Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant for Military | $450 Annual Fee Waived

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The annual fee on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is waived for US military servicemembers and their spouses. (rates and fees, terms apply)

All annual fees are waived on these 3 Marriott credit cards for US military personnel and their eligible spouses, thanks to the Chase MLA and Amex MLA policies. Marriott Hotels has 3 personal cards in partnership with American Express and Chase.

I typically try to get 1 cent per Marriott point, so a 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy point welcome bonus would be worth at least $500 of hotel stays.

For example, I booked a stay on Marriott Bonvoy points at the Kyoto Ritz Carlton, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

Two nights and 2 rooms would have been $3500, but I only paid 280,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, giving me over 1.25 cent per point of value.

$3,564.21 USD for 2 rooms, 2 nights at Kyoto Ritz Carlton

Or 280,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points and $73 USD for the same rooms!

Marriott has re-branded the Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Rewards into “Marriott Bonvoy.” With the re-branding comes some excellent card opportunities.

The 3 best Marriott Chase and Amex cards for military personnel are:

Best Marriott Cards for MilitaryWelcome OfferAnnual Fee Waived for MilitaryBonus Features
Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant150,000$450 (rates and fees)$300 Annual Marriott Credit, Free Night up to 50k, Gold Elite
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless3 Free Nights*$95Free night up to 35k Points
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold 30,000$015 Elite nights
*Up to 50,000 points per night, so 150,000 points of value

Active duty US military personnel can get their annual fees waived on all personal Amex cards and all personal Chase cards opened on or after 2018. Activated reservists and guard on Title 10 orders should also be eligible.

I recommend you pick up all 4 of the best hotel credit cards for military. All of them waive the annual fee for military and spouses and all come with a free annual night. That's 4 free nights a year for no annual fees!

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ for Military

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Free for Military
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – learn how to apply
  • $450 annual fee 100% waived for US military personnel (rates and fees)
  • $300 Annual Marriott Statement Credit on all charges to your room including spa, restaurants, room service, laundry, and nightly rates
  • Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and a bonus free night award after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply, offer expires November 3, 2021
  • Earn 6 points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Redemption up to 50,000 points, certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Complimentary Gold Elite Status at all Marriott Bonvoy properties (Westin, St. Regis, Ritz Carlton, etc)
  • No foreign transaction fees, terms apply

This is my top recommend Marriott card for US military personnel. It really is a complete no-brainer. Let's review the benefits:

First and foremost, you get an annual $300 Marriott statement credit. Every year That means the first $300 you charge at any Marriott property to your card is refunded as a statement credit. So as long as you spend at least $300/year with Marriott, you are getting $300 of value from this card.

Secondly, you get the annual fee of $450 waived if you qualify for Amex MLA or SCRA benefits. So now you are getting the $300 statement credit for free.

You also get an annual free night at any Marriott property up to 50k points. That means you could stay 1 night at a Category 7 hotel, like the St. Regis Deer Valley or the Moana Surfrider on Honolulu's Waikiki Beach for free during off-peak season. Every year you have the card open!

What are you waiting for? If you are in the military, get this card.

Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless®

  • Learn how to apply for the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless®
  • $95 annual fee waived for active duty US military
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and 1 free night award (up to 50,000 point value) when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn up to 17x Bonvoy points per $1 spent at Marriott properties
  • 2x Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Automatic Bonvoy Silver status and you can earn Gold if you spend $35k in a calendar year (or just get the Bonvoy Brilliant for automatic Gold)
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year
  • 1 free night award annually at properties up to 35,000 points
  • No foreign transaction fees, terms apply

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business Military

  • Learn how to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
  • $125 annual fee, not waived for military (rates and fees)
  • Limited time offer: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and 2 bonus Free Night Awards (each night worth up to 50,000 points) when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. Offer expires 11/3/2021.
  • 6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 1 free night award annually at any property up to 35,000 points
  • Earn 4 points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • Automatic Bonvoy Silver status and you can earn Gold if you spend $35k in a calendar year (or just get the Bonvoy Brilliant for automatic Gold), Terms Apply

Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold for Military

Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card for Military

While this card may be a good starter travel card since it has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and gives you a big Bonvoy bonus after meeting the minimum spend, military servicemembers are better off getting any of the other Marriott Bonvoy credit cards above.

Military servicemembers should especially be focused on the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant (I have 2), since the huge annual fee is 100% waived under Amex's MLA and SCRA policy.

  • Learn how to apply for the Chase Marriott Bonvoy® Bold
  • Limited time: Earn 60,000 Marriott bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn up to 14x points at Marriott properties
  • 15 Elite Night Credits every calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee, terms apply

Marriott Bonvoy Redemption Chart

Here is the redemption chart or free night award chart for the Marriott Bonvoy program.

It ranges from 5000 points for a category 1 hotel off-peak to 100,000 points for a category 8 peak redemption.

