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Review: Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card 50,000 Point Sign-up Bonus

by on February 10, 2012 · 7 comments

in Chase, Credit Cards, Ritz-Carlton

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here

UPDATE: The current Ritz-Carlton sign-up offer is up to 70,000 points.

New TPG Contributor Series: Financial and travel writer Jason Steele takes a look at the various perks and pitfalls of the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card.

Competition between hotel credit cards has really heated up this past year with a bunch of new products, like the Hyatt Visa and the new Ritz-Carlton Rewards card. Unfortunately, both are offered by Chase (along with the Priority Club Visa and some Marriott cards), so you may have to pick and choose which ones you get. The Ritz card hasn’t gotten a lot of publicity, so let’s take a look at the benefits:

KEY PERKS

-Update: Now 70,000 point sign-up bonus for this card with no minimum spending requirement, enough points for a free night at one of their 60+ Tier 1-3 locations.

-Bonus points from spending. Cardholders will earn one point per dollar spent on most charges, with two points per dollar on must airfare, car rental, and dining purchases. Five points per dollar are earned for all charges at Ritz-Carlton properties.

-Gold Status, and Club and Suite Upgrades. Enjoy Gold status at Ritz-Carlton hotels the first year, and retain this status by charging at least $10,000 annually. This mid-tier status offers perks like complimentary Internet service, suite upgrades, and late checkout. Cardholders also get three club level upgrades annually subject to availability.

-$100 Hotel Credit. With each stay of two nights or more (not at deeply discounted or corporate rates, but at regular non-package rates), cardholders receive a $100 credit to use on-property for dining and spa.

-$200 Airline Statement Credit. Ritz-Carlton Rewards card members will receive an annual $200 credit toward ancillary fees from any airline.

-Airline Lounge Access. Card members receive a Priority Pass Select lounge membership that offers free unlimited entry to over 600 business lounges, excluding the United Club.

-Redemption Opportunities. Award nights at Ritz-Carlton properties can be redeemed for between 30,000 – 60,000 points per night, and redeeming four consecutive award nights entitles you to a fifth night free. Customers can also redeem award nights at Marriott owned properties.

-Fees. There is a $395 annual fee for this card that is not waived the first year, but there are no foreign transaction fees.

ANALYSIS

This card is kind of like a greatest hits album of features from competing cards. For example, it matches the American Express Platinum’s airline fee credit offer of $200 and its Priority Pass membership, while nearly reaching its $450 annual fee. Like the Starwood and Marriott programs, the Ritz-Carlton program offers customers their fifth consecutive award night free. Finally, Chase offers the same 50,000-point sign up bonus that it does for it Marriott Rewards Premier card.

Strengths: The idea of checking into a suite at the Ritz may be enough incentive for many to apply. Immediately offering mid-tier status with complimentary suite upgrades is a unique perk of this card–cardholders get automatic gold elite status for their first year, and can spend their way to status with $10,000 in purchases each year thereafter and receive added benefits like 25% points bonuses on stays, complimentary room upgrades and free internet.  The Starwood card offers similar status, but only after spending $30,000 in a calendar year. The Ritz-Carlton card also competes favorably against the Starwood American Express in that it allows customers to earn double miles on most travel expenses.  With the 50,000 point bonus alone, you can score a free room night for the 50,000 points at Tier 3 property like the Ritz-Carlton Dubai, where rates start at around $665 right now, or the Tier 2 Dove Mountain resort near Tucson, where you’d only have to use 40,000 points from your bonus for a free room instead of paying the starting rate of $399 this month. At either, you’ve basically saved more on your room than the annual fee on the card costs. Plus you get the perks, like status and club room upgrades.

The Ritz-Carlton Dubai: a Tier 3 property where your 50,000-point sign-up bonus will get you a free night redemption.

Weaknesses: This card can’t compete with the Starwood American Express’s point transfer options. Like Marriott points, Ritz-Carlton points can transfer to miles, but at the same dismal ratios of between 10 points:1 miles and 2.5 points:1 mile, while Starwood points convert to miles at ratios as great as 1 point:1.25 miles. Finally, Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties can impose capacity restrictions to deny you available rooms at peak times, while Starwood, Priority Club, and Hilton offer award nights in any available standard room.

This is a pricey card, but like the Amex Platinum, the price of the annual fee is exceeded by the value of the airline statement credit, lounge memberships, upgrades and hotel credits if you plan to stay in Ritz-Carlton properties a lot, and in the first year alone, you make back that annual fee with the money you save by using 50,000-point sign-up bonus for a free night redemption.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Jp_di_sb

    Are you certain that Gold status gets you Suite upgrades? I had platinum status and was denied an upgrade at the Ritz Lake Tahoe in December. I was told that they couldn’t upgrade beyond the mountain view room. They wanted +$200 a night for a regular room on the Club Floor! It wasn’t until after I checked out that I realized I had 3 e-certificates in my online account for upgrades to Club Floor. Disappointing stay overall as my Platinum status was not recognized in any way. I even emailed about the guarantee for platinum benefits and received no response. Ended up canceling the Ritz Chase card because the FHR benefits are stronger with the Amex Platinum or Centurion.

  • Lark

    tpg – nothing personal against your new contributor, but this is an incomplete overview with multiple factual errors and omissions!

