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

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In a Nutshell

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card features a large welcome bonus, plenty of opportunities to earn points, and lots of Marriott perks and credits for the luxury traveler. But the $450 annual fee could put the card out of reach for some Marriott customers.

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Pros Cons
Good welcome bonus High annual fee
Annual free-night award Free-night award isn’t redeemable at Marriott’s highest-tier hotels
High hotel credit available You need to stay at Marriott a lot to maximize the card’s value
Plenty of points for Marriott stays Low estimated points value
Complimentary Gold Elite status gives you room upgrades and late checkouts

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

1. Enjoy a free night at Marriott, and maybe more

Just being a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® 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 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or fewer per night with regular redemptions.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card also offers a $300 statement credit for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels each year, which you can use to make your stay more comfortable — or book even more hotel nights.

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 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months after account opening. That would give you enough points to book up to 10 nights at one of the brand’s lower-tier hotels.

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 Gold Elite status in the Bonvoy loyalty program, you could earn up to 12.5 points for every $1 you spend at Marriott hotels. That’s 10 base points for every $1 you spend on qualifying purchases, plus a 25% bonus for Gold Elite status.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card also offers another six points for every $1 you spend on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, for a total of up to 18.5 points per $1 spent.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card also offers three points for every $1 spent at U.S. restaurants 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 Gold Elite status provides access to room upgrades, a premium internet connection in your hotel room and late checkouts up until 2 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 $450 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 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit and complimentary Gold 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 0.93 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.

It costs anywhere from 7,500 to 85,000 points to book one night at a Marriott hotel. But 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 $450 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® Cards isn’t the right fit, you might be interested in one of these other hotel credit cards.