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View of the Whale Bar at the St. Regis Maldives from the back

The St. Regis Maldives is the best resort I’ve ever stayed at — by a long shot.

Joseph Hostetler



  • The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card currently offers a welcome bonus of 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases on the card within the first 3 months.
  • This card now comes with an annual 85,000-point Free Night Award after each cardmember anniversary.
  • You can use this Free Night Award for the absolute best Marriott properties on earth.
  • Read Insider’s guide to the best Marriott credit cards.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card recently received a massive facelift. Most changes were positive:

  • Super valuable Platinum elite status (previously mediocre Gold status)
  • Free Night Award worth up to 85,000 points after each card anniversary (previously worth up to 50,000 points)
  • 25 elite night credits per calendar year (previously 15 elite night credits)

There were a couple of customer-unfriendly changes, as well:

An annual fee that astronomical for a hotel credit card is unheard of — and gave me pause for a few days as I deliberated the actual value I’d receive from these new perks each year. Amex is an Insider partner.

Insider’s Featured Rewards Credit Cards

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Earn unlimited 3x points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. Earn 1x points on other purchases.

30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Earn 3x ThankYou® points at restaurants and supermarkets. Earn 3x ThankYou® points at gas stations, air travel, and hotels. Earn 1x ThankYou® points on all other purchases

80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Earn 5x points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out. Earn 3x points on select streaming services. Earn 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs). Earn 2x points on other travel. Earn 1x point per dollar on everything else.

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

However, I think the improved 85,000-point free night certificate is itself enough to justify the increase in annual fee. I just received over $5,000 in value from this benefit. That’s six years’ worth of annual fees just from one booking! Here’s how I did it.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Using the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s free night award at the St. Regis Maldives 

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card


Intro offer

150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases on the card within the first 3 months


Rewards

Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. Earn 3 points at Worldwide Restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. Earn 2 points on all other eligible purchases.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card


Intro offer

150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases on the card within the first 3 months


Rewards

Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. Earn 3 points at Worldwide Restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. Earn 2 points on all other eligible purchases.

On American Express’s website


Rewards

Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. Earn 3 points at Worldwide Restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. Earn 2 points on all other eligible purchases.


Intro offer

150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases on the card within the first 3 months


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

18.74% – 27.74% Variable

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The St. Regis Maldives is the ultimate bucket-list Marriott hotel. It’s got overwater villas, personal butlers, five-star restaurants in every direction, free champagne at sunset each night, and the list goes on.

Here’s the issue: It’s revoltingly expensive. You won’t find a room here that sells for less than $1,500 per night.

The good news is that the improved Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card annual 85,000-point Free Night Award is enough to cover one night. Award nights at this resort cost as little as 80,000 points — and as much as 120,000 points.

Add to this the fact that you can combine your certificate with up to 15,000 Marriott points, and you can book any night that costs 100,000 points or less — in other words, the vast majority of the year.

Here’s an example of the price of the base room you’ll book into with points. This night in mid-April 2023 costs 84,000 points. That’s perfect for your annual 85,000-point free night certificate.

Screenshot of the points price for a garden suite at the St. Regis Maldives

Marriott



And here’s the cash price for that exact same room: After taxes, you’ll pay $2,420. The below screenshot shows a higher price because it includes the $745 round-trip seaplane transfer, which you can’t cover with Marriott points. You’ll be paying that no matter what.

Screenshot of the cash price for a garden suite at the St. Regis Maldives

Marriott



Insider’s valuations estimate that Marriott points are worth an average of 0.7 cents each. But redeeming your free night for this room would give you an incredible 2.8 cents in value — 4x higher than the average rate!

How I got a value of 5.9 cents per Marriott point

A value that high for Marriott points makes this hotel an absolute no-brainer to book. You can search far and wide, and you’ll almost never find a better redemption rate for Marriott points.

But check this out: You can upgrade to a two-bedroom villa by tacking on $250 per night to your reservation. At first glance, a $250 upcharge is tough to swallow. Most of us collect Marriott points for free hotel stays, after all.

Screenshot of the points price for a 2-bedroom suite at the St. Regis Maldives

Marriott



But look at the cash price of this same room. After taxes (and again, not including the $745 round-trip seaplane transfer), this enormous villa costs a whopping $5,258 per night. Subtract the $250 charge we’re eating to upgrade to a better room, and my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card 85,000-point free night certificate is giving me $5,008 in value. That’s a value of 5.9 cents per point — more than 8x the average value.

Screenshot of the cash price for a 2-bedroom suite at the St. Regis Maldives

Marriott



I’ll be taking my family to the Maldives in mid-2022, and I’ve booked a week at this property between a mix of Marriott points and free night certificates. Marriott offers a “fifth night free” perk that gives you one award night for zero points when booking five or more consecutive award nights. Unfortunately, free night certificates don’t count as award nights.

This is the single greatest hotel redemption I’ve ever made. Here’s how I’m booking a weeklong $30,000 stay:

  • Five award nights with 350,000 Marriott points
  • Two nights with two 85,000-point Free Night Awards
  • $1,750 total in cash for the room upgrade to a two-bedroom villa

That’s a vacation that anyone but the 1% only dreams about. And while the seaplane transfers and food prices at the St. Regis Maldives are exorbitant, it’s worth a bit of investment for a deal this good. To me, anyway.

Bottom line

Again, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card currently offers a welcome bonus of 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases on the card within the first 3 months. If you and a travel buddy opened these cards, you’d have well over 300,000 Marriott points after meeting minimum spending requirements — and nearly enough for five nights at this hotel.

Plus, you’ll each earn an 85,000-point free night certificate after your first account anniversary. In short, by opening this card, you’ll have enough for a weeklong stay in no time. Plus, the card comes with automatic Platinum elite status, which gives you free breakfast at hotels like the St. Regis Maldives — where breakfast can otherwise cost $50+ per person per day.

Read our Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card review to see how this card can save you well over $1,000 each year — even if you never travel to fancy resorts like this.



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