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On Feb 13, 2019, Marriott refreshed the Amex SPG Luxury card to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. The card comes with a handful of benefits like a free anniversary night and Platinum Elite status. Is the card right for you?
- Up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
- Free night award (worth up to 85,000 points) each card account anniversary. Expires 12 months from issuance, and the stay must occur before the certificate expires.
- Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status
- Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points on eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
- Earn 3X Marriott Bonvoy points at Worldwide Restaurants
- Earn 3X Marriott Bonvoy points on flights booked directly with airlines
- Earn 2X Marriott Bonvoy points on all other purchases
- Unlimited airport lounge access via Priority Pass Select (enrollment required)
- Visits for you and up to two guests per visit
- Up to $100 Luxury Property Credit at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
- Cell phone protection
- 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status each calendar year. Limit is per Marriott Bonvoy member account.
- Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® credit (every 4 years)
- No foreign transaction fees
- Terms apply.
Welcome Offer and Eligibility
There are a few application rules to be aware of for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card:
- Amex “Once in a Lifetime” Rule: If you have/had the Amex SPG Luxury (it’s effectively the same card), you will not qualify for the welcome offer.
- The “One Lane Rule” applies to all of the refreshed Marriott Bonvoy cards. You won’t qualify for a welcome offer if:
- Have/had in last 30 days = Chase Ritz-Carlton
- Added in the last 90 days = * Chase 6 card list
- Welcome / upgrade bonus last 24 months = * Chase 6 card list
* Chase 6 card list:
- Marriott Bonvoy Premier + Marriott Bonvoy Boundless
- Marriott Bonvoy Premier + Marriott Rewards Premier Plus
- Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business + Marriott Bonvoy Premier Business
What are Marriott Bonvoy Points Worth?
The expected value of Marriott Bonvoy points depends on how you plan to redeem them. Points can be redeemed towards hotel stays or transfer to airline partners.
Marriott Bonvoy Points Valuation: Airlines
The airline transfer rate for Marriott Bonvoy points is 60,000 Bonvoy points to 25,000 airline points.
- Marriott Bonvoy transfer rate: 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 25,000 airline points
The best airline transfer partners (to me) are ones you can’t earn points for:
- Korean Air
- Japan Airlines (JAL)
- Alaska Airlines
To maximize the value of points, the optimal strategy would be to redeem points for business or first class flights on the above partner airlines.
Marriott Bonvoy Points Valuation: Hotels
The point valuation for hotels will be different for everyone because it depends on where you plan to redeem them.
View the Marriott redemption chart here: https://points-redemption.marriott.com/category-change
Hotel Point Valuation Formula:
- Total cost (with taxes) / total points = cents per point
2 night example:
= 2 nights * $500 / 2 nights * 50k Bonvoy
= $1,000 / 100k Bonvoy
= 0.01 * 100 = 1 CPP
5th night free example:
= 5 nights * $500 / 200k Bonvoy
= $2,500 / 200k = 1.25 CPP
Choose Your Own Reward Benefit
In a calendar year, you'll be able to choose the following perks if you spend $60,000 on the card:
- Five Suite Night Awards, each of which can be used to book a suite upgrade up to five days in advance
- A free night certificate worth up to 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
- $750 off a bed from Bonvoy boutiques
Note that this is different from the Choice Benefits you get after reaching 50 and 75 elite-qualifying nights.
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Status
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card grants you automatic Platinum Elite status as long as the card is open.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders are entitled to 25 elite night credits per year. One interesting strategy is that if you have both the Bonvoy Brilliant and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Cards, you can add the both status nights to your account. This means that for a lot of people, 40 nights a year are already in the books.
Elite status has one big drawback, though; it doesn't lead to Titanium status. It would take 75 nights to reach Titanium status. With 40, we need 35 more. It's probably not practical or worth it for most, but at least it's a possibility.
Where To Redeem the Free Night Award
Cardmembers will receive a free night award on their account anniversary. The free night award can be redeemed on properties worth up to 85,000 points.
View the Marriott properties here: https://points-redemption.marriott.com/category-change
This isn't a great benefit for economy travelers, though. Depending on where you go, this could be worth $100 to $1,343. Your mileage may vary, but I believe this is worth at least $350 if you travel even once a year.
If you pay $350 for an 85k certificate, your Bonvoy points will basically have a value of 0.4 CPP. If it is valued lower, then this card and Bonvoy points are probably a pass.
But, this could also mean that the dining credits and certificate can cover the $650 annual fee.
$650 Annual fee - $300 dining credit - $350 for certificate = $0 effective annual fee
Considering this, you're essentially getting a heavily subsidized annual fee.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is a keeper card due to the free night award and automatic Platinum Elite status.
If you’re an aspirational traveler who doesn't mind doing homework and potentially traveling during shoulder season, this card is also for you. In addition, people who are looking for a card that can get them to Platinum status for free or a highly subsidized one can greatly benefit from the new Bonvoy Brilliant upgrades.
However, since the card is hard to use and get value from, it's not ideal for economy travelers.