American Express just can't seem to help itself, constantly replacing lucrative statement credits on top travel credit cards with harder-to-use benefits. Now, it's the *bonvoy brilliant*‘s turn.
As of Sept. 22, Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders will no longer receive the annual $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit for stays at eligible Marriott properties. This credit was incredibly easy to use, providing an easy path to recoup a good chunk of the card's $650 annual fee (see rates & fees) whether you book a stay, order room service, or hit the spa at a Marriott property.
Instead, Amex is replacing it with up to $300 in statement credits for restaurants around the globe. But rather than giving cardholders a lump $300 sum to use each year at restaurants, Amex is doling it out in monthly credits of $25. And much like credits on other American Express cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card, this $25 monthly restaurant credit is a use-it-or-lose-it benefit.
Don't use up that $25 each and every month? It won't roll over – and that's exactly what Amex and Marriott are counting on…
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Why Marriott, Why?
It's all about one word: Breakage.
Sure, on paper this change seems to be a wash. You're still getting $300 in value. And Amex could even argue that this restaurant credit is even easier to use – who isn't spending $25 a month at restaurants?
But rather than giving cardholders a lump sum to spend down each year, Amex is parceling it out into a dozen $25 monthly installments. That's a dozen chances to forget and let your credit go to waste. That's breakage: American Express is betting that many more cardholders won't use up their full $300 allotment each year.
Plus, it creates an incentive for cardholders to use their Bonvoy Brilliant card when dining out rather than a more lucrative card like the American Express® Gold Card.
When too many cardholders maximize a card benefit – as was likely the case with the $300 Marriott hotel credit – it gets harder to make the economics of the card make sense, from the bank's point of view. With an annual fee of $450 on the Bonvoy Brilliant Card, using up that credit is a big part of justifying that annual fee.
That will still be the case with this new restaurant credit – but it will just take more effort to maximize it. At the end of the day, that's exactly what American Express wants.
How to Maximize the $300 Credit This Year
Being that the change to the $300 credit on the Brilliant card doesn't go into effect until late September, you have an opportunity to get more out of it this year.
First, if you already hold the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, or you get it before September, make sure to use your $300 Marriott hotel credit before Sept. 22, 2022. Any unused amount of this credit will be forfeited after that date.
No matter what, you'll still get $25 of monthly restaurant credits starting in October 2022. That means in 2022, it's possible to get $375 worth of value out of this credit: $300 from the Marriott hotel credit and $25 towards restaurants in October, November, and December.
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Starting on Sept. 22, 2022, Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders will no longer receive the annual $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit for stays at eligible Marriott properties.
It will be replaced with up to $300 in statement credits for purchases at restaurants around the globe. However, you won't get the full $300 credit at once. Rather, you'll receive $25 each month, and any unused amount will not roll over to the following month.