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Can I Stack Elite Credits from Ritz and Marriott Cards?

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TPG reader Mike emailed me to ask about earning elite status from hotel credit cards:

“Can I stack automatic Gold Elite status from the Ritz-Carlton card with the 15 elite nights from the Marriott Rewards card? I’m trying to earn Platinum status, and wanted to know if the two could be combined to give me a boost.”

One useful feature of the Marriott Rewards program is that your Marriott elite status is recognized at Ritz-Carlton properties, and vice versa. The benefits differ slightly based on which program you’re registered with, but the reciprocity between them makes it easier to maximize stays at either chain.

Both Marriott and Ritz-Carlton offer credit cards that give you some form of complimentary elite status, as well as the ability to boost that status further. The Marriott Rewards Premier Card gives you 15 elite credits each year — enough to qualify automatically for Silver Elite status — plus you can earn an additional credit for every $3,000 you spend on the card. Meanwhile, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card offers automatic Gold Elite status for the first year, which normally requires staying 50 nights. You can maintain Gold status by spending $10,000 during your account year, or earn Platinum Elite status by spending $75,000 on purchases (also during the account year).

Mike wants to know if he can earn Gold status with the Ritz-Carlton card and get credit for 15 more nights from the Marriott card. In theory, that adds up to 65 nights, which is most of the way to the 75 nights required for Platinum status. However, the two benefits unfortunately don’t stack that way. The Ritz-Carlton card confers Gold status, but it doesn’t actually give you credit for 50 nights. That means between the two cards, you’ll get 15 elite credits (from the Marriott Premier), and you’ll need to earn the rest either from stays or spending.

This is similar to how Delta views gifted Medallion status from the Choice Benefits offered to Diamond and Platinum members. As I explained a few weeks ago, that gifted status comes with all the normal benefits, but the recipient doesn’t earn credits toward elite qualification.

You
Platinum Elite status offers some lucrative benefits, but you’ll need to earn it at least partly through stays or credit card spending.

If you’re deciding between the two, I’d lean toward the Ritz-Carlton card. It has a higher annual fee, but much of that is offset by the $300 annual travel credit. The current sign-up bonus is two complimentary nights at Tier 1-4 properties after spending $4,000 in the first three months. However, Ritz-Carlton occasionally offers a points bonus instead of free nights, which is better if you’re more likely to stay with Marriott.

If you don’t think you’ll use the extra benefits on the Ritz-Carlton card, or if you won’t spend enough to re-qualify for Gold Elite status each year, then the Marriott Premier Visa is probably the better option. Check out these posts for more details on Marriott elite status and the benefits on both cards:

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

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