Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant: $300 Marriott Credit Replaced by Dining Credits

 

Beginning September 22, 2022, American Express US will be making a significant change to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card: the annual $300 Marriott credit will be replaced by 12 sets of monthly dining credits of $25 (all figures in US dollars).

This represents quite a major shake-up of this card, and whether it’ll be positive or negative for you depends on your monthly spending habits.

12 × $25 Dining Credits to Replace $300 Marriott Credit

The Amex US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is the premium Marriott co-branded credit card offering in the US, and comes with a hefty $450 annual fee.

However, the annual fee is justified by a plethora of benefits, including 15 elite qualifying nights, an annual $300 Marriott credit, and an anniversary Free Night Award worth up to 50,000 Bonvoy points.

The $300 Marriott credit, in particular, can be used towards just about any Marriott purchase – whether that’s the room rate, incidentals, or even a gift card purchase from the front desk. If you spend $300 with Marriott per year in any capacity, this credit was as good as cash in your pocket.

Beginning September 22, 2022, however, American Express is implementing a major change to this credit, changing it from an annual $300 in Marriott purchases to a monthly $25 in dining credits eligible at restaurants worldwide.

For existing cardholders, this means that you’ll definitely want to use up your $300 Marriott credit prior to September 22. If you don’t have a hotel stay lined up before then, you can visit a local Marriott hotel to purchase a gift card and trigger the credit. 

You’ll then start to get a $25 dining credit every month starting in October, so you’ll derive a slightly greater value from the card during this membership year due to the transition.

This Makes the Bonvoy Brilliant Card More Annoying to Keep

On the surface, $25 per month for 12 months is equivalent to $300 per year, so the face value of the statement credits remains the same. The dining credit is also redeemable at restaurants worldwide, so Canadian-based cardholders shouldn’t have a problem using it up. 

If you’d find it easier to take advantage of 12 sets of $25 dining credits than spend $300 with Marriott in a year, then you’d view this change as a positive development.

However, if you’d normally spend at least $300 with Marriott in a year (as I imagine most Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders would), then splitting this credit into 12 sets of dining credits only makes it more “annoying” to hold onto this card in the long term.

You’d need to keep track of each monthly credit and remember to use it up, and you’d be sacrificing better rewards on, say, the Amex US Gold Card or the Amex Cobalt Card for your dining purchases.

If you happen to miss a month or two, you’ve lost out on potential value that you would’ve certainly unlocked with the old $300 Marriott credit – and that’s clearly the trap that Amex US has laid out for cardholders with this change. 

I imagine some cardholders may continue to maximize the monthly $25 dining credits to bring their net annual fee down to $150 for the year, which is still an attractive price to pay in exchange for a Free Night Award worth 50,000 points every year.

However, if you find the headache of using the card for dining once a month too burdensome, you also have the option of downgrading the Bonvoy Brilliant to the Amex US Bonvoy Card, which is a $95 product that has been discontinued to new applicants but remains available via a downgrade path.

The $95 Amex US Bonvoy Card also offers 15 elite qualifying nights per year (which would stack to 30 if you also hold the Amex US Bonvoy Business Card), as well as an anniversary Free Night Award worth 35,000 points to justify the annual fee. 

Personally, I currently have two Bonvoy Brilliant Cards active through my household. I intend to give the monthly dining credits a try and see how “annoying” they are to track and use every month, and I may well downgrade one of these cards to a $95 Bonvoy Card if it becomes too much to manage.

Conclusion

The Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant Card will be transitioning from a $300 annual Marriott credit to a set of monthly $25 dining credits as of September 22, 2022. 

This doesn’t change the nominal value proposition of the card on the surface, but does make it a more time-consuming card to manage and maximize going forward.

If you’re an existing Bonvoy Brilliant cardholder, it’s a good opportunity to reconsider whether the card makes sense for you long-term; if not, it might be time to take the remaining $300 Marriott credit, plus a handful of dining credits, and run.

 

4 Comments
  1. WT

    2 Questions…
    1- the free night (50K) is unlocked ‘after’ the first year….so that forces me to keep card into second year correct?
    2-will downgrading card effect the credit I am trying to build in the US, since it is a card change?
    Thx

  2. Cecil Liu YYZ

    Quick question, if I downgrade to the $95 Bonvoy card, I won’t get the 35K FN for the first year which means I basically need to hold it worthlessly for one year?

    1. Rachel YYZ

      The Brilliant offers a 50K annual certificate, and if you downgrade, you should still get the 35K cert.

  3. Reda Shanghai

    The only good thing about this change is that the credit is applicable to Worldwide restaurants instead of US only….more room for Canadian residents….. but for me living in China…it’s a dead end.

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