Why now is the best time to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card

Dec 3, 2020

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Are huge, six-figure credit card sign-up bonuses becoming the norm, rather than the exception? It’s starting to seem that way.

You can now add the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card to the list of cards offering increased, limited-time bonus offers that can help you amass a heap of points for memorable future travel experiences.

The Bonvoy Brilliant is one of Amex’s many premium travel cards, and it comes with an annual fee of $450 (see rates and fees) to match. But its long list of benefits ensures you’ll get more than enough value from the card to offset the fee.

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)

For years, I hesitated and held off on adding premium cards to my cache, typically sticking to either no-annual-fee cards or those that waived the annual fee, at least for the first year. But once I weighed the benefits, I realized there was a lot of value to be had from a premium travel credit card.

Here’s why now is a great time to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card if you’ve never had it before. Remember, Amex has a once-per-lifetime rule, so if you’ve had this card before, you’ll likely receive a pop-up message while applying that you won’t qualify for the welcome offer.

In This Post

Offer details

Through Jan. 13, 2021, the card has a welcome offer of up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points: 100,000 after spending $5,000 in the first three months and an additional 25,000 after your first anniversary. TPG’s most recent valuations rate Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents, making this offer worth up to $1,000.

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status could score you an upgrade to a W Santiago E WOW Suite. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

You also receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for one year (starting February 2021). You would typically have to spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year or stay 50 nights in order to get this status, so including it for a year is a great added benefit. After one year, you receive automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status.

Additional card perks

$300 statement credit: You can receive up to a $300 statement credit for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

Free night award: Every year after your card account anniversary, you’ll receive a free night award that can be redeemed at hotels up to 50,000 points.

(Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe)

$100 property credit: This benefit kicks in at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties when you book the special rate for a two-night minimum stay with your Bonvoy Brilliant card. You’ll receive a $100 property credit for qualifying charges such as room service and spa treatments.

15 elite night credits: These elite night credits can help put you on the path toward earning Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for 2022 after your complimentary status expires.

Travel benefits: A Priority Pass Select lounge membership and up to $100 for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit.

What comes with Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status?

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status can provide thousands of dollars of value, if you’re able to maximize all of the perks. Here are some of the benefits of Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status.

Choice of welcome gift: Choose bonus points, complimentary breakfast or an amenity. Your option may vary by brand, but free breakfast is usually considered as the best perk here. While some of the limited-service brands (i.e., Fairfield, Residence Inn) offer it to all guests regardless of status, it can be quite useful at full-service properties where breakfast is typically not included.

The Club Lounge at Westin LAX. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Lounge access: You’re guaranteed lounge access and complimentary breakfast at brands that have lounges, including JW Marriott, Marriott, Sheraton, Delta Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Autograph Collection and Renaissance Hotels. Lounge access is in addition to the welcome gift, so you’d select points or an amenity as your welcome gift for those brands.

Room upgrades: Your status will give you upgrades to enhanced rooms (including suites) when space is available.

50% bonus points on stays: This includes the room rate and other incidentals you can charge to your room.

Annual gift for members with 50 nights: Though you’re receiving complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, you’ll have to earn this benefit the normal way once the year is over — by spending 50 nights with Marriott. If you reach this milestone, you can choose from five Suite Night Awards (SNAs), five elite night credits, 40% off a mattress, a $100 charity donation or you can gift Silver Elite Status to someone. The SNAs are arguably the best pick here.

Other benefits: Reservation guarantee (with compensation if it cannot be honored), late checkout (guaranteed for 4 p.m.), complimentary enhanced internet (the fastest connection) and an elite phone line (telephone support especially for elite status holders).

Marriott Bonvoy benefits

Whether you use your points to splurge on a one-night getaway at a top-tier Category 8 hotel (70,000 off-peak, 85,000 standard and 100,000 peak points per night) or go on an extended vacation staying at a Category 1 property (as few as 5,000 points per night on off-peak dates), there are many ways to use your Marriott Bonvoy points. That makes the card valuable even for infrequent Marriott travelers.

Related: How to redeem points with the Marriott Bonvoy program

Use your fifth night free at a Category 4 hotel such as the Sheraton Orlando Lake Buena Vista. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

My favorite aspect of redeeming points with Marriott Bonvoy is the fifth-night free benefit on redemptions. That means the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant’s initial 100,000 bonus points could be enough to cover a five-night stay at a Category 4 hotel during off-peak (20,000 points per night) or standard (25,000 points per night) dates.

Or if you’re fortunate enough to be traveling to a destination on the PointSavers list, you can save yourself 20% off the regular points redemption rate.

Should you have a need for airline miles or just don’t see yourself needing to redeem points for a hotel stay, Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to most airline programs at a 3:1 ratio. And, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points you transfer.

Bonus spending offers

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s regular earning rate is 6x points for spending at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x points at U.S. restaurants and 2x points on everything else.

Packed boxes pass along a conveyor belt at the Amazon.com Inc. fulfilment centre in Tilbury, U.K. on Friday, July 12, 2019. By offering 12 extra hours of deals during this year's Prime Day, Amazon will pull in nearly 50% more in sales, according to an estimate from Coresight Research. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Earn bonus Marriott Bonvoy points at retailers including Amazon. (Photo by Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Using Amex Offers, however, may give you the opportunity to earn additional points on some of your everyday purchases. These offers allow existing cardholders to receive bonus points for selected spend. For example, through Dec. 27, 2020, eligible cards — including the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant — can earn 6x bonus points (for a total of 8x points) on purchases at Amazon, Target and Walmart. The bonus is capped at $3,500 in total spending across all three retailers.

You typically need to enroll in these limited-time offers in the Amex Offers section of your online account before making purchases. While it’s unknown what the future offers will be, it’s important to watch for these special spending bonuses that can really help you boost your Marriott Bonvoy balance.

Bottom line

This year has brought some of the best credit card welcome offers we’ve ever seen, including numerous six-figure opportunities, such as the 125,000 points you can earn with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express Card®. Even if you’re not ready to travel just yet, having these points in your arsenal can give you lots of flexibility, whether your future travel plans include a dream getaway, #WFM (remote work from a Marriott Bonvoy hotel room) or a weekend staycation close to home.

Apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

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

Featured photo by The Points Guy

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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