Who Should Get the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card?

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Edit 10/12/17: While the public sign up offer for this card is two free Tier 1 – 4 Ritz nights, reader James33 has shared that he was able to get Chase to raise that bonus to three free night certificates by asking them to match the three night offer. Another free night is worth up to around $500, so it’s definitely worth a call into Chase!

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card offers two free nights at Tier 1-4 properties after spending $4,000 within three months of opening it. There are only five tiers, so you can stay in some very fancy hotels that go for $500+ per night.

The statement credits are not nearly as valuable as those offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but if you have a lot of incidental airline expenses, you may be able to consider these like cash–as much as $600 in free cash before the second annual fee hits, which alone means you’d make $150 despite the $450 annual fee.

Quick Facts

  • Sign Up Bonus: Two free nights at Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton properties after $4,000 in spending in the first three months
  • Authorized User Bonus: Get 10,000 bonus points for adding one when signing up for the card (with points from meeting minimum spend, you’ll be halfway to another free night at a Tier 1 Ritz)
  • Statement Credits: First $300 in spending on airline incidental expenses; $100 Global Entry Credit; $100 Hotel Credit
  • Category Bonuses: 5x at Ritz-Carlton; 2x on airlines, car rentals, and restaurants
  • Value of Ritz-Carlton Points: Need 30k to 70k for a free night
  • Lounge Access: Priority Pass Select Membership means free access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide
  • Discounted Flights: $100 discount on domestic roundtrip flight bookings for 2 to 5 passengers
  • Global Acceptance: Visa, chip technology, and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Eligibility: NOT SUBJECT to Chase 5/24 Rule
Ritz-Carlton San Francisco
Ritz-Carlton San Francisco

Sign Up Bonus

For spending $4,000 on your card within three months, you’ll earn two certificates good for stays at any Ritz-Carlton property from Tier 1 through Tier 4. There are some very high quality tier 4 Ritz-Carltons–I’d say you could pretty easily get around $1,000 of value out of these certificates alone.

You’ll receive the certficates electronically about six to eight weeks after meeting the minimum spend, and they last for a year before expiring.

Here you can see a list of Ritz properties in the United States as well as around the world. All pictures I’ve included in this post are from expensive Tier 4 properties in the United States that would be a good choice when redeeming certificates.

$300 per Calendar Year Airline Incidentals Credit

There are two major upsides to this benefit. First, the cardholders are entitled to $300 of incidental reimbursement per calendar year. If you sign up for the Ritz card in October, spend $300 on airline incidentals by December, and spend another $300 on airline before canceling the card in September, then you will receive $600 of value without paying a cent up front.

What counts as an “airline incidental?” Specifically: airline lounge day pass, or towards a yearly lounge membership of your choice; airline seat upgrades; airline baggage fees; in-flight Internet/entertainment; in-flight meals. There have been reports of buying airline gift cards and successfully getting reimbursed, but not with anything close to 100% success. This would be by far the most attractive use of the credit in my opinion. However, there are also reports that buying airline gift cards in large denominations can trigger the system to not reimburse the charge. There is no hard and fast rule here, your mileage may vary.

The second major benefit to this perk is that it is available on any and all airlines. The American Express Platinum card has offered a similar benefit for years (but it’s for $200 instead of $300), but in the AMEX program cardholders must designate one airline on which they wish to receive incidental reimbursement. With the Ritz card, no airline designation is necessary, since the program reimburses incidental purchases on all airlines. Granted, it’s usually pretty easy to buy airline gift cards and have them reimbursed as statement credits on your Amex Platinum, which it isn’t as easy to do with the Ritz Rewards card.

In my opinion, this benefit alone could make this card worthwhile for the following groups:

  • Families that travel frequently with checked bags
  • Frequent travelers who like to upgrade their class of service at the last minute
  • Business travelers who are reimbursed for travel expenses–incur charges, submit the expense report, and then receive statement credits to “make” $300 per calendar year

$100 Hotel Credit

For every paid booking of 2 nights or longer at a Ritz property, cardholders receive a $100 hotel credit. This credit can be used for food, beverages, spa treatments, golf outings, etc.

