- If you stay at Marriotts frequently and you want to earn hotel points along with some premium benefits, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card could be the premium credit card for you.
- In exchange for a $450 annual fee, you get up to $300 in annual statement credits to cover eligible purchases at Marriott hotels, and an application fee credit of up to $100 for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
- Some of the card’s perks require activating, like the Priority Pass Select membership that lets you access more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world. You’ll also want to confirm that you’ve been upgraded to Gold status.
- Here are nine things to do to get the most out of your Bonvoy Brilliant Amex as a new cardholder.
- Read more personal finance coverage.
If you’re in the market for a premium rewards card and Marriott is your hotel brand of choice, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card may just fit the bill. The card comes with a substantial welcome bonus and lots of recurring travel benefits to make the $450 annual fee worthwhile.
However, none of those perks are worth anything if you don’t take full advantage of them – and some of them require activation. Here are nine things to do when you get a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex to make sure you’re getting maximum value from the card.
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
1. Complete the $3,000 spending requirement
Earning the 75,000-point welcome bonus on this card requires spending $3,000 within the first three months. That comes to just $1,000 per month, which most people can accomplish by putting all of their spending on this card. Aside from daily spending on gas, groceries and dining, you can also charge things like insurance premiums and utility bills to this card.
If you’re still short of completing the spending requirement, you might consider prepaying essential bills. For example, you can pre-pay your cell phone bill or six-month car insurance premium to get the spending requirement done. Some people like to buy gift cards that they can use to budget their spending for the next few months. If you can float the money, this is one way to get the spending requirement out of the way fast.
2. Confirm your Marriott elite status
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card comes with Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status, which offers perks like a 25% points bonus, space-available room upgrades, late checkout, and welcome gifts of 250-500 points per stay. These are valuable benefits if you’re staying at Marriott hotels, so be sure to make sure your status is updated after you’ve received your card.
As a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express cardholder, you can upgrade to Bonvoy Platinum status after spending $75,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year. That’s a large amount of spending, but if you can pull it off by channeling household and maybe even work expenses to the card, it might be worth it – provided you travel enough to enjoy the benefits of higher status. Platinum elite members get a 50% points bonus, suite upgrades based on availability, and lounge access, among other perks.
If you can get use out of the Platinum status benefits, then it’s important to plan ahead so you can complete the $75,000 spending requirement. Ideally, you should make this determination as soon as you get the credit card. If you’re applying late in the year, then make your spending plan based on a January 2020 start date.
3. Activate your Priority Pass Select membership
The Bonvoy Brilliant card comes with Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you access to over 1,200 airport lounges around the world. This is incredibly useful during long layovers, delays, and those times when you don’t want to pay out of pocket for sub-standard airport food. Access to a Priority Pass lounge can make your time at the airport more pleasant. However, this membership isn’t automatically granted.
To claim your free membership, log in to your American Express account and click on the “Benefits” tab. Scroll down until you see the Priority Pass Select box and click “enroll.”
You’ll get a Priority Pass Select card in the mail, but the best way to access this benefit immediately is by downloading the Priority Pass mobile app and logging in with your new credentials. When you’re ready to use it, simply show your digital card at the lounge check-in desk and you’re all set.
4. Claim your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
Global Entry is incredibly useful for helping you skip the long customs/immigration line on your way home from a trip abroad. TSA PreCheck is great for speeding through security on domestic flights. You can get enrolled in both of these programs by getting approved for Global Entry. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex will even cover your $100 application fee every four years.
Complete the application online, pay with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card, and you should see the credit within eight weeks. Don’t let that number scare you off – most people get their credit reimbursed within a couple of days. Since this credit is issued every four years, it’s important to take full advantage by claiming it as soon as your card arrives. After all, you’re paying a $450 annual fee on the Bonvoy Brilliant card and should get your money’s worth.
5. Read up on your card benefits
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex comes with several travel protections that can come in handy. It’s important to know what’s covered so you can determine whether putting your purchases on the this card will get you the best protection possible.
Baggage insurance plan
If your luggage is lost, damaged or stolen during a covered trip, the card offers up to $2,000 reimbursement for checked luggage and $3,000 for carry-on. New York residents are restricted to $2,000 per bag and $10,000 per trip for all eligible travelers. Keep in mind this coverage is secondary, so if you purchase separate travel insurance, American Express will only cover your losses if the insurance company refuses to pay out your claim.
Car rental loss and damage insurance
Decline the collision damage waiver at the car rental counter and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant will cover you in case your vehicle is damaged or stolen. This coverage is secondary and will only kick in when your primary insurance company refuses to cover the loss.
Premium global assist hotline
If you find yourself in need of medical, legal, or financial help while abroad, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card offers access to its hotline for assistance. Consider it your emergency concierge who will help you figure out how to get out of difficult situations, which can come in handy when you’re in a foreign country.
Travel accident insurance
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card’s travel accident insurance covers up to $500,000 in accidental death and dismemberment coverage.
6. Plan your next Marriott stay
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card comes with up to $300 in annual statement credits that can be used at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Whether you want to treat yourself to a spa day or room service for a Netflix and chill night, simply charge it to your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card and the $300 credit will automatically be applied. This is an important perk that expires at the end of your card anniversary, so be sure to make note of this date and use the credit before it expires every year.
If you frequently find yourself staying at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis Hotels properties for two or more nights, you’ll want to look into the $100 credit offered to Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express cardholders. Book your stay through the Marriott Bonvoy website using the “$100 Property Credit, Luxury Credit Card Rate” and you’ll get a $100 credit on qualifying two-night stays.
7. Look for deals at Marriott and other merchants on Amex Offers
Aside from all the Marriott-centric benefits, cardholders are also eligible for Amex Offers. These are limited-time promotions offering bonus points and statement credits on everything from travel to retail and even utility payments. I once earned over $440 worth of Amex Offers statement credits in a single month.
You don’t even have to wait for your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card to arrive. Once your web account is set up, log in and scroll down to the “Amex Offers” section of your dashboard. There, you’ll periodically see new offers you can simply “Add to Card.” You may even end up saving on your next Marriott stay thanks to Amex Offers; Marriott Bonvoy credits of $50 off $250 are not uncommon.
8. Claim your free nights
After you’ve banked the 75,000-point welcome bonus, it’s time to put the points to good use. While they’re not going to expire as long as you keep your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card open, they could possibly devalue if you sit on them for too long.
With 75,000 points, you can redeem one to 15 free nights, depending on the hotel and time of year. Marriott has peak, standard, and off-peak award pricing, so redemption rates do vary.
If you’re looking for a family beach getaway, consider using points at The Cove at Atlantis, which goes for 50,000 to 70,000 points per night. If you’re looking for a cheaper option within the US, the Category 4 Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is just 20,000 to 30,000 points per night, meaning the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card could cover upwards of three free nights.
9. Consider adding an authorized user
Whether you’re looking to complete the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s spending requirement, earn Platinum elite status with Marriott, or just stock up on extra points, adding an authorized user is a great way to get this done.
Adding a friend or family member to your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card can get you a lot close to your travel goals than using the card for your own daily spending, because you’ll earn points on their spending as well. But you’ll also be on the hook for paying off their charges, so only add an authorized user you trust.