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Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card review

A stellar addition to the premium-travel-card market that offers a terrific welcome offer.

finder.com’s rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

  • Get this card if Marriott Bonvoy is a major part of your regular travel plans.
  • Pick something else if you want generalized, flexible travel rewards or prefer staying with a different hotel group.
  • Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

All information about this card has been collected independently and application links are currently unavailable on Finder.

150,000

Points as welcome offer

Up to 6x

Points

$650

Annual fee

18.74% to 27.74%

Purchase APR (variable)

Details

Annual fee$650
Welcome offer150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards6x Marriott Bonvoy points on eligible direct Marriott Bonvoy purchases. 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2x points on all other eligible purchases
Purchase APR18.74% to 27.74% variable
Balance transfer APRN/A
Minimum Credit Score670
Avatar

Review by


Kevin Joey Chen was a credit cards, banking and investments writer for Finder. His work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Business.com, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com.

Expert review

There’s long been stiff competition among premium travel cards, especially thanks to the superb options offered by leading providers. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card carries a $650 annual fee, earns 6x points at Marriott properties, 3x points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines and 2x on every other eligible purchase. It also offers a valuable welcome offer of 150,000 points and 1 Free Night Award after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.

There’s good news: You’ll find tremendous value for the price. The card can pay for itself with just a few of its benefits. The card’s annual statement credit of up to $300 (up to $25 per month) for purchases from eligible restaurants immediately takes a bite out of what you owe on the annual fee. The card’s annual free night award and complimentary Priority Pass membership more than cover the rest, allowing you to worry less about covering the fee and more on enjoying your perks. Just be sure to enroll in your Amex account to access these perks.

Not surprisingly, the card’s rewards are most impressive for frequent travelers. But a notably deft touch is elevated rewards for dining, which makes it competitive with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

If you’re a dedicated Marriott Bonvoy member, this card is more than worth a spot in your wallet and likely your best choice out of the three Marriott options.

How to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

To apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, you must be at least 18 years old and a US resident. You’ll also need to provide information such as your name, email and phone number, Social Security number and date of birth, your home address, and your total annual income and income source.

  1. Go to the provider's site and select Apply now.
  2. Fill out the application form with details like your name, contact information, Social Security number and total annual income.
  3. Review your application and submit it.

    Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card benefits

    • Welcome offer: Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you spend $5,000 in eligible purchases using your new card within the first 3 months of card membership.
    • Rewards: Up to 6x points. Earn 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. This was the rate you’d receive before SPG and Marriott Rewards merged in August 2018, and it’s still a strong one. Earn 3x points at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. On other eligible purchases, you’ll earn 2x points. Redeem points for reward nights at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, as well as car rentals and flights through the airline program. For all of your redemption options, check out our Marriott award chart. Plus, transfer points to miles with over 40 airlines, including Delta, Emirates, United and more.
    • $300 credit on restaurants. Each card year you’ll receive Up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year, up to $25 per month, for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
    • Shopping and entertainment benefits. Access ticket presales and select events in your area.
    • ShopRunner. You’ll receive free two-day shipping on eligible items at over 140 online stores in the ShopRunner network with this complimentary membership. Access Shoprunner by enrolling in your Amex account.

    Hotel perks

    • Free Night Award. Each year after your card renewal month, you’ll receive a Free Night Award. You can use it for a night at a participating hotel that has a redemption level at or under 50,000 points. At the time of writing, complimentary nights range in cost from 7,500 to 85,000 points. There are no blackout dates and your award covers your room rate and applicable taxes. However, you may need to pay resort fees and incidental charges.
    • Complimentary Elite status. As a baseline perk, you’ll enjoy Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy® program. Gold Elite comes with a 25% points bonus, 2 p.m. late checkout based on availability, a dedicated elite reservation line, welcome gifts and enhanced room upgrades based on availability. Normally, you’d need to stay 25 nights a year to attain it.
    • Credits toward higher Elite status. Each calendar year, you’ll receive a 15-night credit to help you reach the next level of Elite status.You’ll need to link your card account to a Marriott Loyalty Program in your name.

    General travel perks

    • Travel insurance. Enjoy car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance. Get access to the Premium Global Assist Hotline as well, which can connect you to medical and professional services when you’re in a pinch on vacation.
    • No foreign transaction fees. Use your card abroad or at foreign websites without paying a fee. This is standard across travel cards.
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi. After enrolling, you’ll receive unlimited Wi-Fi through more than a million Boingo hotspots around the world. You’ll also receive complimentary in-room, premium Internet access when you stay at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
    • Priority Pass™ Select membership. You’ll receive a complimentary membership in Priority Pass Select. Once you enroll, you’ll enjoy complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world. At Priority Pass lounges that allow guests, you can bring two along without paying extra.
    • Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Every four years, you’ll receive up to a $100 statement credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application, which cost $100 and $85 respectively. If you’re approved for Global Entry, you’ll automatically receive a TSA PreCheck membership at no additional charge.

    Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card drawbacks

    • $650 annual fee. This card is priced at a premium. To its credit, however, it offers impressive benefits for its annual fee that can easily make up the cost.
    • Potentially high APR. You could receive a purchase APR as high as 27.74% variable, depending on your credit. That’s much higher than the average credit card APR of around 16%.
    • Penalty APR. American Express may apply a 29.99% variable APR to all balances if you pay late or make a returned payment. This rate will apply for at least six months, but you may be stuck with it indefinitely.

