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Is The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Worth It?

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The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (review) is the most premium credit card in the Marriott co-brand card portfolio. The card has a hefty annual fee that might make some people hesitant to get the card, but the perks add up. In this post I wanted to share my experience with the card, and why I get outsized value with the card.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card welcome bonus

Through November 3, 2021, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is offering a limited time two-part welcome bonus, which is among the best we’ve ever seen on the card. With this offer you can earn the following after spending $5,000 within the first three months:

  • Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points
  • Earn a bonus free night award, with a maximum redemption value of 85,000 Bonvoy points

This is a massive bonus that could be worth up to 235,000 Bonvoy points. Personally I value Bonvoy points at ~0.7 cents each, so this bonus could be worth up to $1,645 by my valuation, which is pretty incredible. Welcome bonuses don’t get much better than that.

Redeem your free night award at Santa Marina Mykonos

Why the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is worth it

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a $450 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.”

This is a credit card I have, and in this post, I wanted to explain how this card has been oh-so-worth-it to me, and why I think this would be the case for lots of others as well. In no particular order, here’s how the benefits of this card have worked out for me:

$300 Marriott travel credit

Personally, I view the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card as actually costing $150 per year, rather than $450 per year. Why? Because the card offers a straightforward $300 annual Marriott travel credit.

This couldn’t be easier to use, and there are no hoops to jump through — you’ll receive statement credits for the first $300 you spend each cardmember year at a Marriott family property with the card:

  • This is valid at virtually all properties, both in the United States and abroad, and at a variety of brands, ranging from Four Points to Ritz-Carlton
  • This is valid for virtually all hotel spending, ranging from room rate, to food & beverage purchases, to spa treatments
  • The credit posts automatically, and there’s no registration required

If you spend at least $300 per year at Marriott properties, this should just about be worth face value, plain and simple. And I guess to reverse it, if you don’t spend at least $300 per year at Marriott properties (even on incidentals), then chances are that this card isn’t for you.

The $300 Bonvoy Brilliant credit is easy to use

For example, I used my credit this year at the St. Regis Deer Valley. I redeemed Bonvoy points for my stay, and then I used the $300 credit towards spending on food & drinks.

Use the Bonvoy Brilliant Card credit for food & beverages at Marriott properties

Free night award worth up to 50,000 points

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a free night award on your account anniversary every year, valid at a property costing up to 50,000 points per night (this is in addition to the free night award being offered as part of the welcome bonus right now). 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 points.

For example, this year I used my free night award at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, which was a lovely Florida getaway. This is a Category 7 Marriott Bonvoy property, and over off-peak dates the hotel can be booked for 50,000 Bonvoy points per night.

I’d say that’s a heck of a redemption, when you consider that a paid stay would have cost almost $800 per night.

Talk about a great use of a free night award!

At this point I’m already coming out ahead with the card. I’m paying a $450 annual fee, and when you subtract the $300 travel credit, the card is really “costing” me $150 per year. And for that I got this stay. Not bad, eh?

The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island is a great use of a free night award

15 elite nights towards Bonvoy status

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers 15 elite nights towards status annually. Since I have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, I receive a total of 30 elite nights towards status annually between the two cards.

For many people, this will make Platinum Elite status quite attainable, as it requires 50 nights per year, so having those two cards gets you 60% of the way there long term.

Having the Bonvoy Brilliant Card makes it easier to earn status

The card perks that I haven’t used

In addition to the above perks, there are a few more Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card perks that others may get value out of, but that I personally don’t:

  • A Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you access to 1,300+ lounges around the world; personally I receive this perk through several cards, so an incremental membership doesn’t get me much
  • Premium in-room internet at Marriott properties; since I have status with Marriott Bonvoy, I get this benefit anyway
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for as long as you have the card; since I earn Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, that’s not of much value to me
  • A Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit once every four years, which ordinarily costs $85-100; this is potentially valuable, but I get this benefit on so many cards
Get airport lounge access with the Bonvoy Brilliant Card

Bottom line

Personally I find the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to be extremely worthwhile. While the card has a $450 annual fee, the $300 annual Marriott travel credit is more or less worth face value, so to me the card is really only costing me ~$150 per year.

That’s extremely easy to justify with a free night award worth up to 50,000 Bonvoy points, 15 elite nights towards status annually, and much more.

If you don’t yet have the Bonvoy Brilliant and are eligible, I’d highly recommend applying, especially given the huge bonus that’s currently available. Not only does the card have a great bonus, but it offers lots of value in the long run as well.

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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