Advertiser Disclosure
X

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which MoneyCrashers.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they appear on category pages. MoneyCrashers.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers, although best efforts are made to include a comprehensive list of offers regardless of compensation. Advertiser partners include American Express, Chase, U.S. Bank, and Barclaycard, among others.

  • Date

By

Views

15.1K

Shares

27

Dig Deeper

Become a Money Crasher!
Join our community.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – Review

Views

15.1K

Shares

27
At a Glance
american express starwood preferred guest credit card
4.3 / 5
Rating

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

  • Welcome Offer: See rates and fees for current welcome offer information.
  • Annual Hotel Credit: Up to $300 in statement credits against qualifying purchases made at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • Rewards: 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 3 points per $1 spent on U.S. restaurants and on nights booked directly with airlines; 2 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. Redeem for free nights at participating hotels & resorts in over 100 countries with no blackout dates.
  • Benefits: Complimentary access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world for the primary cardholder and two ticketed guests through Priority Pass Select; One free night at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties (redemption level at or below 50,000 points per night); Complimentary Gold Elite Status; Upgrade to Platinum Elite Status with $75,000 in qualifying purchases in a calendar year; Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100 value).
  • Fees: No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Credit Needed: Excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is a hotel rewards credit card with a rewards program built for frequent guests at the Marriott hotel family’s 6,500-plus hotels and resorts. Benefits abound, but the headline is up to $300 in annual statement credits for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy® hotels. When fully exploited, this perk alone eats up about 67% of Brilliant’s $450 annual fee.

That’s not all. Every purchase made with this card earns Bonvoy points, Marriott’s loyalty program currency. You can redeem Bonvoy points for free nights and room upgrades at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties around the world.

The Bonvoy Brilliant card directly competes with other high-end hotel and travel rewards credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and The Platinum Card from American Express.

If you own your own business, consider applying for this card’s very similar business credit card alternative: Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.

Key Features

$300 Annual Statement Credit

Cardholders in good standing are eligible for up to $300 in statement credits to offset eligible purchases made at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and resorts.

Earning Bonvoy Points

The Bonvoy Brilliant Card earns 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties, with no caps or restrictions.

Purchases made at U.S. restaurants and on ?ights booked directly with airlines earn 3 points per $1 spent.

All other purchases earn an unlimited 2 Bonvoy points per $1 spent.

Redeeming Marriott Bonvoy Points

The best way to redeem accumulated Marriott Bonvoy points is for free hotel nights and room upgrades.

Free night redemption minimums start at 7,500 points for budget-friendly Category 1 hotels and rise to 85,000 points for high-end Category 8 hotels, though exact point requirements vary based on season and demand. You can also combine cash and points to accelerate your progress toward free room night redemptions.

Redemption values vary based on the cash price of the room or upgrade, as well as factors like season and demand, but can range as high as $0.025 (and even higher in rare cases). Check Marriott’s terms and conditions for up-to-date, location-specific award information.

Air and Car Redemptions

If you don’t want to redeem them at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties, you can use your accumulated Bonvoy points to redeem for airfare and car rental purchases with participating travel partners.

For a full list of redemption options, check out airandcar.marriott.com. Note that redemption ratios may vary by partner and are subject to change at any time.

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

As long as you remain a cardholder in good standing, you enjoy complimentary Gold Elite Status in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. Among other things, Gold Elite Status entitles you to:

  • Flexible checkout times
  • Complimentary room upgrades when available
  • 25% more Bonvoy point earnings on stays at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties.

Platinum Elite Status Upgrade

You qualify for a complimentary upgrade to Platinum Elite Status after making at least $75,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year. Platinum Elite benefits include:

  • 50% more Bonvoy point earnings on stays at participating properties
  • A welcome gift of your choice at check-in
  • Complimentary on-site lounge access where available
  • Enhanced room upgrades where available.

Elite Night Credit

For accounts opened after 1/1/19, you (the primary cardholder) will receive a maximum of 15 Elite Night credits for use in conjunction with paid stays toward higher status levels. Elite Night requirements as follows:

  • Silver Elite Status: 10 eligible nights (included with Bonvoy Brilliant cardmembership)
  • Gold Elite Status: 25 eligible nights (included with cardmembership)
  • Platinum Elite Status: 50 eligible nights (included with $75,000 qualifying spend in a calendar year)
  • Titanium Elite Status: 75 eligible nights
  • Ambassador Elite Status: 100 eligible nights

Complimentary Airport Lounge Access With Priority Pass Select

As a cardholder in good standing, you’re entitled to complimentary airport lounge access through the Priority Pass Select membership program.

Though lounge policies vary by location and are subject to change without warning, membership generally entitles the primary cardholder and two ticketed companions to complimentary access during permitted hours. Additional guests may be permitted for a discounted fee.

Annual Free Night Award

As long as your account remains open and in good standing, you’ll receive one free night award after your account anniversary. This award entitles you to a free night at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties with redemption levels at or below 50,000 points per night. Note that some resort properties charge resort fees that aren’t included in the free night award.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Fee Discount

You’re entitled to a statement credit once every four years against the full cost of the application fee for either Global Entry ($100 value, subject to change) or TSA PreCheck ($85 value, subject to change). Terms and conditions apply.

Free WiFi

As a Bonvoy Brilliant cardholder, you’re entitled to free premium in-room WiFi at all participating Bonvoy properties. You also get complimentary, unlimited access to more than 1 million Boingo WiFi hotspots worldwide, including at airports and train stations.

