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HomeCredit CardsMarriott Bonvoy Brilliant Review: Earn 75,000 Bonus Points and Luxury Perks

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Review: Earn 75,000 Bonus Points and Luxury Perks

The premium hotel credit card offers enough value to make up for its steep annual fee.

Advertiser Disclosure: Most products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation. However, opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain.

Since its acquisition of Starwood Hotels and the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program in 2016, Marriott has become one of the largest hotel brands in the world. With nearly 8,000 properties around the world, it’s easy to find a place to stay in most popular travel destinations.

Having a Marriott co-branded credit card can make it easier to stay at the brand’s hotels and resorts on the cheap or even for free. And if you regularly travel, the mix of rewards and luxury perks that you’ll get with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is tough to beat. 

Here’s what you need to know about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and how to decide if it’s the right fit for you.

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $450
Welcome Bonus: 75,000 Points
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-6X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $450

APR: The card charges a variable APR on balances, depending on your credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: This card earns 6X points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Additionally, earn 3X points at restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. All other eligible purchases earn 2X points.

Welcome Bonus: New cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 with the card during their first three months of card membership.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Marriott Bonvoy loyalists who can make the most of the card’s statement credit and Free Night perks.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes packed with a bevy of valuable perks that help to offset its hefty annual fee.

For starters, cardholders automatically receive Gold Elite status with Marriott, granting you access to benefits like late checkout, room upgrades, in-room Wi-Fi and opportunities to earn additional bonus points.

On top of that, you’ll receive a $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit and 15 elite night credits each year of your card membership, as well as a Free Night Award every year when you renew your membership. You even get an annual application fee credit worth up to $100 towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

If you prefer to stay at Marriott properties, you’ll likely find it easy to make the most of this card.

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Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card Review

Marriott vacation destination
Marriott

The Brilliant Card is a consumer Marriott Bonvoy credit card offered by American Express, which maintains a partnership with the hotel brand from its previous deal with Starwood Preferred Guest, or SPG. 

As with any hotel credit card, it’s important to take a look at the Brilliant Card’s rewards program and perks to see if it’s the right fit for you. But even if you’re not a business traveler, it’s not too difficult to make up for the card’s $450 annual fee with the card’s perks alone.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card to decide if it’s the right fit for you.

Welcome Bonus

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is currently offering 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Marriott points are worth 0.4 cents apiece on average, according to Slickdeals’ research, giving the welcome bonus an average value of about $300.

Unfortunately, Marriott switched to dynamic pricing in March 2022, so there’s no award chart to give you an accurate idea of how many nights you can get with the Marriott Bonvoy bonus points.

But as with other hotel rewards programs, there are plenty of opportunities to get much more value than that, particularly if you have some flexibility with your travel dates and destination and you have multiple Marriott hotels from which to choose. You can sometimes get the most value if you can travel during off-peak times.

One thing to keep in mind is that American Express has a lifetime limit on welcome bonuses. If you’ve had the credit card before, you may not be able to earn the introductory offer again in the future.

Referral Bonus

Once you have the new card, you can start referring your friends and family. But, unfortunately, the referral bonus from American Express may not even be worth the effort.

Currently, you’ll earn just 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for each approved referral, up to 55,000 bonus points per year. Comparatively, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase offers 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points for each referral.

Rewards Rates

If you travel a lot, you can rack up a lot of Marriott points easily with the Bonvoy Brilliant credit card, but it also offers double points on non-bonus spending.

Eligible Purchases at Marriott Bonvoy Hotels
Rewards Rate: 6 points per dollar
Dining at U.S. Restaurants (including takeout and delivery)
Rewards Rate: 3 points per dollar
Flights Booked Directly with Airlines
Rewards Rate: 3 points per dollar
All Other Purchases
Rewards Rate: 2 points per dollar

The credit card offers 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points per dollar on dining at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery, 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines and 2 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

Note that you’re also getting up to an additional 10 points per dollar at Marriott Bonvoy hotels as a Bonvoy member, plus up to another 2.5 points per stay with the Gold Elite status that you get with the card, for a total of up to 18.5 points per dollar spent.

The base rewards rate on the credit card is high compared to other travel cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred®, for instance, offers just 1 point per dollar on most of your purchases.

However, if you’re getting just the average value of Marriott Bonvoy points, those 2 points per dollar are worth just 0.8 cents, which gives you less value than what you can get with 1 point with the Sapphire Preferred.