For instance, you could book the Ritz Carlton Al Hamra Beach Resort near Dubai for 60,000 points or a 1.4 cents per point value. This is a Category 7 hotel, soon to be upgraded to Category 8. See the screenshot below:

I usually try to get at least 1 cent per point on my redemption. If a room is $100 per night or more I'm willing to part with 10,000 points or less to get it. Most travel points enthusiasts value Marriott points from .5 cents to 1 cent.

Marriott Credit Cards Military Advantages

Opening all 3 of these cards and meeting the minimum spend would unlock at least 250,000+ Marriott Bonvoy points just in the welcome bonuses alone. That's enough for a free week's stay at some of the best hotels in the world.

Additionally, with these 3 cards, you can get 3 free nights stay every year. That's 2 stays worth up to 35k points with the Bonvoy Boundless and Business and 1 stay up to 50k points.

Since you are paying no annual fees, it makes sense to hold on to these cards as long as you are in the military.

If you go TDY frequently, chances are you will end up staying in a few Marriotts. Since the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant gives you automatic Gold Elite status, you can usually earn Platinum Elite status pretty quickly.

A day off while TDY in Cairo. Poolside at the Cairo Marriott Hotel on Zemalek Island.

I earned Platinum Elite status with a single 2 week stay in Egypt in 2018. We stayed at the Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino. It was a lovely spot, with great food, clean and quiet rooms, and literally on an island in the Nile river.

Watch out for Marriott “Elite Status Challenges.” This is an easy way to earn elite status with only a few stays. Thanks to this TDY, I'm now Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite for the rest of 2019.

How I Use Marriott Bonvoy Points

Marriott points are great to have stored up, as whenever you need to travel, whether it's for work or pleasure, chances are there is a Marriott nearby. For instance, if you have to go to your brother's college graduation, rather then shelling out $300 for a hotel you can just cash in some points.

My wife and I are catching a 6AM international flight out of an airport 1.5 hours away. Rather than get up at 2AM to get there 2.5 hours prior to takeoff, we are checking into an Aloft Hotel right by the airport the night before.

Now we'll get a good nights sleep, get up at a more reasonable 4AM, and it only cost us 17,500 points. The cash rate was $102 before taxes and fees, so we only got .6 cents per point, but it's better than paying cash!

If you are interested in getting more than one of these Bonvoy cards, just check this handy chart below from Frequent Miler, explaining the Chase and AMEX Marriott Bonvoy credit card rules:

I recommend you learn how to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant. This is the best Marriott Bonvoy credit card for all military servicemembers. If you are in the military, the no annual fee benefits of this card make it too good to pass up.

Marriott Properties List

Here is a list of all of Marriott Bonvoy's brands. They have over 7000 hotels and resorts worldwide, so there's probably one where ever you go!

The Ritz Carlton, Edition, W Hotels, The Luxury Collection, St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, JW Marriott, BULGARI Hotels and Resorts, Sheraton, Marriott, Marriott Vacation Club, Delta Hotels, Westin Hotels and Resorts, Le Meridien, Renaissance Hotels, Autograph Collection Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels, Gaylord Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, Springhill Suites by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton, Fairfield by Marriott, Protea Hotels, AC Hotels, Aloft Hotels, Moxy Hotels, Residence Inn, Townplace Suites, Marriott Executive Apartments, element by Westin

Marriott Bonvoy Brands

After opening a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, I recommend you check out the other hotel credit cards for military.

8 thoughts on “Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant for Military | $450 Annual Fee Waived”

  1. Quick clarification question for you-the AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card- does that offer Gold Elite or Platinum Elite status? I think there may be a typo in that section of this article/table, thank you!

  2. Another of your posts discusses new AMEX business cards as no longer qualifying as annual fee waived for military. If valid, recommend this post be updated to reflect this (or remove the references to the AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Business as “$125 annual fee waived for military”) as readers are trying to understand the pros/cons of new card membership.

    REF first comment @

    • Mike, you are correct, Amex no longer waives business card fees on new cards opened. I will update the post, thanks!

    • I upgraded an old SPG card (not available anymore) to Bonvoy Brilliant. Or, open another Bonvoy Brilliant but you won’t be eligible for the welcome bonus.

  3. I love Amex credit cards!They are the most military friendly company particularly their credit cards, their customer service is amazing, their website is easy to navigate and they are easier to get approved as long as your credit score is good. However, I’m scared of applying for too many cards and ruin my good relationship with Amex. Is there a limit of the number of cards that you can have at once? I currently have 2 charge cards, 4 credit cards and 1 business credit card.

    • AMEX allows a maximum of 5 credit cards per person and unlimited charge cards. I currently have 2 Bonvoy Brilliant, 2 Hilton Honors cards, 1 Bonvoy Business, and 6 charge cards with them (Green, Gold, Platinum).

      You won’t ruin your relationship with AMEX by applying for too many cards: that’s what they want! They want you to apply for as many cards as you can!


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