Additional Travel Benefits

The Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a number of other useful travel benefits not limited to Marriott Bonvoy properties:

  • Complimentary loss and damage coverage on rental cars paid for in full with the card
  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • 24/7 global assistance for travelers more than 100 miles from home
  • Accidental death and dismemberment insurance for traveling cardholders (a form of basic travel insurance)

General Benefits

This card’s non-travel benefits include:

  • 12-month extended warranties on all items purchased with original warranties of 5 years or less
  • Purchase protection for items stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase
  • Return protection (up to $300 per item) for returns rejected by the original merchant within 90 days of purchase

Important Fees

The annual fee is $450. There is no foreign transaction fee. Cash advances both cost the greater of $5 or 3%.

Credit Required

This card requires excellent credit.

Advantages

  1. Very Generous Annual Statement Credit. Bonvoy Brilliant has a very generous annual statement credit offer: up to $300 against eligible Marriott Bonvoy purchases. If you routinely spend on incidentals while staying at Marriott Bonvoy properties, you’ll have no trouble racking up $300 in eligible charges here. It bears mention that this credit alone is enough to offset two-thirds of the $450 annual fee.
  2. Complimentary Airport Lounge Access Through Priority Pass Select. Thanks to Priority Pass Select, primary cardholders and up to two ticketed companions enjoy complimentary access to hundreds of airport lounges worldwide. Policies vary by lounge, but this benefit is easily worth hundreds per year for frequent flyers who routinely pass through airports with participating lounges.
  3. Automatic Gold Elite Status. As long as you remain a cardholder in good standing, you’ll enjoy automatic Gold Elite Status with the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. The signature benefit is a 25% boost to base Bonvoy point earnings, getting you that much closer to free nights at participating properties.
  4. Potential to Earn Platinum Elite Status With Qualifying Spend. If you can manage to spend at least $75,000 in eligible purchases during a calendar year, you’ll qualify for an upgrade to Platinum Elite Status, which promises even more generous benefits than Gold Elite – including 50% faster base point earnings.
  5. Free Annual Award Night. You’re entitled to one free annual award night at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties with redemption levels at or below 50,000 points per night. Needless to say, this is a fantastic opportunity to splurge on a hotel or resort that you might otherwise overlook in favor of cheaper digs.
  6. Redeem for Airfare and Car Rentals. As a Bonvoy Brilliant cardholder, you can redeem your accumulated Bonvoy points with some of the world’s most popular airlines and car rental companies, including Delta and Hertz. Redemption rates vary, but it’s always nice to get a break on your out-of-pocket expenses.
  7. No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. That’s good news for international travelers who prefer the Marriott brand. Some competing cards aren’t so generous; foreign transaction fees range up to 3% on some other popular travel cards.
  8. Nice Fringe Benefits. This card has a nice lineup of fringe benefits, including free WiFi in every participating Marriott Bonvoy hotel room and at every Boingo hotspot worldwide. More bare-bones travel rewards cards don’t have these value-added perks.

Disadvantages

  1. High Annual Fee. The Bonvoy Brilliant card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee. If you don’t stay at Marriott properties often enough to offset this recurring levy, this card probably isn’t for you.
  2. Not Ideal for Cardholders Who Aren’t Fiercely Loyal to Marriott. This card is designed exclusively for frequent travelers who prefer to stay at Marriott when they’re on the road. If Marriott isn’t your favorite hospitality brand, or you simply prefer more choice, a general-purpose travel card like American Express Platinum might be more your speed.

Final Word

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offers generous point values, 1:1 points transfer to many frequent flyer programs, and some other attractive perks. As hotel rewards credit cards go, it’s pretty good.

At the same time, it can’t singlehandedly create Marriott Bonvoy properties in your preferred destinations. If you routinely visit cities or vacation destinations without any participating properties, a different hotel rewards card may be in order. However, if your travel patterns shift into Marriott’s orbits at some point in the future, this popular card will be waiting for you there.

Verdict
american express starwood preferred guest credit card
4.3 / 5
Rating

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is ideal for people who stay at Marriott Bonvoy properties often enough – and take advantage of sufficient card benefits – to offset the $450 annual fee.

This card is not a great option for people who don’t travel often, nor who prefer not to go all in with Marriott.

Benefits of this card include a $300 annual statement credit against eligible Marriott Bonvoy hotel purchases, complimentary airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select, complimentary Gold Elite Status with option to achieve Platinum Elite Status with qualifying spend, annual free night award, generous alternative redemption options, and free WiFi.

Drawbacks include the high annual fee and Marriott exclusivity.

Overall, this is a great card for well-heeled Marriott loyalists.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  • Next Up on
    Money Crashers

    Enabling Grown Adult Child

    How to Stop Enabling Your Grown Adult Child & Promote Financial Independence

    Parents spend twice as much on their adult children as they invest for retirement. Where do the financial obligations of parenting end? For many parents, it’s clearly not when Junior turns 18. As a parent, it’s up to you to draw boundaries and give your adult child the push they need to become an independent grown-up. Here’s how you can wean your adult child off the Bank of Mom and Dad and get your own finances back on track.
    Timing The Market Stop Watch

    8 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Try to Time the Market – What to Do...

    Everyone feels the temptation to try to time the market - the stock market, the housing market, any market. It's human nature to try...

    Popular on
    Money Crashers

    Sign Up For Our Newsletter

    See why 218,388 people subscribe to our newsletter.

    What Do You Want To Do
    With Your Money?

    Make
    Money

    Explore

    Protect
    Money

    Explore

    Save
    Money

    Explore

    Borrow
    Money

    Explore

    Manage
    Money

    Explore

    Invest
    Money

    Explore