Not too long ago I had to make a decision, upgrade Sharon’s old SPG American Express card to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant for 100,000 points, or sign up for the CNB Crystal Visa card at a branch in New York.
As I wrote at the time, I decided to go with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card. As it turned out, I timed it perfectly!
What do I mean? Let me explain.
The account’s renewal date is in April and I did the upgrade at the end of February. The card has a $450 annual fee but one of the ways to offset that cost is to take advantage of a $300 statement credit for money spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties.
A month after getting the card, we visited London and stayed at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. While I paid for the room with points and upgraded to a suite in the Chambers Wing with our Platinum certificates, we did charge dinner at The Booking Office, drinks at George’s Bar and breakfast at MI + MI to our room. I paid for the charges with the Bonvoy Brilliant and received a $190 credit back to my account because of the statement credit benefit.
It wasn’t until the next statement that the full $450 annual fee showed up with no mention of paying for the time between upgrading and the account anniversary. I expected a small prorated charge but one never happened.
We didn’t use the card at a Marriott hotel until recently when Sharon stayed at a Courtyard by Marriott property. I used a 25,000 point free night certificate from her Chase Marriott Bonvoy Premier and a 35,000 point certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business card for two nights and chose to pay cash for the cheapest of the three nights. By doing so, I ended up paying $20 extra for the room because Marriott wouldn’t let me apply the AAA discount to a stay where while redeeming free nights but it was worth the money to keep our marriage healthy.
I sent Sharon off on her trip and told her to pay for the one night of the stay with the Bonvoy Brilliant card. She did and within a couple days of the stay, a credit for the entire cost showed up on the card. That’s more of a credit than I thought remained on the card. That is, unless the amount reset when we paid the $450 fee.
What about the credit for the stay in London? Turns out, it counted for the previous year but since we upgraded so close to the renewal date, AMEX never bothered to charge us for the partial annual fee. If I knew the credit would reset, I would have charged the full $300 to the card during our stay in London.
Sometimes you do all the planning and work to maximize your credit card benefits and it feels awesome. There are occasionally times when extra benefits just fall into your lap and all you can do is close your eyes and say “Thank You.” We have another stay planned at a Marriott Bonvoy property and be sure that I’m going to use what’s left of this year’s credit on the Bonvoy Brilliant AMEX while I’m there.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary