Here’s How the Ritz-Carlton $300 Annual Travel Credit Works

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Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

One of the richest card offers out there is for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card.

The signup bonus offer is 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.

You can stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel or Half Moon Bay in California. You can stay at the The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui, the Ritz-Carlton Aruba, or the Hotel Arts in Barcelona. Use it in Sanya, Macau, or the other China properties. Use it in Bali.

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Credit: Ritz-Carlton

The card comes with automatic Gold Elite status for your first account year. You can keep Gold status in subsequent years with $10,000 in purchases on the card each year. And $75,000 in purchases in an account year on the Ritz-Carlton credit card earns top tier Platinum status. Gold gets you complimentary room upgrades and late checkout. And Ritz-Carlton status means Marriott status recognition too

Perhaps the biggest benefit that’s bundled with the card as a Visa Infinite is the $100 airfare credit when buying tickets through their portal (which limited you to United, Delta, and American) for two to five passengers. You can use this benefit an unlimited number of times.

But for a card with a $450 annual fee, something that makes it go down much easier is that it comes with a $300 airline fee credit

The credit is per calendar year and not per cardmember year (annual fee year). In other words if you sign up for the card now you can have a $300 credit before the end of 2016, and then again at the beginning of 2017. That’s $600 in airline fee credits during that first $450 annual fee year.

Here are the key things to know:

  • Airline fees don’t credit back automatically. You have to call within four billing cycles of incurring the charge to request reimbursement.

  • You’re supposed to use the credit for things like airline lounge day passes, lounge membership, seat fees and upgrades, checked baggage fees, in-flight internet or entertainment fees, or onboard food and beverage.

  • Whether or not you can use the credit for other things in practice (besides what is actually promised) is very much ‘your mileage may vary’. You’re calling to request the credit, and in practice many people have reported success with reimbursement of airline gift cards with airlines other than United that are less than $100. (See for instance data points of consumer experiences collected by Doctor of Credit.)

Buy up to first class at check-in, buy inflight internet day passes, or even use the credit for lounge access including lounge membership fees.

Terms and conditions: (Line breaks added.)

To request a statement credit to apply towards qualifying airline incidental purchase(s) made with your Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, you must contact J.P. Morgan Priority Services at the number on the back of your Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card within 4 billing cycles of the purchase date.

Only the following types of non-ticket purchases qualify for this offer: 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.

Purchases are when you, or an authorized user, use a card to make purchases of products and services, minus returns or refunds. Buying products and services with your card, in most cases, will count as a purchase; however, the following types of transactions won’t count and won’t earn points: balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, overdraft advances, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind, including an annual fee, if applicable.

We do not determine whether merchants correctly identify and bill transactions as being of a certain type. However, we do reserve the right to determine which purchases qualify for statement credits.

Statement credit will post to your account within 5-7 business days and will appear on your monthly credit card billing statement within 1-2 billing cycles. Qualifying purchases made by authorized users on your account are eligible for statement credits; however, only the obligor on the account, not authorized users, may request statement credits.

Maximum statement credit accumulation for this offer is $300 per calendar year. Annual credit will be issued for the calendar year in which the transaction posts to your account. For example, if you pay baggage fees at the end of 2015, and the airline does not post the transaction until 2016, the cost of the baggage fees will be allocated towards your 2016 calendar year maximum of $300. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards is not responsible for offer fulfillment or the provision of or a failure to provide the stated benefits and services.

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, 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.


  1. I haven’t seen this talked about yet (or more likely i missed it) but what is the $100 hotel credit?

    “Allow us to treat you during your time away with a $100 hotel credit toward dining, spa or other hotel recreational activities on paid stays of two nights or longer, when reserving this offer.”

    Is that only at Ritz, or any hotel paid for with the card?

  2. Gary,
    How about mileage ticket $150 reinstatement fee from American Airlines? If you redeposit/return mileage due to a cancellation of an award ticket. Can that be creditted under the Ritz Carlton credit card as incidental purchases?

  3. OK, so let me see if I understand this: your (reusable) $100 credit is good ONLY on American, Delta, and United — but it IS good towards airline tickets. OTOH, the $300 annual travel credit is NOT good for airline tickets, but CAN be used for buying upgrades (i.e.: from Coach to First Class) at the airport ticket counter — otherwise, it’s only good towards fees, like baggage, IFE, and food . . .

    Well, you’ve managed to get me to cross this card off my list.

  4. Gary–long time loyal reader here. But hot damn, you HAVE to give it a rest with this card. It feels like you’re writing 1-2 articles, EVERY day. Great offer, I agree. But you’re losing credibility, and my attitude towards your blog is slowly creeping towards “avoid at all costs.” Friendly advice–best of luck to you.

  5. @Jason. I’ve had the RC card for three years, and during that time I’ve used it to be reimbursed for tickets (not upgrades) on jetBlue, Volaris, Spirit, and Frontier. I think what really raises flags for them is the dollar amount. I’ve used it for ticket prices up to $100 without any issue.

  6. @Joseph — Yes, but are you using the (unlimited) “$100 airfare credit,” or the (once per CY) “$300 airline fee credit”?

  7. Gary, There is a recent comment on the doctor of credit site you linked to that suggests that the travel credits are automatically reimbursed at the end of the billing cycle now that it is a visa infinite card.

  8. Gary,

    Would be great to get your thoughts on discounted lounge access with various airlines for frequent business travelers. I can usually travel first class for work so don’t need the airline fees for upgrades, etc, but my firm doesn’t provide lounge access, so to me that is the biggest value of any of the premium cards. I don’t mind using the airline fee credit for lounge access, but getting access to two airline lounges with one premium card would be super helpful (I find centurion lounges too limited for my business travel).

  9. One question that I haven’t figured out with this card is what exactly is a “seat upgrade”? Narrowly, I read that as a preferred seat or extra legroom within the same class – broadly an upgrade to the next class of service (again, I am buying a better seat). Just put in for a mileage upgrade (Y to J) on AA and gave them the Ritz card number for the $350 copay. I’m assuming that I can get the $300 credit towards the upgrade if it clears.

  10. I agree with Jake, you have been promoting this card way too much. I get it it’s a great card but please just stop. This reimbursement sounds like a pain vs the Sapphire Reserve card.

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