Bonvoy Brilliant: The Marriott Card With The Best Benefits, If You’re Able To Use Them All

by joeheg

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card by American Express is the top-level Marriott Bonvoy card available to new applicants. Marriott points are useful because of the variety of hotels available in the Bonvoy program in addition to the other ways you can redeem points with their travel partners.

Sign Up Bonus

We have a referral link for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card with a sign-up bonus of 95,000 Bonvoy points if you spend $6,000 in the first six months. If you want to apply for the card, we’d appreciate it if you used our link (for which we get a referral bonus).

There are some truly confusing rules to sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy cards, since there are cards available from both Chase and American Express. First things first, American Express will show a pop-up box when you apply to let you know if they feel you’re eligible for a sign-up bonus. The Bonvoy cards have their own set of additional rules for new applications. Here’s an explanation:

You may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer if you have or have had this Card or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card or previous versions of these Cards. You also may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer based on various factors, such as your history with credit card balance transfers, your history as an American Express Card Member, the number of credit cards that you have opened and closed and other factors. If you are not eligible for a welcome offer, we will notify you prior to processing your application so you have the option to withdraw your application.

Welcome offer not available to applicants who (i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton® Credit Card from JPMorgan or the J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card in the last 30 days, (ii) have acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase, or the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a new Card Member bonus or upgrade offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase, or the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.

Got all of that? Still eligible? Let’s go.

Annual Fee

There’s a $650 annual fee.

Bonus Spending Categories

When spending on the card, you earn points in the Marriott Bonvoy program as follows:

  • Earn 6 points for every dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Hotels
  • Earn 3 points for every dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • Earn 2 points for all other eligible purchases

I’ll admit that’s not a very exciting list of bonus categories. Even at Marriott hotels you only earn 6X points but you can earn 3x points on all hotel spending by using either the Chase Sapphire Reserve or AMEX Green Card.

Card Benefits

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant AMEX provides automatic Platinum Elite status. This includes the following benefits above Gold Elite status:

  • Guaranteed 4 PM late checkout – except at resort and convention hotels and Design Hotels, where it is based upon availability. (vs. 2 PM non-guaranteed late checkout for Gold)
  • Welcome gift of points, breakfast or amenity (vs. points for Gold)
  • Enhanced Room Upgrade (including select suites for Platinum)
  • Lounge access
  • Guaranteed room type (cash compensation if not available)

In addition, you’ll get the following benefits:

  • Free in-room premium internet (when booking directly through Marriott)
  • $25 monthly Dining Statement Credit (worth up to $300 annually)
  • Book direct using a special rate for a 2-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis and get up to $100 in credit for qualifying charges
  • Receive 25 Elite Night Credits to be used to reach the next level of status
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. The award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees. (Marriott allows you to pay an additional 15,000 points when using free night certificates to redeem at more expensive properties.)
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Priority Pass Select Membership access to lounges but not good for non-lounge airport experiences.
  • Free Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check.
  • Earned Choice Award after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year. Options are 5 Suite Night awards, an additional 85,000 point Free Night Award, or $1000 off a bed from Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques.
  • Cell Phone Protection of up to $800 per claim if you pay your monthly bill with the Bonvoy Brilliant AMEX.

Ways to Use Bonvoy Points

You can use points earned with the Bonvoy Brilliant card to stay at Marriott properties. In addition, you’re able to transfer points to many different Airline Frequent Flyer programs (possibly with a bonus, depending on how many points you transfer). That’s not counting the additional options of Marriott Bonvoy Moments (which I will explain here, in a little bit).

Hotel Stays

Points can be used for award stays at any of the Marriott hotels. They cover over 30 chains worldwide where you can spend your points:

  1. The Ritz-Carlton
  2. St. Regis
  3. JW Marriott
  4. The Luxury Collection
  5. W Hotels
  7. Marriott Hotels
  8. Sheraton
  9. Marriott Vacation Club
  10. Delta Hotels
  11. Le Meriden
  12. Westin
  13. Renaissance Hotels
  14. Gaylord Hotels
  15. Courtyard Hotels
  16. Four Points
  17. SpringHill Suites
  18. Protea Hotels
  19. Fairfield Inn & Suites
  20. AC Hotels
  21. Aloft Hotels
  22. Moxy Hotels
  23. Marriott Executive Apartments
  24. Residence Inn
  25. TownePlace Suites
  26. element
  27. Home & Villas by Marriott International
  28. Autograph Collection
  29. Design Hotels
  30. Tribute Portfolio

Marriott Bonvoy has some remarkable properties like the ones we visited in Austria, Germany and England.

You can transfer points to the frequent flyer programs of over 30 different airlines. The transfer ratio is 3 points to 1 mile for most airlines and you get a bonus of 5,000 extra miles when you transfer 60,000 points, except for American Airlines AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, Delta SkyMiles and Korean Air SKYPASS. That means it’s usually best to transfer only in 60,000-point increments when your 60,000 points give you 25,000 miles. If you’re a United MileagePlus® member, you’ll get 10,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 points you transfer.

