Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card Review (2024)

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The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has had a a bit of a topsy-turvy journey over the last few years, befitting its unusually wordy name. It began life known as the SPG Luxury card, the high end offering of the now-defunct Starwood Preferred Guest program and was launched at the same time that Marriott began its merger with the Starwood and Ritz Carlton reward programs.

Less than a year later, the card was renamed as the Bonvoy Brilliant when Marriott began its Bonvoyage as one rewards program. Then, in 2022, the card was rejiggered yet again. Its annual fee, already expensive at $450, increased to an eye-watering $650, but now it bequeathed its owners with $300 in dining credits, Marriott Platinum status, 25 annual elite-qualifying nights and a sporty 85K free night certificate. Let’s take a look at the current incarnation.

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Current Welcome Offer

Card Offer
95K Points ⓘ Affiliate
95k points after $6K spend within the first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
$650 Annual Fee
Recent better offer: 185K after $6K in first 6 momths [Expired 5/1/24]

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Review

At $650 per year, the Bonvoy Brilliant card costs you a chunk of change to carry and it’s more or less a dud when using it for regular spend. What makes the card interesting is its benefits, which include Marriott Platinum status, $300/year in dining credits (at $25/month), an annual 85K free night certificate and 25 elite-qualifying nights per year. If you can get good value for those perks, the combination can make the card worth renewing each year, especially for those who often stay in Marriott properties.

  • Annual Fee: $650
    • Authorized User Annual Fee: None
  • What points are worth: The Amex Bonvoy Brilliant card earns Marriott Bonvoy points. Our current list of Reasonable Redemption Values pegs them as having an average redemption value of 0.80 cents each.
  • Best Use for Points: Marriott has eliminated award charts and award pricing is now extremely variable, with redemption values ranging from well over 1 cent per point to as low as 0.25. A good way to get additional value is by taking advantage of the 5th night free on standard room awards that Marriott offers those with Silver elite status or higher, where awards that are booked with points for 5 nights or longer are automatically priced with the cheapest night free.
  • Earning Categories: 
    • 6X Marriott
    • 3X airfare
    • 3X restaurants (worldwide)
    • 2X everywhere else
  • Credits:
    • Annual $300 Dining Credit ($25 monthly): Each month, you will earn up to $25 in credits back for purchases at restaurants or at certain food delivery providers like Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, etc.
    • TSA Precheck/Global Entry Credit: $100 Global Entry fee credit (once every 4 years) or $85 TSA Precheck fee credit (once every 4.5 years).
  • Additional Perks:
    • Annual 85K Free Night Certificate (cardmember year, upon renewal): This can be used to pay for one night at any Marriott property that costs up to 85,000 points for the night. You can also add up to an additional 15,000 Marriott points from your account in order to book a night that costs up to 100,000 points..
    • Marriott Platinum Status: Guaranteed 4PM late checkout (subject to availability at resorts), 50% point bonus, complementary room upgrades, lounge access (at some hotels) and a breakfast option at many hotels.
    • 25 Elite-Qualifying Nights: Each year as a cardholder, Marriott will add 25 elite qualifying nights to your Bonvoy account.
    • Priority Pass Select Lounge Membership: Cardholder and two guests. This version of Priority Pass does not offer Priority Pass restaurants or experiences
    • Annual $100 Luxury Property Credit (cardmember year): $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit for qualifying charges at Ritz or St. Regis hotels when you book direct using a special rate for a 2 night minimum stay. The “special rate” is often more expensive than the cheapest available rate, offsetting the $100 in property credit that you gain by using it.
  • Travel Protections:
    • Auto Rental Coverage: Secondary auto rental CDW (collision damage waiver). Provides reimbursement for theft and collision damage for rental cars in the U.S. and abroad. Coverage is not available for vehicles rented in Australia, Italy, and New Zealand.
    • Trip Delay Insurance: Must pay for round-trip airfare with your Brilliant Card. Provides up to $500 in reimbursements if your travel is delayed by six or more hours. Maximum 2 claims per rolling 12 months.
    • Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance: Must purchase a round trip entirely with your Brilliant Card. Up to $10,000 per trip/$20,000 per 12 consecutive month period.
    • Baggage Insurance: Must purchase a round trip entirely with your Brilliant Card on a common carrier ticket (e.g. plane, train, ship, or bus). Maximum $2,000 for checked baggage and up to a combined maximum of $3,000 for checked and carry-on baggage.
  • Purchase Protections:
    • Return Protection: 90 days from date of purchase. Max $300/item, $1000/year.
    • Purchase Protection: 90 days date of purchase. Provides reimbursement for accidental damage, theft, or loss.
    • Extended Warranty: One extra year added on to warranties of 5 years or less. Maximum of $10,000 per item and $50,000 per cardmember account/calendar year.
  • Who’s this card for? Anyone who stays at Marriott properties enough to maximize the annual free night certificate and Bonvoy Platinum elite status…and who can remember to use the card for $25 in dining spend each month.
  • Is the Bonvoy Brilliant card a keeper? It’s all about the bennies, baby. If you can get good value for this card’s substantial list of picks, it could be worth holding onto, especially for those who often stay in Marriott properties and/or are on the quest for lifetime Platinum status.