It’s hard to imagine anyone signing up for the Ritz card for this benefit alone. Once again, it’s a nice perk along with everything else, and for Ritz frequenters it could provide decent value.

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel (Dana Point, CA)
Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel (Dana Point, CA), which is also pictured at the top of this post

Three Club Level Upgrades Per Year

Club level upgrades can only be used on paid bookings, and upgrades are subject to availability at the time of booking. Ritz advertises the club level as a “hotel within a hotel” and a “remarkably exclusive realm.” The club level varies from property to property, but all club levels include five food and beverage presentations daily.

In my opinion, this is one of the most valuable additional benefits of opening the Ritz rewards card. While staying at the club level, you will have food and alcohol, in unlimited quantities, provided for free. The quality of food and alcohol is reported to be quite high.

Conservatively, I would value a day of unlimited free food and high quality beverages at $50. Thus, for a couple, this benefit could be worth at least $100 per stay, and is a great perk for those who want to spice up their travel with an occasional foray into opulence.

As I mentioned above, the club level varies from property to property. Not all Ritz properties have a club level. For more information on the club level at different Ritz properties, see here.

Airport Lounge Access

Similar to Chase’s Sapphire Reserve and Citi’s Prestige Card, the Ritz Rewards card gives cardholders access to Priority Pass lounges. You can check out lounges associated with Priority Pass here.

There are many ways to gain lounge access, like flying international business or first class. This benefit adds value for those traveling in economy who don’t have access to a lounge through other means, but isn’t a primary reason to sign up for the card.

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay (outside San Francisco)
Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay (outside San Francisco)

Who Should Not Apply for this Card?

In general, miles and points newbies should target other cards before acquiring a Ritz rewards card.

If you just want hotel points to book as many cheap hotel rooms as possible, then the Ritz card is also not a good option for you. A better card would be one with a large sign up bonus of points you can stretch over many stays, like the Marriott Rewards Card.

Who Should get this Card?

Throughout this post I have mentioned various people who might benefit from opening the Ritz rewards card.

  • Travelers who want to experience an opulent Ritz property for two nights (or two separate properties for one night each) they couldn’t otherwise afford
  • Travelers who frequent Ritz properties
  • Families that travel frequently with checked bags
  • Frequent travelers who like to upgrade their class of service at the last minute
  • Business travelers who are reimbursed for travel expenses
  • Couples who want to experience a few days of pure luxury and free food at the Ritz club level

Finally, for those who already have had most of Chase’s personal cards within the past two years, the Ritz rewards card does provide solid value when accounting for the sign up bonus and the additional benefits. The fact that the Chase 5/24 rule doesn’t apply is a big perk.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Got this. Using my 3 nights in Washington in the spring for the cherry blossom thing. Just hope they are in bloom. Plan to cancel this one after the stays. The $300 incidental thing is pretty odd and never used it.

  2. Is the signup bonus two free nights or three? The Chase website says two. And if you see three somewhere, can you please link us? 🙂

    • Secure message them asking them to match the 3 night offer. I just did mine this week and they said yes to the match.

      • How did you ask for them to match? Did you say that you saw a three night somewhere else or did you literally ask if “Chase could please match to the three night offer”?

        • Hi Jeff, I imagine James either told Chase he the offer online or heard of a friend getting it…although it’s also a possibility he just asked to be matched to the three night offer. James, could you comment?

      • Did you ask for the match before or after you applied? I’d apply for a 3-night offer but probably not for a 2-night offer so knowing beforehand would be key (in case the match is refused after application).

    • Sign into your chase.com account online. On the top right hand side of the screen, next to Customize Accounts, is a link for your Secure Message Center. At least that’s where it is inside my Chase Marriott Business card account.

  3. I just sent Chase a secure message asking for a match to the three night promo.
    When I hear back from them I will update with the info.

  4. I’m trying to book a hotel stay in Maui 12/28/17 to 1/3/18. I can’t seem to find any rooms available using points. Any advise on how to find some availability?

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