Amex Marriott Brilliant Review [2020]

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The Amex Marriott Brilliant is one of the top hotel credit cards and a very attractive premium card. It has a high annual fee but it also comes stacked with many benefits that make it easy to offset the annual fee.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant.

The Amex Marriott Brilliant intro

  • 6X Bonvoy points on Marriott
  • 3X at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X Bonvoy points on all other purchases
  • Marriott Gold status
  • Free night award
  • $300 credit
  • $100 property credit
  • $450 annual fee

Eligibility

The eligibility rules for the Marriott credit cards are pretty complex and a little confusing. And in addition to those rules, the Brilliant is subject to the American Express once per lifetime rule and other credit card rules like the 2/90 rule.

These rules can be time-consuming to keep up with and so I would recommend that you just use the free app WalletFlo which automates your eligibility for these rules.

It also helps you choose which cards to use to optimize your points and helps you manage things like your annual fees, credits, etc.

Welcome bonus

The Marriott Brilliant is definitely one of the cards where you want to try to time your application to coincide with one of the higher bonuses.

The standard offer for this card 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

A higher welcome bonus comes around every now and again offering 100,000 bonus points although the spend requirement usually goes up to $5,000 in purchases within the first three months.

The 100,000 bonus point offer is fantastic and I would typically try to aim for that offer. But even at 75,000 points, the offer is not bad at all, especially considering all the perks you get below.

Here’s a look at the award chart which can show you possibilities for your points.

CategoryOff Peak StandardPeak
15,0007,50010,000
210,00012,50015,000
315,00017,50020,000
420,00025,00030,000
530,00035,00040,000
640,00050,00060,000
750,00060,00070,000
870,00085,000100,000
Marriott’s award chart.

As you can see by the award chart, it’s possible to get two nights at a category seven property with 100,000 Marriott points. That means there’s a lot of potential for value.

But you could also stretch your points on Category 1 properties and cover up to 20 free nights!

And you can’t forget about the airline route.

You can convert your points into airline miles at a 3:1 ratio and a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer.

So 100K points could be worth 38,000 airline miles for just about any major program.

Lobby at the W Taipei.
W Taipei.

Bonus categories

  • 6X Bonvoy points on Marriott
  • 3X at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2X Bonvoy points on all other purchases

6X Bonvoy points on Marriott

Earning 6X on Marriott is decent for Marriott properties. Using a WalletFlo valuation of .77 cents per point, 6X comes out to 4.6% back.

That’s pretty good but if you have other travel cards you might want to consider using them for optimal point earnings.

For example, if you had the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you could earn 3X Ultimate Rewards which I value more than 4.6% back.

3X at U.S. restaurants

Earning 3X at US restaurants is not that great. 3X Bonvoy points comes out to about 2.31%. You can do much better on dining with a card like the American Express Gold Card which earns 4X on dining.

3X on flights booked directly with airlines

Once again, 3X Marriott points on flights booked directly with airlines is only about 2.31% back. I would much rather put airfare on a card like the Sapphire Reserve or the Platinum Card which earns 5X.

2X Bonvoy points on all other purchases

Finally, earning 2X on all purchases comes out to about 1.5% back which isn’t horrible.

Tip: Use WalletFlo to help you know which cards to use in order to maximize your points on different purchases!

Hotel perks

Marriott gold status

The Marriott Brilliant will offer you automatic Marriott Gold status. Gold status is not quite what it used to be because it no longer offers benefits like free breakfast.

However, you can still get benefits like:

  • 25% Bonus on points
  • Late check-out
  • Upgrades
  • Enhanced internet
  • Welcome gift

It’s worth noting that you can also get Marriott Gold status automatically with the Platinum Card which also grants you automatic Hilton Gold statusa much more valuable mid-tier elite status.

With the Marriott Brilliant, you can spend your way up into Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status which does offer free breakfast.

In order to get upgraded to Platinum, you will need to spend $75,000 on your card in a calendar year.

That is a lot of spend for a hotel status and so you will need to be really committed to earning that status.

Free night award

The lower level Marriott cards like the Marriott Boundless Card offer a free night but it is only good for hotels up to 35,000 points per night.

But with the Marriott Brilliant you can use your free night on properties that cost up to 50,000 points per night.

This opens up a lot of possibilities for some of the top luxury brands and allows you to get a lot of potential value out of this perk.

$300 credit

One of the best benefits of the Marriott Brilliant is the $300 Marriott Bonvoy Statement Credit. This credit can be used on a wide variety of purchases, including room rates. So you basically get a $300 discount on Marriott properties.

This is probably the easiest way to offset the annual fee because if you have only $300 worth of stays planned at Marriott properties each year, you can essentially knock the annual fee down $150.

You can also use the credit for incidental purchases but you need to make sure that those purchases are charged to your room and that you charge the purchase to your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card.

$100 property credit

There’s also the $100 property credit but this credit is a little bit more restricted, meaning that you have to jump through some hoops to use it.