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Only Marriott credit card to give Platinum elite status
  • Dining credit and free night certificate could be worth more than the annual fee of the card
  • Annual free night certificate can be used for a property that costs as much as 100K Marriott points by “topping up” with points from your account
  • Provides more elite-qualifying nights than any other Marriott credit card

Cons

  • High annual fee ($650)
  • Not a good card for regular spend
  • Breaking up annual dining credits into monthly morsels makes them a pain to use
  • Now that Marriott’s pricing is dynamic, many sought-after properties are beyond the reach of the 85K certificate
  • Travel protections lag behind many other premium cards
  • The card’s Priority Pass doesn’t include restaurants or experiences
  • Figuring out whether or not you’re actually eligible for a Marriott card can be a significant undertaking.

Related Cards

Card Offer and Details
95K Points ⓘ Affiliate
95k points after $6K spend within the first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
$650 Annual Fee
Recent better offer: 185K after $6K in first 6 momths [Expired 5/1/24]
FM Mini Review: Decent ultra-premium option for Marriott fans, especially those aiming for lifetime status tiers
Earning rate: 3X airfare -on flights booked directly with airlines; 3X restaurants worldwide, 6X Marriott; 2X on all other eligible purchases
Base: 2X (1.4%)
Travel: 3X (2.1%)
Dine: 3X (2.1%)
Brand: 6X (4.2%)
Card Info: Amex Credit Card issued by Amex. This card has no foreign currency conversion fees.
Big spend bonus: Annual Choice Award with $60K calendar year spend
Noteworthy perks: ✦ 85K Free Night Award each year upon renewal ✦ $300 dining credit per membership year ($25/mo) ✦ Platinum Elite status ✦ 25 elite nights credit ✦ Priority Pass membership (Lounges only) with 2 guests ✦ Global Entry fee credit ✦ Free premium internet at Marriott properties Note: Enrollment required for some benefits.
85K Points ⓘ Affiliate
85K points after $5K spend in the first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
$250 Annual Fee
Recent better offer: 155K after $5K in first 6 months [Expired 5/1/24]
Earning rate: 6X Marriott.✦ 4X restaurants & U.S. Supermarkets on up to $15K spend per year ✦ 2X on all other eligible purchases
Base: 2X (1.4%)
Dine: 4X (2.8%)
Grocery: 4X (2.8%)
Brand: 6X (4.2%)
Card Info: Amex Credit Card issued by Amex. This card has no foreign currency conversion fees.
Big spend bonus: One 50K Free Night Award after $15K calendar year spend on eligible purchases.
Noteworthy perks: 15 night credit towards elite status every year upon account anniversary ✦ 1,000 bonus points with each qualifying stay ✦ Gold elite status
85K points after $4K spend in 3 months
$250 Annual Fee
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Earning rate: 6X Marriott.✦ 4X restaurants & grocery on up to $15K spend per year ✦ 2X everywhere else
Base: 2X (1.4%)
Dine: 4X (2.8%)
Grocery: 4X (2.8%)
Brand: 6X (4.2%)
Card Info: Visa Signature issued by Chase. This card has no foreign currency conversion fees.
Big spend bonus: One 50K Free Night Award after $15K calendar year spend.
Noteworthy perks: 15 night credit towards elite status every year upon account anniversary ✦ 1,000 bonus points with each qualifying stay ✦ Gold elite status
Earn 3 Free Night Awards - Valued at up to 50K points each, up to 150K points total. ⓘ Affiliate
Three 50k free night certificates after $6K spend in the first 6 months. Redemption level up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy(R) points for each bonus Free Night Award, at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy(R). Certain hotels have resort fees. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
$125 Annual Fee
Recent better offer: 5x50K free night certificates after $8K in spend (expired 3/20/24)
Earning rate: 6x at Marriott Bonvoy properties ✦ 4x at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. suppliers and on U.S. purchases for shipping ✦ 2x on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)
Base: 2X (1.4%)
Dine: 4X (2.8%)
Gas: 4X (2.8%)
Phone: 4X (2.8%)
Biz: 4X (2.8%)
Brand: 6X (4.2%)
Card Info: Amex Credit Card issued by Amex. This card has no foreign currency conversion fees.
Big spend bonus: Earn an additional 35k free night certificate (can be topped-up with up to 15k additional points, subject to resort fees) after you spend $60K on purchases in a calendar year
Noteworthy perks: Complimentary Marriott Gold elite status ✦ 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year ✦ 35k Free Night Award every year after card renewal (subject to resort fees) ✦ Complimentary premium Internet access at Marriott properties ✦ Terms Apply (Rates & Fees)
60K points + Free Night Certificate ⓘ Friend-Referral
60K points + 50K free night certificate after $2K in the first 3 months. Terms apply.
No Annual Fee
This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details).
Recent better offer: 50K points after $1K in the first 3 months and 50K points after 6 eligible paid nights at Bonvoy hotels. (expired 8/9/23)
FM Mini Review: The best use for this card is probably to downgrade from the Ritz or Boundless card to avoid the annual fee. That way, you can always upgrade again when you need the annual free night or other perks
Earning rate: ✦ 3X Marriott Bonvoy ✦ 2X grocery stores, rideshare, select food delivery, select streaming, and internet, cable and phone services ✦ 1X everywhere else
Base: 1X (0.7%)
Grocery: 2X (1.4%)
Phone: 2X (1.4%)
Brand: 3X (2.1%)
Card Info: Visa Signature issued by Chase. This card has no foreign currency conversion fees.
Noteworthy perks: Automatic Silver status ✦ 5 nights of elite credit each year
3 x 50K Free Night Certificates ⓘ Friend-Referral
Earn three 50K free night certificates after $3K spend in 3 months
$95 Annual Fee
This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details).
Recent better offer: 5 x 50K free night certificates after $5K in spend (expired 1/9/24)
Earning rate: ✦ 6X Marriott Bonvoy ✦ 3X gas stations, grocery stores, and dining on up to $6K in combined purchases each year ✦ 2X everywhere else
Base: 2X (1.4%)
Dine: 3X (2.1%)
Gas: 3X (2.1%)
Grocery: 3X (2.1%)
Brand: 6X (4.2%)
Card Info: Visa Signature issued by Chase. This card has no foreign currency conversion fees.
Big spend bonus: Earn Gold status when you spend $35K each year ✦ 1 Elite Night Credit towards elite status for every $5K spent
Noteworthy perks: ✦ Annual free night certificate for 1 night at a hotel redemption level up to 35K ✦ Automatic Silver status ✦ 15 nights of elite credit each year ✦ 1 Elite Night Credit for every $5K spent
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Lee

