Marriott’s premium credit card — the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card — is undergoing a major overhaul. Today’s update includes the previously-announced shift in the card’s $300 annual credit, but we’re also learning about an array of additional changes. And unfortunately, these new and enhanced perks come with a higher annual fee.
That said, existing cardholders have a few more months before the new fee kicks in. And for new cardmembers, there’s an elevated welcome offer now available.
Here’s everything you need to know about these changes to the Bonvoy Brilliant card.
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New elite status and more elite nights
Previously, Bonvoy Brilliant cardmembers received automatic Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and received 15 elite night credits per year in their account, helping them attain status faster. Going forward, there are two enhancements to these perks:
Cardholders now receive 25 elite night credits per year.
Cardholders now enjoy automatic Platinum Elite status.
Platinum status includes eligibility for suite upgrades at check-in and free breakfast at certain properties, among other benefits.
Note that reports from TPG readers and staff members indicate that the additional 10 nights are starting to post to members’ accounts — so if you’re an existing cardholder, your elite night balance may just have seen a boost.
New choice benefit with spending
While the card does now come with automatic Platinum Elite status, this will not (by itself) make you eligible for Marriott’s Choice Benefits. These only become available once you have reached 50 elite-qualifying nights, and you get another selection when you hit 75 nights and qualify for Titanium status.
However, the Bonvoy Brilliant card is getting its own selection of similar perks next year. Starting in 2023, when you spend at least $60,000 on the card in a calendar year, you’ll become eligible for an “Annual Earned Choice Award” — where you’d pick one of the following options:
5 Suite Night Awards.
An 85,000-point free night reward.
$750 off a mattress or box spring from Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques.
Again, this is separate from the Choice Benefits you’d unlock by reaching 50 and 75 elite-qualifying nights — though as noted above, it won’t start until 2023.
The JW Marriott Bonnet Creek. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY
More valuable free night
The final enhancement to the Bonvoy Brilliant card involves the annual free night award you receive upon account renewal each year. Previously, this was applicable to properties that cost up to 50,000 points per night. Going forward, this will be valued for a free night at up to 85,000 points. And as announced earlier this year, you will be able to top off this award with up to 15,000 points from your Marriott account. This boosts the potential value of the certificate to up to 100,000 points.
If you maximize this increased value by booking a property at exactly 85,000 points, that gives you a value of $714 based on TPG’s valuations. This is particularly appealing given the final change to the card.
Higher annual fee
Of course, these changes come at a cost. The annual fee on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is now $650 (see rates and fees), up from $450. While this change is effective immediately for new applicants, if you’re an existing cardholder, it will go into effect on your first renewal date on (or after) Jan. 1, 2023.
New welcome offer
To entice new applicants, the card has launched a new welcome offer: 150,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of cardmembership. This welcome offer ends on Jan. 11, 2023. TPG values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.84 cents apiece, meaning this bonus is worth $1,260.
Our take on the changes
There will likely be some mixed reaction to this news. On the one hand, the Bonvoy Brilliant card has become more luxurious in many ways — the status is higher, the annual free night is worth more and the number of elite night credits you receive is also higher. And since you can stack the elite night credits on personal and business cards, this means you can hold the Brilliant and a Marriott business card to automatically get 40 nights a year — putting you just 10 nights from Platinum and 35 nights from Titanium.
However, this comes at a cost. The annual fee is increasing by $200, while the easy-to-use Marriott credit (up to $300 per year) is now gone, replaced with a monthly dining credit that takes more effort to use.
Existing cardholders will need to consider whether the annual fee is worth it on their next account anniversary.
View from a suite at the Suite at the Sheraton Grande Rio. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY
Today, we’re learning about a slew of further updates to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. This includes:
Automatic Platinum status (previously Gold).
25 elite night credits every year (previously 15).
A new choice benefit after spending $60,000 in a calendar year (new, starting in 2023).
An increased annual fee.
Fortunately, existing cardholders won’t see the higher annual fee until their first renewal on (or after) Jan. 1, 2023, so you’ll have some time to enjoy these new perks before deciding whether the card is worth keeping in the long run. And for those interested in applying for the card in spite of the higher fee, you now have a 150,000-point offer to sweeten the deal.
Apply here: Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of cardmembership on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. Ends Jan. 11, 2023.
Additional reporting by Ryan Smith.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, click here.