Our take: With disappointing rewards and a shrunken welcome bonus, the $650 Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card forces you to use up its benefits to justify the eye-watering annual fee. 
Luckily those benefits are pretty rich, ranging from a $300 dining statement credit to Platinum Elite status to one free night each year. Jetset Marriott loyalists should have no trouble getting  over $1,000 in value from the card’s benefits each year, but the less hardcore among us should probably stick with a general-purpose travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® instead.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Intro Bonus

Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you complete $6,000 or more in eligible purchases within the first six months of opening the account.

Annual fee $650
Regular APR 20.99%–29.99% variable

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card Overview

Card type: Hotel, Travel Rewards

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is heavy metal – both literally and figuratively. 

For starters, it commands a hardcore, headbanging $650 annual fee. But if you’re willing to pay the price, you’ll get a mosh pit worth of benefits. 

There’s a $300 dining statement credit, $100 for a TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee, a $100 discount for stays of two nights or more at The Ritz or St. Regis, instant Platinum Elite status, Priority Pass Select for you and two guests at over 1,200 airport lounges (enrollment required), a free night worth up to 85,000 points (roughly $765 in value) on your account anniversary and so much more. 

Toss in a 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you complete $6,000 or more in eligible purchases within the first six months of opening the account-point welcome bonus redeemable for roughly$855 worth towards Marriott stays and you have an impressive overall value proposition for Marriott die-hards. 

That said, the rewards themselves are about as heavy metal as an ABBA reunion tour. 6X on Marriott, 3X on dining and flights and 2X on everything else is pretty soft-rock for a card charging $650 a year, so you’ll need to use up all of your benefits to get the most value from this pricey backstage pass. 

Who is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card good for? 

The Bonvoy Brilliant card’s eye-popping $650 fee is a test for the hotel chain’s most loyal patrons. If you’re the kind of person who’s on first-name basis with the bartender at the St. Regis, considers airport lounge access an absolute necessity and cherishes reaching Titanium status this year, then the Bonvoy Brilliant card is probably a fit. 

Who shouldn’t get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card? 

As showcased by $100 statement credit to Marriott’s most expensive properties and the $60,000 spending threshold for an Earned Choice Award, the Bonvoy Brilliant card is designed to reward high net-worth clientele who already enjoy an upscale travel lifestyle. Heck, the card’s own three-word pitch on Marriott.com is “unlock luxury experiences.” 

So if you’re looking for a Marriott card that’s more of a money-saver than a lifestyle amplifier, you’re looking for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card. The card comes with a five-night welcome bonus (with the only caveat being they can “only” be worth up to 50,000 points per night) and matches the Brilliant card’s base 6X on Marriott stays. Sure, you won’t get a $300 dining statement credit with the less hardcore card – but the annual fee is slashed down to just $95. 

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: How to earn rewards

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant offers the following ways to earn rewards:

  • 6X points on Marriott purchases
  • 3X points at restaurants worldwide and flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X points on all other eligible purchases

You may have noticed that Amex markets an earnings potential of “up to 21X” with this card, but here’s how that breaks down: 

  • Earn 6X for booking with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card
  • Earn up to an additional 10X for being a free Marriott Bonvoy member (most, but not all properties qualify)
  • Earn an additional 5X for having Platinum Elite status, included with the card

In the fine print, Marriott Bonvoy also clarifies that the 5X you get for reaching Platinum Elite and the “50% Bonus Points on Stays” are the same thing. 

At first glance, a mere 6X may seem stingy for a $650 rewards card (both the $550 Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the $395 Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offer 10X on hotel bookings made through their respective issuers), but it’s important to remember that in general, you can only earn that high of a rewards rate  by booking directly with the hotel. That means if you book a Marriott property through the Chase portal, you’ll earn 10X from Chase but not 10X from Marriott. 

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant allows you to earn both, which is how you can stack rewards up to 21X. 

The card also offers 95,000. 

How to redeem Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card rewards 

Keep in mind that when you’re using your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card you’re earning Marriott Bonvoy points – not Amex Membership Rewards points. That means that unfortunately, both the value of your points and your redemption options have some limitations. 

Various estimates pin the value of a single Marriott Bonvoy Rewards point at roughly 0.9 cents when applied towards a Marriott stay and 0.8 cents or less towards other redemption options. To illustrate their wimpy value in the greater points economy, Marriott Bonvoy Rewards transfer to most of Marriott’s 39 airline partners at a dismal 3:1 ratio.

So you’ll probably want to save your hard-earned points for future Marriott stays. For reference, here are all of your redemption options: 

  • Hotel stays, upgrades and other purchases at Marriott properties
  • Flights and rental cars with over 250 travel partners (direct, not via points transfer)
  • Cruises booked through Marriott Bonvoy’s Cruise With Points program
  • Transfers to 40 airline partners (most at a 3:1 points-to-mile ratio)
  • Shopping for headphones, fashion, gift cards etc.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Moments aka select dining, concert and sports experiences
  • TSA Precheck for 25,000 points (which you probably won’t need given the $100 credit)
  • Gifts or donations to charities or other members

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card rates and fees

As expected for a card that costs $650 a year, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant has no introductory APR nor any sort of balance transfer incentive. 