The challenge with the 85k FNC (aka Category 8 FNC) garnered from any Marriott card is that it remains a 85k certificate while 1) point prices have gone dynamic and 2) Category 8 properties are all too often priced at 101k or more (making the FNC unusable). Unless and until this FNC’s points are adjusted, the Brilliant and RC cards are non-starters for me.

This complicates the request from some readers (below): create a list of 85k-eligible properties.

One last tidbit: Some might have noticed a trend among Amex cards . . . dining credits have been moving to Resy. For those who love the Brilliant (or the Amex Gold personal), don’t be surprised if your dining credits become even harder to use.

Brutus

Resy would be a deal breaker for me.

Andrew

It’s really annoying that the Brilliant card has the requirement of not having the Ritz card for 30 days to be eligible for the SUB. I’ll be coming up on two years since my last Marriott card bonus later this year but then have to ponder whether downgrading my Ritz card to try for a Brilliant SUB is worth it – with the risk that Chase may shut down upgrades for me (or everyone) back to the Ritz in that time. I have been unable to find any data points, successful or unsuccessful, of attempts to downgrade and re-upgrade to a Ritz card to obtain the Brilliant.

Matt

Tim! Can we get a post on the best Marriott properties that could potentially be booked with an 85K Cert (+/- 15K top up)? I really appreciated your post on the best Hilton FNCs… Thanks!

Last edited 1 month ago by Matt
Richard

Yes!!

escot

Nice try. I had this cards in its earlier incarnations, w/ much better sign-up bonuses, combined w/ other Marriott cards. But that ASTRONOMICAL hike in the annual fee, with frankly pathetic benefits to compensate, prompted a cancellation before renewal….. and haven’t seen anything really that compelling in the reviews/sales pitches since.

Marriott lost its way.

Last edited 1 month ago by escot
YoniPDX

I got the card last fall – as we have three Bonvoy Biz cards with 35K cert and a Boundless ( that we plan to PC to Ritz -sad about the PP experiences going the way of Amex Plat PP years ago).

I got the card mainly for the 85K, free breakfast and lounge access outside US. Its honestly a mixed bag as with the FNA certs 15K top-up so many properties are priced just 1K above the top-up cap. I have always been able to get 2-4x the AF out of the 35K certs.

My original plan was to leverage Platinum status with 35K FNA bookings, I didn’t really explore the “free breakfast” – which is an undertaking similar to “are you eligible for the Brilliant”.

Most of our 35K FNA stays have been at properties that offer free breakfast to all guests – and don’t really have desirous upgrades – Marriott’s/Westin’s seem to be the only properties with 15K top-up that seem to fall in this category.

We have two Aspire cards (soon three), which has been perfect weekend getaways (occasionally combined with an FHR booking for the final night for the 4PM guaranteed late checkout – it makes for a great 3 day weekend with an evening flight home after late checkout.

So my thinking was to do the same with Brilliant/Ritz Combo for a two nights at 85K-100K property for a weekend stay (a single night it hardly worth it – having to pack/move ( as opposed to chilling or sightseeing).

Even Platinum benefits are kinda of convoluted –

But year one with stays at Westin’s/Marriott’s in Singapore/Sydney and we have upcoming stays this fall in Europe – first year value has been ok.

Richard

Used
Mine for a stay in Athens at the Grand, where rates were $1500/night. Some good value with more than one 85k cert like you said!