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How Can I Use Amex Membership Rewards at Ritz Carlton?

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TPG reader Scotty tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy–“What’s the best way to use rewards points earned from my American Express Platinum card toward staying at The Ritz-Carlton?”

I love Amex points, but I almost never use them for hotel stays. Generally, the transfer partners aren’t that lucrative, and you get less than one cent per point when you redeem them for gift cards.

I much prefer to use my Amex Membership Rewards points for airlines, especially when transfer bonuses are being offered. So if you have the Amex Platinum card and you’ve built up a bulk of points, is it worth using them for hotel stays? In Scotty’s case, there are two options for Ritz-Carlton redemptions, and they’re both pretty awful.

Your Two (Awful) Options

  1. The first is to redeem Amex Membership Rewards for a Ritz-Carlton gift card. You can get a $1,000 gift card for 120,000 points, meaning you’re getting 0.8 cents per point in value. The upside of this is that you will earn Ritz-Carlton points if you book through Ritz-Carlton.com and pay with your gift card.
  2. Your other option is to book the hotel through Amex Travel. Unfortunately, these redemption rates are even worse. I priced out the Ritz-Carlton in Central Park, New York, which returned a value of about 0.7 cents per point–not so great!
You won't get good value using your Amex points to stay at the Ritz-Carlton.
You won’t get good value using your Amex points to stay at the Ritz-Carlton.

My Recommendation

If you’re hoping to use points for Ritz-Carlton stays, I recommend getting the Chase Ritz-Carlton card, which gives five points per dollar spent at Ritz-Carlton, and two points per dollar spent on certain categories like airfare and dining. Although there is a hefty $395 annual fee, you get different airline and hotel credits, as well as elite status, all of which help offset the up front expense. Check out Nick Ewen’s recent review of this card for more details. Another option for Ritz-Carlton stays is to use Chase Ultimate Rewards earned from your Chase Sapphire Preferred card. My Chase Ultimate Reward points can get me that same room at the Ritz-Carlton Central Park at a much better ratio of well over one cent per point.

Generally, Amex Membership Rewards aren’t great for hotels, especially not the Ritz. In this case, I suggest diversifying your cards so you can get better value when staying there.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations worldwide. Terms Apply.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status with your Platinum Card.®
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
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Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A N/A $450 0% Excellent Credit