  • Annual fee: $650
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Regular APR: 20.99%–29.99% variable

Be prepared to pay that annual fee in full when it hits your statement, because with an APR as high as 29.99% you definitely don’t want to be carrying a balance on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. 

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card Card, see rates and fees.

Additional benefits

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has benefits in spades. All told they could be  worth well over $1,000, and most of them reset every calendar year so there’s an incentive to keep paying the $650 annual fee. 

The benefits are also fairlyeasy to cash in. There’s no $200 off a $1,500 Peloton here – if you eat out once a month and stay at The Ritz for three nights you’ll have already used roughly $1,200 worth of your annual benefits. And if you and two guests hit a Priority Pass lounge in the airport, that’s another $170 saved. 

  • $300 dining statement credit (up to $25 per month) on any purchase that codes as a “restaurant” on your statement, which could be anything from a coffee shop to dinner at the Ritz.
  • 1 free night award every year after your card renewal month (award can be used for one night redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®).
  • Platinum Elite status which nets you 50% more points on purchases, complimentary room upgrades (when available), 4pm late checkout, dedicated support, a welcome gift at check-in and more.
  • Application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, refunding you up to $100 of your application fee every four years for Global Entry and up to $85 every 4.5 years for TSA Precheck.
  • Earned choice award after spending $60,000 in a calendar year. Options include five Nightly Upgrade Awards, a $1,000 bed discount from Marriott Retail Brands, and a free night award with a redemption value up to 85,000 points
  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis when you book directly using a special rate for a minimum two-night stay.
  • 25 Elite Night Credits so you’re only 50 away from Titanium status next year.
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select with enrollment to over 1,200 airport lounges for you and up to two guests (unlimited access memberships are usually $469 a year)
  • Premium Internet Access during each of your Marriott stays. 

Credit cards similar to Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

We’ve previously mentioned this card’s main rival – the Chase Sapphire Reserve – so let’s go ahead and do a more robust head-to-head comparison. And while we’re at it, let’s compare the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card to its $250 sibling – the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy – to see which is the better overall value. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

In our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card we gave it kudos for having a list of benefits longer than an encore version of Freebird – and we weren’t kidding. 

Just to start, you’ll earn 10x points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (once you spend $300 on travel), 5X on flights, 3x points on other travel and dining and 10X on Lyft. You’ll also get a flexible travel credit for up to $300 annually, Priority Pass Select membership, access to the growing Sapphire lounge network, a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit and free premium memberships galore to Lyft, DoorDash, Instacard, Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection and more. 

Despite all this tasty goodness, however, the Reserve just can’t keep up with the Brilliant in terms of generating Marriott points. As mentioned, to score 10X you have to book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site which negates the 10X you’d get on the Marriott side. You can book directly with Marriott but you’d only get 3X with the Sapphire Reserve card. So if you truly want the maximum amount Marriott points, the Brilliant is still the winner. 

Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card vs. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Slotted between the $95 Boundless and the $650 Brilliant is the $250 Marriott Bonvoy Bevy. It offers a nearly-as-good 85,000-point welcome bonus, and earns 6X on Marriott spending, 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $15,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets per calendar year, then 2X points), and 2X points on all other eligible purchases. You’ll also get 1,000 bonus points per stay, instant Gold Elite status, a free night after spending $15,000 and 15 Elite Night credits per year towards higher status. 

But as you can see, the Bevy offers far fewer benefits than the Brilliant, and Marriott loyalists will have no trouble at all bridging the $400 difference between the two cards. Heck, the Brilliant card’s one free reward night is worth up to 85,000 points in value alone, not to mention the annual $300 dining statement credit that should be relatively simple to use.. 

So if you’re a plane-hopping Marriott loyalist who can stomach seeing $650 on their very first statement, the Brilliant will be the more rewarding card in the long run. 

Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card right for you?

Most of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant’s value comes from its benefits. From a $300 dining statement credit to a free award night worth up to 85,000 points, the card offers plenty of ways to make up for its $650 annual fee. 

So the best way to know if the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is right for you is to scan its list of benefits. If you go down the list and think “Yeah, I’ll definitely use that…and that… and that…” then the card is probably a fit. 

But if you find yourself thinking “Ooo, I’ll have to set a reminder to use that” or “Hmm… I probably can’t afford a two-night stay at The Ritz this year,” then the card is probably not for you. 

Because it’s always best to make the card fit the lifestyle—not the other way around. 

Frequently asked questions 

What credit score do you need for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card?

Amex doesn’t publish a required FICO Score for its cards, but considering this is an elite-tier travel rewards card, you’ll conservatively need a 700 to apply. Keep in mind that issuers consider a variety of financial factors and not just your credit score when reviewing your application.

How much is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card’s annual fee? 

The annual fee for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is $650. 

Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card a metal card?

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is a metal card. It’s nice and weighty—and far more durable—than a plastic card. 

Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefits guide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.


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