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Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card review

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A stellar addition to the premium-travel-card market with valuable rewards and benefits.

  • Get this card if you’re a Marriott Bonvoy hotels regular.
  • Pick something else if you want general travel rewards or prefer staying with a different hotel group.
  • Apply with an excellent credit score of 740 or higher.

75,000

Points as welcome offer

Up to 6x

Points

$450

Annual fee

17.74% to 26.74%

Purchase APR (variable)

Details

Product NameMarriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Annual fee$450
Purchase APR17.74% to 26.74% variable
Balance transfer APR17.74% to 26.74% variable
Balance transfer fee$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
Cash advance rate27.24% variable
Cash advance fee$5 or 3% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Penalty APR29.99% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Interest free periodUp to 25 days
Late payment feeUp to $38
Returned payment feeUp to $38
Rates & feesrates & fees

The basics

There’s long been stiff competition among premium travel cards, thanks especially to the superb options offered by leading providers. Now, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has entered the field following the merging of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Marriott Rewards into Marriott Bonvoy. But is it worth its hefty admission fee?

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.

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®.

Another hotel credit card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual fee $450 $450
Welcome offer 75,000 points when you make $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of card membership 50,000 points when you make $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of card membership
Points
  • 6x at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 3x at US restaurants and on eligible flights
  • 2x on all other eligible purchases
  • 3x on travel and dining
  • 1x on all other eligible purchases
Free Night Award Yes No
Hotel program status upgrade Yes No
Travel credits $300 annual Marriott Bonvoy statement credit $300 annual travel credit
Airport lounge access Yes Yes
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit Yes Yes
Points transfers Yes Yes

The perks

  • Welcome offer: 75,000 bonus points.

    Earn these points after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months following your account opening.

    When you earn these points, you’ll have enough for a reward night at any participating property in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio. You may even have enough left over for another stay — perhaps even at the same property.

  • 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 all other eligible purchases, you’ll earn 2x points.

What can you redeem points for?

Redeem points for reward nights at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, as well as car rentals and flights through the airline program.

You can also transfer points to miles with over 40 airlines, including Delta, Emirates, United and more. The transfer ratio is 3 points per 1 mile. Plus, for every 60,000 points you transfer, you’ll get a 15,000-point bonus. That means you’ll receive not 20,000 — but 25,000 miles.

How to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points

  • Free Night Award.

    Each year after your card anniversary, 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.

    Currently, complimentary nights range in cost from 7,500 to 85,000 points.

How good is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Free Night Award?

Your Free Night Award lets you stay at a participating hotel with a redemption value of 50,000 points or less. To give you a sense of how far your award goes, check out these properties you could potentially book a stay in.

The Ritz-Carlton, Macau

The Ritz-Carlton, Macau

Park Tower, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buenos Aires

Park Tower, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buenos Aires

Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui

Wailea Beach Resort - Marriott, Maui

  • $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. This is an excellent perk that can largely offset the card’s annual fee, depending on how you take advantage of the credit.

  • 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 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.

  • Complimentary Gold Elite status.

    Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program 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.

    When you make $75,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year, you’ll earn Platinum Elite status.

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.
Member Silver Elite Gold Elite
Complimentary in-room Internet access checkmark checkmark checkmark
Member rates checkmark checkmark checkmark
Mobile check-in and mobile services checkmark checkmark checkmark
Ultimate Reservation Guarantee x checkmark checkmark
Points bonus x checkmark
10% bonus
checkmark
25% bonus
Priority late checkout x checkmark checkmark
Until 2 p.m.,
based on availability
Dedicated Elite reservation line x checkmark checkmark
In-hotel welcome gift x x checkmark
Typically points
Enhanced room upgrade, based on availability x x checkmark

Compare rewards credit cards

You’ll also like

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Travel benefits.

    Enjoy roadside assistance, car rental insurance, travel accident 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.

  • Shopping and entertainment benefits.

    Get extended warranties, return protection and purchase protection on eligible items you buy with your card. Also 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.

What to watch out for

  • $450 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 and balance transfer APR as high as 26.74% 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.

Compare Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. American Express® Gold Card

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
75,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
$0
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
1.25x miles on all purchases and 10x miles at hotels.com/venture
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a Delta purchase in the same timeframe
2x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a direct Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on all purchases and 10x miles at hotels.com/venture
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
50,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
3x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 2x on travel and 1x on all other purchases
$0
50,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

What should I know before I apply?

Before applying for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, check the eligibility requirements and make sure you have the required information.

Eligibility requirements

  • You’re 18 years of age or older.
  • You’re a US resident.

Required documents and information

  • Your name, email address and phone number.
  • Your Social Security number and date of birth.
  • Your home address.
  • Your total annual income and income source.

What credit score do I need

For better odds of approval, consider applying with an excellent credit score of 740 or higher. Remember that when you apply with a better score, you’re more likely to receive a lower APR, which can be handy if you’re planning on carrying a balance.

What do customers say about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card?

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is a new product, but its sister card — Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card — is often highly regarded by customers. The business version in particular is much improved over its previous incarnation, offering elevated points in new categories.

The American Express Company is accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), earning an A+ rating from the agency. 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.

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

  1. Visit the American Express website and click 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.

How long will it take to get my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card?

Applications are generally processed automatically, meaning you can get a decision within just a few minutes. In some cases you may need to provide additional information, which can delay getting an answer by anywhere from a few business days to a few weeks. Once you’re approved for the card, you’ll likely receive it and any welcome materials in the mail within seven to 10 days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Enroll in autopay. You can set up automatic payments at the American Express website. These can be highly convenient, as they’ll help you avoid late payments.
  • Avoid late and returned payments. Both come with fees as high as $38. They’ll also put you at risk of a penalty APR, which is 29.99% variable. This rate may be indefinitely applied to all of your balances.
  • Contact customer service. To reach customer service, call the number on the back of your card. Alternatively, you can call 1-800-528-4800.

How to choose Amex hotel cards

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.

Frequently asked questions

Disclaimer

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.

Images: AmericanExpress.com

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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.

    • AvatarStaff
      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.

    • AvatarStaff
      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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