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

You'll get a massive welcome offer, solid rewards, multiple statement credits, elite status, lounge access and more, in exchange for a $650 annual fee. Terms apply.
Sep 30, 2022

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Our Take

4.0

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.

Jump to: Full Review
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
Annual fee
$650
Regular APR
18.74%-27.74% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)
Apply now

on American Express' website

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Anniversary perk

  • High rewards rate

  • Automatic elite status

  • Luxury perks

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Rewards have limited flexibility

  • Lower acceptance abroad

Alternate Pick: More flexibility
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Similar high-end perks

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 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

$650

Annual fee

$95

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

18.74%-27.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

18.24%-25.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

18.24%-25.24% 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

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

Card type: Hotel.

Annual fee: $650.

New cardholder offer: Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months. 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.

The points you earn by using the credit card for Marriott hotels stays are "bonus" points. They are on top of the "base" points you earn for those stays by being a member of the Marriott Bonvoy program.

NerdWallet values Marriott points at 0.7 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 0.7 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 per calendar year, up to $25 per month, for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.

  • Free Night Award (valued up to 85,000 points) every year after your account renewal month.

  • Platinum Elite status.

  • 25 elite night credits per year.

  • Fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

  • Priority Pass Select lounge membership (enrollment required).

  • Annual earned choice award (when you spend $60,000 in eligible purchases). Choose from 5 suite night awards, a free award night up to 85,000 points or a discount on a Marriott bed.

  • Up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve or St. Regis brands when you book direct using a special rate for a 2+ night stay.

  • Terms apply.

Benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Generous welcome offer and ongoing rewards

The card's welcome offer is rich indeed. It could translate to, say, a three-night stay at a mid-tier hotel property, depending on when you travel. Or, alternatively, 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:

  • Up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.

  • A free night award each year (the booking must cost 85,000 points or less).

  • Up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve or St. Regis brands when you book direct using a special rate for a 2+ night stay.

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

  • Either one $100 statement credit every 4 years for the application fee for Global Entry or one $85 statement credit every 4.5 years for TSA Precheck.

  • Terms apply.

Instant elite status

Enjoy automatic Platinum Elite status, which gives you a 50% point bonus on eligible hotel purchases, along with things like room upgrades (including suites), extra late checkout, lounge access, free breakfast and more. Terms apply. Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status can provide meaningful value for those who stay frequently at Marriott hotels.

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.

If you damage your cell phone while traveling (or at home), the card gives some protections if you use it to pay your bill. You can be reimbursed for repair or replacement up to $800 per claim, up to two times per 12-month period (for a $50 deductible). Terms apply.

Drawbacks and alternatives

A super-high annual fee

Any annual fee is worth notice, but $650 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 and the $0-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card offer solid ongoing rewards, for instance.

Here's how different Marriott Bonvoy credit cards compare:

  • Up to 14 Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

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

  • 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.

  • Up to 17 Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • 3 points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations and dining.

  • 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • An additional Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.

  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.

  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year. 1 elite night credit toward elite status for every $5,000 you spend.

Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express Card, $250

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

  • 4 points per $1 spent on up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets.

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

  • 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points with each qualifying stay. Complimentary Gold Elite status.

  • A Free Night Award after making $15,000 in purchases per year for any hotel worth 50,000 points or less.

  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.

  • Terms apply.

Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ from Chase, $250

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

  • 4 points per $1 spent on up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets.

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

  • 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points with each qualifying stay. Complimentary Gold Elite status.

  • A Free Night Award after making $15,000 in purchases per year for any hotel worth 50,000 points or less.

  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.

  • 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.

  • One Free Night Award each year after card renewal for any stay at a redemption level of 85,000 points or less.

  • Platinum Elite status.

  • $300 statement credit for restaurant purchases (up to $25 per month).

  • Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required).

  • Application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. 25 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.

  • Terms apply.

Rewards are 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/Global Entry/NEXUS, airport lounge access and more. When you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, your points are worth 50% more. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 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.

Credits are doled out monthly

While the card's annual $300 in statement credits help take a large bite out of the card's annual fee, there's a catch: you'll get them in $25 increments each month. You'll get statement credits for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide, but you'll have to remember to use them. Previously, the card offered up to $300 in statement credits towards eligible Marriott purchases, which is easier for some Marriott travelers to utilize.

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 (check our list of best rewards credit cards).

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

on American Express' website

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.
Frequently asked questions

The card charges a $650 annual fee, but also offers additional benefits that can help offset that cost. Ultimately, the more loyal you are to Marriott Bonvoy and the more likely you are to enjoy all or most of the card’s perks, the more valuable the card becomes for you.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card requires good to excellent credit, corresponding with a FICO score of 690 to 850.

There are five consumer Marriott Bonvoy credit cards: the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Card. There’s also a small-business card, the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card.

NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cent each, making 100,000 points worth $700.

Marriott no longer publishes an award chart based on hotel categories. Free nights can start at 5,000 for an off-peak booking at basic property, and luxury hotels in peak-season can cost 100,000 points or more per night.