Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card Worth the $450 Fee?

I just renewed my Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantAmerican Express® Card with a $450 annual fee. Is it worth having the card after the first year and after getting that welcome bonus? I still renew this card year after year. Am I crazy? I don’t think so. And right now the welcome offer is increased to 100K plus an 85K certificate after you meet a minimum spend of $5000 in three months. Here is how I find value in this card:


$300 Credit

When I use my Marriot Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card at a Marriott hotel or resort, I get $300 annually in credits. This can go for a room (when I don’t have points that I want to use), food purchases, and even spa purchases. This is an easy credit for me to use as I stay at many Marriott hotels. Recently, I used points to stay in Costa Rica at a Marriott Hotel and used my credit for food purchases. With this credit used for food and points used for my stay, it was an almost free trip. This $300 credit brings my annual fee costs to only $150 because I always use it.

Free Annual Night Award

Each year, after I pay my annual fee, I get a free annual night certificate which can be used at a hotel that goes for 50K points or less.  A couple of years ago, I used my certificate to stay at the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua on the beautiful island of Maui. This night would retail for almost $1000 a night! It is easy for me to use it in a hotel with a value of $500 or more a night so that makes total sense for me to keep renewing this card. I’ll stay at a fancy Marriott hotel for $150 over and over again!

Note: Marriott has switched to dynamic pricing instead of an award chart so this particular hotel is not available for 50K points right now but here are some that are. You can add a maximum of 15K Marriott Bonvoy points to your certificates to stay at nicer hotels too.

Ritz Carlton pool and grounds in Maui
Staying at the Ritz Carlton in Maui with my free night certificate made my annual fee more than worth it!

 Additional Benefits:

  • Marriott Gold Elite Status – Hotel status is an awesome perk! With this perk, you will get free enhanced internet, late checkout, and a possible room upgrade.
  • Priority Pass Lounge Access – I love a good airport lounge. With this card, you have access, along with 2 guests, to over 1300 lounges all over the world. This perk has saved me and my guests a ton on food and drink in airports and made my flying experience much more enjoyable.
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck Fee Credit – The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card will cover up to $100 of your expenses with these two fees every 4 years. That means I am saving $25 per year. I have both of these services and I fly through the airport.
  • Elite Night Credits – I get 15 per year with this card. I also get 15 per year with my Marriott Business card, thus ensuring I have 30 elite night credits per year. This helps me get Platinum Elite Status (50 elite night credits)  which offers me suites (I have received many),  lounge access,  and free breakfasts.  I currently have Platinum Elite Status and it is amazing!
  • Travel Protection – This card gives me lost baggage reimbursement, trip delay insurance (over 6 hours), and trip cancellation and interruption insurance. I do have to book a round-trip ticket and pay entirely with this card.

Bottom Line

As you can see, even without the additional benefits listed above, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card by American Express is worth my $450 annual fee. You can only get each American Express card once in a lifetime so I won’t be getting the signup bonus again. Nevertheless,  I do not see myself ever not renewing this card as I get well over $1000 of value from it yearly. Check out our post on all the other Marriott credit cards!

Beach scene with palm tree

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