American Express Looking At Options For $650 Annual Fee Marriott Card

Back in December I broke the news that American Express was looking at making substantial changes to their premium Marriott co-brand card.

There was talk of a $650 fee (or more) to go along with better points-earning, waived resort fees, and even confirmed suite upgrades. One of the things that seemed likely was a more valuable annual free night (currently worth can be used for a night that costs 50,000 points or less). It would come with Platinum elite status, and the card’s $300 statement credit might be tweaked to be used at restaurants permanently – and not just as a pandemic one-off.

    Effective 9/22/22, the Bonvoy Brilliant $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit benefit will no longer be available. It will be replaced with a NEW benefit of up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.

Now American Express is surveying customers about changes to the card, as first reported by The Points Guy.

  • $650 annual fee (as I discussed in December)
  • Free night certificate worth up to 85,000 points (I had offered 80,000)
  • Platinum status as a cardmember, with Titanium at $75,000 in annual spend
  • 25 nights towards elite status (currently 15)
  • The annual statement credit would be worth $25 per month in dining

These specific benefits might not be in the final product, and they might not even pull the trigger on such big changes at all. What the card needs most is more earning power, but that’s hard to do when there’s currently earning parity with the Chase cards and those aren’t going up (Chase doubled points-earn with the new Bonvoy program, even as Amex earning power was cut by a third).

Platinum status as a cardmember would match the Hilton premium co-brand but really underscores how much Platinum is mid-tier status, and closer to a giveaway level. Titanium is supposed to be more meaningful, but really doesn’t come with much more in the Marriott program – the possibility of suite upgrades at Ritz-Carltons (it also currently gets you United Silver status).

I’d be surprised if the card dropped its Marriott statement credit, though a monthly dining credit is probably more useful to American Express because it gets cardmembers actually spending on the card each month – from their perspective, hopefully training cardmembers to actually use the card.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. So would this possible Amex card come with Priority Pass membership too, as with the current Amex Platinum card? Would it grant Centurion Lounge access as well?

  2. @ Gary — All Marriott status benefits should be valued at zero since there is a good chance the hotel will refuse to honor them. No thank you. If they offer a sign-up that I can transfer out to an airline AND said bonus is worth significantly more than $650, I’ll sign up for the card and cancel after one year. So, I’m thinking 150,000 points would get me to bite.

  3. I can remember when the Ritz Carlton card offered more useful benefits for two-thirds that proposed annual fee.

  4. Gene is right. Marriott status is basically worthless. I’m not going to do gyrations to figure out how to recover the annual fee. There needs to be one or two easy ways to recover the annual fee. A $650 Marriott card – two free nights at 50,000 points per night might do it.

    It sad watching Marriott destroy their brand.

  5. I am in – should be at least 100k or more Marriott bonus points, and then if I can recover some of the fee it works for one or two years, should have at least one 50k room per night as well as the Brilliant does.

  6. They clearly view the program more as a marketing tool than an actual loyalty program. All promise no delivery. No thanks.

  7. Would platinum status count as a year of platinum for lifetime purposes. If so, you could get 2 years of credit with only having the card 1 year. How about the 25 nights?

  8. I’ve got 7 years of Plat status and not looking to spend a whole lot more time chasing it the hard way. The only incentive here for this card would be to get those last 3 years of Plat with the card and never have to worry about status again at a hotel. Even if delivery of benefits is spotty.

  9. Seems to be a further sign that play at Marriott is the new gold. As a lifetime plat this would actually cause me to drop the card if I had it.

  10. Marriott has played the game that Delta and American and United have done: create additional elite tiers that in the aggregate effectively dilute the status of the legacy elite tiers. Hyatt has also done this with what it did in going from a Platinum+Diamond arrangement to a Discoverist+Explorist+Globalist arrangement where elite status benefit allocations were adjusted so that a smaller proportion of the guests would get the valuable benefits from elite status levels.

    The old Starwood and Marriott Platinum is getting diluted down and eventually Titanium too may end up not being spared entirely either. In some ways, due to the hotel properties, even Titanium isn’t worth what it used to be for Titanium members.

    The more the hotels and airlines devalue the loyalty programs, the more extremely these programs and their bank card partners have to enrich the card offer in at least nominal terms. And then in turn, the programs further devalue and the inflation spiral goes crazy to the detriment of the programs’ longest term and historically most loyal customers.

    The inflation game can be played, but eventually it could turn out to be like Green Stamps way more and even perhaps sooner than the loyalty program afficiandos would have expected. Guess what can kill this game even faster? If the merchant feee on card transactions are capped at much lower levels than now and that comes sooner than later.

  11. The current card’s Gold status and 50k cert are pretty naff. The $650 card will certainly be a luxury!

  12. Frankly, I think the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is the most overrated card in American Express’ portfolio. The only value in Marriott points is in transferring to airlines, and even then there are better options. As others have stated, Marriott simply cannot be bothered to enforce their own standards and T&C for elite members. It’s telling that I’ve had better luck with IHG honoring elite status than Marriott in the last several months. Think about that. Marriott’s CEO even said the quiet part out loud and said he doesn’t care for guests (and implicitly, for Bonvoy).