It’s also important with the bonus categories to note the caveats with each. For example, you won’t get extra rewards if you use the card to dine overseas, as it only includes U.S. restaurants. And if you want to earn extra Marriott points on flights, you have to book directly with the airline.

Annual Fee and APR

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card charges a $450 annual fee, which is steep compared to most hotel credit cards.

Of course, it’s important to avoid looking at a credit card’s annual fee on its own to make a decision about whether it’s a good fit. This card in particular offers a lot of value through its benefits, which we’ll cover in a minute, and it’s possible to get all of your money back every year and more.

It’s also important to note that the card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees, but considering that American Express has a low rate of acceptance abroad, especially compared to Visa and Mastercard, you’ll want to have a backup card with you.

The regular APR for the card is variable, depending on your creditworthiness.

It’s worth noting that this card’s cash advance APR is on the high side, and if you miss a payment, you could get slapped with a higher penalty APR for at least six months as well as a hefty late payment or returned payment fee.

To avoid most of the card’s costs, be sure to pay your bill on time and in full every month to avoid the regular APR and consider alternatives to cash advances. 

Credit Score

American Express specializes in offering credit cards to consumers with prime credit, and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is no exception. The credit card requires good or excellent credit, which typically means having a credit score of 670 or above.

Keep in mind, though, that American Express will consider more than just your credit score when you apply. Review your credit reports and your score before you submit an application to get an idea of your approval odds.

Credit Card Benefits

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a suite of travel-related benefits that can elevate your travel experience and also make up for the card’s annual fee. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll get.

Free Night Award

Every year when you renew your card membership and pay the annual fee, American Express will give you a Free Night Award worth up to 50,000 bonus points at participating Marriott properties. 

The Free Night Award will be automatically added to your account within eight to 12 weeks of your renewal month. The certificate is good for one year from the issue date.

With an average value of 0.4 cents per point, that’s worth $200. But, there are plenty of Marriott properties that cost 50,000 Bonvoy points per night that charge much more for cash stays.

Keep in mind, though, that you’re still responsible for resort fees and parking fees, if applicable. 

Marriott Bonvoy Statement Credit

Each year of your card membership, you’ll receive up to $300 in statement credits toward room rates and other eligible purchases at participating Marriott hotels. If you want to use the credit for incidental charges, such as restaurant and spa purchases, make sure you charge the bill to your room, and it’ll be covered.

Between the Free Night Award and the statement credit alone, you can get enough value to recoup your annual fee costs.

Automatic Gold Elite Status

Credit card holders automatically get Gold Elite status with Marriott as long as their account is open. Marriott Bonvoy members normally need to stay at least 25 nights in a calendar year to earn this status level.

Some of the benefits included in Gold Elite status include:

  • 25% more points on eligible purchases at Marriott hotels.
  • Late checkout with a 2 p.m. limit.
  • Bonus points with each stay as a welcome gift.
  • Room upgrades based on availability.
  • Reservation guarantee.
  • Premium in-room Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately, your status won’t qualify you for early check-in, which some other hotel loyalty programs may offer.

Also, note that if you spend $75,000 or more in a calendar year with your credit card, you’ll be upgraded to Platinum Elite status, which offers 50% bonus points on stays, 4 p.m. checkout, the choice of points, breakfast or another welcome gift, dedicated support and access to on-property lounges.

Elite Night Credits

The card offers 15 elite night credits each calendar year toward the next level of elite status. If you stay at Marriott Bonvoy properties often, these elite night credits could help you earn a Platinum Elite status and higher.

Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit

If you book a two-night stay or longer at Marriott property in The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis  brands using your Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you’ll get up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges, including room service and spa charges.

Priority Pass Select Membership

Priority Pass Select is an airport lounge network with more than 1,300 lounges in over 130 countries. With your Priority Pass Select membership, you’ll be able to access these lounges when you’re flying to take advantage of food and beverages, comfortable seating and other amenities, which can vary from lounge to lounge.

You can also bring up to two guests with you at no charge. However, American Express does not participate in the restaurant benefits of Priority Pass Select membership, which offers up to $28 in value per person for up to two people at select airport restaurants.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Fee Credit

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card offers an application fee credit worth up to $100 toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership.

TSA PreCheck offers expedited security screening at most U.S. airports, while Global Entry offers expedited customs screening when returning to the U.S. from abroad.

