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Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Review

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Review

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This article was last updated Apr 01, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

The information related to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information. 

The big news on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is its generous welcome offer — Earn 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. While it comes with a hefty $450 annual fee, the perks that come with this luxury credit card, previously known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card from American Express, can easily balance that out.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card targets those who seek a hotel-branded luxury card and the perks that come with it, including statement credits, free elite status, a free hotel night on your card anniversary, airport lounge access and enrollment fees for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. It also offers more points per $1 earned in the top categories of hotels, airline travel and dining.

However, if you’d like to keep your hotel options open beyond Marriott’s 29 hotel brands, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® may be a better fit. We take a look at the pros and cons of both cards to help you decide which one is the best fit for you.

Read The New Marriott Rewards Program: What You Need to Know

Where the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card stands out

Great welcome offer. New cardmembers can Earn 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. This is currently among the top welcome offers now available. You can use those bonus points at 6,700 participating hotels across 29 brands worldwide. That’s enough to book one nights in a Marriott Bonvoy Category 6 hotel, at 50,000 points a night.

Better points per $1 spent. Cardmembers Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X Marriott Bonvoy points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X on all other eligible purchases. Higher points cover participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, stand-alone Marriott-branded retail establishments and Marriott-branded online stores.

Plenty of redemption options. Points you earn on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card can be transferred 3:1 to more than 40 global airlines. When it’s time to make a move, the card gives back 5,000 points for every 60,000 points you transfer to airline miles. You can also redeem your points for exclusive experiences, vacations, airport lounge access, merchandise or share with family, friends and charities.

You get credits. The card gives you up to $300 in statement credits each membership year, which you can use at more than 6,700 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. You also get up to a $100 credit to cover Global Entry or TSA Precheck enrollment fees. Cardholders automatically receive up to 15 elite night credits into your account within 60 days after opening it. A maximum of 15 elite night credits will be put on your Marriott Bonvoy account by March 1 of each subsequent year, as long as your card account is open as of Dec. 31 of the prior calendar year.

Membership has its privileges. Cardmembers get a free award night, at or below 50,000 points, after every card anniversary. You get automatic Marriott Bonvoy gold elite status, with a chance to earn platinum status after spending $75,000 on the card in a calendar year. The Priority Pass Select membership gives you and two guests free access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. You also get free in-room premium internet access and free Boingo land-based Wi-Fi on up to four devices.

Annual card perks. If you take full advantage of every perk offered by the card, you will come out ahead of the card’s $450 annual fee. The card has a $300 credit hotel credit, the $100 Global Entry/TSA credit, the $343 Priority Pass membership fee and $169.87 for a year of global Boingo wi-fi service, which more than covers its annual fee.

Where the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card falls short

Strings attached.  Spending $75,000 in a year to get Marriott Bonvoy platinum status may also be a stretch.

Points restrictions. You won’t earn higher points for restaurants at nightclubs, convenience stores, grocery stores or supermarkets. This restriction also covers restaurants located inside another establishment like a hotel, casino or event venue.

Limits on lounge access. You get two free guests with Priority Pass, but you’ll be charged $32 for each additional guest you bring in after that.

Fewer travel perks. It’s surprising that a card offering travel accident and baggage insurance doesn’t also offer trip delay or cancellation insurance like other cards in the luxury card category.

Additional Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card benefits

  • Roadside assistance
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Baggage insurance plan
  • Premium Global Assist hotline
  • Extended warranty for two years
  • Return protection
  • Purchase protection
  • Access to ticket presales and cardmember-only events
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Terms Apply

Compare it with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®

More Info

If the perks and higher points offered by luxury cards appeal to you, but you want more ways to redeem the points you earn, consider this card, which also has a $450 annual fee.

New cardmembers Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Because you receive 50% more value on the points you earn when you redeem them for travel, that adds up to $750 that can be used for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises on the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website.

Read Tips for Booking Travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards Website.

Earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees. You’re earning lower points for hotel stays, but the same number of points for restaurants and a broader definition of travel that includes airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, parking lots and garages.

The feature that makes this card so valuable is receiving 50% more value every time you redeem the points you earn for travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. Redeem them for travel, gift cards, experiences, Apple products, at Amazon.com, or as a direct deposit into a checking or savings account or statement credit.

Read Chase Ultimate Rewards Program Guide: Why You Should Be Excited.

But you won’t start earning those higher points per dollar spent for travel until you spend the card’s $300 annual travel credit. Use it to cover airline tickets/fees, rideshares like Uber or Lyft, public transportation, tolls, car rentals, lodging and cruises. The card also comes with a free Priority Pass™ Select airport lounge membership and a credit of up to $100 every four years to cover the enrollment fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

Your points can be transferred 1:1 toward nine major airline and three hotel loyalty programs — United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Aer Lingus, Air France, British Airways, Iberia, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines, along with World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards Club. There are no blackout dates or travel restrictions if you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with much more robust travel and purchase perks, including trip delay and cancellation insurance; travel accident insurance; lost luggage reimbursement; trip delay reimbursement; emergency evacuation and transportation; rental car insurance and discounts; access to customer service specialists; purchase protection; return protection; and extended warranty protection.

Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual fee $450 $450
Regular purchase APR 17.99% to 26.99% Variable 19.24% - 26.24% Variable
Rewards Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X Marriott Bonvoy points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X on all other eligible purchases. 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
Welcome offer/sign-up bonus Earn 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Foreign transaction fee None $0

The bottom line

A great welcome offer, higher points per $1 spent for hotels, airlines and dining and travel and purchase perks you’d expect from an American Express-branded luxury card make the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card worth considering. If you use all the benefits that come with the card, it more than covers the $450 annual fee. Plus you have plenty of options to redeem those points, including at more than 6,700 Marriott hotels around the world.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a lower sign-up bonus and lower points per dollar spent on dining and travel when compared to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. But cardmembers get 50% more value on the points they earn if they spend them on travel at the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, so that makes it a better value. And if travel and purchase perks are important to you, this card offers more than the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

You can’t go wrong with either of these luxury credit cards. If you stay regularly in Marriott-branded hotels and want to earn more points for your stays, then go with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. But if you’re not wedded to one hotel chain and want to get more value for points in a much broader travel category when redeemed at the Chase Ultimate Rewards website and you want more travel and protection perks, then the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the best card for you.

Check out our roundup of the Best Hotel Credit Cards and roundup of the Best Travel Credit Cards


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