13 great ways to redeem the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant 50k free night award

Sep 30, 2019

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Just a few years ago, a $450+ annual fee on a credit card seemed a bit ludicrous to all but the heaviest spenders and most frequent travelers. Nowadays, the premium credit card market has heated up with increased competition from  transferable points cards, cobranded airline and premium hotel credit cards. In order to attract customers’ attention, these cards are coming up with more creative and valuable perks, including the now ubiquitous Priority Pass Select membership, concierge services, travel/airfare/hotel credits and annual free hotel nights.

Within the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, there are two types of annual free night certificates available on the company’s cobranded credit cards. The cards with annual fees that hover around $100 per year, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, both offer an annual free night worth up to 35,000 points at each cardmember anniversary.

But, if 35k just isn’t enough, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offers a free night worth up to 50,000 points at each anniversary after the first year. That opens up many more redemption possibilities! (Note that the Ritz-Carlton Rewards card also offers the same 50,000-point certificate, but that card is no longer available to new applicants.)

In Marriott’s loyalty program, 50,000 points roughly maps to a Category 6 hotel under standard pricing, but the recent introduction of peak and off-peak pricing changes the math a little bit. Now, Category 6 hotels on peak dates will cost 60,000 points per night, making them ineligible for these free night certificates. However, Category 7 properties on off-peak dates drop from 60,000 points a night to 50,000, hopefully making up the difference in some ways.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card comes with a $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees), and the free night certificate is one of the best ways to recoup that value. With that in mind, here are 13 high-value redemptions for the free night certificate that comes with this premium card (and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards card). In compiling this list, I focused on three main factors:

  1. The brand of the hotel — specifically luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis — that are eligible for free night redemptions
  2. Average nightly rate, to make sure you’re getting a good redemption value
  3. Location and other unique amenities that can enhance your stay

You’ll notice that the bulk of this list is comprised of Category 6 properties, as between standard and off-peak pricing, they will make up the bulk of high-end hotels pricing out in this 50,000 point or less range. Most properties appear to use peak and off-peak pricing on roughly 20% of available nights each, so we’ll also make sure to highlight a few Category 7 properties that you should keep your eye on in the off season.

If you have other top properties pricing at 50,000 points or lower, feel free to share them in the comments section below. (Here are some of our family-friendly ways to use a 50k Marriott award.)

Finally, if you don’t currently have the Bonvoy Brilliant card, it’s not too late to add it to your wallet. The card is offering a bonus of 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. This haul is worth $600 based on TPG’s most recent valuations. You’ll get your first 50k certificate at your cardmember anniversary.

W Punta Mita

W Punta Mita (photo courtesy of Marriott)
W Punta Mita (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

W Hotels bring the party wherever they go, and Punta Mita is no exception. An intimate property with just 119 rooms and 13 suites, the W Punta Mita provides easy access to popular attractions like Sayulita and the Marietas Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’d rather relax on-site, you can enjoy the hotel’s Huichol-inspired WET Deck or sample a variety of different restaurants, including Mesa1, which is located on a private island.

Delta Hotels Whistler Village

Image courtesy of Delta Whistler
Image courtesy of Delta Whistler

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

This hotel in Whistler’s walkable village provides easy access to the nearby ski slopes and bike trails, as well as shopping and dining. Better yet, in the suites, you’ll find gas fireplaces to help you warm up and relax after a long day out in the snow. Here are some tips for planning a points and miles-fueled ski trip to Whistler. If you are considering a ski trip to Whistler, be sure and brush up on the Epic Ski Pass.

St. Regis Mexico City

(Photo by Nicholas Ellis / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicholas Ellis / The Points Guy)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

The St. Regis Mexico City boasts one of the best addresses in town, towering 31 stories above the Paseo de la Reforma. With five different on-site dining options, guests can choose whether they’d like to indulge in elegant Mexican cuisine, signature cocktails or La Table Krug to enjoy a tasting menu paired with Krug Champagne. While you’re in Mexico City, here are things you must eat and drink and some fun things to do if the whole family makes the trip.