It’s important to note that Global Entry membership also includes TSA PreCheck, so if you’re trying to decide between the two, go for Global Entry.

Insurance Protection

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a number of travel-related and shopping-related insurance benefits, including:

  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Return protection
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

You can learn more about what the card offers with each of these perks on the American Express website.

Comparing Marriott Bonvoy Cards

If you’re in the market for a Marriott Bonvoy credit card, you’ll need to consider cards from both American Express and Chase. Specifically, Chase offers both the mid-tier Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card and no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $95
Bonus: 5 Free Nights
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 2X-17X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: This card offers up to 17X total points for every dollar spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 3X points on groceries, gas stations and dining (valid for first $6,000 spent in combined purchases annually) and 2X points on all other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: This card offers new cardholders 5 Free Nights (valued at up to 50,000 points each) after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Marriott loyalists and anyone who will stay in a hotel several times a year.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is a solid choice if you’re interested in getting into the travel rewards game and find yourself staying at Marriott properties several times a year. This hotel credit card offers some solid benefits, including the free elite night credits, a free anniversary night every card membership year, a welcome bonus, Silver Elite Status and more.

A lot of the ongoing value this card provides comes through its rewards program. In addition to the annually-awarded Elite Night Credits, cardholders can earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 spent. This helps make Elite Status more achievable, as all purchases made with the card count toward additional Elite Night Credits.

Cardholders earn up to 17X points per dollar on eligible purchases at Marriott properties — that’s 6X points per dollar from the credit card, 10X points per dollar as a Marriott Bonvoy member and 1X point per dollar for having Silver Elite Status, which is automatic with the card. You’ll also earn 3X points on the first $6,000 spent in combined annual purchases on gas stations, groceries and dining. Plus, earn 2X points per dollar on other purchases you make with the card. That base rewards rate is high compared with most travel credit cards, which settle on a 1X point per dollar base rate.

It’s easy to be torn between the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit cards. While the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s annual fee is much higher, it also offers more ongoing value with perks like the annual statement credit and elite night credits.

If you don’t feel like you’ll stay at Marriott properties enough to justify the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s annual fee, you may be better off with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card. Read our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $0
Bonus: 60,000 Points
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-14X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $0

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: This card offers up to 14X total Bonvoy points per dollar spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 2X points on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains) and 1X point on all other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: This card offers 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Marriott loyalists who want to earn rewards without an annual fee or for people who are dipping their toes into the Marriott rewards program.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is a solid choice if you’re interested in getting into the travel rewards game, but don’t want to commit to an annual fee. This credit card offers a solid welcome bonus and can be a great place to start, especially if you’re loyal to Marriott. Every cardmember year, you’ll receive 15 Elite Night Credits, which is enough to qualify you for Silver Elite Status with Marriott. This status level comes with 10% bonus points when you book Marriott stays with cash, late checkout when available and ultimate reservation guarantee.

As with other hotel cards, this one offers outsized rewards on purchases made with the hotel brand. You’ll earn up to 14 points per dollar at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels — that includes 3X points per dollar from the card, 10x points per dollar as a Marriott Bonvoy member and 1X point per dollar as a Marriott Bonvoy Silver member, which you get automatically as a cardholder. The card also offers 2X points per dollar on other travel purchases and 1X point per dollar on all other purchases you make with the card.

It’s worth noting that Chase also offers a no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy card. As an entry-level card, its perks don’t compare to what you receive with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. However, it does come with some added benefits like Silver elite status and accelerated rewards on purchases made at Marriott Bonvoy properties.

If you’re just getting into travel rewards and don’t want to commit to a hefty annual fee, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card is a solid option.

Marriott Bonvoy Points

Overwater Villas at the W Hotel luxury resort in the Maldives.
Unsplash

If you’re considering the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, it’s important to understand how the Bonvoy rewards program works, including how you can use your points, when they expire, how to transfer them and more.

Here’s what you need to know.

Marriott Hotel Brands

You can redeem your points earned with your Marriott credit card with any of the following brands under the Marriott Hotels and Resorts umbrella, with options ranging from budget hotels to high-end properties:

  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • St. Regis
  • JW Marriott
  • Ritz-Carlton Reserve
  • The Luxury Collection
  • W Hotels
  • Edition
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Sheraton
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Delta Hotels
  • Le Meridien
  • Westin
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • Courtyard
  • Four Points
  • Springhill Suites
  • Protea Hotels
  • Fairfield Inn and Suites
  • AC Hotels
  • Aloft
  • Moxy
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Residence Inn
  • TownePlace Suites
  • Element
  • Homes and Villas
  • Autograph Collection
  • Design Hotels
  • Tribute Portfolio

How Can I Redeem My Marriott Points?

