Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Review: Luxurious Benefits, Price Tag to Match

You'll get a massive welcome bonus, solid rewards, multiple statement credits, elite status, lounge access and more, in exchange for a $450 annual fee. Terms apply.

Sara RathnerNovember 12, 2020
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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: The card’s perks help offset its large annual fee, but only if you use them. Frequent travelers who are loyal to Marriott Bonvoy will benefit most.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$450

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Rich rewards

  • Lavish travel credits and perks

  • Automatic elite status

Cons

  • High annual fee

Alternate Pick: More flexibility

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Similar high-end perks

Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® . Plus, get a $300 annual travel credit, credit toward TSA Precheck or Global Entry, airport lounge access and more. Points are worth 50% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The annual fee is $550.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual Fee

$450

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

As the most high-end member of the Marriott Bonvoy credit card family, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offers Bonvoy devotees, frequent travelers and big spenders a selection of luxurious benefits. How this card compares with more down-to-earth options depends on how likely you’d be to take advantage of all the extras it provides.

The massive annual fee can be tough to budget for, but if you have the habit of extracting every last drop of value out of a premium travel rewards credit card, you’ll easily find ways to offset that yearly cost.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: The basics

Card type: Hotel.

Annual fee: $450.

Welcome bonus: Earn up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 1/13/2021. Terms Apply.

Ongoing rewards:

  • 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • 3 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.

  • 2 points per $1 on all other purchases.

  • Terms apply.

NerdWallet values Marriott points at 0.9 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.9 cent or more in value from your Marriott points.

Redemption options:

  • At Marriott Bonvoy hotels for free nights. This will be the most effective and valuable use of your points.

  • For flights or car rentals.

  • For travel by transferring points to multiple airline partners, usually at a 3:1 ratio (meaning 1 airline mile will cost you 3 Bonvoy points). For every 60,000 points you transfer, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus Marriott points.

  • Terms apply.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other benefits:

  • $300 in statement credits each year for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • Free Night Award (valued up to 50,000 points) every year after account anniversary.

  • Platinum Elite status for 2021. (Gold Elite status after that.)

  • Statement credit to cover the cost of TSA Precheck or Global Entry.

  • Priority Pass Select lounge membership.

  • Terms apply.

Benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

generous bonus and ongoing rewards

The card's welcome bonus is rich indeed. Nabbing the full amount requires you to spend $5,450, which is pretty steep — but it could translate to, say, a three-night stay at a Category 5 or 6 property, depending on when you travel. Or, alternately, you could use those points toward several nights at lower-tier Marriott hotels.

On an ongoing basis, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card doubles as a travel and dining card, earning 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points per $1 on everything else. Terms apply.

Valuable traveler-friendly extras

Points aside, the card's perks alone can make up for its annual fee, assuming you can use them:

  • An annual $300 statement credit for purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • A Free Night Award each year (the booking must cost 50,000 points or less).

  • Book a two-night minimum stay at a St. Regis or Ritz Carlton through marriottbonvoy.com and get a $100 credit to use on purchases at the hotel.

  • Access to airport lounges for you and up to two guests with a Priority Pass Select membership (ordinarily this starts at $99 per year).

  • Application-fee credits for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, which normally cost $85 and $100, respectively, for a five-year membership.

  • Terms apply.

Instant elite status

Enjoy Platinum Elite status from Feb. 1, 2021, through Jan. 31, 2022 (after that, you’ll default to Gold Elite status). With Platinum Elite status, you’ll get a 50% point bonus on eligible hotel purchases, along with things like room upgrades, hotel lounge access, late checkout and more. Terms apply.

Travel and purchase protections

Get reimbursement for nonrefundable travel costs if your trip is delayed or canceled for a covered reason. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card also includes rental car insurance, a 24/7 global assistance hotline, and coverage if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Terms apply.

Purchases you make with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card are covered for up to 90 days if they’re lost, stolen or damaged, or if the seller won’t let you return the item. Covered purchases are also eligible for an extended warranty. Terms apply.

Drawbacks and alternatives

A super-high annual fee

Any annual fee is worth notice, but $450 is impossible to ignore. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, other Marriott Bonvoy cards offer some of the same benefits at a lower cost. The $95-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card offers this sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card! Terms apply.

With a $0 annual fee, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card comes with a more modest welcome offer. Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Terms apply.

Here are other ways the cards compare:

• 3 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

• 2 points per $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).

• 1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

• Silver Elite status.

• 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

• 2 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

• Free anniversary night (valued up to 35,000 points).

• Silver Elite status.

• Free premium Wi-Fi.

• 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

• 3 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.

• 2 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

• Complimentary anniversary night (valued up to 50,000 points).

• Gold Elite status.

• $300 statement credit for Marriott purchases.

• Terms apply.

Rewards are Marriott Bonvoy-centric

The main way to redeem your points is on free nights at Marriott Bonvoy properties. When you book four consecutive nights, you get a fifth night free. You can also use them to book airfare or car rentals through Marriott’s Air+Car program, or transfer them to one of Marriott Bonvoy’s airline partners (typically at a rate of 3 points per mile). Hotel credit cards are more valuable if you consistently stay at the hotel brand’s properties. If you prefer the freedom to apply rewards to other hotel brands, or other types of travel expenses, consider a general travel rewards credit card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers fanciness with flexibility. It comes with a $300 annual travel credit, travel protections, a statement credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, airport lounge access and more. When you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, your points are worth 50% more. Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® . The annual fee is $550.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has a lower annual fee, and it also offers a credit toward TSA Precheck or Global Entry, plus a rich sign-up bonus. You can redeem points for a wide variety of travel expenses, including airfare, hotels, trains, rental cars, limos, buses, cruises, cabs, travel agents and timeshares.

Should you get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card?

If you’re loyal to Marriott Bonvoy and plan to use many of the benefits the card offers, the super-high annual fee can absolutely be worth it. But if you’re not going to be able to enjoy everything the card offers, look elsewhere.

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please visit this page.

Frequently asked questions

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