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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.

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 an excellent credit score of 740 or higher.

100,000

Points as welcome offer

Up to 6x

Points

$450

Annual fee

15.74% to 24.74%

Purchase APR (variable)

Details

Product NameMarriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Annual fee$450
Purchase APR15.74% to 24.74% variable
Balance transfer APRN/A
Cash advance rate25.24% variable
Cash advance fee$10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Penalty APR29.24% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Interest free periodUp to 25 days
Late payment feeUp to $40
Returned payment feeUp to $40
Rates & feesrates & fees

Expert review

Kevin Joey Chen

Review by


Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards, banking and investments writer whose work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Business.com, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order by expertly navigating cutting-edge financial tools — including credit cards, apps and budgeting software.

Expert review

There’s long been stiff competition among premium travel cards, especially thanks 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. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card carries a $450 annual fee, earns 6x points at Marriott properties, 3x points at restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines and 2x on everything else. Until January 13, 2021, it also offers a sizable 100,000 point welcome offer along with another 25,000 points on your first anniversary, and charges no foreign transaction fees. 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. The card’s annual $300 statement credit 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.

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.

The perks

  • Welcome offer: 100,000 bonus points.

    Earn these points after you make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months following your account opening. In addition to this, you’ll also earn 25,000 points each year of card membership. This new welcome offer ends on January 13, 2021.

    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. For all of your redemption options, check out our Marriott award chart.

  • 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 Amex 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 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.

    As of this writing however, new cardholders will enjoy a full status year of Platinum Elite status, beginning February 2, 2021 and ending on January 31, 2022. After, your account will revert back to Gold status. Typically, you’d need to spend $75,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year to earn Platinum Elite status. For more information on how Platinum Elite status differs, check out our Marriott Bonvoy guide.

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

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 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.

  • 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.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual fee $450 $550
Welcome offer 100,000 points when you make $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of card membership, and another 25,000 points after the first anniversary of card membership. This offer expires on January 13, 2021. 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
  • 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2020
  • 3x on travel after earning your annual travel credit
  • 3x points on dining
  • 1x on all other eligible purchases
Free Night Award Yes No
Hotel program status upgrade Yes No
Fee credits $300 annual Marriott Bonvoy statement credit
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • $60 in annual DoorDash credits in 2020 and 2021
Airport lounge access Yes Yes
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit Yes Yes
Points transfers Yes Yes
Complimentary memberships No
  • Complimentary year of Lyft Pink membership
  • Complimentary DashPass membership for at least a year

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 APR as high as 24.74% 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 29.24% 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 travel credit cards

Want to know how the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant stacks up against other travel cards on the market? Select your credit score below and click “Show Cards” to start comparing your options side-by-side.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 15x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases. Starting January 1, 2021, your 15x points on flights will be capped on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points).
$550
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021)
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
$450
Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 or more within your first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021). Rates & fees
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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.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card reviews and complaints

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 as of October 2020. 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.

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 $40. They’ll also put you at risk of a penalty APR, which is 29.24% 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.

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

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.

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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.

    • 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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