Your best bet to get the most value out of your best way to use your Marriott points is to book night awards at the hotel chain’s brands. You can even pool your points with another Bonvoy member to store your rewards in one place.

The hotel loyalty program offers other redemption options, but you won’t get as much value from these, so it’s best to avoid them:

  • Book flights and car rentals
  • Buy experiences
  • Get travel packages
  • Buy gift cards
  • Donate or gift your points

When Do My Points Expire?

Marriott Bonvoy points expire after 24 months of no activity in your account. Fortunately, if you’re using your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card for everyday purchases, you’ll never have to worry about forfeiting points due to inactivity.

Once points have expired, there’s no way to recover them.

Can You Transfer Marriott Points

Yes, Marriott Bonvoy allows you to transfer your hard-earned points to more than 40 frequent flyer programs at a 3:1 ratio. If you transfer to United Airlines MileagePlus, you’ll get a 10% mileage bonus, and for every 60,000 points you transfer to any airline, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles.

Unfortunately, that’s not a great transfer rate, regardless of how you look at it. So, you’re better off sticking to award nights.

Marriott does not allow members to transfer points to other hotel brands, such as IHG or Hyatt.

Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Right for You?

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a lot of value, but is it the right fit? Here are some things to think about.

Flexibility

One of the major drawbacks of any co-branded hotel or airline credit card is that you’re generally stuck redeeming your rewards with that brand if you want to maximize the value of your points or miles. And that’s the case here. 

If you want more flexibility, you may consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which offers many of the same benefits as the Brilliant Card, but instead of a $300 annual statement credit toward Marriott purchases, it’s a $300 statement credit good for all travel purchases.

Additionally, the Sapphire Reserve allows you to transfer your points to multiple airline and hotel programs, including Marriott Bonvoy, at a 1:1 ratio. 

That said, a general travel card like the Sapphire Reserve doesn’t generally give you benefits with the hotel brand, such as a free night award or elite status.

Value of Perks

Premium travel credit cards typically offer a lot of value through their benefits, but depending on your preferences and travel habits, one card may be a better fit than another.

If you want to maximize perks, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. This credit card offers more than $1,000 in value every single year, easily outpacing its $695 annual fee. Additionally, it offers Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, a rare perk among general travel credit cards.

Take a look at multiple premium travel credit cards and determine which offers the most value to you.

Brand Preference

Because you’re essentially stuck with Marriott Bonvoy with this credit card, you’ll want to get it only if you plan to be relatively loyal to the Bonvoy brand.

If you prefer Hilton instead, you may consider the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which offers diamond status with Hilton — the loyalty program’s highest status level — as well as other premium perks with the Hilton brand.

There aren’t any other premium hotel credit cards on the market currently, but again, if you want the flexibility to use your points with multiple hotel brands, you can get a premium card with American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Annual Fee

As with any premium credit card, it’s crucial that you run the numbers before you apply to make sure that you can get enough value from the perks alone to make the card worth it. 

With the Bonvoy Brilliant Card, that means ensuring that you travel enough to max out the $300 statement credit and get enough value from the Free Night Award to cover the remaining $150. 

You can also consider savings from other perks the card offers, but those are more difficult to quantify, so it’s best to focus on the benefits where you can easily determine the dollar value.

If you’re not certain that you’ll be able to recoup your yearly cost for the card, you may be better off with a Marriott card or a different travel credit card with a lower annual fee.

The Bottom Line

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card offers a lot of value, but it’s best for travelers who prefer Marriott hotels and are on the road enough to maximize the value of the card’s benefits.

If you’re thinking about getting the card, take your time to shop around and compare it to other hotel credit cards and premium general travel cards. Think about your goals, spending habits and general preferences and choose the card that will give you the most value in the long run.

Featured photo courtesy of Marriott

While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Ben Luthi
Ben Luthi
Ben Luthi is a personal finance and travel writer and credit card expert. He has a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and worked in financial planning, banking and auto finance before writing full-time for NerdWallet and Student Loan Hero. Ben is now a full-time freelance writer and enjoys traveling and spending time with his two kids. His work has appeared in several publications, including U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Money, Success and Slickdeals.

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