In order to receive the $100 property credit you need to use your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and book through www.marriottbonvoy.com or by calling Marriott Bonvoy at 1-800-450-4442, for a two-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis.

You’ll have to book the member rate called the “$100 Property Credit, Luxury Credit Card Rate.”

For each booking you’ll be issued a $100 credit for eligible purchases which will include things like spa treatments, dining, etc.

Something to always be on the lookout is how much more expensive the property credit rate is than an advanced purchase rate.

If you are set in your plans and you know that you will not be canceling, then you might want to book an advanced purchase rate.

These are going to be the cheapest rates and sometimes it can be worth it to forgo your property credit in order to take advantage of cheaper rates.

15 elite night credits

Each year, you will receive 15 elite night credits. These credits will help you climb to higher elite levels without having to make actual hotel stays.

Here are the requirements for Marriott elite status.

  • Silver: 10 to 24 nights
  • Gold: 25 to 49 nights 
  • Platinum: 50 to 74 nights 
  • Titanium: 75 to 99 nights
  • Ambassador: 100 nights +  $20,000 U.S. dollars in qualified annual spend

So 15 qualifying elite nights would get you only 10 nights away from Gold status.

Tip: If you have a business Marriott card, you can combine the 15 elite night credits for a total of 30 credits. So you can achieve Gold status just by holding two Marriott cards!

Travel benefits

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant will offer you some additional travel benefits to make your travels more convenient and enjoyable.

Priority Pass Select

Priority Pass Select is a membership that will get you access to airport lounges located all around the world. In fact, there are over 1,200 of these lounges scattered around the globe.

This membership is probably worth somewhere around $400 a year so it’s a very valuable membership.

The drawback is that because your Priority Pass Select membership is connected to an American Express card, you will not get access to the Priority Pass restaurants.

Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check

You’ll get a $100 Global Entry credit or an $85 TSA Pre-Check credit depending on which one you choose to go with.

Global Entry will get you expedited entry back through customs and immigration, saving you lots of time when flying from overseas.

TSA Pre-Check on the other hand will get you access to an expedited security screening line and hook you up with some benefits like:

  • Shoes can stay on
  • Belt can stay on
  • Light jackets can stay on
  • Laptops allowed to stay in bag
  • Liquids (3-1-1 Rule) can stay in bag

Shopping and entertainment benefits

Amex Offers

Amex Offers is one of the most valuable perks offered by any American Express card because it can save you tons in the long term.

Every month, you should check your Amex Offers to see what type of special promotions and discounts are available to you.

These discounts apply to all sorts of different industries like travel, shopping, etc. — everything from Hilton to Best Buy.

Amex concerts and events

You can get access to pre-sale tickets and also to select seats at certain events. Find out more about that benefit here.

ShopRunner

The ShopRunner program offers the following benefits from select retailers:

  • Free two-day shipping
  • Free return shipping
  • Specials deals and discounts

Normally you would have to pay $79 per year for this perk so this could be a nice savings of about $80 for some people.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant protections

Purchase protection

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant will protect your purchases for up to 90 days from the date of purchase if the item is stolen, accidentally damaged or lost.

The coverage is limited up to $10,000 per occurrence, up to $50,000 per Card Member account per calendar year. This $10,000 limit is super competitive and one of the great perks of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant.

Return protection

If a merchant will not take back an item, you can return the eligible purchase up to 90 days from the date of purchase and get coverage up to $300 per item for a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year.

Extended warranty

For warranties of five years or less, the manufacturer’s warranty can be extended up to one additional year. 

Trip delay

If your trip is delayed 6 hours or more, you can get coverage for up to $500 for the delay. Some of the trip delay protections don’t kick in until 12 hours and limit you to only $300 so this perk is pretty solid. You can use these funds for necessities like lodging, meals, and toiletries.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance

You can get covered for trip corruption and cancellation for up to $10,000 per occurrence.

Baggage Insurance Plan

You can get covered for up to $2,000 for checked baggage and up to a combined maximum of $3,000 for checked and carry-on baggage.

Marriott Brilliant FAQ

What status do you get with the Marriott Brilliant?

Will be granted automatic Marriott Gold status and you can earn Marriott Platinum status by spending $75,000 on your card in a calendar year.

What free night do you get with the Marriott Brilliant?

Every year, you will get a free night certificate that can be used to cover a night at a property costing up to 50,000 points per night.

Do you get lounge access with the Marriott Brilliant?

Yes, you will get a complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge membership.

Can the $300 credit be used on room rates?

Yes, you can use the $300 credit to cover different Marriott purchases including room rates.

Can you downgrade the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant?

Yes, you can downgrade the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant to the Marriott Bonvoy card which has an annual fee of $95.

Final word

The Marriott Brilliant card is loaded with perks and protections. With the welcome bonus and the annual free night certificate, you could cover a few nights at a very luxurious property and get thousands of dollars in value.

And with perks like the $300 credit, the annual fee is very manageable so I think this card is a keeper for lots of people!

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