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Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

socalchef00
Contributor

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

What is everyone's thought on this card?

 

I've been looking at getting an Amex card. 

When we do travel, we stay here.

Don't mind the 3x restuarant/flight's and 2x everywhere else, either.

 

Any downfalls I should know about?  What should I look for to quailfy for it?


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26 REPLIES 26
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

I have the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless but I also just added the AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant.  I think the AMEX is the best card for Marriott loyalists.  Yes, it's a higher AF but the credits are easily attained and it offers a lot more "bang for the buck."

 

$450 AF versus $95 AF for Chase Bonvoy Boundless

- automatic $300 in annual credits for Marriott spend (No spend credits on Chase)

- Free annual night at 50K points (vs 35K points for Chase card)

- TSA Global Entry Credit ($100/4 years = $25 per year) (Not available on Chase.)

- $100 Marriott property credit (not available on Chase.)

= basically no annual fee at all.  Smiley Very Happy

 

For example, a quick check shows that 50K Bonvoy points will buy you a night at the Westin New York Grand Central which is regularly $318 per night for the night I checked.  That easily reimburses any remaining AF if you want to stay at least one night a year at a higher-end Marriott property.  (You could use it for a much lower point hotel stay also but get less value since you forfeit any points not claimed in one night.)

 

Automatic GOLD status instead of automatic SILVER status with Chase card.

 

15 elite night credits with either card

 

Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership for both primary AND all (AU) cardholders with privileges for up to two guests.  And there is no fee for up to four additional cards.

 

AMEX Travel benefits including the Global Assist hotline, Baggage Insurance, Trip Cancellation Insurance, Trip Delay Insurance, Secondary Rental Car CDW

 

AMEX Shopping benefits including Return Protection, Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty

 

Both (Chase and AMEX) cards offer no FTF

 

Both (Chase and AMEX) cards give you "offers" on top of earnings bonus; some like AMEX ones better but it depends on your spending. 

 

As a side benefit, the Bonvoy Brilliant is also a slick metal card that weighs 15 grams, the same as an AMEX Gold.

 

Overall, I think the value delivered on the AMEX Bonvoy Brilliant is excellent!  By the way, if you obtain the Chase Bonvoy Boundless, they are still allowing a product change to their old Ritz Carlton card.  The Ritz Carlton card is very similar to the AMEX except it's a Visa Infinite versus an AMEX network, has Visa Infinite benefits including primary CDW, and the $300 credits are applied to airline fees, not in-hotel spending.  But that has to be a product change with a minimum $10K CL since it's a Visa Infinite.



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 2 of 27
practical1
Regular Contributor

Re: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

@Aim_High 

You nailed it Buddy!  Excellent review of one of the best travel cards available.

 

Clearly, the best choice for Marriott enthusiasts.  No question, if you travel and take advantage of any of their omnipresent properties even a couple of times annually, the card will pay for itself and reap dividends.  Really, no down side to this card that I can think of to this (unless you never venture out....).

 

One more recent benefit (as of a week ago, or so):  you can request additional cards for no annual fee (I think up to 4).  So, family members who travel can presumably leverage additional rewards for your Bonvoy account.

Message 3 of 27
wasCB14
Super Contributor

Re: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

I used to have it. I started with the SPG card and got a targeted offer to upgrade for 100k points IIRC.

 

It's a good value if you stay at Marriott properties at least 2 or 3 nights of the year.

 

I don't stay at Marriotts very often. Much of my travel has me visiting relatives or staying in fairly remote areas without major chains. On top of that I have the odd IHG or Hyatt stay. But I've done pretty well playing upgrade/downgrade and retention games, along with getting an occasional targeted ongoing spend bonus. The 2021 dining credits were nice.

 


@practical1 wrote:

@Aim_High 

You nailed it Buddy!  Excellent review of one of the best travel cards available.

 

Clearly, the best choice for Marriott enthusiasts.  No question, if you travel and take advantage of any of their omnipresent properties even a couple of times annually, the card will pay for itself and reap dividends.  Really, no down side to this card that I can think of to this (unless you never venture out....).

