards recently, similar to the restrictions on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card given above.
You won’t get all the cost-saving perks of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, but the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature does have a few nice benefits that travelers can take advantage of.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless has a $95 annual fee. There are no foreign transaction fees.
So it’s less expensive than the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, which could make it better for people who don’t travel as much. But remember that the annual travel credit and Free Night Award can go a long way towards offsetting the Bonvoy Brilliant card’s fee, with the potential to completely nullify it.
Read more in our Review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase
The Hilton Honors Aspire Card is the premium travel rewards card for Hilton hotels, with top-notch spending rewards and benefits. If you prefer Hilton properties to those in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio, this might be the card for you.
This card is issued by American Express, like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, so some of the features will be similar.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
You can see that you’ll be earning a massive number of points at Hilton properties — 34X per dollar! But take note that Hilton points aren’t typically as valuable as those in the Marriott Bonvoy program, and you may be lucky to get 1 cent per point when redeeming.
Even so, you’ll be getting a 13.6–34% cash back equivalent at Hilton with this card, assuming 0.4–1 cent per point. That’s a bit less than the range you’ll be getting with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, but still a good rate.
The Aspire card’s 7X category is similar to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s 3X category, except that it also includes car rentals.
The Hilton Honors Aspire card has some excellent benefits which make the $450 annual fee seem not so high after all.
You automatically get the highest possible member status with Hilton, whereas the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card only gives you Gold with Marriott, a medium-level status. There’s also more potential value from travel credits, and you don’t have to wait a full year before getting your free night award.
The Aspire card has terms and fees that are the same as the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, where it really counts: a $450 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
These cards are similar in many ways, with the main difference being where they provide their rewards and benefits. If you’re wondering which would be right for you, ask yourself which hotel brands you tend to spend the most money and time with.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) is a high-end general travel rewards card, earning points for a range of travel expenses, including any hotel or airline. Unlike the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, the Reserve has a $550 annual fee, and most of the perks are different.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
Take note that you’ll only start earning 3X points on travel purchases after you use up the full $300 travel credit every year. So once you spend $300 on travel expenses you’ll get the credit, and then will earn 3X points for travel going forward.
The Ultimate Rewards (UR) points you earn can be redeemed in several different ways, much like the points you earn with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card.
UR points are normally worth 1 cent each, or even less in some cases. But they can be redeemed through Ultimate Rewards for travel expenses for a 50% bonus, which would make them worth 1.5 cents each.
That would give you a 4.5% cash back equivalent on travel and dining, with 1.5% back for other purchases.
But the Sapphire Reserve also lets you transfer your points to a variety of airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 rate (Marriott Bonvoy is actually included among the partners). That means you could get an even better value for your points, as much as 2 cents per point or perhaps more.
At 2 cents per point you’d be earning a 6% cash back equivalent on travel and dining, with 2% back for every other purchase.
This rewards program is much more flexible than the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s. You won’t be limited to just Marriott Bonvoy hotels for the best earn rates. Instead you’ll be free to spend at any hotel, airline, car rental, travel agency, and parking garage, among other travel-related merchants.
The Sapphire Reserve has an excellent travel credit, which can be applied to many different types of purchases. You won’t be limited to hotel spending like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. Cardholders also get the same Priority Pass Select access, and the Global Entry/TSA Pre✓ credit.
Despite the other differences, the terms and fees of the Sapphire Reserve are very much like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card.
It costs $550 per year, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
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