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I have been a Starwood (now Marriott) American Express customer for over 20 years. And I quite like what they’ve done with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card for a lot of customers. It just will no longer make sense for me with the new $650 annual fee (See Rates & Fees).
- Generous initial bonus: earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months. At $0.006 per point that’s worth $900.
- Elite status: Cardmembers receive Bonvoy Platinum status and each calendar year you can receive 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status and these elite nights also count towards lifetime status. Other Bonvoy cards offer just 15 elite nights.
- Statement credits: Each Card renewal year, get up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
- Free nights: Cardmembers receive one Marriott Brilliant Free Night Award after their Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at participating hotels, though as with all Marriott redemptions you may have to cover resort or destination fees.
- Choice benefit: Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases, Card Members are eligible to select an Earned Choice Award benefit. Benefit options include: Five (5) Suite Night Awards, 85K Free Night Award, and mattress and box spring $750 discount from Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques.
- Earning for spend: On an ongoing basis you earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating hotels; 3 points at restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines; 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
- Airport lounge access: Cardmembers can enroll in Priority Pass Select, which offers unlimited access to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries, regardless of which carrier or class you are flying. Amex-sponsored Priority Pass does not include airport restaurants or experiences that Priority Pass cards provided by Chase and Capital One will.
A lot of people will make the value proposition work. I consider Marriott Platinum better than Hilton Diamond, for instance. Hilton doesn’t guarantee late check-out, and I like Marriott hotels better. While Bonvoy benefits delivery can be inconsistent, Hilton properties aren’t violating program rules if they choose not to offer an available standard suite as an upgrade.
Here’s how to make it work.
- Use the full restaurant credit, that’s worth $300 in savings (but your points-earning on that restaurant spend may be less valuable than what you’d earn paying with other cards, and you need to remember to pull out the card once a month for dining spend).
- Use the 85,000 point free night award. If you got 85,000 points in value from it that’d be worth $510 by my calculation, but even if it’s worth $350 you’ve covered the cost of the card with the dining credit. (In the first year the card is easy without needing to value any of this, given the initial bonus offer.)
- And you get Platinum status, 25 elite nights, and a Priority Pass as well – having already covered the cost of the card.
Marriott Platinum status entitles you to club lounge access or restaurant breakfast (most brands), an upgrade if available up to a standard suite, and guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout (except at resort and conference hotels where late check out is subject to availability).
In my case I don’t need the card for Platinum status anymore. Given lifetime Platinum, I don’t need it for Platinum. I don’t need the Priority Pass, since I have that from Chase, Capital One, and from my The Platinum Card® from American Express. Who needs a 4th?
Even so, if I wanted to go for Marriott Titanium I’d keep the card. With 25 elite nights, plus 15 elite nights from my Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, I’m well on my way. And when I hit 50 elite nights for the year I could choose 5 more elite nights as a benefit. So I’d only need to stay 30 nights (without any double elite nights promotion) to hit Titanium.
But I don’t actually value Titanium status above Platinum. It gets you eligibility for suite upgrades at Ritz-Carlton properties, and United silver status, but that’s more or less the incremental benefit.
So since Marriott no longer offers the ability to earn a higher tier of lifetime status than Platinum, and Titanium itself isn’t super valuable, I don’t need the 25 elite nights and have to weigh whether a $25 per month restaurant credit and one 85,000 point free night award is worth the card’s $650 annual fee. I can get there, but would rather have one fewer thing on my list to manage.
I’ll keep the card until its annual fee renewal date – I want the $25 per month restaurant statement credit until them – but will then drop the card.
For anyone that isn’t a Marriott Platinum, or needs to requalify for Marriott Platinum each year, I think Marriott is a good second program to Hyatt (for when there’s no viable Hyatt option) and Platinum status is worth having. That makes the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card a good product.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, click here.