Why you should double down with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and Marriott Bonvoy Business cards

Oct 21, 2021

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If you’re a regular TPG reader, you’ve seen us publicize the importance of diversifying your miles and points portfolio. For example:

  • If you’re too heavily invested in one rewards currency, and there’s a sudden program devaluation, it could cripple your upcoming travel plans.
  • If you’ve only got one main points program, you don’t have the ability to mix and match award redemptions to more easily achieve your goals.

However, there’s nothing wrong with jumping on good deals when they come along — even if it means altering your previous strategy and doubling down on a single points program.

Case in point: Both the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card ($450 annual fee; see rates and fees) and the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card ($125 annual fee; see rates and fees) are currently posting excellent welcome offers — the kind of offers that are worth dropping whatever you’re doing to figure out how you can work them into your travel strategy. I’ve had these cards for years, and plan to keep them thanks to a couple of notable ongoing benefits which I’ll outline. These all-time-high bonuses are just a thick layer of icing on an already tasty card combo.

Here’s why you should double down with these two Marriott credit cards while their current welcome offers are available until Nov. 3, 2021.

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In This Post

Use these card bonuses to stay nine nights at the W Miami. It’s got one of the most beautiful rooftop pools I’ve ever experienced. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy)

Historically high welcome bonuses

If ever there was a time to open both the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and the Marriott Bonvoy Business, it’s now. The current welcome offers are notably higher than we’ve ever seen before:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant: Earn 150,000 bonus points and a free night award (worth up to 85,000 points) after spending $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business: Earn 125,000 bonus points and two free night awards (worth up to 50,000 points each) after spending $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening

Both offers expire Nov. 3, 2021.

The standard welcome bonus for these cards is 75,000 points after meeting minimum spending requirements. But with these increased offers, you could net a whopping 275,000 Marriott points — and three free night awards, worth up to a total of 185,000 points — with just two credit card applications.

TPG estimates Marriott points to be worth 0.8 cents each, on average. That means the 275,000 bonus points alone are worth around $2,200 in travel. Add the combined three free night awards and you’ve got a very compelling Marriott Bonvoy card duo.

We’ll look at how you can squeeze even more value from your Marriott points later in this post.

More redemption opportunities

After you meet the minimum spending requirements for both cards, you should have at least 295,000 points, two 50,000-point free night awards and one 85,000-point free night award.

Let’s just take a look at some things you can do with those awards.

Marriott calculates the award prices for their hotels by placing each property in a category.

(Screenshot courtesy of Marriott)

In addition, Marriott offers the fifth night free when booking award stays of five nights or more. With the rewards you’ve accrued from opening the above two cards, you could:

  • Stay nine nights at the W Miami during dates with standard rates ($5,400-plus value).
  • Stay six nights at the St. Regis Maldives during off-peak dates ($6,000-plus value).
  • Stay at least 19 nights at any of the 2,800 Category 3 or below hotels in the U.S. (great for road-trippers) during standard dates ($2,000-plus value).
  • Stay nine nights at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay during off-peak dates ($7,500-plus in value).
Book a five-night stay at the St. Regis Maldives in October 2022 for 295,000 points. (Screenshot courtesy of Marriott)

You can also transfer Marriott points to dozens of airlines at a 3:1 ratio. And when you transfer Marriott points in increments of 60,000, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,000 airline miles.

With the 295,000 Marriott points you’ll earn from these two card bonuses and their required spending, you could transfer four batches of 60,000 points to your favorite airline and receive a total of 100,000 airline miles for 240,000 points. You could then transfer the 55,000 remaining Marriott points at a 3:1 ratio for 18,333 additional miles. In other words, you could convert 295,000 Marriott points into 118,000 airline miles with partners like:

  • American Airlines.
  • Alaska Airlines.
  • Delta.
  • Southwest.
  • Turkish Airlines.
  • United Airlines (converts at a slightly improved 3:1.1 ratio).
That’s enough for a round-trip to Europe in business class with some airlines.

