Personal Finance

How to Maximize the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant AmEx

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is designed for travelers looking to earn and redeem points for hotel stays within the Marriott Bonvoy family. The card carries a steep $450 annual fee while offering some solid benefits — from a substantial welcome bonus to 6x points on spending at participating Marriott hotels. Terms apply. Here’s how to get the most out of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

Maximize the welcome bonus

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with an attractive welcome bonus: Earn up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 1/13/2021. Terms Apply.

That’s enough for a free night (or two) at a luxury resort like the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California, where you’ll need anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 Bonvoy points for an award night, depending on when you travel.

To get the most value from your points, compare the cash price. A recent search for this Ritz-Carlton showed rooms starting at $809 per night. Dividing the cash rate by a 60,000-per-night points rate shows you’re getting about 1.3 cents per point. That’s smart use of your points, since the average value of Marriott Bonvoy points is about 0.9 cent each.

Use your $300 statement credit every year

Another annual benefit of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card includes a $300 statement credit that offsets charges made at Marriott hotels. Just use the card to pay for a stay at any of more than 7,000 participating Marriott properties, and a credit of up to $300 will appear on your statement to cover the cost of the room and incidentals like dining and spa services when you charge them to your room. Terms apply.

Earn more points by spending in bonus categories

The number of points you earn by making charges to the card varies depending on what you’re charging:

  • Participating Marriott hotels: 6 points per dollar.

  • Restaurants in the U.S.: 3 points per dollar.

  • Flights booked directly with an airline: 3 points per dollar.

  • All other purchases made with the card: 2 points per dollar.

Terms apply.

If you’re fond of Marriott properties, this card will help you get the most bang for your buck on paid hotel stays. But even when you’re not traveling, you can accelerate your points earning by using the card at restaurants and everywhere else you make purchases. Terms apply.

Join the elite

This card gives you automatic Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program, which gets you benefits like 25% more points earned on every paid stay; 2 p.m. late checkout, when available; and complimentary room upgrades, when available. Normally, you would have to stay 25 nights in Marriott properties in a year to reach Gold. Terms apply.

But use the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card right and you can climb to an even higher status. Every calendar year, cardholders receive 15 elite night credits that can be applied to the next level of Bonvoy Elite status. Combine these with elite night credits you earn by staying at Marriott family properties, and you can get to Platinum or Titanium status faster to enjoy enhanced perks like 50% or 75% bonus points on every paid stay, respectively, and a gift at check-in. Terms apply.

Earn a free night award every year

Each year after your card anniversary, receive a free night award at participating Marriott hotels, though you will still have to pay resort fees if applicable. To earn this award, just keep your card account open for a year or more and pay the annual fee. This perk is good at Marriott properties costing 50,000 or fewer Bonvoy points per night. Terms apply.

Get paid back for Global Entry or TSA Precheck

Use your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card to pay the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck and you’ll get reimbursed up to $100. You can use this benefit once every four years when you reapply for Global Entry or every 4 1/2 years when you reapply for TSA Precheck. Terms apply.

Scope out an airport lounge

Your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with a free membership in Priority Pass Select, a network of more than 1,300 airport lounges across the globe. Before you fly, visit the Priority Pass website to find out whether your departure terminal has a participating lounge. If it does, your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card gets you and up to two guests into the lounge at no charge — a value of about $50 per person, depending on the lounge. Terms apply.

Get help on the line

Lose your passport or have another emergency when traveling? Marriott Bonvoy members have access to 24/7 financial, legal, medical and other emergency services when traveling at least 100 miles from home. This service can help with anything from ambulance transfers to missing luggage to stolen passports. Terms apply.

The bottom line

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is a great option for Marriott loyalists looking to get even more from their travels. While the $450 annual fee is steep, the welcome bonus, annual statement credit and card anniversary free night award can offset that cost.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:

This article originally appeared on NerdWallet