Putting the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant $100 Property Credit to the Test
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Marriott and Amex added another reason to get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card last month: It now offers up to a $100 property credit for eligible stays of at least two nights at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties.
In order to get the credit, card holders must book the stay using a special rate called the "$100 property credit, Luxury Credit Card Rate." That raised my suspicions immediately when I read it. I wondered if this special rate would be artificially inflated to counter the property credit, so we put it to the test.
How the Credit Works
The $100 property credit is available on each stay booked using the qualifying rate. This credit isn't going to reduce your base cost. Instead, the credit is meant to be used on incidental expenses during your stay. Excluded expenses include "property fees, taxes, gratuities and the cost of the room." Individual properties can also add their own exclusions.
The good news about this credit is that you don't have to wait weeks for it to be processed. The terms and conditions note that "the property credit will be applied as a credit on your bill upon checkout (and not on your American Express billing statement)."
In order to get this credit, you must book a two-night minimum stay at a Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis property using the special credit card rate. Some properties aren't participating, such as the glorious Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. You will need to use your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card to pay your bill upon checkout to get the credit. But that's a plus, as the card earns 6 Marriott points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. At current TPG valuations, that's a decent 4.8% return on your spending.
Here are some other restrictions included in the terms and conditions:
The property credit cannot be carried over to another stay, is not redeemable for cash, and expires at checkout if not used on qualifying purchases on property during the stay. The property credit is non-exchangeable and non-refundable and is applied in USD or equivalent in local currency based on exchange rate at time of checkout. May not be combined with other offers or programs unless indicated. Back-to-back stays within a 24-hour period at the same property are considered one stay.
How to Book
Cardmembers can book online or by phone. To book online, you'll need to log in to your Marriott Bonvoy account. Only accounts linked to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card are able to see the special "$100 property credit, Luxury Credit Card Rate." The special rate will automatically appear when you search for reservations at eligible properties.
The other option to book is by calling Marriott Bonvoy reservations at 1-800-450-4442 and referencing the special rate. Be sure to confirm that you are booking the correct rate before you end the call.
When I called to run sample reservations using this rate, the Marriott Bonvoy agent who picked up was not aware of the benefit and referred me to American Express for booking. Between this being a new benefit and Marriott's general reservations issues, I suspect this experience is going to be common for those who call to make reservations.
While I don't have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card myself, I have The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (it's now closed to new accounts), which offers an identical $100 property credit, so I was able to spot-check a few reservations to see how this special rate works.
First I checked The St. Regis Singapore for two-night stay three months from now. The member rate is SGD421 (US$311) per night before taxes and fees for an Executive Deluxe room or SGD441 (US$326) per night for a Grand Deluxe room:
The good news is the up to $100 property credit rate is available at the same member rate, and the cancellation terms aren't more restrictive:
As a second test, I searched rates for this weekend at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico. Interestingly, there wasn't a member rate for booking a superior guest room. Regular rates run $849 per night for that room type or $910 per night for a deluxe guest room.
Using the special rate, the price of the superior room is $17 per night cheaper. Again, the deluxe room's special rate price matched the member rate.
With St. Regis properties checking out, let's check a Ritz-Carlton example. The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park wowed TPG's Nick Ellis when he visited earlier this year. But it comes at a steep price. The cheapest I could find is still over $700 per night:
On this example, we see our first difference. While the Deluxe Room is the same $705 per night, the Avenue View Room is pricing out at $100 per night more.
For one last example, let's check out a relatively affordable stay overseas at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur. Using standard rates, the Deluxe Room prices out at MYR650 ($157) per night. Executive Deluxe costs MYR700 (US$169) per night.
Once we switch over to the special rates, the price actually drops a bit to MYR637 (US$154) for a Deluxe Room or MYR686 (US$166) per night for an Executive Deluxe.
When we saw that card holders needed to book a special rate to get the up to $100 property credit, we were concerned that the room rate would be artificially increased to make up for the credit. As we generally found, that's not the case, and sometimes the price is actually cheaper than the standard rate. That means that Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card holders can really get an up to $100 property credit every time they stay at a Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis property — a nice perk for those that stay at these luxury brands.
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