As a rule, I don’t like to write hot takes. Instead of venting my initial reaction, which occasionally can be wrong, I’d rather take a while to understand what’s happening and the significance. I can then apply that information to my situation and decide what I’m going to do with it.
However, there was only one thought in my mind when I saw reports of the AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant dropping the $300 Marriott credit and replacing it with a $25 monthly dining credit. I immediately knew that I would get rid of the card by the next anniversary date.
That’s a significant shift of opinion because I previously thought the Brilliant was the best Marriott Bonvoy co-brand card available from American Express or Chase.
I’ve kept the card for several years. Here’s what I said in my review of it:
For an ongoing basis, this card has a $450 annual fee. Earning the $300 credit at Marriott hotels is easy as all you need to do is pay for a room with your card. … If I’m able to use the 50,000 point voucher at a hotel that costs more than $150 for the night, I’m going to be ahead.
On a dollar-for-dollar basis, there’s no difference between the current Marriott hotel benefit and the monthly dining credit (set to start on 9/22/22). That doesn’t mean the credits are the same.
While both credits are worth $300, redeeming the dining credit will take more effort than the hotel credit. With the hotel benefit, I could quickly get back the $300 by using the card to pay for a single hotel stay (while earning 6 points/dollar). The dining credit is monthly, meaning I’ll have to remember to use it every month or lose it. I played this game with AMEX in 2021 when they gave me a $20 monthly dining credit. I used it every month by loading money to Starbucks, which took about 30 seconds.
Here’s where I started to realize my hot take wasn’t great. Initially, I thought the dining credit would be similar to the one offered by the AMEX Gold Card, where you can only redeem it at a select number of restaurants. Instead, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant’s dining credit is good for any restaurant charge, worldwide.
If the card has value with a $300 annual hotel credit which I have to use at a Marriott property, why doesn’t it have a similar value for a $25 monthly dining credit that I can use anywhere?
I’m left to ask if I want to pay $150 for a 50,000-point free night certificate?
Fortunately, my anniversary date with the Bonvoy Brilliant isn’t until 2023. That means I’ll get to use what’s left of the $300 Marriott credit on stays this summer and use the $25 monthly dining credit from October onward. That should be plenty of time to decide if I want to keep the card or not.
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