Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card review: A feature-rich hotel rewards card

Woman lying on a hotel bed, surrounded by her travel accessoriesImage: Woman lying on a hotel bed, surrounded by her travel accessories

In a Nutshell

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card features a welcome bonus, plenty of opportunities to earn points, and lots of Marriott perks and credits for the luxury traveler. But the $650 annual fee could put the card out of reach for some Marriott customers.
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  • Welcome bonus
  • Annual free-night award
  • Plenty of points for Marriott stays
  • Complimentary Platinum Elite status gives you room upgrades and late checkouts


  • High annual fee
  • Free-night award isn’t redeemable at Marriott’s highest-tier hotels
  • You need to stay at Marriott a lot to maximize the card’s value
  • Low estimated points value

5 things to know about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

1. Enjoy a free night at Marriott

Just being a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card cardholder could mean multiple free nights at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

You’ll receive one award night each year after your account anniversary simply for keeping the card open. It can be redeemed for a standard room at a participating Marriott hotel, on rooms that otherwise cost 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or fewer per night with regular redemptions.

2. Rewards nights could add up quickly

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card could help you jumpstart your hotel rewards nights — you can earn 95,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months after account opening.

With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, you could take home even more points when you use your card to stay at participating Marriott hotels. Thanks to your complimentary Platinum Elite status in the Bonvoy loyalty program, you could earn up to nine points for every $1 you spend at Marriott hotels. That’s six base points for every $1 you spend on qualifying purchases, plus a 50% bonus for Platinum Elite status.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card also offers three points for every $1 spent at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly through an airline, plus two points for each $1 spent on all other purchases.

3. Enjoy a more comfortable hotel experience

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card could make your hotel stay more relaxing. The card’s complimentary Platinum Elite status provides access to room upgrades, a premium internet connection in your hotel room and late checkouts up until 4 p.m. (based on availability).

And if you book a stay of at least two nights at a Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotel, you can receive up to a $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit to use on qualifying purchases at the hotel. Maybe even treat yourself to a spa treatment.

You’ll also get travel-related perks like a Priority Pass Select lounge membership — which is good for you and two guests per visit, after enrollment — and a statement credit of up to $100 every four years for the application fee for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry when you pay with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card.

4. Loyalty to Marriott pays off

The trade-off for being treated like hotel royalty is having to commit to one particular hotel brand. To take full advantage of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, you should be comfortable staying at Marriott hotels on a regular basis.

If you’d rather not commit to one hotel chain, you might get more value out of a more generic travel credit card that rewards you no matter which hotel you visit. Those who prefer variety might not like feeling as if they have to stay at a Marriott every time they travel.

5. Annual fee might be too expensive for some travelers

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card charges a $650 annual fee, which might put the card out of reach for even the most loyal Marriott customers.

But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for everyone. The annual fee is balanced out by a number of generous rewards, the annual free-night award, a $300 dining statement credit and complimentary Platinum Elite status. If you stay at Marriott often enough to use these features regularly, you might find this card is worth it.

Understanding your points and redemption options

Marriott Bonvoy points are worth an estimated 0.75 cents each when you redeem for hotel nights, according to Credit Karma’s point valuations. That’s not one of the best values in our rankings, but it’s not a bad one when compared with what you’ll see from some other hotel rewards programs.

Your points could go further if you take advantage of Marriott’s fifth-night-free promotion. When you use points to book a five-night stay, you’ll be charged for the first four nights, but the fifth night will be free.

But hotels aren’t your only redemption option. You can also redeem points for flights, rental cars, special events, gift cards and charitable donations. Or you could transfer your points to one of Marriott’s dozens of airline partners — but at a three-to-one points ratio, which means your points would be worth less.

Who this card is good for

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is great for frequent travelers who like to get the royal treatment at Marriott hotels. The card’s many perks could allow you to maximize your experience, and the welcome bonus and high points-earning rates can help you build up a rewards balance quickly.

But keep in mind that occasional guests might not have the chance to use these features enough to justify the $650 annual fee. Even if you prefer to stay at Marriott, you might be better off with one of Marriott Bonvoy’s other rewards cards.

Not sure this card is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

If the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card isn’t the right fit, you might be interested in one of these other hotel credit cards.

About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.