Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Review

overall rating
3.7

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The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card is designed for travelers who are partial to the Marriott brand and want to enjoy premium credit card perks. This card offers 6 points per dollar on Marriott hotel stays, along with the opportunity to earn tiered rewards on flights booked directly with airlines, U.S.restaurants, and all other purchases. The $450 annual fee can be partially justified by a $300 annual statement credit for eligible Marriott purchases.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Overall Rating
3.7
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
On American Express' Secured Site.
Current Offer

Earn up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 1/13/2021.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $450
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points everywhere else.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

Currently rated one of our

Full Review of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

Pros
  • Good all around for travel but most rewarding on Marriott purchases

  • Annual statement credits and Marriott Bonvoy property credits

  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status

Cons
  • No introductory APR for purchases or balance transfers

  • Annual fee at the higher end of what many travel cards charge

  • Only 2 points per dollar at hotels other than Marriott

Pros Explained

  • Good all Around for Travel but Most Rewarding on Marriott Purchases: As a co-branded hotel rewards card, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card is most rewarding when you book Marriott hotel and resort stays. But its rewards structure also makes it suitable for charging other travel purchases, such as airfare and dining, and earning an above-average rewards rate.
  • Annual Statement Credits and Marriott Bonvoy Property Credits: This card features two nice incentives in the form of a $300 annual statement credit and a $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit. The annual statement credit of up to $300 can be earned on eligible Marriott Bonvoy hotel purchases each reward year, which begins at the date of account opening. The $100 property credit can be earned by charging qualifying purchases, such as room service or spa treatments, at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotels.
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status: Another valuable benefit is automatic Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. Some of the advantages of Gold Elite status are a 25% Marriott Bonvoy points bonus on eligible stays, enhanced room upgrades, and 2 p.m. late checkout.

Cons Explained

  • No Introductory APR for Purchases or Balance Transfers: Some travel rewards cards offer an introductory 0% APR to make initial purchases or balance transfers more affordable. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card isn't one of them, unfortunately. The same regular variable APR of 15.74% to 24.74%, based on creditworthiness, applies to all purchases and balance transfers.
  • Annual Fee at the Higher End of What Many Travel Cards Charge: Paying an annual fee for a travel rewards card isn't unusual, but it's worth keeping the cost in mind as you weigh it against the benefits you’ll receive. At $450, this card's annual fee puts its firmly in the premium travel rewards category. If you don't travel that often, you may find it hard to make up the fee in rewards value.
  • Only 2 Points per Dollar at Hotels Other than Marriott: If you frequent hotel brands other than Marriott, you'll still earn points on bookings but at a much lower rate compared with what you'd get at Marriott hotels. So in evaluating whether this card is a good fit, it's important to consider how often you book with Marriott versus other hotel chains.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Rewards Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
    Rewards Strategist
  • Avatar for Loyalty Status Seeker Persona
    Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
    Loyalty Status Seeker

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card is best suited to travelers who prioritize earning points over miles or cash back and who regularly stay at Marriott properties. It could be a natural fit for someone who's already enrolled in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty rewards program and is looking for a way to accelerate their rewards earnings to get more reward nights. This card also has promise as an all-around travel card, owing to the rewards rate earned on dining and airfare purchases, as well as the fact that it has no foreign transaction fees.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card One-Time Offer

This card offers an opportunity to earn a large number of points right off the bat, with a 100,000 point bonus, which Investopedia values at $1,110 or 1.11 cents each. To earn those rewards, eligible new cardmembers need to charge $5,000 in purchases in the first three months, a reasonable target for someone who travels often or charges other purchases, such as dining and groceries. You'll also earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of card membership. In terms of what those points are worth, the value varies depending on how they're redeemed.

As an example, they could be worth two nights at Fairfield Inn & Suites Manhattan/Fifth Avenue, which would cost $616 otherwise. Or, they could be used to book a few nights at the W New York in Times Square, which would ordinarily cost $408. Marriott Bonvoy has eight hotel reward tiers, and the lower the property tier, the further those bonus points could stretch.

Rewards Earning Details

The rewards structure for this card is fairly simple. Purchases made at participating Marriott hotels earn 6 points per dollar. Purchases at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines earn 3 points per dollar, while all other purchases earn 2 points per dollar.

There are no limits on the number of points that can be earned each year with the card. It's worth noting that to earn the 3 points per dollar on flights, those must be booked with the airline. If you book through a third-party travel site, such as Expedia, you'll only earn 2 points per dollar on those purchases.

