Link: Apply now for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (review) is the most premium credit card in the Marriott co-brand card portfolio, and it underwent a major refresh in 2022.
The card has a hefty annual fee that might make some people hesitant to apply, but the perks add up. In this post I wanted to share why I think this card is worth picking up, as the perks justify the annual fee, in my opinion.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card welcome bonus
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is offering a welcome bonus of 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $5,000 within the first three months. This is a solid bonus, as I value Bonvoy points at ~0.7 cents each. To me the bonus is worth ~$665.
Of course the bonus is only one reason you should consider this card, as the real benefit is the ongoing value offered by the card.
Why the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is worth it
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a $650 annual fee (Rates & Fees). I can totally understand how on the surface some people might say “well I don’t want to pay that much for a card if I don’t have to.”
I totally get it, but I think for most people this card will be well worth it. It’s a card that I personally have, and one that I get significant value from. In no particular order, below are the five perks that I like most about the card, and that I think make it worthwhile.
$300 annual restaurant credit
One thing that helps with justifying the annual fee on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is that it offers up to $300 in restaurant credits annually. Specifically, you can receive up to $25 per month in credits for spending at eligible restaurants worldwide.
This should be extremely easy to take advantage of — just spend $25 at a restaurant each month, and you’ll receive a statement credit for that amount. You could use this toward a nice dinner while traveling, or just for your morning coffee. There’s no registration required, and the statement credit will post automatically.
Admittedly there are better cards for dining spending, so you may not want to use this card for all of your restaurant spending. My strategy is to just load $25 into my Starbucks account at the beginning of each month, and that does the trick.
Free night award worth up to 85,000 points
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a free night award on your account anniversary every year, valid at a property costing up to 85,000 Bonvoy points per night. This has a significant advantage over the free night award on some other Marriott credit cards, which are only valid at properties costing up to 35,000-50,000 points.
Nowadays you can even use up to 15,000 points to top-off your free night award, meaning you could use the certificate at a hotel costing up to 100,000 points. You could potentially use that at some pretty awesome hotels.
Personally I value this free night certificate at more than $350 per year, so between the restaurant credit and this, you’re already breaking even on the card, not even accounting for the other perks.
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status
The single greatest benefit of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is that it offers Platinum Elite status for as long as you’re a cardmember. This is amazing, as it ordinarily requires 50 elite nights per year. This is where hotel status gets valuable, and you can unlock perks like free breakfast, suite upgrades, guaranteed late check-out, and more.
Note that the years of Platinum Elite status earned with this card also count toward lifetime status with Marriott Bonvoy, if that’s something you’re gong for.
25 elite nights toward Bonvoy status
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers 25 elite nights toward status annually. Since I have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (review), I receive a total of 40 elite nights toward status annually between the two cards.
Now, of course you’re already getting Platinum Elite status with the card, so what’s the benefit of this? Well, the elite nights could come in handy if you want to earn Marriott Bonvoy Choice Benefits (like Suite Night Awards) or go for Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite or Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite status.
A Priority Pass membership
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required) to the primary cardmember, getting you access to 1,300+ lounges worldwide. You can generally even bring two guests into lounges with you. This will come in handy for anyone who travels by air with any frequency.
I find the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to be extremely worthwhile. While the card has a $650 annual fee, personally, I tend to think the $300 annual restaurant credit plus annual free night award more than justify the annual fee.
Then you can add in perks like Platinum Elite status, 25 elite nights toward status annually, a Priority Pass membership, and more, and the card really shines.
If you have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, what has your experience been?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (Rates & Fees).
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