American Express has recently increased the annual fee on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant co-branded card with the introduction of a new mid-tier card and elevated benefits of the Brilliant itself.
An increase from $450 to $650 is a tough pill to swallow though, especially for those members who already carry Platinum status or higher, which is one of the new benefits of the card.
Needless to say, someone who is already top-tier elite doesn’t need to pay for a benefit that is primarily benefitting members who have zero status and get the Brilliant card to move up to Platinum straight away.
I’m a lifetime Platinum member with Marriott (14 years Platinum/Titanium and 755 nights) and have carried the Bonvoy Brilliant since it was introduced. Before that, I had the regular Bonvoy American Express (formerly SPG Amex before it was automatically converted).
At a price point of $450, including a $300 hotel credit that was since eliminated as well and replaced with a restaurant credit, priority pass and an elevated free night certificate I considered the Brilliant card to make perfect sense for me compared to the $95 Bonvoy Amex which has since been closed to new applications.
Last year Amex & Marriott also introduced a new card product, the Amex Bonvoy Bevy:
With my annual fee due, I decided to downgrade my Brilliant card again as it doesn’t make any sense for me anymore. I’m already annoyed about the new restaurant credit that has to be stretched out monthly over the whole year ($25/month) rather than getting one large credit. But the increase to $650/year in annual fees in exchange for mainly four things:
- Bonvoy Platinum status
- Free Night Award up to 85,000 points
- $300 Restaurant Credit
- 25 Elite Nights (towards Titanium status)
The Bevy card doesn’t make sense for me either, so I called Amex and asked to be downgraded to my previous basic Bonvoy card again. It has a $95 annual fee and comes with a free night award for hotels up to 35k in value. Basically the card is paying for itself.
Many of the changes and introductions aren’t very exciting or positive. I don’t like the $15,000 minimum annual spend requirement just to earn the free night certificate for the BEVY and Bountiful card. Likewise, I think for existing Platinum members who obtain their status by actually spending 50 nights at the hotel or have spent 600+ nights with them to get to Lifetime Platinum, such a credit card that offers instant Platinum for just $650 makes a mockery of a loyalty program. I already criticized this with the Amex Hilton Aspire card.
Some will be happy, others will re-assess their credit card strategy. Personally, I believe that these changes have made other brand’s credit cards, such as the Chase Hyatt and IHG Visa cards, much more attractive.
I’m quite lucky Amex allowed to do this as the basic card is no longer available for fresh applications but apparently, they still allow to downgrade to it as a product change feature.
For me, the choice was easy, I’m not going to pay for TWO premium U.S. American Express cards and with the Platinum Card already costing $695 I decided to forego the Brilliant as the regular Platinum Card offers me more benefits.
Are you keeping the Bonvoy Brilliant or ditching it as well?