Best: For earning maximum rewards points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is a boon for travelers and fine dining devotees. The number of points offered for hotels, restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines is higher than many of the other travel rewards cards. You’ll earn generous points on all purchases other than travel, too. Points add up very quickly when used for travel and can be redeemed for free overnight stays at participating hotels or used for statement credits instead.
Best way to use this card
Air travel, hotel stays and fine dining charged to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card will give the card user the most plentiful rewards. Use this card exclusively throughout the year for making any type of purchase, but especially use it for stays at Marriott properties to accumulate the special rewards for travel charges. These points accumulate automatically, and after many uses, you’ll be able to experience low or no-cost hotel stays or related purchases by utilizing the points you’ve earned. Check out the “Elite Night” credits to see what aspects of your travel can upgrade without additional expense.
Be sure to aim for at least $3,000 in purchases during the first three months you have opened this account. Doing so will earn you a very generous bonus of 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points. Those points, along with the yearly “Free Night Award” for renewing your membership and a variety of statement credits, all help to offset the higher-than-average annual fee of $450.
Don’t forget to take advantage of the statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck that’s available once every four years, too. It can save you between $85 and $100 for a five-year membership. You will need high marks on your credit score to qualify for this highly rewarded card.
In a nutshell
Those who prefer the Marriott brand of hotels and who travel frequently are the best candidates for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card. The annual fee of $450 is quite steep, but much of that cost is compensated for by a $300 statement credit awarded each year of membership. Add in the 75,000 intro bonus points you’ll earn for spending $3,000 the first three months, and it’s accurate to say that the rewards points already cover the annual fee.
This is not the card to choose if you can’t afford the high annual fee, your credit rating is not first-rate, you don’t travel very often or you don’t believe you can manage a $3,000 purchase minimum in the first quarter after opening your account. While a travel rewards card sounds appealing, the casual traveler is probably better off getting a travel card that earns a flat rate of rewards points and carries no annual fee. A card like that is likely to be a better match for their lifestyle.