The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
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If only the Ritz-Carlton properties will do when you’re traveling, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card can be well worth the substantial price of ownership. The key with this card is making sure you maximize all the benefits it offers.
With its $450 price tag, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card may at first glance hardly seem worth it when stacked up against other luxury credit card heavy-hitters like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express. But if you stay at a Ritz a few times a year and use all of the perks attached to it, the value can far exceed the price tag.
The Ritz-Carlton assigns its properties various tier designations, with the highest Tier 9 considered the swankiest. The current sign-up bonus with this card offers two free nights at participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carton properties if you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening an account. That alone can be worth hundreds more than the cost of the card.
When Bankrate looked to determine the value of this benefit, we found that the least expensive room at the only Tier 1 Ritz-Carlton in the United States — the Tysons Corner, Virginia location — started at $559 a night. A basic garden view room with a king-sized bed and a balcony at the Tier 4 Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in California is listed at $685 a night.
The sign-up bonus will net you two nights for free at either of those spots and dozens more that qualify.
The sign-up offer also includes an additional 10,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and they make their first purchase.
One night free at a Tier 1 property is 20,000 points, and every Tier requires another 10,000 points up to a maximum of 60,000 points for a Tier 6 property.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card pays 5 points for every $1 spent at participating Ritz-Carlton and SPG properties (that’s Starwood hotels), 2 points per $1 on airfare booked directly through the airline, car rental agencies and restaurants and 1 point per $1 on all other spending.
If you meet the spending requirement and add an authorized user, you could be well on your way to even more free nights.
The card also grants you three Club level upgrade passes each year on paid stays of up to seven nights. Club-level rooms give you access to the club lounge, an area that is always stocked with food and drinks and replenished throughout the day. Prices for these rooms typically range anywhere from $150 to $300 more than the price of a standard room.
You could theoretically fill up on all of your meals in the club lounge without spending a cent in a restaurant. Many of the lounges have full bars and various regional tastings throughout the day. Even if you just use it for coffee and a snack, it could save you from paying for a pricy restaurant breakfast every morning.
Other awesome attributes of this card include an annual $300 airline incidental credit. You’ll have to call the issuer and ask them to give you a statement credit as it’s not an automatic benefit like with some other cards.
You also get a Priority Pass membership for airport lounge access worldwide, a $100 hotel credit on paid stays of two nights or longer and a $100 Global Entry application fee reimbursement every four years.
Did we mention the automatic Gold Elite status you also get the first year of card ownership? This will give you free Wi-Fi, complimentary room upgrades, late check-out privileges and a 25% rewards bonus on your base points earnings.
If it’s flexible rewards you want, this is not the card for you. But if you’re willing to pay for it upfront in ownership cost, no other hotel-branded card gives you so much in return.
Who should get this card
Ritz enthusiasts who can take full advantage of all the benefits and perks that come with this card.
Fees and APR
• The annual fee is $450.
• The variable APR on purchases and balance transfers is 16.99% to 23.99% based on creditworthiness.
• You won’t incur any fees for foreign transactions.
• There’s a balance transfer fee of 5% of the amount being transferred.
• Late payments won’t affect your APR, but you will have to pay a penalty of up to $37.
Extras, perks and using points
As a Visa Infinite card, you can receive a $100 discount on the purchase of between two and five round-trip domestic coach tickets.
Points expire if there is no activity on your account within 24 months. Qualifying activity counts as either earning Ritz-Carlton rewards through a qualified stay or using your card to make a purchase.
To redeem your points, log in to your account. Select the property you are interested in and then in the reservations window, select “Use Rewards Points.” You can also choose to use a combination of points and cash toward rooms. If you redeem your points for at least four nights, you’ll get a complimentary fifth night.
You can also redeem your points for stays within the Marriott family of participating hotels.
How this card compares
The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is best for repeat Marriott customers who want to earn rewards toward more future stays. While the rewards rate of 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott, SPG or Ritz-Carlton properties is strong, the card offers lackluster rewards on everyday spending of just 2 points per $1 on airfare booked through the airline and 1 point per $1 everywhere else. The annual one free night certificate for a Category 1-5 hotel will likely make the $85 annual cost of ownership for this card worth it to Marriott brand fans.
The Platinum Card from American Express sets the bar high with a steep annual fee and a high rewards rate It also has best-in-class travel perks like extensive airport lounge access-including their exclusive Centurion lounges, a Global Entry fee credit, hotel upgrades and more comprehensive travel and auto protections than most other cards.
The Citi Prestige Card gives air travel rewards at a rate of 3x points to the Amex Platinum’s 5x points. But, it comes with one perk that could make it worth more to you: on hotel stays of four or more nights booked through the Citi concierge, get the fourth night free. For some, this benefit could exceed the cost of card ownership.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a premium rewards structure to match its premium price but it’s distinguishing feature is a 50% increase in the value of your points when you book any travel—air, hotel or otherwise, through their portal. This may make it a better option if the Chase travel partners are good for you. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be used for everything from flights to lodging to cruises, this also makes it one of the most flexible redemption programs among travel cards. Where it really shines is the 50,000 point sign-up bonus worth as much as $750 if used for travel booked through the Chase website.
Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.