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.
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.
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).
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:
- The Ritz-Carlton
- St. Regis
- JW Marriott
- The Luxury Collection
- W Hotels
- Marriott Hotels
- Marriott Vacation Club
- Delta Hotels
- Le Meriden
- Renaissance Hotels
- Gaylord Hotels
- Courtyard Hotels
- Four Points
- SpringHill Suites
- Protea Hotels
- Fairfield Inn & Suites
- AC Hotels
- Aloft Hotels
- Moxy Hotels
- Marriott Executive Apartments
- Residence Inn
- TownePlace Suites
- Home & Villas by Marriott International
- Autograph Collection
- Design Hotels
- Tribute Portfolio
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.
|Aer Lingus AerClub
|Air Canada Aeroplan
|Air China PhoenixMiles
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue
|Air New Zealand AirPoint
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™
|American Airlines AAdvantage®**
|ANA Mileage Club
|Asiana Airlines Asiana Club
|British Airways Executive Club
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
|China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club
|Copa Airlines ConnectMiles
|Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles®
|Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank
|Korean Air SKYPASS**
|LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass
|Multiplus Fidelidade LATAM Pass
|Qantas Frequent Flyer
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer®
|Southwest Rapid Rewards®
|TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go
|Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
|Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer
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.
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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