Why now is the best time to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card

WATERLOO – You can now add the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card to the list of cards offering increased, limited-time bonus offers that can help you amass a heap of points for memorable future travel experiences.

The Bonvoy Brilliant is one of Amex’s many premium travel cards, and it comes with an annual fee of $450 (see rates and fees) to match. But its long list of benefits ensures you’ll get more than enough value from the card to offset the fee.

Through Jan. 13, 2021, the card has a welcome offer of up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points: 100,000 after spending $5,000 in the first three months and an additional 25,000 after your first anniversary. TPG’s most recent valuations rate Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents, making this offer worth up to $1,000.

You also receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for one year (starting February 2021). You would typically have to spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year or stay 50 nights in order to get this status, so including it for a year is a great added benefit. After one year, you receive automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status.

$300 statement credit: You can receive up to a $300 statement credit for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

Free night award: Every year after your card account anniversary, you’ll receive a free night award that can be redeemed at hotels up to 50,000 points.

$100 property credit: This benefit kicks in at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties when you book the special rate for a two-night minimum stay with your Bonvoy Brilliant card. You’ll receive a $100 property credit for qualifying charges such as room service and spa treatments.

15 elite night credits: These elite night credits can help put you on the path toward earning Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for 2022 after your complimentary status expires.

Choice of welcome gift: Choose bonus points, complimentary breakfast or an amenity. Your option may vary by brand, but free breakfast is usually considered as the best perk here. While some of the limited-service brands (i.e., Fairfield, Residence Inn) offer it to all guests regardless of status, it can be quite useful at full-service properties where breakfast is typically not included.

Lounge access: You’re guaranteed lounge access and complimentary breakfast at brands that have lounges, including JW Marriott, Marriott, Sheraton, Delta Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Autograph Collection and Renaissance Hotels. Lounge access is in addition to the welcome gift, so you’d select points or an amenity as your welcome gift for those brands.

Room upgrades: Your status will give you upgrades to enhanced rooms (including suites) when space is available.

50% bonus points on stays: This includes the room rate and other incidentals you can charge to your room.

Annual gift for members with 50 nights: Though you’re receiving complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, you’ll have to earn this benefit the normal way once the year is over — by spending 50 nights with Marriott. If you reach this milestone, you can choose from five Suite Night Awards (SNAs), five elite night credits, 40% off a mattress, a $100 charity donation or you can gift Silver Elite Status to someone. The SNAs are arguably the best pick here.

Other benefits: Reservation guarantee (with compensation if it cannot be honored), late checkout (guaranteed for 4 p.m.), complimentary enhanced internet (the fastest connection) and an elite phone line (telephone support especially for elite status holders).

My favorite aspect of redeeming points with Marriott Bonvoy is the fifth-night free benefit on redemptions. That means the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant’s initial 100,000 bonus points could be enough to cover a five-night stay at a Category 4 hotel during off-peak (20,000 points per night) or standard (25,000 points per night) dates.

Or if you’re fortunate enough to be traveling to a destination on the PointSavers list, you can save yourself 20% off the regular points redemption rate.

Should you have a need for airline miles or just don’t see yourself needing to redeem points for a hotel stay, Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to most airline programs at a 3:1 ratio. And, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points you transfer.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s regular earning rate is 6x points for spending at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x points at U.S. restaurants and 2x points on everything else.

Using Amex Offers, however, may give you the opportunity to earn additional points on some of your everyday purchases. These offers allow existing cardholders to receive bonus points for selected spend. For example, through Dec. 27, 2020, eligible cards — including the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant — can earn 6x bonus points (for a total of 8x points) on purchases at Amazon, Target and Walmart. The bonus is capped at $3,500 in total spending across all three retailers.

You typically need to enroll in these limited-time offers in the Amex Offers section of your online account before making purchases. While it’s unknown what the future offers will be, it’s important to watch for these special spending bonuses that can really help you boost your Marriott Bonvoy balance.

This year has brought some of the best credit card welcome offers we’ve ever seen, including numerous six-figure opportunities, such as the 125,000 points you can earn with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express Card®. Even if you’re not ready to travel just yet, having these points in your arsenal can give you lots of flexibility, whether your future travel plans include a dream getaway, #WFM or a weekend staycation close to home.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.

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