Complementary earning rates

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and Marriott Bonvoy Business offer varying bonus categories that, when combined, can cover a large portion of your spending areas.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant earns:

  • 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases with Marriott.
  • 3 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

The Marriott Bonvoy Business earns:

  • 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases with Marriott.
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations.
  • 4 points per dollar on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on purchases made from merchants in the U.S. for shipping.
  • 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Aside from the Marriott and dining bonuses that overlap, this card combo lets you rack up rewards on a variety of other purchase categories that can improve your earning dramatically.

Higher elite status opportunities

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and Marriott Bonvoy Business can also help you earn Marriott elite status in two ways:

  • Each card offers a varying level of automatic elite status (the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant offers mid-tier Gold Elite status; the Marriott Bonvoy Business offers first-tier Silver Elite status).
  • Both cards provide 15 elite night credits per calendar year.

That second point is key. When you have both a Marriott personal card and a Marriott small business card, you’ll receive 15 elite night credits for each one every calendar year. That means you’re starting each year with 30 elite night credits — before you even step into a hotel.

For this reason, anyone who cares about earning Marriott elite status should have both a personal and small-business Marriott card. Here’s how many nights you’ll have to stay each year to achieve status with this card combo after taking the 30 combined elite nights they confer:

  • Marriott Gold status: Automatic (normally 25 nights).
  • Marriott Platinum status: 20 nights (normally 50 nights).
  • Marriott Titanium status: 45 nights (normally 75 nights).
  • Marriott Ambassador status: 70 nights plus spending requirement (normally 100 nights plus spending requirement).

The sweet spot here is Platinum status. It offers the best value for the fewest number of nights. You’ll get benefits like:

  • 50% bonus points.
  • Free breakfast.
  • Complimentary suite upgrades, when available.
  • An annual choice benefit, which can include five Suite Night Award upgrade certificates.
  • Priority late checkout.

This status can score you thousands of dollars per year, depending on where you stay (and how often). For example, during my stay at the St. Regis Maldives, my Platinum status earned me:

  • An upgrade to beach villa: $883 in value per night ($4,415 total).
  • Free breakfast: $110 in value per day ($550 total).
  • 50% points bonus from spending: 20,000 points ($160 in value).

That amounted to $5,125 in value from just a single hotel stay.

Additional benefits

These cards’ benefits combine in other ways to enhance more than just your Marriott hotel experience. Here’s a quick list of each card’s notable ongoing perks.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant:

* Enrollment is required for select benefits; terms apply.

Marriott Bonvoy Business:

  • Annual free night award worth up to 35,000 points after your cardmember anniversary*.
  • Earn a second free night award (at or under 35,000 points per night) after you spend $60,000 in a calendar year*.
  • Access to Amex Offers*.

* Enrollment is required for select benefits; terms apply.

Right off the bat, carrying both cards means you get two free night awards each year — one worth up to 50,000 points and the other worth up to 35,000 points. Each can be worth hundreds of dollars, depending on where you redeem them. If your business has some significant spending, you can also score a second free night award with the business card, worth up to 35,000 points. Add in the Brilliant’s premium benefits, and you’re looking at a really well-rounded travel experience.

The one noticeable non-Marriott crossover in my experience is the Amex Offers that appear with each card. Amex Offers are targeted statement credits exclusively for American Express cards that can save you money on purchases you planned to make anyway.

Both the Bonvoy Brilliant and the Bonvoy Business receive useful offers that are often different in nature, as one is a small-business credit card and one is a personal credit card. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars between these two cards, from hotel credits to rental car credits to cellphone reimbursements. Most cardholders should find that these offers complement each other for regular spending.

Bottom line

Thanks to historically high intro bonuses, now is a perfect time to double down on Marriott with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and the Marriott Bonvoy Business. After you meet the two cards’ minimum spending requirements, you should have:

  • 295,000 Marriott points.
  • Two free night awards worth 50,000 points.
  • One free night award worth 85,000 points.

Added all together, TPG estimates this potential 480,000-point bounty to be worth $3,840 in travel. But if you know how to maximize Marriott points, you could get more than $7,000 in travel from just two credit card bonuses. Again, as a frame of reference, these cards normally offer a welcome bonus of 75,000 points each so the current elevated offers are surely worth considering just in and of themselves.

Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card 150,000-point offer
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card 125,000-point offer

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

Featured photo by Sergei Prokhorov/Shutterstock.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.