Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card Review 2020
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The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express credit card was previously known as the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Amex card. It was rebranded after the SPG loyalty program was folded into Marriott and the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program was established.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card carries a hefty annual fee, but along with that comes hefty rewards. You’ll be charged $450 per year for the privilege of using this card, but in return, you’ll get some juicy rewards.
As points earning goes, you’ll have ample opportunity to earn rewards points through travel spending. Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points to the dollar on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X points on purchases at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases. You’ll also get a whopping 100,000 points if you make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months (offer ends 4/24/2019).
Additionally, you’ll be entitled to such perks as annual statement credits of up to $300 for your eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, a yearly free night’s stay at a participating hotel after the first year, and access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world with your complimentary Priority Pass Select membership.
How does the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Card compare to other high-end travel rewards cards? Read our review to find out more about the card and how it stacks up with the competition.
Table of Contents
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card At A Glance
Applicants must have excellent credit to be approved for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card.
Rewards & Fees
- The Free Night Award you’ll get every year after the first year can be used for a night’s stay in a participating hotel in a room with a redemption level at or under 50,000 points
- No foreign transaction fee
- Cash advances carry a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
- The late payment fee depends on the amount owed and runs up to $38
- The welcome offer of 100,000 bonus points is earned by spending $5,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening your account
- The APR for cash advances is a variable 27.49%
- Get a fee credit on your statement to cover the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
As I said, with an annual fee of $450 dollars, you would expect the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex to offer quite a bit of extra value to the business traveler. Thankfully, it does. The welcome offer of 100,000 rewards points (contingent on you spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months) is one of the biggest welcome offers you’ll find anywhere, and is worth about two years of annual fees. These points are redeemable for travel and can be transferred to over 40 different airline rewards programs. More on points redemption later.
Beyond the bonus offer, the annual Marriott Bonvoy credit of up to $300 is perhaps the most enticing of the travel rewards. This statement credit will reimburse you for the cost of up to $300 worth of hotel stays and incidental charges at eligible Marriott Bonvoy hotels. This is, after all, a luxury card meant to reward loyalty to the Marriott Bonvoy brand, so the traveler who frequents the hotel chain with any regularity will be amply rewarded.
Another perk that qualifies as “luxury” is the Free Night Award. After the first year, you’ll be able to stay a night in a participating Marriott hotel for free, so long as the room is worth 50,000 points or less — a value of nearly $500, which is enough to cover the annual fee alone. It’s a pity you have to wait a year for this perk!
As for earning points, you’ll get 6X points on purchases at Marriott Bonvoy properties, 3X points at US restaurants and on flights purchased directly from the airline, and 2X points on all other purchases. You’ll also get a fee credit of $100 if you sign up with the Global Entry program or $85 to sign up for TSA’s PreCheck program. It’s a great value if you haven’t already signed up for either program, which, if you’re in the market for this particular card, you may well have.
Furthermore, the card comes with free Priority Pass Select membership, which entitles you to access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, where you can huddle with your fellow Trilateral Commission members or whatever it is people do in these lounges. You’ll also get complimentary Marriott Gold Elite status with your card, making your points worth 25% more — and you can achieve Platinum status by spending $75,000 in a calendar year, thus entitling you to further bonuses.
One last bonus: there is no foreign transaction fee.
On the bummer side, the $450 annual fee is not waived for the first year, and there is no introductory 0% APR period.
Redeeming RewardsOn the subject of rewards redemption, Amex states the following:
Redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for free nights at over 6,700 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Plus, redeem points for flights or car rentals with Air+Car, or transfer your points for travel program rewards with over 40 airline partners.
These airline partners include:
- Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
- British Airways Executive Club
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- China Southern
- El Al
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Virgin Australia
- China Southern
- El Al
- South African
- TAP Portugal
- Qantas Airways
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Aeroplan/Air Canada
- Lufthansa Miles & More
- Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
These partners will typically have a 3-to-1 point-to-mile transfer ratio when you transfer your points over.
Amex lists the following as benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card:
- Free in-room internet access
- 24/7 roadside emergency services
- Car rental loss & damage insurance
- 24/7 access to the Global Assist Hotline
- Baggage insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Extended warranties on eligible purchases
- Return protection
- Purchase protection
- Fraud protection
- Exclusive access to ticket presales and Card Member-only events
One thing to keep in mind: This isn’t considered a business credit card, so you won’t get free cards for your employees.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card obviously isn’t a credit card for everybody. It’s a luxury travel rewards card with a $450 annual fee, and its reward structure is designed to encourage and reward purchases with Marriott Bonvoy and its airline partners. It won’t take you long to figure out if you’re part of the target audience for this card. If you are, the card’s valuable and extensive benefits will more than make up for the big annual fee.
It’s not a very versatile rewards card, so if you’re not in the habit of staying at Marriott hotels, you’ll need to either get in the habit of doing so or go for a more general travel rewards card. But if complimentary airport lounge access, free hotel stay certificates, and compensated incidentals are your thing, this card should leave you pampered and satisfied.
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