Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card review: Is it worth the annual fee?

Credit cards with large annual fees might not seem worth it at first glace; however, most times when you dig into the card details, you'll see that the benefits far outweigh the cost of the card. Learn more about this card and find out whether the annual fee is worth it for you.
By Jennifer Doss  CardRatings Editor  | Updated

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® CardSponsored card
Our Rating:   
Good, Excellent
on American Express's secure website

CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons

  • Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.
  • Each card renewal year get up to $300 in statement credits for purchases on the card at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy. (Effective 9/22/22, the $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit benefit will no longer be available. It will be replaced with a new benefit of up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.)
  • In addition to numerous hotel perks, this card offers several great benefits for frequent fliers as well, such as airport lounge access and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership reimbursement.
  • The annual fee isn't for everyone. If you don't frequently stay at Marriott hotels, or you don't think you'll use the other benefits offered by the card, you might have a tough time offsetting the cost of the card.
Terms and Limitations Apply.

MARRIOTT BONVOY BRILLIANT™ BENEFITS

2022 Best Credit Cards for Luxury

The CardName annual fee is hefty– AnnualFees– and so you would expect that a card like this would come with a lot of benefits. Does it live up to the hype, or is it a huge and crushing disappointment? American Express is a CardRatings advertiser. See Rates and Fees; terms apply.

In short, yes, we think that the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ lives up to the hype. At least, it should for fans of the Marriott hotel chain and their many, many brands. (For those who don't know, some of the hotels owned by Marriott include The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton, SpringHill Suites and Residence Inn, among several others.)

There are a lot of benefits that come attached to this card. Let's run through some of its biggest assets:

  • It has a very generous rewards program, but we'll talk more about that in the next section.
  • Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.
  • Each card renewal year, get up to $300 in statement credits for purchases on the card at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy. That alone takes a big bite out of the annual fee. (Effective 9/22/22, the $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit benefit will no longer be available. It will be replaced with a new benefit of up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.)
  • Free Night Award. What's this, you ask? Receive one Free Night Award every year after your card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • A $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit. With your card, you can book a special rate for a two-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis and get up to $100 in credit for qualifying charges.
  • Enjoy access to Priority Pass Select, which offers unlimited access to airport lounges around the globe regardless of the airline or class you are flying.
  • Go through airline security easier. Receive either a $100 statement credit for Global Entry every four years or a statement credit for up to $85 for TSA PreCheck every 4.5 years.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance. When you use your card to reserve and pay for the entire rental, you can say "no thanks" to the collision damage waiver at the rental company counter, and you will be covered for any damage or theft to the rental vehicle.
  • Baggage insurance plan. Coverage can be provided for up to $2,000 for checked baggage and up to a combined maximum of $3,000 for checked and carry-on baggage.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance, up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per 12 consecutive month period.
  • No foreign transacton fees. See Rates and Fees; terms apply
  • Enrollment required for select benefits.

Top Features

 Rewards
Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
 Bonus Rewards
Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months.
 Annual Fee

MARRIOTT BONVOY BRILLIANT™ REWARDS

As we said earlier, the rewards are generous. In a nutshell, this may be a hotel credit card, but you also get rewards on airline purchases, restaurants and whatever is on your shopping list, whether it's tube socks or dandruff shampoo or a wall clock.

Here's a breakdown of the rewards…

  • You get six Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • You'll receive three Marriott Bonvoy points when you eat at U.S restaurants or book a flight directly with airlines.
  • You'll get two Marriott Bonvoy points on all other eligible purchases.

MARRIOTT BONVOY BRILLIANT™ ANNUAL FEE

So, about that fee. This is probably obvious, but we'll spell it out. If you're a fan of the Marriott brand, and you think you'll get a lot of use of the card, you'll probably feel that the AnnualFees fee isn't a big deal. Of course, we'll state the obvious right now: if you never stay at the Marriott and never plan to, then you should look for another card.

If you often stay at Marriott hotels or its timeshare properties and you plan to take advatange of some of the other card perks like lounge access or Global Entry membership, it shouldn’t be too difficult to offset the cost of this card. For instance, that $300 statement credit mentioned above offsets more than half the cost of the annual fee alone. This credit is earned by making eligible purchases directly at eligible Marriott Bonvoy properties, and purchases can include things like restaurant charges or visits to the spa, not obscure things that would make this credit hard to earn. Even when the existing $300 credit ends after 9/22/22, you can still largely offset the annual fee with the new benefit of up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide./p>

Figure in that credit and the Free Night Award after a year of having the card, you can effectively wipe out the entire annual fee.

So, again, if you're a fan of Marriott or plan on taking an annual family vacation at a Marriott hotel or resort, the card could pay off big for you, and the fee might not be that big of a deal.

If you're more of a Holiday Inn or Comfort Inn sort of person, or you generally sleep on friends' sofas when you travel, there are surely some other travel rewards credit cards that you'll find more to your liking.

MARRIOTT BONVOY BRILLIANT™ CARDHOLDER SCORES

CardRatings conducts a survey annually to learn what actual cardholders think of their cards. Here are the results:
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 79.0 Did not survey
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 n/a
Customer Service 7.8 n/a
Website/App Usability 7.9 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.9 n/a

HOW DOES MARRIOTT BONVOY BRILLIANT™ COMPARE TO OTHER CARDS?