(Photo by Nicholas Ellis / The Points Guy)

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami

Photo courtesy of Marriott

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Don’t let the name fool you. Although The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne is, in fact, located on Miami’s Key Biscayne, the hotel’s serene beaches face outward to the Atlantic Ocean. Key Biscayne was one of the later parts of Miami to be developed, so while the hotel provides easy access to Miami International Airport (MIA) and South Beach, it remains private and exclusive. As the only luxury resort on the island, it offers guests stunning ocean views or tropical island views in modern but luxurious accommodations. You can choose to dine on the beach, by the pool or at the on-site ice cream parlor to escape Miami’s heat.

W Shanghai

W Shanghai (Photo courtesy of Ethan Steinberg)
W Shanghai (Photo courtesy of Ethan Steinberg)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

You haven’t seen Shanghai until you’ve seen it come to life at night, and the W Shanghai offers some of the best views of the city skyline. Although it bills itself as being on The Bund, it’s actually a few minutes north in the Hongkou district, and when TPG contributor Eric Rosen stayed there in late 2017, he actually appreciated not being surrounded by throngs of tourists. He also remarked how even the standard rooms were incredibly spacious at almost 500 square feet, but my personal favorite were the chopstick and dumpling pillows he found waiting on his bed.

W Shanghai bed 2
The accouterments provided at the W Shanghai. (Photo by Eric Rosen / The Points Guy).

With 374 rooms, 35 suites and a pool that attracts locals and tourists alike, this hotel should be high on your list for your next trip to Shanghai.

The Ritz-Carlton, Bali

Photo courtesy of Ritz Carlton Bali
The Ritz-Carlton, Bali (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

This particular property sometimes goes for $700 or even $800 a night, but Marriott decided to classify it as Category 6 and thus make it eligible for Bonvoy Brilliant free night certificates. Located in the upscale Nusa Dua area, all 313 “rooms” at this property are either suites or villas, and almost all of them feature private plunge pools.

With six on-site dining options and a seemingly endless stretch of pristine beach, guests are sure to never get bored. However, the property also provides unique options for those looking for more structure in their day. The Ritz-Carlton offers a unique impact program that allows guests to give back to the local community through various service programs, which are perfect for a meaningful family vacation or team-building activities at a corporate event. Here are tips for getting to Bali using points and miles. After you burn your 50k certificates, here are ways to stretch your Marriott points in Bali.

JW Marriott Cancun

(Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

A little closer to home, JW Marriott Cancun blends high-end luxury with exotic touches of history. Unwind on the pristine white sand beaches, or venture off-site to explore the Mayan ruins at Tulum and Chichen-Itza. Spice up your stay with a Cirque Du Soleil ticket package, or spend your time snorkeling and diving through the pristine waters. At the end of the day, you can indulge in tequila and locally-caught seafood or enjoy sushi and Mediterranean cuisine at one of the many on-site restaurants.

(Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)

Ready to get going? Flight deals to Cancun pop up regularly, making this destination incredibly accessible. Alternatively, you could consider these lie-flat options to get you to Mexico in style!

Mykonos Theoxenia, Design Hotels

Photo courtesy of Mykonos Theoxenia
The Mykonos Theoxenia hotel. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

The white marble buildings of Mykonos and Santorini make them two incredibly sought-after travel destinations, but a limited selection of hotels and sky-high cash rates put them out of the reach of most travelers, at least until now. Rooms at the Mykonos Theoxenia feature wood floors and balconies overlooking either the sea or garden.

The windmills on the property, as well as the blend of stone, wood and marble, give it a rustic but luxurious feel. On-site amenities are especially important on a small island, and the Mykonos Theoxenia has it all. From high-end dining to a concierge that can help you book boats, helicopters and even private jts, the Mykonos Theoxenia has all your high-end vacation needs covered. If you are considering a trip, here are the best times to visit Greece.

St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort, Hainan

Photo courtesy of St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort
The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort in Hainan. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Hainan, often referred to as “China’s Hawaii,” is going to great lengths to attract more tourism. First the island province announced visa-free travel for Americans, followed by a plan to uncensor the internet for tourists. The 396 rooms and 38 suites at the St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort are visually stunning, as is the multilevel pool that makes up the centerpiece of the hotel. With beaches on one side and mountains on the other, a marina, golf course and spa, this hotel is reason enough to pick Hainan for your next Asian getaway.

Even thought it’s a St. Regis, rates here can sometimes be the lowest of the properties on this list, so double-check your dates to make sure you’re getting a solid redemption value.

