New Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant welcome offer with big free night certificate


American Express just released a new limited-time welcome offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card and it’s a good one, combining traditional points with a monstrous 85K free night certificate. There was similar offer at the end of last year (that my wife jumped at) offering the same certificate and 150k points.


The Offer & Key Card Details

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: 150K points after $6K in the first 6 months and 50K points after 6 eligible paid nights at Bonvoy hotels [Expired 8/9/23]
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 (1.6%)
Travel: 3X (2.4%)
Dine: 3X (2.4%)
Brand: 6X (4.8%)
Card Info: Amex Credit Card issued by Amex. This card has no foreign transaction 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.

Quick Thoughts

Many readers have committed to swearing off Marriott completely after their recent change to dynamic pricing.  The change itself was a mixed bag. Although we actually raised our reasonable redemption value for Marriott points to .75cpp, that doesn’t tell the complete story as many sought-after properties went up in cost significantly-to-astronomically.

Within that context, this new welcome offer on the Bonvoy Brilliant is very good, if not spectacular. While the points bonus in and of itself isn’t particularly exciting, adding the 85K free night certificate does make it pop. It will soon be possible to use that certifcate at a property that costs up to 100,000 points with Marriott’s new top-up feature (supposedly arriving this month), putting the entire portfolio in play. That said, just writing that a Marriott property costs 100,000 points makes my head spin a little and says something about the points inflation at the top end of the award chart.

Although the card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee, there is a $300 statement credit that can be applied to any charges at a Marriott property (including room rate). Assuming you can use that easily, it brings the yearly cost closer to $150-200 (depending on how much you value the credit). Using our calculator, and even with the annual fee, the card brings in over $1000 first-year value.

My wife got this card at the end of last year, when we saw the best-ever bonus with the same 85K certificate. While the 85K certificate sounds nice, we haven’t redeemed it yet. First off, since we haven’t yet been able to top-off the cert, many of the properties we were interested in redeeming at were actually out of reach due to peak pricing (100K). Secondly, it’s only one certificate and I’m not crazy about forking over another 85K+ for a second or third night. Marriott points earning hasn’t really kept up with the inflation of points burning (unlike Hilton, for instance) and it makes these high-end properties a larger chunk of my points balance than I’m comfortable parting with…but that’s a topic for another post.

Will we ever see the 150K offer come back again? My guess is that, while it won’t be in our immediate future, the Marriott cards will have to start inching closer to Hilton-level welcome offers (100-150K) simply to remain appealing given where aspirational redemption rates are. That said, this is good offer for first-year value and worth taking a look at if you have a use for the cert and need to top off your points balance.

Are you eligible for a Amex Bonvoy Brilliant card?

In true Bonvoy fashion, Marriott has a labrynthine process for determining whether or not you get a welcome bonus on a given card. It’s like it’s free breakfast or something.

Navigate this chart to figure out if you qualify (see Greg’s full post here).  If you answer “No,” to all of the following questions then you should be eligible for the bonus on the Bonvoy Brilliant

All-in-one Eligibility Matrix

Here’s Greg’s helpful chart for deciphering the Marriott eligibility rules:

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