 

One more recent benefit (as of a week ago, or so):  you can request additional cards for no annual fee (I think up to 4).  So, family members who travel can presumably leverage additional rewards for your Bonvoy account.


I once tried to use my Brilliant card to book a revenue hotel stay for a relative to make use of the $300 credit before it expired. I booked it through the Marriott phone number on the back of my card, making it clear that I wouldn't be staying there and that the relative would not have my card with her. The Marriott Gold CS rep said it was all settled, but when she arrived, the front desk people refused to accept my card information, and she had to use her own. I called the next day, emailed them some CC authorization forms, and eventually they switched the bill to my card and released it from hers. But it was a PITA and nudged me to downgrade. An ACM would be easier, though it requires some advance planning.

 

I recently used the two certificates that were about to expire in June 2022. A little bit of a waste perhaps. 35k and 50k certificates at a 20k property. That plus 20k points got three rooms for my group. But that Fairfield was far and away the nicest hotel where we were staying (rural hiking), and the only other Marriott I had looked at lately was 60k for the night in question (usually 50k). I didn't want to risk the certificates expiring.

 

My card anniversary is in a month or two. If I get a targeted offer to upgrade again before then I might take it, as I'd be getting a 50k cert at renewal (instead of 35k) along with some points.

Personal spend: Amex Gold, Amex Schwab Plat., BofA PR+WWFCR, Costco
Business use: Amex Bus. Plat., BBP, Lowes Amex AU, CFU AU
Perks: Delta Plat., IHG49, Hyatt, "Old SPG"
Mostly SD: Freedom Flex, Freedom, Arrival
Upgrade/Downgrade games: EDP, BCP
Closing soon: Discover

Mostly earning MRs and cash back as I use up hotel and airline points spread across several programs.
Message 4 of 27
practical1
Regular Contributor

Re: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

@wasCB14 

Sorry to hear about your (PIA) issues -- We've all been there, unfortunately, in these kinds of travel situations, which is precisely why I see an advantage to just being able to add additional cards on my account to close family members, avoiding this very problem in the future (I hope) while still using the benefits available.

 

Also concur that their certificates are not the easiest to take full advantage of, as the best choice of hotel in a given situation is often either above the cert. value or significantly below it (as you noted).  Since I travel to major cities like Boston and Chicago, etc. at least once or twice a year for short stays, I find given so many options of Marriott properties available in such large markets, I can always seem to find a decent match.  If that is not your typical travel profile, it would be a bit more difficult to take best advantage of this particular benefit, for certain.

 

Certainly, this weighs into any evaluation of the Bonvoy Brilliant card -- but I'd suggest its a relatively minor one, for most folks.  I look at the certs. as just a "cherry" on top of the sundae; an added sweetener, but not the main draw, anyway.

 

Message 5 of 27
AMJ50
New Contributor

Re: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

I was just approved for this card. I already have the Delta Gold and Hilton no AF. I really prefer Marriott and Sheraton properties, Hiltons are average, in my opinion. I was finally preapproved for a card and we shall see how things turn out. I already stay at allot of hotels and plan to travel more in the future. 

Message 6 of 27
NRB525
Super Contributor

Re: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card


@socalchef00 wrote:

What is everyone's thought on this card?

 

I've been looking at getting an Amex card. 

When we do travel, we stay here.

Don't mind the 3x restuarant/flight's and 2x everywhere else, either.

 

Any downfalls I should know about?  What should I look for to quailfy for it?


The $300 Marriott credit is perhaps the easiest AMEX credit, since it applies to any room charges. The upgrade to Gold status may help you out in certain perks. The SUB Marriott points bonus is nice as well.

 

My experience with the 50k certificates is... challenged. With the change to dynamic points on Marriott stays, often the higher end properties will move above 50k when you want to go in high season. Going to a ski resort in June, while it would fit in the 50k certificate, isn't my idea of a ski vacation. 