    If American Express really wants to hold onto Bonvoy cardholders, the best they could do is create a loophole in their own rules and allow product changes away from the Bonvoy portfolio.

  13. Yikes, effectively a $350 annual charge in exchange for what is effectively a prepaid hotel room *after your first anniversary of holding the card* and Platinum status? Especially since you won’t get the suite upgrades (such as they are) unless you stay 25+ nights?

    I’d have to say it’s a no from me. An effective $150 for a room night (current fee schedule) means even if I have to throw it away on an airport room for a one night stay it’s not a disaster (and I can basically combine the $300 plus room night for a weekend or three day stay somewhere for $450) but $350 for that night is another story.

  14. – The card would keep Priority Pass access.
    – The card would NOT have Centurion Lounge access.
    – Platinum status given by the card DOES count towards lifetime years and annually granted elite night credits DO count towards lifetime elite night credit total.

    Elite status is worthless. Lifetime elite status is worthless. Out of it all, you’re looking for breakfast and room upgrades — but, see if you actually receive them.

    – As Gary has pointed out, with the reopening of on-property restaurants post-COVID, properties are only offering lunch and dinner. So, without breakfast, properties will give 1000 points — valued at $6 to $10. Depending, some properties stand to save as much as $2 million per year with this move. This tactic guts any value in the breakfast elite status benefit. Outside the US, it is still worth it.

    – Room upgrades are elusive at best. I’ve said before — and I’ll say it again and again — I’m a multi-year top-tier elite member and I’ve had a top-tier CSR tell me that properties resist granting suite upgrades as a tier benefit but they are more than happy to SELL you a paid upgrade. I’ve been stiffed one too many times and I’m done. In a post on a different site, a commenter who is top-tier in a different program was offered a suite upgrade — that is, a paid upgrade. He noted his tier status and that if it was available for sale, it was available as a tier benefit. Nope — paid or no go. Gary — being a terms and conditions guy — will note that the T&Cs of these programs all have an escape hatch that reads something like: subject to the discretion of the property. Well, what if the discretion of the property is that it’s simply not ever going to do suite upgrades?

    It’s a mug’s game. It’s their game and we are the mugs.

    I have become an advocate for programs such as AMEX’s Fine Hotels & Resorts. One actually receives elite-type benefits. Uniformly, I have a better experience with FHR bookings.

  15. There should be an additional perk to spend your way to another free night, akin to the Hilton and Hyatt cards. That would make the $650 AF a little more palatable.

  16. 650 AF is excessive for the benefits provided

    Free night award for 35,000 Category 5 is given annually for 95 dollar AF

    A 50K free night Award especially with dynamic pricing that pushes Category 6 to 60K and out of range in peak times makes AF too much

  17. Hilton free night certs are good ANYWHERE meaning Maldives and 2000 a night rooms. AMEX Marriott wants to charge members for top tier card and offers mediocre value

  18. I am not as negative on Marriott and the Bonvoy program elite status as many readers, but the potential changes to the Brilliant card outlined here would be a deal breaker for me. No way I will stomach a larger annual fee for just about anything, particularly with the credit becoming for restaurants and being doled out monthly. No thanks.
    I hate the monthly credits now available on Amex cards and breakage is high (which is the goal).

    And I am not just blowing smoke. This card is a goner if they make these changes.

  19. 75,000 spend for Titanium

    That’s F’N INSANE

    Get the business and regular Bonvoy card and you get stacked 30 nights.

    Plus Marriott cards offer crap in points earning value for non hotel stays

  20. The contrast with the Hilton Aspire card at $450 AF would be very striking. $200 more, the night isn’t good at all Marriotts (though it’s not a weekend night) and isn’t available in year 1, you don’t get the misc airline credit (which is actually pretty easy to cash out as Delta/Southwest/Alaska tickets or fee reimbursement)..

    I can make the Aspire pencil out. Not so much a $650 card where the primary benefit is $300 in Marrriot/dining spend and a free room night (Priority Pass + misc stuff isn’t a main consideration when everyone and their uncle has a card with PP).

    I grabbed the Brilliant in late 2020 for a 100k + 25k renewal + Platinum for 2021 (and it looks like the 2021 boosts
    will get me Platinum in 2022), but there’s no way I would keep the card for 2023 at $650 with those benefits. Now maybe if it was a $10 monthly dining credit plus $300 Marriott stay credit plus Platinum and an enhanced room night? That’s closer… but it would still be tempting to drop it altogether or downgrade to the $95 card.

  21. With all the games that hotels are playing with benefits and no guarantee of it ever improving, elite status especially at Marriott is worth about forty cents. Keep it.

  22. So Marriott wants to decrease costs to owners but wants to giveaway arguably the most costly elite status (platinum) since platinum requires some combination of free breakfast and club lounge access at most brands. That doesn’t make much sense. One wonders if Marriott downgrades platinum to remove breakfast benefits and club lounge access as automatic benefits.

  23. My annual fee comes due in October, so time to downgrade…. Oh, wait, no downgrade option. Time to cancel to offset the Platinum fee increase. Sorry, not sorry one bit AMEX.

Comments are closed.