AEGEAN Miles+Bonus 3:1
Aer Lingus AerClub 3:1
Aeromexico ClubPremier 3:1
Air Canada Aeroplan 3:1
Air China PhoenixMiles 3:1
Air France-KLM Flying Blue 3:1
Air New Zealand AirPoint 200:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ 3:1
American Airlines AAdvantage®** 3:1
ANA Mileage Club 3:1
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club 3:1
Avianca LifeMiles** 3:1
British Airways Executive Club 3:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 3:1
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club 3:1
Copa Airlines ConnectMiles 3:1
Delta SkyMiles®** 3:1
Emirates Skywards® 3:1
Etihad Guest 3:1
FRONTIER Miles 3:1
Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club 3:1
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles® 3:1
Iberia Plus 3:1
InterMiles 3:1
Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank 3:1
Korean Air SKYPASS** 3:1
LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass 3:1
Multiplus Fidelidade LATAM Pass 3:1
Qantas Frequent Flyer 3:1
Qatar Airways Privilege Club 3:1
Saudia Alfursan 3:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer® 3:1
Southwest Rapid Rewards® 3:1
TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go 3:1
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus 3:1
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles 3:1
United MileagePlus® 3:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 3:1
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer 3:1
Vueling Club 3:1

Other uses for Marriott Bonvoy Points

There are also other exciting ways for you to spend your points. One of those is the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program. In the past, they’ve offered dinners, concerts and sporting event tickets, often from a VIP suite.

Final Thoughts

I previously carried this card, as it was a no-brainer if you stayed at Marriott properties on a regular basis. Then the annual fee went from $450 to $650 and the Marriott hotel credit changed to a monthly dining credit. In exchange, the free night award went from 50,000 points to 85,000 points and you receive automatic Platinum status instead of Gold.

I can see how people can justify paying $350, which is the $650 annual fee minus the $300 dining credit, for Platinum Elite status and an 85,000-point free night award. It’s just not a slam dunk like before and it will take work to make sure you at least break even every year. That’s why we closed the card before our renewal date

But if you’ve never had the card before and are eligible for the sign-up bonus, it makes sense to get it for at least the first year. With a few Marriott hotel stays, you should be able to qualify for Platinum Elite status which you’ll keep until the end of the following year. If you use the $25 dining credit every month and find a good use for the 95,000 points sign-up bonus, you’ll break even on the annual fee. Maybe you’ll even get targeted for an AMEX Offer and be able to earn some cash back or extra Marriott Bonvoy points.

After that, you’ll have to see if it makes sense to keep the card for the long term.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Jaye Deveraux June 7, 2019 - 12:53 pm

I switched to Marriott from Hilton because when this card debuted–it had a 100k sign-up bonus. Most of my travel (so far this year) has been for work. I went from Silver to Gold just by getting the card and then had multiple weeks of travel for work, and due to their double-night promotion that only ended last weekend–I am now Titanium. I hope they do that promotion every year! 🙂
They also still have a double-points promotion that is running until September — I have no idea if all of this is targeted or what..but so far so good. The #BONVOYED meme has gotten a little out of hand–a lot of what I’ve seen complaints for were people who took advantage of IT issues and had unintendedly low booking rates for expensive properties and then got MAD that they were caught. I mean….?

joeheg June 7, 2019 - 9:20 pm

I’m glad you’re enjoying the switch to Marriott and their offers have been good if you stay frequently at their hotels. I have to differ about the #bonvoyed meme being exaggarated. It’s not only people who took advantage of issues. Many of the problems is due to the poor IT. Not being able to refund points or losing reservations is simply unacceptable. I’d say that the simpler your travels, the less likely you are to have problems. It’s only when you want to change anything that you’ll have a problem, or maybe you won’t

james June 7, 2019 - 1:29 pm

Also, you can transfer points to anyone for free.

joeheg June 7, 2019 - 9:11 pm

True. But that more a function of being a Gold member (which you get with the card) so I didn’t include because it’s not exclusive to having the card.

Vicenet June 7, 2019 - 1:55 pm

Brilliant should come with Titanium status.
Until it does, no thanks.

joeheg June 7, 2019 - 9:10 pm

OR give Gold and 30 nights credit that way there’s an advantage over having all the other cards.

Shirley Sui June 7, 2019 - 2:40 pm

Do the 15 night credits stack with Marriott rewards premier plus nights (whatever the card is called now)? I know I read the answer somewhere before but I can’t recall..

joeheg June 7, 2019 - 3:57 pm

The points do not stack. No matter how many Bonvoy cards you have, you’ll only get 15 nights credited to your account.

SHIRLEY S SUI June 9, 2019 - 12:01 pm

Thanks – that’s what I thought I had read. It’s a shame, but completely understandable from a business standpoint ha

Airportmikey November 23, 2021 - 7:45 pm

Actually, if you have a Bonvoy Business card (whether through American Express, or the grandfathered one from Chase – which is no longer open to new applicants), as well as one of the consumer cards, you CAN stack the 15 nights from each, for a maximum of 30 nights per year.

joeheg November 23, 2021 - 8:24 pm

That’s a benefit Marriott brought back from the SPG days because of COVID. We’ll see if they confinue it when things get back to normal.

airportmikey November 24, 2021 - 1:53 am

Very true!

Aggiemd July 1, 2019 - 4:37 am

Typo-if you transfer 60,000 bonvoy points to most airlines it will convert to 20,000 airline miles plus 5,000 mile bonus, NOT 65,000 miles as stated-that would be nice, though. 🙂

joeheg July 1, 2019 - 9:45 am

Thanks for catching that. Fixed.

EDUARD AZAYEV January 10, 2020 - 8:30 pm

Anyone here who stays in Marriott for own pleasure and pays from own pocket? Kind of looking for tips I can really use. What is best program for family which likes to travel and not interested in properties in Baghdad for 5,000 points, or some other exotic places. Thank you.

Christian August 20, 2023 - 4:57 pm

Any idea if the Platinum status counts toward the 10 years of Platinum for Lifetime Platinum? I can see Marriott not honoring that because the status isn’t earned, instead being a credit card benefit and Marriott hasn’t exactly been known for deciding things in favor of the guest in recent years.


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