A premium hotel credit card isn’t for everyone. However, a rewards credit card with a high annual fee is worth considering if you can extract enough value from it. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with a lucrative welcome bonus, annual statement credit and an annual free night award. Combine these well-known benefits with some of the underrated card perks and you’ll see why the card’s $450 annual fee could be worth the investment. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card should I choose?
The well-known reasons
Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Bonus points on all purchases: Cardholders earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points on all other eligible purchases. Terms apply.
$300 annual Marriott statement credit: Each year, you can earn up to $300 in statement credits for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, including incidentals like restaurants and spa services when they’re charged to your room and paid with your card. Terms apply.
Free night award
Every year after your cardmember account anniversary, you’ll receive one free night award, which you can redeem at hotels that cost 50,000 or fewer Marriott Bonvoy points per night. This gives you more hotels to choose from than you’ll get with the free night award from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase, which limits the free night award redemptions to hotels at or under 35,000 Marriott points. Terms apply.
You can use this benefit to book a standard award at Category 6 Marriott hotels, like Hotel Trio Healdsburg in California’s wine country. A typical room night here can cost $250 or more, so the free night award saves money, offsetting the card’s annual fee. You can use Marriott’s award night search tool to easily find hotels that meet the 50,000 point limit. Some hotels charge resort fees, which will not be covered by the free night award. Terms apply.
Automatic Elite status
Through Jan. 13, 2021, this card is running a limited time offer that includes Platinum status for the 2021 status year. Normally, cardholders automatically earn Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, which otherwise requires you to stay 25 nights in a year. Terms apply. Benefits include:
25% more bonus points on eligible hotel purchases.
2 p.m. late checkout when available.
Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi.
Welcome gift of 250 or 500 bonus points (varies by brand) at check-in.
Cardholders also receive 15 elite night credits each calendar year. This makes it easier to reach Marriott Platinum Elite status, which normally requires you to stay 50 nights in a year.
This card will reward you with Platinum Elite status if you spend $75,000 in eligible purchases during a calendar year. Terms apply.
$100 credit at the Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis
When you book an eligible rate for a two-night minimum stay at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties, you’ll get a credit of up to $100 applied to your bill at checkout. This underrated benefit can help offset the cost of a meal or spa service during your stay. Terms apply.
Air travel benefits
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offers perks for flyers, including:
Collectively, these benefits are worth several hundred dollars, so it’s another example of how you can be rewarded for paying the premium’s card annual fee. Terms apply.
Save money with AmEx Offers
As an American Express cardholder, you can access AmEx Offers, which let you earn statement credits or discounts on purchases you might already be planning, including music subscriptions, car rentals and dining out at local restaurants. The list of offers is updated frequently and by just logging in to your account it’s easy to skim for deals you might take advantage of. Terms apply.
» Learn more: How to add money-saving offers to your AmEx card
The bottom line
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is a premium hotel credit card with a hefty $450 annual fee. Perks and benefits including a lucrative welcome bonus, annual $300 Marriott statement credit, free night award every card anniversary, and automatic Gold Elite status can offset the cost.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card