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Message 7 of 27
practical1
Regular Contributor

Re: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

@AMJ50 

Congrats!  Hope you have a good experience with this card and find it worthwhile.

 

The training at some properties as to benefits and priviledges which accrue to Marriot Bonvoy Gold and above status members remain, unfortunately, somewhat spotty -- COVID staffing issues and the myriad program changes make this problematic.  It's always best to apply common sense to these trying times; know exactly what benefits you're entitled to receive before you arrive and be firm, but polite, about expectations should you not receive them onsite.   It's generally not been a problem for me and hopefully, won't be for you.  If anything, most Marriott properties tend to be over-accomodating (with rare exceptions). 

 

Message 8 of 27
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card


@NRB525 wrote:  ... The $300 Marriott credit is perhaps the easiest AMEX credit, since it applies to any room charges ...

This is one thing I love about the Marriott card.  AMEX should take a lesson from Chase and from the success of cards like the AMEX Marriott.  I've always been put-off by the complex ways that AMEX bundles their various credits against their high annual fees, obviously hoping for "breakage."  One reason I love my Chase Sapphire Reserve is that 'easy' $300 travel credit that is automatically applied.  The Marriott credit is the same way.  I've already reclaimed some of my annual fee and it was automatic. 

 

Meanwhile, I have serious doubts on whether I want to keep my Gold card, in part due to having to reclaim monthly credits on GrubHub or UBER/Eats to zero out most of the fee.  It's a hassle. And it's why I would likely never be able (or want to try) to make a Platinum card work with all it's complicated credits.   It diminishes the value of MRs further, and so far in my comparisons, I'm probably better off with Chase URs if I'm not transferring to airline partners for premium international cabins.   Still playing with this though, which is why I got the Gold card to begin with.  *Note: I still have a 100K MR + $150 statement credit offer to upgrade Gold to Platinum and I'm considering it for the SUB, and then downgrading after the year.  But long-term, it doesn't fit me.



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 9 of 27
wasCB14
Super Contributor

Re: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card


@Aim_High wrote:

@NRB525 wrote:  ... The $300 Marriott credit is perhaps the easiest AMEX credit, since it applies to any room charges ...

This is one thing I love about the Marriott card.  AMEX should take a lesson from Chase and from the success of cards like the AMEX Marriott.  I've always been put-off by the complex ways that AMEX bundles their various credits against their high annual fees, obviously hoping for "breakage."  One reason I love my Chase Sapphire Reserve is that 'easy' $300 travel credit that is automatically applied.  The Marriott credit is the same way.  I've already reclaimed some of my annual fee and it was automatic. 

 

Meanwhile, I have serious doubts on whether I want to keep my Gold card, in part due to having to reclaim monthly credits on GrubHub or UBER/Eats to zero out most of the fee.  It's a hassle. And it's why I would likely never be able (or want to try) to make a Platinum card work with all it's complicated credits.   It diminishes the value of MRs further, and so far in my comparisons, I'm probably better off with Chase URs if I'm not transferring to airline partners for premium international cabins.   Still playing with this though, which is why I got the Gold card to begin with.  *Note: I still have a 100K MR + $150 statement credit offer to upgrade Gold to Platinum and I'm considering it for the SUB, and then downgrading after the year.  But long-term, it doesn't fit me.


You've mentioned wanting a BBP. Is that mainly as a way to preserve MRs if you're opening and closing charge cards? Or are you looking for business cards in general?

Personal spend: Amex Gold, Amex Schwab Plat., BofA PR+WWFCR, Costco
Business use: Amex Bus. Plat., BBP, Lowes Amex AU, CFU AU
Perks: Delta Plat., IHG49, Hyatt, "Old SPG"
Mostly SD: Freedom Flex, Freedom, Arrival
Upgrade/Downgrade games: EDP, BCP
Closing soon: Discover

Mostly earning MRs and cash back as I use up hotel and airline points spread across several programs.
Message 10 of 27
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