Advertiser Disclosure

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Review: Earn Free Nights With Big Perks

Our review of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card looks at the rewards program, points transfer program, fees, and travel perks.
(4 out of 5) MyBankTracker Editor's Rating

Hotel rewards credit cards can make it easy to earn points toward free stays. But some offer better rewards and benefits than others. 

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is a premium hotel rewards card for travelers who prefer Marriott to other brands. This card offers a solid combination of rewards and value-boosting features. 

You'll earn the most points on Marriott hotel purchases. But this card could also be a good option for charging other travel expenses or everyday spending. 

Wondering if the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card might be right for you? Keep reading to learn more about how this card works.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar on Marriott purchases
  • Earn 3 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on all other purchases
  • Receive 1 free award night each year
  • Up to $300 in statement credit each year
  • TSA or Global Entry fee credit
  • Annual fee of $450

Earn Points Toward Free Nights

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is designed for travelers who want to earn points toward free nights. 

This card lets you earn:

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

Points are unlimited so the more you spend, the more rewards you can earn. 

Earning 6 points per dollar isn't too shabby if you book Marriott hotel stays regularly. And also being able to earn an elevated rewards rate on dining and flights makes it a good all-around choice for travel. 

Points redemption

Once you're ready to redeem points, you can use them for:

  • Free nights at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Flights and car rentals with Air + Car
  • Travel packages
  • Unique experiences
  • Gift cards

Redemption values can range from 0.7 cents to 0.9 cents, depending on what you redeem for.

Overall, you'll get the most value when using points for Marriott hotel stays. 

Points transfer partners

Marriott Bonvoy also has a network of travel partners you can tap into. You can transfer points to more than 40 airline partners, including:

  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  • American Airlines AAdvantage
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • FRONTIER Miles
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

You can transfer 3,000 to 240,000 points per day. Marriott adds 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points you transfer. 

With most airline partners, points transfer to miles at a 3:1 ratio. And when you transfer points to United MileagePlus you get a 10% mileage bonus. 

Being able to transfer points is great if you want more flexibility with redeeming rewards.

And if you've already accumulated some frequent flyer miles, a points transfer could make it easier to book free flights.

Other Card Features and Benefits

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card offers several features and benefits that increase its appeal, including:

  • Up to a $300 annual statement credit for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • One Free Night Award each year
  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit
  • 15 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Elite Status
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
  • Free credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Premium internet access in-room
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Premium Global Assist Hotline access
  • Baggage insurance
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Trip delay insurance

Aside from travel benefits you also get purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty protection. 

All of these things make the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card more attractive. But it's important to weigh those benefits against the annual fee. 

Card Fees

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is a mixed bag when it comes to fees. 

You won't pay a foreign transaction fee, for instance. That's a plus if you plan to use the card for purchases outside the U.S.

But, there is a $450 annual fee to keep in mind. 

Whether it makes sense to pay a higher annual fee depends on how much value you think you'll get from the card. 

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Fees

Fee Amount
Annual Membership Fee $450
Balance Transfers N/A
Cash Advances Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction amount, whichever is greater.
Foreign Transactions None
Late Payment Up to $40
Overlimit None
Returned Payment Up to $40

For example, if you qualify for the $300 annual statement credit and the $100 Marriott property credit, you could easily make up almost all of the fee. 

But if you don't anticipate traveling as often, then you may not earn enough in rewards to justify the fee. 

Compared to Other Rewards Credit Cards

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card could find favor in your wallet if you prefer Marriott to other hotels. 

But consider whether these travel cards may be a better fit.  

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless

The lets you earn points toward free nights with a lower annual fee. 

With this card, you can earn:

  • 6 points per dollar at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2 points per dollar on all other purchases

You won't get the 3 points per dollar on flights or restaurants you could get with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card. But this card also includes some other noteworthy benefits, such as:

  • Free Night Award each account anniversary year
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Automatic Elite Status
  • Travel and shopping protections

And perhaps most importantly, you're only paying a $95 annual fee versus $450. 

Read the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card editor's review.

American Express Platinum Card

If you're okay with paying a higher annual fee, you might like the

This card offers:

  • 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked with airlines or through amextravel.com
  • 5 points per dollar on hotels booked through amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

You don't get as high of a rewards rate on hotels as you would with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card. But you do get more rewards on flights.

And you have some flexibility in how you earn hotel rewards. Instead of being limited to earning them at Marriott hotels, you can get five points per dollar on any eligible hotel stay. 

That means more flexibility when it comes to travel. And you can redeem points for travel, gift cards, shopping and more. 

There is a $550 annual fee to factor in, however. But benefits like a TSA or Global Entry fee credit, Global Lounge Collection access and a $200 airline fee credit can help offset it. 

Read the American Express Platinum Card editor's review.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The is another premium travel rewards card. 

With this card, you earn:

  • 3 points per dollar on travel and dining worldwide
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Aside from a $300 annual travel credit, what's great about this card is the value you get when redeeming points. 

If you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they're worth 50% more. 

So for example, if you're redeeming 50,000 points they'd be worth $750 in travel credit. And you also have the option of transferring points on a 1:1 basis with Chase travel partners. 

The annual fee for this card is $550 though. So again, whether it makes sense to pay the fee comes down to how often you expect to earn rewards and how far you think they'll go when redeeming them. 

Read the Chase Sapphire Reserve editor's review.

What’s the Verdict? 

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card makes it relatively easy to earn points toward free nights at Marriott properties. 

If you find yourself staying at Marriott hotels and resorts frequently, this card's rewards program is a clear winner. Not to mention the other features and benefits that make it more enticing. 

This card may not work as well, however, if you don't travel often enough to make up the annual fee in rewards. And you might prefer a different travel option if you don't exclusively stay at Marriott hotels. 

Taking stock of your past travel habits and future travel plans can help you decide if it's a good option. 

If you decide to give the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card a try, keep the regular purchase APR in mind. Carrying a balance month to month could make hotel and other purchases more expensive.