Review: Amex Bonvoy Brilliant Card

by | Published May 19, 2022 | Edited Nov 23, 2022


When it comes to hotel loyalty programs in Canada, Marriott Bonvoy is the clear leader as far as credit card partnerships go. With American Express offering two co-branded Marriott cards in Canada, a personal and business credit card, most Canadians in the miles and points game find that Marriott has a well-earned place in their hearts.

However, as people start to slowly explore the US credit card game, their love for Marriott may waiver as they explore the Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt rewards programs. But there are some very solid Marriott Bonvoy credit cards in the states, issued by both American Express and Chase.

Specifically, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card is an absolute gem and I will show you exactly why this premium hotel credit card has a permanent place in my wallet.

Let’s dive into our Amex Bonvoy Brilliant review.

Welcome Bonus

As a premium credit card, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card seems to often have strong welcome bonuses. The public offer for this card is 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points upon spending $5,000 USD in the first three months.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant

The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card earns Marriott Bonvoy points and offers cardholders instant Bonvoy platinum status, an annual $300 restaurant credit, an annual free night, 25 annual elite qualifying nights, and Priority Pass Select membership.

Check out our American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant review for more details about this card.

BONUS
150,000 Marriott Bonvoy
MINSPEND
$5,000
NET VALUE
$700+
ANNUAL FEE
$450
FOREX FEES
No

If you can’t take part in this welcome bonus, the Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card has seen inflated welcome bonuses in the past few years so I’m sure another one will be coming in the near future. For reference, in the fall of 2021 we saw a record high offer on this card: 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy points with a free night certificate worth 85,000 Bonvoy points.

Offers like these continue to showcase the opportunity within the US credit card game. If you haven’t gotten started on that side of the border yet, consider working on getting your ITIN and first US credit card.

Benefits

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex comes with a wide range of valuable perks, easily making the hefty annual fee of $650 USD worth it.

Annual Free Night Certificate

Upon card membership annual renewal, cardholders will receive an annual free night award to be used at Marriott Bonvoy hotels. This free night award can be redeemed for a one-night stay worth up to 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Once awarded, this free night award will show up in your “recent activity” in your Bonvoy account and can be applied towards any new eligible bookings.

jw marriott singapore hotel pool

As of April 2022, you are now able to top up free night certificates with an additional 15,000 Marriott Bonvoy points if you wish. This means that you could redeem for a free night up to 100,000 Marriott points if you topped up the certificate with the maximum amount.

25 Elite Qualifying Nights

At the beginning of each calendar year, Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders will receive 25 elite qualifying nights towards their yearly and lifetime Marriott Bonvoy status.

These 25 elite night credits can be coupled with the 15 elite nights from the Amex Bonvoy Business credit card which results in 40 annual elite qualifying nights towards Marriott elite status. This is one of the fastest ways to earn Platinum Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy.

$300 Restaurant Statement Credit

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders are able to earn up to $300 in statement credits at restaurant purchases per calendar year. These credits are distributed as a $25 per month allotment and can be

Simply use your Bonvoy Brilliant credit card at any retailer that codes as a restaurant worldwide and you should receive the statement credit shortly thereafter. Important to note that these credits do not accrue, and as such, each $25 credit needs to be used in the month in which it is earned.

Airport Lounge Access

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card comes with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. This membership grants the cardholder, plus two guests, access to any of the airport lounges within the Priority Pass network. Priority Pass Select members can utilize this access as many times as they wish during a year as they have unlimited airport lounge visits.

You can view the list of 1,300+ airport lounges that you have access to as a Priority Pass member either through their website or via the Priority Pass app.

Cardholders will need to enroll to receive their complimentary Priority Pass membership. They will receive a physical Priority Pass card in the mail once enrolled. Priority Pass can also be accessed via the app on the Google Play or Apple App store.

Other Notable Benefits

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express cardholders are eligible to receive complimentary gold elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program. Receiving automatic gold elite status is not overly useful in the grand scheme of things as status only really matters once you reach the Platinum level as a result of the suite upgrades, executive lounge access, and complimentary breakfast.

If you book a two-night minimum stay at a participating hotel brand (St. Regis or Ritz Carlton) using your Bonvoy Brilliant card coupled with a special rate provided by Amex, you will receive a $100 property credit to be used for any on-property purchases you charge to your room during your stay.

As with many other American Express cards, the Bonvoy Brilliant offers no foreign transaction fees on any international purchases (including those in Canada). As a Canadian, this makes it a great card to use for any international travel.

Earning Bonvoy Points

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card earns bonus Marriott Bonvoy points depending on the category of spend:

  • 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 3 Marriott Bonvoy points for every dollar spent on purchases at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2 Marriott Bonvoy points for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Additionally, you will earn base points for staying at Marriott Bonvoy properties that will be increased depending on the status you hold. For example, if you are a Platinum elite Bonvoy member, you will receive a 50% bonus in points on your booking.

marriott bonvoy status benefit point bonus

Redeeming Bonvoy Points

Marriott Rewards members are eligible to redeem points for stays at any hotel participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. Bonvoy members also receive one free night when staying four nights on points. This means that if you were staying at a hotel that cost 50,000 Bonvoy per night, a five-night stay would only cost 200,000 Bonvoy total when redeeming points.

