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7 Things to Do When You Get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex

June 17, 2019
8 min read
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From automatic Gold status to $300 in statement credits to Priority Pass Select membership, there's ample reason to consider adding the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card to your wallet. In fact, keeping up with all the bundled perks is a task unto itself. To take that burden off of your shoulders — and to ensure that you're maximizing the card from the moment it arrives — we've laid out a handy checklist below.

1. Upgrade to Gold Status

Complimentary Gold status comes in handy at properties like The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

When you apply for the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex online, you're asked to input your Marriott number along the way. If you do so, you should see your account upgraded to Gold shortly after the card's arrival. If you don't, call the number on the back of the card and ask to be upgraded.

The most valuable benefits of Gold status are room upgrades and a 25% point bonus on Marriott hotel spending. We value Gold status at $845 annually for semi-frequent travelers.

2. Plan a Free Getaway

Who wouldn't want a free night at The St. Regis Hong Kong? (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Each year on the anniversary of opening your Bonvoy Brilliant card, you’ll receive a free-night award worth up to 50,000 points. That’s much more valuable than the free-night certificates that come with the lower-tier Marriott cards, which are capped at 35,000 points. Some of the best uses of the 50,000-point free-night certificate include five-star hotels like The Ritz-Carlton Macau and The St. Regis Langkawi, where rooms routinely top $500 per night.

We've created a guide with our top recommendations for maximizing your free-night certificate. Remember, you can tack this free night onto an existing reservation — just ask to stay in the same room across stays once you arrive at the property.

3. Get $300 in Free Stays

A $300 statement credit allows you to hang a little longer at The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico. (Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

In addition to the free-night certificate mentioned above, the Bonvoy Brilliant also includes a massive $300 statement credit. Marriott has confirmed that this credit applies to room rates as well as incidentals charged to your room, so you should have no trouble maximizing this benefit, essentially trimming the card’s annual fee to $150.

The credit can be used all at once or in chunks, but be sure to use it before your card anniversary. You'll get a fresh $300 to burn with each new card year, but unused statement credit cannot be rolled over. I typically recommend pairing this $300 credit with the free-night award mentioned above. If you book a multi-night stay at a fancy Marriott portfolio property, you can get your total outlay close to zero by exchanging your free-night certificate, and then putting this $300 statement credit toward the room rate on added nights.

4. Enroll in Free Airline Lounge Access

Priority Pass access means gratis food at many airports, like The Club at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (ATL). (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

As is standard among premium travel-rewards cards, the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you and two guests unlimited access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. Additional guests are charged $32 per lounge visit. Keep in mind that with all Amex cards, you won’t be able to access most Priority Pass non-lounge spots such as restaurants after Aug. 1, 2019.

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If you don’t already have a Priority Pass Select membership via another credit card, log in to your American Express account online, head to “Benefits” and click the “Enroll Now” button for Priority Pass Select. You’ll then be able to create an account via an app and have access to your digital membership card that provides admittance into the lounges.

5. Zoom Through Airport Security and Immigration

Get your Global Entry enrollment reimbursed, and enjoy included TSA PreCheck. (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy)

As with many other premium cards, the Bonvoy Brilliant will also reimburse you when you charge the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to the card (up to $100). In short, these programs enable you to spend less time waiting in airport security lines, along with skipping many immigration and customs queues upon entering the United States from a foreign destination.

If you already have Global Entry or PreCheck, you can use this credit to cover the application fee for a friend or family member. This benefit is available to card holders once every four years. Remember, Global Entry includes PreCheck, so that’s the smarter choice.

6. Get Free Boingo Wi-Fi

(Photo by Lisa Weatherbee/The Points Guy)

Although The Platinum Card® from American Express lost its Boingo Wi-Fi perk in May, it's still available through the Bonvoy Brilliant. To take advantage, log in to your American Express account, head to "Benefits" and follow the instructions for digital enrollment in the Boingo Preferred Plan, which will give you unlimited access to more than one million Wi-Fi hotspots at airports and other locations around the world (and you can sync this access with up to four devices). This perk is most similar to Boingo’s Global plan, which costs $39 per month.

7. Snag Presale Tickets to Hot Events

Branches in concert, San Francisco (Photo by Dana Jo Photography)

Many artists partner with credit card issuers to offer presales and VIP experiences to card members. American Express card members — including those holding the Bonvoy Brilliant — can enjoy exclusive access to ticket presales and reserved-seating offers through Ticketmaster, not to mention premium Broadway seats and added offers through American Express Music.

Once you have your card in hand, check out those portals to see if there's presale access to any upcoming events.

Bottom Line

(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

Marriott makes it easy to extract far more than $450 in value from the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex each year, easily surpassing the annual fee (see rates & fees). Even if you're an infrequent traveler, complimentary Gold status, a free-night certificate and up to $300 in Marriott statement credits are excellent perks available to card holders.

For more information on the Bonvoy Brilliant, check out the following posts:

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.