    1) As Jp mentions – Suite upgrades are not a component of the Ritz Gold status this card includes. Neither are Club level upgrades at the Ritz something you receive with Ritz Gold (or Platinum) status. The Ritz Visa also does not offer suite upgrades at all. The Ritz Visa does offer 3 club level upgrade certificates (electronic) that you can use to upgrade from a regular room to a club level room on up to a 7 night stay. And, the value of this benefit is even questionable… If your contributor took a look at a couple of threads on FT, he would have learned that for many people these certificates seem worthless because the Ritz makes you book at a higher rack rate in order to be able to apply these certificates and end up on the club level… (“Strengths: The idea of checking into a suite at the Ritz may be enough incentive for many to apply. Immediately offering mid-tier status with complimentary suite upgrades is a unique perk of this card” is just incorrect information…)

    2) Priority Pass select with this card (in contrast to the AMEX Plat) offers you free admission to eligible clubs for the cardholder and one guest. This saves you $27 / per guest for each lounge visit, so if you are a frequent lounge user and bring a guest this benefit could be quite valuable.

    3) Of course, since Ritz and Marriott rewards are essentially one and the same, the Gold status you earn with the Ritz Visa gives you Gold status in Marriott as well, which can be quite valuable across a much broader number of properties worldwide. (’3400 properties’) Stays at Marriott’s count towards Ritz status and vice versa. For some people, just the fact that you achieve Marriott Gold status (normally 50 nights) is worth the cost of the annual fee for this card…

    As you mention, the $200 airline credit is good across any airline. This makes the $200 airline reimbursement superior to the AMEX Plat benefit. With AMEX, you need to select one airline and that choice is fixed for a year. Just one thing to note: You do have to call in or SMS RC Visa to get them to apply the credit to an expense you incurred, which could be a hassle for some people.

    Did your contributor join RC Rewards and apply for and receive this credit card? That would certainly have helped your readers to get a true understanding of this card from a real world perspective…

    I did recently receive the card, and with the 50,000 point sign on bonus and other features, do find it to be a useful addition to my portfolio of credit cards, even with a $395 annual fee. As with all cards, we’ll see how year one goes and decide whether to renew when I receive the renewal bill next February…

    Lark

  • Miles763

    Quality is better than quantity tpg… Boarding area is getting more appealing by the day

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  • Edward Kellum

    I, too, must confirm. I am in the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes Orlando ATM. I racked up enough points to stay for 5 days (same price as four…that is nice) so essentially after using 160,000 points and being Gold and having 3 certs for Club Level, we are in a very nice hotel room, not suite, and the “upgrade” is a lake view verses a golf view on the 12th floor. I was told to call Ritz reservations to use the club cert. I did and was told that it was only valid on PAID stays. My bad for thinking otherwise. Stated clearly in T&C. So…all in all a free week in a very well decorated hotel. As we are taking our girls to Disney all week since we are Annual Passholders, we will not be in the hotel much. And the access to all the pools including the JW Marrioy lazy river is nice. However, upgrade at Hyatt for me as a Plat and not a Diamond has always meant a suite at Hyatt Grand Cypress in Orlando. Same experience at the four diamond Hilton as a Gold…parlor last time that was huge with an eight seat dinning room table. Two weeks ago at the Westin Imagine as a SPG Gold we got a two-bedroom suite…the best in the place with a full kitchen. The Hyatt stay was two free night certs which became a suite. The four diamond Hilton was two discounted points stays which became the gigantic parlor. The Westin was actually Priceline!! And we got the two bedroom suite. So to redeem 5 nights at the Ritz and get no upgrade but lake instead of golf and no club and be told an exexutive suite upgrade would be 400 bucks a night…read 2000 total or the Club Level for 400 a night…I just am not that impressed…and the card was 395 a year. One could argue that the 5th night free is benefit enough…except SPG does it too and the card fee is not 395 a year and Hilton does similar rewards…plus upgrades using points. Bottom line…I was curious…and it is still a “free stay” though I spent plenty to get here plus the fee for the Visa. Still I think Ritz is almost playing the rewards game reluctantly. They really only want full fare all the time folks and saying no to club or suite upgrades without a tremendous spend is making sure that what they “lose” in points redemption they get back by waiving the club upgrades in front of you only if you spend alot. For my money Hilton and SPG have better approaches. They understand if they hook us on upgrades during point redemption we are more likely to book for cash to have another upgrade shot and they are right. Even with cash the SPG is still competitive and as an Honora Gold I have got some killer deals rate wise. I checked this room. Tonight it is worth about 380. Almost the price of the upgrades of any signicance that I was offered. Seems to me they really just wanted me to pay for the room at the full rack rate. In the end they seem to want more dollars up front rather than invest a little extra for the potential of bigger dollars overall in the future. That is fine but when we return to Orlando next month as we come once a month to Disney we will return to the Hilton Or an SPG hotel instead and I will make the business decision to follow their model and not invest in RC in the many future visits we will make and I will enjoy our stay and cancel the card next week. BtW…for the Ritz one might think two beds means two queens. It means two doubles…LOL…another GOTCHA.

  • Help

    any idea how long this points take to show up afte minimum spend? any way to advance the points?

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