Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card Review
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is Marriott's recently-refreshed premium co-branded Amex card. The card's recent changes look great at first glance. Once you dig in, and consider the state of the Marriott Bonvoy program generally, the changes are not all positive. In this Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card review we will look at the welcome offer, earning structure, card perks and share our overall thoughts.
Current Welcome Offer
The Bonvoy Brilliant comes with the following welcome offer:
- Earn two 85K free night awards after spending $6,000 within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.
- Offer ends 11/1/23
- The card has a $650 annual fee which is NOT waived. (Rates & Fees)
***The standard offer is for 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
Amex Application Rules
If you choose to apply, remember that Amex typically will not approve you for more than two Amex credit cards during a 90-day period. They also have a limit of 5 credit cards per person, of which this is one. There is also a 10 card limit on the colored Membership Rewards earning cards (of which this is not one of).
Amex also has a once per lifetime welcome offer rule on each card. This is more like every 5 – 7 years in reality though, and not actually your lifetime. That timeline is based off of when you last held a card, not when you last earned a welcome offer on the product though. If you are ineligible for the welcome offer for any reason American Express will usually let you know that with a pop-up before the application is processed. You can cancel the application at this time with no hard pull.
Marriott Specific Application Rules
On top of the American Express rules there are Marriott Bonvoy card specific application rules that apply to this card.
Welcome offer not available to applicants who:
- (i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton® Credit Card from JPMorgan or the J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card in the last 30 days,
- (ii) have acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase, or the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or
- (iii) received a new Card Member bonus or upgrade offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase, or the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card Review: Earning Structure
The Bonvoy Brilliant earns bonus points in the following categories:
- 6x Marriott Bonvoy Points on each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
- 3x on the following
- Restaurants worldwide
- Flights booked directly with airlines
- 2x on all other eligible purchases
The benefits and perks of the Bonvoy Brilliant include:
- Complimentary Platinum Elite status
- A free night award worth up to 85,000 points annually (you can top the award off with up to 15,000 points)
- 25 elite nights toward status annually (previously this card offered 15)
- Up to $300 per year in restaurant credits, in the form of a $25 credit each month
- Up to $100 in credit for certain charges when you book direct with Marriott on a special rate for a minimum of a 2-night stay at either The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis
- $100 statement credit for the application fee for Global Entry (every 4 years) or TSA PreCheck (every 4.5 years)
- Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required)
- A Choice Rewards benefit when you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year (you can choose from five suite night awards, a free night award worth up to 85,000 points, or $1,000 off a bed from Marriott Bonvoy boutiques)
- No foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees)
At first glance, the Bonvoy Brilliant‘s changes look pretty good, but not so fast. Let's break them down a bit here.
What's not to like about complimentary Platinum Elite status or increasing the free night certificate value to 85,000 points? Well, when everyone has Platinum Elite status, no one has Platinum Elite status anymore. Marriott's notorious stinginess towards its elites should only worsen as the pool of Platinum Elite members increases exponentially with Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders. Also keep in mind that the complimentary Platinum status from this card does not get you the Choice Rewards benefit you would earn from actually hitting 50 nights to earn Platinum Elite status organically.
Free Night Certificate
And the 85,000-point free night certificate is merely Marriott acknowledging that a 50,000-point cert isn't very valuable anymore. Indeed, Marriott allows you to top off free night certificates with up to 15,000 points, thereby admitting that its repeated devaluations have reduced the value of certss. Nowadays, it's hard to find a good Marriott property charging less than 85,000 points per night. On this note, the Bonvoy Brilliant card essentially charges you $350 for a 85,000 Bonvoy points (assuming you use up the entire $300 restaurant credit). Is paying $350 for 85,000 Bonvoy points a good deal? Hardly.
The card's earning structure remains weak as it was left intact with the refresh. Earning 3x Bonvoy points at restaurants pales in comparison to many other credit cards. That is before you even consider the value of the points you are earning. After all, transferrable currencies like Chase URs and Amex MRs are way more valuable than hotel points.
The $300 restaurant credit replaced the $300 statement credit for purchases at Marriott properties. Overall, the statement was more helpful at Marriott properties since it meant a free or deeply discounted room. Granted, the vast majority of us dine out more often than we stay at Marriott hotels. But, splitting the $300 restaurant credit into $25 monthly increments was done to encourage breakage. It harkens back to when so many different Amex cards had monthly credits that became a hassle to track. Still, most folks will have no problem redeeming this credit as long as they remember to do so every month.
Elite Night Credits
But not all is lost for the Bonvoy Brilliant. The increase to 25 elite night credits from 15 is certainly a nice change. These 25 elite nights will continue to stack with the 15 elite night credits offered through the business card (but not with the 15 nights offered by any other personal Marriott card). This means cardholders who have the Bonvoy Brilliant and the business card will earn up to 40 elite night credits per year. That's over halfway to the 75 nights required for Titanium Elite status. The 25 night credits makes the Bonvoy Brilliant card indispensable for most of those who are chasing Titanium Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card Review: ToP Thoughts
The refreshed Bonvoy Brilliant has become a useful credit card for those seeking Titanium Elite status. The card no longer holds much value beyond the 25 elite night credits it offers annually. It's hard to justify the card's $650 annual fee in light of the direction that Marriott Bonvoy is headed. They have been rolling out devaluation after devaluation, adopted dynamic award pricing and now the dilution of Platinum Elite status. It makes it difficult to get excited for their status.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant please visit here