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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If you aren't much of a Marriott fan, you might find CardName, a more general travel rewards credit card, more to your liking. That said, there are some important differences to be aware of.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a steep annual fee of AnnualFees. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ card's annual fee is still steep but less so– AnnualFees.

Each card has a welcome bonus offer for new cardholders. With Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you'll receive 60,000 points worth $900 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards - after spending $4,000 during the first three months of card membership.

With the Brilliant card, earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.

Both cards offer a reimbursement of up to $300 in statement credit each account anniversary (though eligible purchases for that credit do differ), which can help to offset the annual fee.

Both cards also offer complimentary airport lounge access lounges worldwide.

And there is no foreign transaction fee for either card, making them both great cards to have when you're traveling internationally.

As far as ongoing rewards goes, Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining; and 1X point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ vs. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire

discontinued All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Cardratings

The CardName also has a AnnualFees fee. So, if you can get past that, you just need to think - do I love Marriott with all my heart, or is it Hilton where my loyalty lies? Much of what is going to steer you toward either card has to do with how you feel about the hotel brand.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire has an attractive welcome bonus offer for cardholders. You'll get 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you use the card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

Meanwhile, the Hilton Honors rewards program is very generous - you'll receive 14 points per dollar you spend when you make eligible purchases on your card at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton Portfolio; seven points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants; and three points on all other purchases.

Still, the Marriott Bonvoy's rewards program is no slouch. As a reminder, you'll get six Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Moreover, you'll receive three Marriott Bonvoy points when you eat at U.S. restaurants or book a flight directly with airlines. You'll also earn two Marriott Bonvoy points on all other purchases.

Regarding statement credits, Marriott Bonvoy has the edge since you can get up to a $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit every year if you make eligible purchases at eligible Marriott hotels and timeshares (remember, effective 9/22/22, the $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit benefit will no longer be available and will be replaced with a new benefit of up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide).You'll receive less with Hilton Honors– $250 in Hilton Resort credits on your card each anniversary year when you stay at participating resorts within the Hilton portfolio.

Neither card, it should be noted, has a foreign transaction fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ vs. Platinum Card® from American Express

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Really, what could be better? You get points for sleeping, eating and shopping. With the Bonvoy Brilliant™ you’ll earn six Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. When you dine at U.S. restaurants (or book a flight directly with airlines), you'll receive three Marriott Bonvoy points. You'll also nab two Marriott Bonvoy points on all other purchases.

CardName does a little better with points for flying and lodging but the rewards are a bit less generous on general purchases. You'll receive 5X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines (using your American Express Platinum card, of course) or through American Express Travel (up to $500,000 spent on these purchases each year) as well as on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.

In terms of statement credits, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express offers up to $300 statement credit every year for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and timeshares (effective 9/22/22, the $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit benefit will no longer be available). Meanwhile, the Platinum Card® from American Express provides up to $200 a year in statement credits to cover incidental airline charges, like baggage fees and in-flight refreshments, charged on the card with a pre-selected airline (enrollment required). There are, in fact, numerous additional statement credits with the Platinum Card® for everything from certain gym memberships to hotel stays. See our full review for more details.

The Platinum Card® has a hefty AnnualFees annual fee; the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ has a sizable annual fee as well. Still, you want to look at each card carefully beyond the annual fees. If you travel extensively and enjoy the Marriott brand, then you are probably better off with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™. If you travel extensively but aren't wedded to any hotel brand, the Platinum Card® from American Express may be the way to go.

Neither card charges foreign transaction fees.

IS MARRIOTT BONVOY BRILLIANT™ WORTH IT?

As you've no doubt figured out, especially if you've read all of this and haven't just been skimming, if you regularly stay at Marriott properties, and you plan to continue doing so, then, yes, you can make the case that the CardName is absolutely worth it. There are a lot of perks and benefits that come with the card that easily help offset the annual fee and then some.

But if your cousin Brenda manages a Ramada Inn, and so you're always going there because she hooks you up with her employee discount, and you last went to a Marriott in 1992 and aren't really sure if you'll ever go again, unless Brenda ever applies to work at a Marriott, in which case, sure, you'd happily go there… then, well, sure getting this credit card would probably not be a brilliant idea. But, again, if you're a frequent traveler, and you often stay at a hotel owned by Marriott, and you're interested in the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™, then you probably have an easy decision ahead of you.

 

Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2021 to conduct surveys among 1,524 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2021-Aug. 31, 2021 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were included to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted. "Current Scores" reflect scores from the most recent survey; "Past Scores (avg.)" are the scores averaged over each prior year the card has been surveyed. "Past Scores" indicates a card has only been surveyed in one prior year.

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards in this post, please visit the following links: CardName (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); CardName (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); CardName ()

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Compared to Other Travel rewards Cards

Apply online for Mastercard® Titanium Card™
Mastercard® Titanium Card™
Apply online for Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Apply online for Citi Premier® Card
Citi Premier® Card
Apply online for Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Rewards
Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases. 
Rewards
2% value for airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions. 1% value for cash back redemptions. Earn one point for every one dollar spent. 
Rewards
2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 5 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. 5 Miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023. 
Rewards
Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets. Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels. Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases. 
Rewards
Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases 
Bonus Rewards
Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months. 
Bonus Rewards
N/A  
Bonus Rewards
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 Miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening  
Bonus Rewards
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening  
Bonus Rewards
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®  
Annual Fee
$450 
Annual Fee
$195 
Annual Fee
$95 
Annual Fee
$95 
Annual Fee
$550 

Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

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