Rewards Redemption Details

Marriott Bonvoy points can be redeemed for reward nights at more than 7,000 participating Marriott properties. If you're redeeming for hotels, the minimum number of points required for a reward night is 5,000. That will get you an off-peak stay at a Category 1 hotel, such as a Fairfield Inn & Suites or a Springhill Suites. At the highest end, the minimum number of points required to redeem is 100,000. You'd need that amount to book a peak night at a Category 8 property, like the St. Regis New York or The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, in Florida.

Aside from hotel stays, you can also redeem your Bonvoy points for flights or rental cars with Marriott travel partners, including more than 40 airlines. Points are also redeemable for room upgrades, exclusive travel and entertainment experiences, gift cards, and shopping. Marriott doesn't disclose what points are worth in dollar terms, but as with other travel cards, you typically get the most bang for your buck by redeeming rewards for travel, and in this case, hotel bookings specifically.

Transferring Points

It's possible to transfer points earned with your card and through the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program to other travel partners. You can transfer points and convert them to miles in more than 40 frequent flyer programs, at a 3:1 value in most instances. Points transfer to Air New Zealand Airpoints and JetBlue TrueBlue at rates of 200:1 and 6:1, respectively.

When you transfer 60,000 points, Marriott Bonvoy rewards you with 5,000 bonus points. You can transfer up to 240,000 points per day. When you transfer points to the United MileagePlus program, you also get a 10% points bonus through RewardsPlus.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

As with many travel cards, the best way to maximize rewards with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card is to be strategic about earning and redeeming points.

Average Case

Suppose you spend $5,000 on hotels, $2,500 on airfare and dining, and $2,500 on miscellaneous purchases. Including 125,000 introductory points bonus, that would come to 167,500 points, which could get you at least five nights at a Category 3 hotel like the Colorado Springs Marriott.

Aspirational Case

Now suppose you travel more frequently and charge $10,000 in Marriott hotel bookings the first year, for a total of 60,000 points. You also charge $5,000 in airfare and dining purchases and another $5,000 in miscellaneous purchases. Plus you get the 125,000 introductory points bonus. Altogether, your first-year points would total 210,000.

You could use those points to book a at least a four-night stay at a Category 5 property, like the Courtyard in downtown Denver, or a few nights at a Category 7 property, like The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas in Beaver Creek.

Again, how you redeem determines what those points are worth. For example, these figures all assume you're booking on peak rate nights. You could get more value from your points by choosing standard or off-peak nights instead.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant's Outstanding Benefits

  • $300 annual statement credit
  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit
  • Automatic Gold Elite status
  • Free room night each anniversary year
  • Credit for 15 nights toward the next tier Elite status each year
  • Complimentary lounge access through Priority Pass Select
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • Premium in-room Wi-Fi service

Standard Benefits

  • Extended warranty protection
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Global Assist Hotline access
  • Return protection
  • Cell phone insurance
  • Free two-day shipping with Shoprunner
  • Exclusive entertainment access

Cardholder Experience

American Express earned a score of 838 out of 1,000 in J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, placing it second behind Discover. This card offers the standard array of account management tools, including online and mobile access. American Express customer service is available via live chat when you log in to your account or by calling 800-528-4800.

Security Features

American Express offers the usual security features, such as EMV chip technology, digital wallet capabilities, and the ability to set up account alerts. American Express also says it monitors your account for suspicious activity and cardmembers are not held liable for fraudulent charges.

Fees to Watch Out For

The most important fee to consider is that $450 annual fee and how quickly you could make up for it in rewards and other perks. The $300 statement credit and the $100 property credit can go a long way toward balancing out the fee, however.

Our Verdict

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card could be worth its substantial annual fee if you're looking for a higher rewards rate on hotel stays and upper-tier perks. It could be good for anyone who's already a Marriott Bonvoy member and wants a straightforward way to compound points earnings so they can redeem them for reward nights or for airfare aboard partner airlines. The fee credit toward Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, as well as Priority Pass Select lounge access, might also appeal to travelers who'd like to minimize stress and maximize comfort while spending time at the airport between flights.

This card is obviously less than ideal for someone who doesn't travel as often, doesn't book largely with Marriott, and isn't comfortable paying a higher annual fee to earn travel rewards. It also wouldn't be as attractive for someone who wants more flexibility in transferring points to other travel partners. Something like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which allows for points transfers on a 1:1 basis, might be more appropriate in that instance.

The best way to evaluate whether this card is a good fit is to examine your annual spending, then calculate the estimated number of points you could earn and how that would translate to redemption value. That can tell you pretty quickly whether the card and its associated features are worth the $450 annual fee.

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on American Express' Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
overall rating
3.7
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $450
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points everywhere else.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.