How Much Are the Ritz-Cartlon Rewards Credit Card Benefits Really Worth?

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Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

The new Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card is a Visa Infinite card, a higher tier than the Visa Signature that nearly all other premium rewards cards top out at.

In addition to Gold Elite status (which is honored at Marriott hotels, comes complimentary the first year and that you retain each year you spend $10,000 on the card); a $300 Airline Fee credit, $100 Global Entry credit, and unlimited use $100 Airline Ticket discounts when buying for 2 or more passengers; 3 complimentary upgrades to The Ritz-Carlton Club® Level each year valid on paid stays of up to seven nights (here’s how to use them); plus airport lounge access and a premium concierge, the card gives you:

    A great signup bonus of 3 complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel after $5,000 spend on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Credit: Ritz-Carlton

It has a $450 annual fee. However All the Right Points does the math on what the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card has gotten him in just a few months.

Here’s a recap of what I’ve received in exchange for my hard earned $450:
3 complimentary nights at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown (~$1600 value)
$200 in airfare discounts
$300 in airline incidentals (first class upgrades)
10,000 Marriott Rewards points (valued at ~$100)
Additional $300 in airline incidentals coming next week (2017)

That is $2,500 in “value” from carrying the card for just a few months. While this is the cash value, these aren’t the prices I would personally pay.

He wasn’t blown away by the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton, so knocks that down just a bit and talks about whether first class upgrades are really worth it. It’s important to figure out what something is worth to you, not just what its price is.

But think of the annual fee as Groupon. You’re paying some amount, and getting a much bigger value in return. Like the best way into Ritz-Carlton club lounges, Priority Pass airport lounge access even for authorized users.


Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles Club, credit: Ritz-Carlton

And of course for this card 5/24 doesn’t appear to be enforced. Chase seems to be welcoming cardmembers that have opened plenty of new card accounts. Plenty of reader data points, and reports elsewhere, suggest that Chase doesn’t impose restrictions on getting this card like they are with many of their other cards: customers haven’t been reporting being denied for too many new cards in the last 24 months.

You’re eligible for the signup bonus if you are not a current cardholder, and you haven’t received a bonus from this card in the past 24 months. If you’re over ‘5/24’ this is a no brainer card to get.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit 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 InsideFlyer.com, 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 »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. If this guy values Marriott points at a cent per point, then I think we can assume he overvalues things as a rule

  2. Thanks for posting, Gary.

    @James K I think the general consensus is that SPG points are worth 2.2 – 3 cents a piece. I’ll take the high end there given flexibility and scarcity. And since Marriott points transfer at 3:1 to SPG, I’m comfortbale valuing them at around a penny.

  3. Is anyone aware if they consider this the same product as the 140k points offer from previous years?

    I am about 22 months in since I received the 140k points, just curious if I need to wait the full 24 months for the 3 free nights.

  4. Hey Evan,

    I don’t think absolutely anyone would value Starpoints at 3 cpm. The hotels that cost 10,000 starpoints are virtually never $300-type hotels, and that would make a 20,000 ->airline miles transfer = $600 of air miles, when in fact the 25,000 American/Delta/Korean/what have you are essentially never going to give you that type of value. Obviously some extra value thrown in for flexibility, but there’s just no way you can set a 3 cpm baseline. Let’s see what the experts say:
    Gary: 2.3 cpm
    Lucky: 2.2 cpm

    That sounds a lot closer. So we’re looking at Marriott points at 0.7 to 0.8, which is a fairer value. If you rank Marriott points at 1 cpm, you’re considering a category 4 at $200 value, which I think is ridiculous. Have you SEEN what counts as a category 4?

  5. @Gary —> There is no doubt, at least to my mind, that the Ritz-Carlton Visa Infinite card offers a great value for its annual fee, but I remain somewhat confused by some of its benefits.

    For example, re: the unlimited $100 airfare discount when buying 2 or more tickets. I understand they are restricted to domestic (i.e.: within the 50 states) fares only; they are valid ONLY on Coach/Economy tickets, and only on certain airlines; and one must purchase the tickets through a special Visa “portal.” However, can you combine this with the $300 airline fee credit to upgrade to First, or even Economy Plus, or is the airline fee credit strictly for use towards baggage charges, lounge access, etc.? And are these only good for full fare Economy tickets, or . . . ?

    Regarding Priority Club access, it seems that every card which offers this as a benefit offers it slightly differently. For example, some grant access to the cardholder only, while anyone else accompanying the cardholder is $29 each; others grant access to the cardholder and his/her immediate family or up to two non-related travel companions; authorized cardholders also get this benefit. What, exactly, does the Ritz-Carlton access grant you?

    Finally, a tangential question: as I’ve said elsewhere, $75k spend to reach Platinum is simply not going to happen with me, but the $10k for Gold status is easy. That said, I currently have Gold status with SPG (based on stays), and thus with Marriott and Ritz-Carlton as well. My Marriott Rewards card grants me Silver status automatically, but that translates to “not very much.” I’m thinking of dropping the Marriott card in favor of the Ritz-Carlton, which would let me maintain that Gold status (based on spend if not stays) at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott, as you stated above, but you left out Starwood. Would the Gold status also be honored there?

  6. Wow @Ted is it really that high? No wonder the bloggers push this mediocre card so hard.

    This is the exact reason why I never trust these ‘helpful’ posts

  7. Whether it’s $345 or not, I’m willing to bet it’s at least $200. I see why Gary makes all these posts pushing the card, but it does make me take him less seriously and question his advice elsewhere. That’s why I no longer sign up for the services he recommends.

  8. I have been able to use the $100 discount on AA to book economy and then call up and upfare to discounted first class w/ no change fees…just the difference in fare. I also was able to then use the $300 credit to offset the upfare charge. The key is to use specific words when discribing the charge as i think the representitive has a list of acceptable charges they can credit. I used the term “seat upgrades” and the agent had no problem applying the credit.

    As a fyi, the $100 discount is included in the amount you paid when they calculate the diff in fare. So if you bought two $250 tickets, your card gets charged $400, but when you call AA to upfare they see you spent $500 and any upfare is in addition to $250 per ticket.

    One question i have is I don’t put any spend on the card. I have about 15,000 ritz points….is there anything decent i can do with those?

  9. @James K – Valuation is totally subjective. But let’s use Lucky’s low end valuation of 2.2 cents (~.7 cents per Marriott Rewards point). That knocks $30 off my estimate. Still an incredibly valuable card…and no, I don’t overvalue in general…in fact I made a point to reduce the value of the benefits received (free nights, first class upgrades from airline incidental credit). Also, I certainly don’t make a valuation on the basis of one tier of the award chart.

    @Jasion Grant Lewis – I have used the “Visa Air Discount” portal to buy coach tickets (on United) and then upgrade via United to first class…and had that upgrade cost rebated from Chase.

  10. To all of those who complain when Gary and other bloggers mention/push credit cards, here’s my two cents. If he barged into your home and tried to sell you on the benefits of a card, you would have every right to be annoyed and kick him out. But hey, this is his house, you entered and it really seems you came in itching to pick a fight. So just don’t enter – and save the rest of us your wrath. I’ve listened and got some cards, passed on others, but I stick around for both those insights and his invaluable advice on how to make the most of the miles and points I do accumulate. I imagine I speak for many when I say that if I’m still here after all these years, there must be something of significant value.

    Rant over.

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