Westin Palace Madrid

The Opera Brunch is held in this fancy room at Westin Palace Madrid. Photo courtesy of hotel.
The Opera Brunch is held in this fancy room at Westin Palace Madrid. (Photo courtesy of hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Commissioned by King Alfonso XIII in 1912, the Westin Palace Madrid is a stunning piece of architecture that blends right into its surroundings. Located in Madrid’s Art Walk, the hotel is close to some of the most famous museums and best tapas restaurants in the city. Opera Brunch at La Rotonda, hosted underneath a beautiful stained glass cupola, is a must, as is the food at Green T Sushi Bar.

Here’s some common mistakes to avoid in Madrid and why it should absolutely be on your must-visit list.

Wailea Beach Resort

(Photo courtesy of Marriott Wailea)
(Photo courtesy of Marriott Wailea)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

The Wailea Beach Resort recently completed a $100 million redesign, cementing its place as one of Maui’s premier resorts. The 491 rooms and 56 suites all feature private balconies to keep you as close to the ocean as possible at all times, while six new restaurants were opened as part of the redesign, ranging from a poolside bar and grill to a food truck. The hotel also redesigned its pool areas, including an adults-only infinity pool and waterslides for the kids.

In planning your trip to Hawaii, here is how to fly to paradise in a lie-flat seat for 40,000 miles and a look at island hopping on Southwest Airlines.

Bodrum Edition

(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Marriott is actively growing its Edition brand of modern and understated luxury hotels, with the Bodrum location opening its doors for the first time just over a year ago. The property houses 108 rooms, suites and villas, many of which feature private balconies and/or plunge pools. Enjoy a gourmet grill overlooking the bay, or party all night at the hotel’s nightclub. Whatever you’re looking for on your vacation, the Bodrum Edition has you covered.

(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

Here are some of the best ways to book Turkish business class with miles and why families are flocking to the “Turkish Riviera.”

Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

The Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)
The Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

If you’re looking for a pristine beach getaway, it’s hard to do better than the Aruba Marriott Resort & Casino, located on the white sands of Palm Beach. Every room at this property features a balcony, and with multiple outdoor pools (including one reserved exclusively for adults) and a water sports center, this hotel packs a lot of relaxation into a single trip. There are multiple dining options to choose from, ranging from comfortable favorites like Ruth’s Chris Steak House to Atardi, which serves fresh seafood on the beach allowing you to watch the sun set over the tranquil water.

Here are the best times to visit Aruba and fun things to do when you get there!

Booking Category 7 properties with a 50k certificate

There are plenty of reasons you might not want (or be able) to travel offseason, from kid’s school schedules to winter and rainy seasons in certain parts of the world, but if you’re able to plan your travels to take advantage of off-peak award rates, here are a few great Marriott Category 7 properties to keep your eyes on:

W Bali Seminyak – Book a Wonderful Garden Escape

Westin Maldives – Book a Family Beach Villa

St. Regis Washington DC – Book a Superior Guest Room

W Paris Opera – Book a Wonderful Guest Room

How to book

Once you receive your certificate, the booking process is quite simple. You just log in to your Marriott Bonvoy account and search for an award stay of any length. If you find a property with standard award inventory for 50,000 points per night (or fewer), the booking platform should prompt you to use the certificate instead of points. Remember you only have a year to use these certificates, so don’t sit on them for too long.

Bottom line

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex offers an array of perks such as automatic Marriott Gold elite status and nights toward Platinum status and elevated bonus categories to make sure you get your money’s worth from its annual fee. That’s good since you won’t be able to take advantage of your free night certificate until your first year is up (Ritz-Carlton cardholders will get earlier opportunities depending on their anniversary date).

But while you should absolutely maximize the card’s benefits every year, it’s possible to get hundreds of dollars in value from the annual 50k free night starting in your second year, making the Bonvoy Brilliant card a no-brainer for those who frequent Marriott properties. The introduction of peak pricing has certainly made it more difficult to redeem these certificates, but Bonvoy Brilliant customers can leverage off-peak pricing to level up their free night to a Category 7 hotel on select dates.

Featured image of Zach Griff / The Points Guy of the JW Marriott Cancun. 

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

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. TPG values 75K Bonvoy points to be worth around $600. Aside from the huge welcome offer you'll earn up to $300 in statement credits each year and 1 free night every year after cardmember anniversary. Terms apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. 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.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $450 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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