There were quite a few changes made to the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card in terms of the $300 dining statement credit, complimentary Marriott Platinum Elite status, 25 elite night credits, and the anniversary free night award certificate that is now worth 85,000 points instead of 50,000 points per night, etc. These new benefits come with an increased card's annual fee from $450 to $650, the highest hotel credit card annual fee we've ever known. 

Many people are considering closing or downgrading the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card due to the high annual fee. Therefore, I want to address this concern and offer a few options to decide whether to keep, change the product, or cancel the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card.

Should You Close Or Downgrade Your Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card?Should You Close Or Downgrade Your Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card?
Photo: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
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    Do I lose my Marriott points if I cancel my Amex Marriott Brilliant credit card?

    First, it helps to understand that you will NOT lose your Marriott Bonvoy points if you cancel your Marriott Bonvoy credit card. 

    Once Marriott Bonvoy points are moved to your MARRIOTT account, you can keep those points even after you close your Marriott Bonvoy credit card later. 

    Do I lose my Marriott Free Night Certificate if I cancel my Amex Marriott Brilliant credit card?

    The answer to this question has two parts:
    • Unlike Chase, American Express issues the Marriott Free Night Certificate 8-12 weeks after your card account anniversary date. In other words, the free night award certificate only gets posted to your Marriott Bonvoy account after you pay the card's annual fee. Therefore, if you cancel the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to avoid paying the annual fee, you will NOT receive the free night certificate. 
    • Suppose you pay the card's annual fee. In that case, you will receive the Marriott Free Night Certificate within 8-12 weeks after paying the annual fee. Once the free night certificate is posted to your Marriott Bonvoy account, closing the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is too late to get the prorated card's annual fee. Amex will prorate your annual fee based on your card membership period only if you product change the card, and the good news is you can keep that free night certificate after you product change the Brilliant card. More below. 

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    Keep the Marriott Brilliant card and enjoy Brilliant changes

    American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a high annual fee of $650. Whether the card is worth keeping each year or not depends heavily on how you value the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant changes:
    • Each calendar year, you receive $300 dining statement credits ($25 monthly). This benefit lowers the card's annual fee to $350 by the face value. 

    For a $350 Marriott hotel credit card, you receive additional benefits such as:
    • Complimentary automatic Marriott Platinum Elite status simply for being a card member. 
      • Marriott elite status benefits become valuable once you reach the Platinum status. The benefits include complimentary room upgrades, free breakfast, club lounge access, and late check-out, to name a few. 
    • Anniversary Marriott Free Night Certificate up to 85,000 points per night and the ability to top off the certificate with up to 15,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. 
    • 25 Elite Night Credits each year towards your next tier status. 
      • If you also have the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, you receive an additional 15 elite night credits, totaling 40 elite night credits each year. You only need 10 more qualifying nights to reach the "real" Marriott Platinum Elite status that gives you a Marriott Annual Choice Benefit, such as five (5) Marriott Suite Night Awards
      • Moreover, as I said, Marriott Platinum Elite status is already valuable when staying at the Marriott property. I do not think the next-tier Marriott Titanium Elite status is worth much more than giving you a mediocre United Silver Elite status and an additional Marriott Annual Choice Benefit to select, such as five (5) Marriott Suite Night Awards or a 40k free night certificate. You will need 35 more qualifying nights each year to reach Titanium status. 

    All other benefits of the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card are just icing on the cake. They should not be the main driving factors for keeping or canceling the Brilliant card. This is because you can receive those benefits, such as TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (GE) fee reimbursement and Priority Pass Airport Lounges access from other travel cards you may already have. 

    Do not downgrade to Amex Marriott Bonvoy Bevy credit card

    The new American Express Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Credit Card has an annual fee of $250. In my honest opinion, this credit card is worthless aside from the welcome sign-up bonus offer for a $250 annual fee card. You are better off downgrading the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to the $95 annual fee Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card instead. See below. 

    Downgrade your Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card to Amex Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card

    The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card was discontinued by Amex a while ago, and it's no longer available for new applicants. However, the card still exists for those that want to do a product change from a personal Amex Marriott credit card to it. The card only has a $95 annual fee and offers the following highlighted benefits:
    • Get credit for 15 nights towards the next Marriott Bonvoy Elite status level each calendar year.
    • Earn 6X points per $1 on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
    • Earn 2X points per $1 on other eligible purchases.
    • Receive 1 Free Night Award with a redemption equivalent to a 35,000-point stay (or less) every year of Card Membership.

    You must contact Amex via online chat or call to request the product change or downgrade your American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card

    Another thing I want to point out is that Amex offers card upgrades from time to time. We've seen in the past that Amex targets members with the no annual fee or lower annual fee card to product change by upgrading the card to a higher annual fee card with lucrative upgrade bonus points. This is also the case with Amex Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. Therefore, you may receive an Amex upgrade offer back to the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card with a nice upgrade bonus Marriott points without a hard credit pull. 

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    Downgrade the Brilliant credit card but keep the Marriott Free Night 85k Certificate

    As mentioned above, you can downgrade the Brilliant card to the $95 annual American Express Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card fee. However, you should wait until you pay the card's annual fee and receive the Marriott Free Night 85k Certificate

    Amex issues the free night certificate 8-12 weeks after your account anniversary date. By then, your annual fee is already past due, which is not good. So if you want to receive and keep the Marriott Free Night 85k Certificate, you will have to pay the card's annual fee and then request to product change the card once you verify that the certificate has been issued. Amex will prorate your annual fee based on your card membership period, and you will not lose the free night certificate that has already been credited to your Marriott account. 

    Here's the Amex annual fee refund policy:
    You must close or downgrade your card within 30 days of the statement closing date in order to receive a full refund of the annual fee. Thereafter, the only way to receive any type of refund is to downgrade and receive a prorated refund.

    Remember to always ask an Amex representative to check if retention offers are available when you ask to close your American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and before you downgrade the card.

    Close the Brilliant credit card and lose the Marriott Free Night 85k Certificate

    If you are still not convinced to keep your American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you can cancel your Brilliant card. However, you will also lose the Marriott Free Night 85k Certificate

    Amex does not issue the free night certificate until 8-12 weeks after your account anniversary date. If you pay the annual fee, it's still not soon enough to receive the Marriott Free Night 85k Certificate and get a prorated annual fee because Amex does not prorate the annual fee if you close the card within 30 days of the statement closing date. 

    Here's the Amex annual fee refund policy:
    You must close or downgrade your card within 30 days of the statement closing date in order to receive a full refund of the annual fee. Thereafter, the only way to receive any type of refund is to downgrade and receive a prorated refund.

    Lastly, always ask an Amex representative to check if retention offers are available when you request to close your American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card