    Silver Elite vs. Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy® program

    Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card offers complimentary Silver Elite status. Meanwhile, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offers complimentary Gold Elite status. Here’s how the tiers stack up, with base-level Member perks to compare.
    MemberSilver EliteGold Elite
    Complimentary in-room Internet accesscheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark
    Member ratescheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark
    Mobile check-in and mobile servicescheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark
    Ultimate Reservation Guaranteexcheckmarkcheckmark
    Points bonusxcheckmark
    10% bonus
    checkmark
    25% bonus
    Priority late checkoutxcheckmarkcheckmark
    Until 2 p.m.,
    based on availability
    Dedicated Elite reservation linexcheckmarkcheckmark
    In-hotel welcome giftxxcheckmark
    Typically points
    Enhanced room upgrade, based on availabilityxxcheckmark

    Here’s how to make up for the annual fee of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

    Given the breadth of perks and benefits offered by the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, it’s pretty simple to make up for the cost of the card each year by ensuring you’re using all of the available perks. Here are a few of the easiest ways to do it.

    • Stay at a Marriott Bonvoy property a few times a year. It sounds redundant, but this is important because it uses your annual Free Night Award. A free night award is worth a room redemption of 50,000 points or less, which is worth anywhere from $200 to $500 depending on the location and season.
    • Take advantage of your Gold status. Typically, reaching Gold status in the Marriott Bonvoy® program requires you book 25 nights at an eligible Marriott Bonvoy property. This would cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in normal circumstances and the perks Gold status, such as room upgrades, are also worth hundreds in value.
    • Enroll in Priority Pass. An annual Priority Pass membership that allows for unlimited lounge visits is $429 as of September 2022.

    Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card customer reviews and complaints

    The American Express Company is accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), earning an A+ rating from the agency as of August 2021. It currently has over 3,000 complaints. However, according to the BBB, most of the complaints have been answered by the company or resolved to customers’ satisfaction.

    Compare Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant to similar credit cards

    Compare the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express vs. the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Looking at these similar cards’ annual fees, welcome offers and other features can help you decide which is right for you.

    Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

    The Platinum Card® from American Express

    ★★★★★

    Finder rating 4.6 / 5

    ★★★★★

    Finder rating 4.4 / 5

    Read Review
    Terms apply, see rates & fees
    Read Review
    Terms apply, see rates & fees

    Minimum Credit Score

    670

    Minimum Credit Score

    670

    Annual Fee

    $650

    Annual Fee

    $695

    Purchase APR

    Up to 27.74% variable

    Purchase APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

    Balance transfer APR

    N/A

    Balance transfer APR

    N/A

    Rewards

    Up to 6x points

    Rewards

    Up to 5x points

    Welcome offer

    150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

    Welcome offer

    100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months

    Bottom line

    The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is priced at a premium, but it packs tremendous value for its cost. If you frequent Marriott Bonvoy properties and love traveling in style, this card could be an automatic winner.

    If you’re not sure the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is for you, compare other great travel cards before you decide.

    How we determined the value of Marriott Bonvoy points

    To determine the average value of a Marriott Bonvoy bonus point, we looked at the equivalent dollar value a redemption option would cost in the Marriott Bonvoy bonus program. We calculated this average across all redemption options available through Marriott Bonvoy to reach the approximate value you can expect when redeeming these points on average. In this case, the average value of a single Marriott Bonvoy bonus point came out to 0.9 cents per point.
    Remember that your points could be worth more or less depending on what you redeem them on, so this figure should be used as a general guide.

    How has this card changed over time?

    DateBefore card updateAfter card update
    April 21, 2022Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months.Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and 1 Free Night Award after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
    September 29, 2022Hotel perks: $300 in Marriott Bonvoy statement credit. Each card year you’ll receive $300 in statement credit for eligible purchases you make at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels when using your credit card. This is an excellent perk that can largely offset the card’s annual fee, depending on how you take advantage of the Amex credit. This offer is available until September 22, 2022.Rewards: $300 credit on restaurants. Each card year you’ll receive Up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year, up to $25 per month, for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
    Editorial note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

    Insurance benefit note: Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

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    4 Comments

    1. Default Gravatar
      Ned
      May 2, 2019

      Do points earned on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card expire? Thanks.

      • Avatarfinder Customer Care
        Mai
        May 4, 2019

        Hi Ned,

        Thank you for contacting Finder.

        Points stay active if the loyalty member account is considered active. Card Members who make a purchase with the Card at least every 12 months will stay in active status.

        Hope this helps! 😊

        Kind Regards,
        Mai

    2. Default Gravatar
      Charles
      March 20, 2019

      Just rec’d Am ex credit card,has been activated for Marriott BONVoY, it provides statement “visit americanexpress.ca/welcomeMarriott” however cannot get access to this Internet address? Also can I get a telephone number where I can talk to a human being rather than a recording.

      • Avatarfinder Customer Care
        johnbasanes
        March 21, 2019

        Hi Charles,

        Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

        You may want to check the settings of your browser as there may be restrictions in place that prevent you from accessing this page. You may also try a different browser just in case. Once you have access to the website, the contact us button is available at the top right corner of the screen and depending on the query that you have, there is a selection that would provide you the correct number to dial to reach that department. Hope this helps!

        Cheers,
        Reggie

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