To redeem your Bonvoy points, simply search for your desired city or property and the dates when you wish to stay. Ensure you also check the “use points/certificate” box, else the results will only show cash rates.

Once you reach the results screen, you will see the nightly points rate for each hotel on the list. From there, simply click through and complete the booking process using points as a payment method instead of cash.

Who is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Best For?

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card is best for those individuals who are Marriott Bonvoy program members and those who find themselves staying at Marriott properties often.

Simply put, if you stay at Marriott properties once per year to redeem the $300 USD in Marriott statement credits, the outright cost of the free night award worth 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points is $150 USD. Typically 50,000 Bonvoy points will be redeemable for more than $150 USD worth of value (depending on the Marriott hotels in question).

If this sounds like you, I recommend getting this card when it has a strong welcome bonus and keeping it for years to come. The value is far too great to cancel this card after holding it for one year, even with the $650 USD annual fee.

amex marriott bonvoy brilliant card with bonvoy business credit cards

If however, you decide that you do not want to keep the card past the first year, you can reach out to American Express to downgrade to the Mariott Bonvoy American Express card. This card, while no longer available for new applications, is able to be downgraded to if so desired. It has a $95 USD annual fee and offers an annual 35,000 Bonvoy free night certificate.

Comparable Cards to the Bonvoy Brilliant

When it comes to premium hotel credit cards, the main competitor to the Bonvoy Brilliant is the Hilton Aspire, which is also offered by American Express.

The Hilton Aspire card has a similar overall offering: a $250 Hilton resort statement credit, a $250 airline fee credit, an annual free night certificate, access to Priority Pass Select, and complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status (the highest level in the program).

I believe diversity is important when it comes to loyalty programs, so like me, you may find value in holding both the Hilton Aspire and Bonvoy Brilliant cards concurrently year-over-year.

American Express Hilton Honors Aspire

The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card earns Hilton Honors points and offers cardholders an annual $250 Hilton Resort credit, a $200 airline fee credit, instant Hilton Diamond Elite status, an annual free night, and more.

BONUS
150,000 Hilton Honors
MINSPEND
$4,000
NET VALUE
$450+
ANNUAL FEE
$450
FOREX FEES
No

If you are looking for a hotel card with a lower annual fee, you might want to look into the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card offered by Chase. Coming in at a much lower annual fee of $95 USD, this card still offers a 6x earning on spend on all Marriott purchases and an annual free night award.

Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless

The Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card earns Marriott Bonvoy points on all purchases and is available to individuals in the United States.

BONUS
150,000 Marriott Bonvoy
MINSPEND
$3,000
NET VALUE
$1,255+
ANNUAL FEE
$95
FOREX FEES
No

Conclusion

The Amex Bonvoy Brilliant is one of the best hotel-focused credit cards in both the US and Canadian Market. While the $650 USD annual fee may seem daunting for some, the value that you can extract from this card makes it completely worth it. If you plan on staying at Marriott properties at least once a year, you will have made back the annual fee and more.

This is one of the keeper cards in my wallet and you might find a spot for it in yours.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the annual fee for the American Express Bonvoy Brilliant credit card?

    The Bonvoy Brilliant credit card has an annual fee of $650 US Dollars.

  2. How can I redeem a Marriott Bonvoy free night certificate?

    Once the free night award has been deposited to your Bonvoy account, you will need to search for a stay using the “use points/certificates” checkbox. Once you are at the payment/confirmation page, you will be able to apply the free night award towards your booking if the points rate is lower than the certificate value.

  3. What lounges will I have access to with the complimentary Priority Pass Select membership?

    Cardholders will have access to over 1,300 airport lounges in the Priority Pass network for themselves and two of their guests. You can see if there are any lounges at your desired airport here.

  4. How do I redeem the Marriott property credit that comes with the Bonvoy Brilliant credit card?

    To redeem the $300 Marriott property credit, simply charge the room rate and any other on-property purchases to your Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card. It is recommended you charge any purchases to your room to ensure there are no issues with receiving the statement credit.

  5. If I receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy gold elite status from this card, does that mean I only need 25 more nights for platinum?

    No, the complimentary Marriott Bonvoy gold elite status does not award any elite qualifying nights. This means that while you may be a gold elite member as a result of the status perk this card offers, you will still need to earn the 50 elite qualifying nights in a calendar year to earn platinum elite status.

Hugh Campbell

Hugh Campbell

Senior Editor at Frugal Flyer
Hugh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points-earning potential in recent years. In 2019, Hugh stepped things up when he met Reed in addition to a few other miles and points fanatics (err degenerate churners) and has since been able to capitalize on the various expertise that each member brings to the group.

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