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The secret to getting the discontinued Ritz-Carlton credit card — and 4 reasons you need it

Oct. 29, 2022
12 min read
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There are many reasons to love the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from Chase. Unfortunately, it’s not available to new applicants — and hasn’t been for years.

That said, there is a simple way to still obtain the card and utilize its many benefits. And with recent changes to Marriott's lineup of card products, the Ritz-Carlton Card is more rewarding than ever.

Here’s why the Ritz-Carlton Card is one of the best travel credit cards — and how you can snag this elusive product.

The information for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Why you should get the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card

The Chase Ritz-Carlton Card is loaded with benefits, including:

  • Three upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club each year, each one valid on eligible paid stays (excludes conference rates).
  • $100 discount on paid stays of two or more nights (on a specific rate).
  • Up to $100 in statement credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
  • Automatic Marriott Gold Elite status, with the ability to earn Platinum after spending $75,000 on the card in a calendar year.
  • Several other benefits that come with other Marriott cards (including 15 elite night credits each year and a bonus on Marriott spending).

These are decent in their own right, but they aren't enough to justify the card (in my opinion). Instead, there are four other perks that keep the card in my wallet.

The newly-improved annual free night

Let's start with the most important piece: the annual free night on the card. Previously, this perk was capped at Marriott properties requiring (at most) 50,000 points for the night. Earlier this year, cardholders did gain the ability to supplement these awards with up to 15,000 additional points — but that still meant your free night was useless for a property beyond 65,000 points. And with the introduction of dynamic pricing, this could present a challenge.

Well, that's all changed. As of Sept. 22, 2022, the Ritz-Carlton Card now caps these free nights at a whopping 85,000 points.

Even better? This change brought no change to the card's annual fee. For the same $450 per year, you have the potential to get an additional 35,000 points in value compared to before.

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I always felt that the 50,000-point certificate represented solid value, but at 85,000 points, I'm ecstatic. This opens up virtually all of Marriott's portfolio of 8,000-plus properties, as only a small number frequently price free nights higher than that level.

As an example, let's stay I wanted to treat my wife to a night at the St. Regis New York next spring. On Sunday, June 4, 2023, I can book a room for 90,000 points.

MARRIOTT

That means I'd use my newly-enhanced free night from the Ritz-Carlton card plus 5,000 points from my Marriott account to ultimately get me a stay that would otherwise cost over $1,200.

MARRIOTT

Priority Pass benefits

There are a number of premium credit cards that offer Priority Pass Select membership. This perk can get you into over 1,300 airport lounges around the world. However, the Ritz-Carlton card stands out for a few reasons.

For starters, it offers the most generous Priority Pass guest privileges. While the memberships on other cards include two guests (or your immediate family), the Priority Pass membership with the Ritz-Carlton Card includes unlimited complimentary guests. That means I can bring in my family when we're traveling together, but I could also guest in a bunch of buddies on a golf trip.

In addition, you can add authorized users to your card for $0. Even better? Authorized users enjoy full Priority Pass memberships, including the same unlimited guest privileges. With many other premium cards, you need to incur an additional annual fee to add an authorized user and unlock airport lounge access (though the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a notable exception thanks to its own generous policy for authorized users).

Finally, the Ritz-Carlton Card includes participating Priority Pass airport restaurants. You and a guest can each enjoy around $28 in free food at these establishments (for a total of $56), and authorized users can do the same. While it's true that other issuers offer this, American Express cards stopped honoring Priority Pass restaurant perks in 2019.

Up to $300 annually in airline fee credits — or even airfare

The Chase Ritz-Carlton Card offers up to $300 in statement credits for “airline incidentals” every calendar year. Chase defines these purchases as things like checked baggage fees, inflight Wi-Fi and seat upgrades.

Unlike many other cards that offer reimbursement for incidental fees, the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card’s statement credit doesn’t automatically trigger when you make a qualifying purchase. Instead, you just send Chase a secure message and the credit should be issued to your account within a day or two.

In some cases, you might even be able to use this to cover an actual ticket expense. For example, I've used this credit for taxes and fees on an award ticket, and other data points indicate that paying for part of a flight with a voucher and the remainder with your card may also work.

Alternatively, TPG staffers have used this for the cost of a bump to first class.

As an example, American Airlines will often show you offers to upgrade to first class during the checkout process. In the below screenshot, a first-class flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is available for a total of $416.79.

AA.COM

If you take a screenshot of that page and then purchase that flight, you can send a secure message to Chase with that screenshot and request that the $300 incidental credit be applied to your annual $300 credit.

Of course, this also works for upgrades after the fact — like either of these options for an upcoming flight from Salt Lake City to Orlando.

DELTA.COM

The best travel coverage for the lowest fee

It's common knowledge that the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers an outstanding set of travel protections. However, the coverage provided by the Ritz-Carlton Card is identical — and its annual fee is $100 less.

Here’s what that includes with you pay for travel with the card:

  • Primary rental car insurance: If you decline the rental car agency’s in-house insurance, the card will cover you for theft or damage to the car. And your personal insurance provider doesn’t ever have to know there was an accident. This could keep a significant amount of money in your pocket (read here for more details).
  • Delayed baggage insurance: If your checked bags are lost or delayed more than six hours, you can receive up to $100 per day for up to five days to purchase necessities like clothes and toiletries. If the airline never retrieves it, you’re eligible for reimbursement of up to $3,000.
  • Trip delay insurance: If your flight is delayed by six hours or more (or required an overnight stay), you’ll be eligible for up to $500 per ticket in reimbursement for necessary purchases like meals and hotel stays. This covers you, your spouse/domestic partner and your immediate family members on your reservation. This is extremely generous, as the comparable coverage on many other cards doesn't kick in until the delay reaches 12 hours.

Invoking these protections does require a claim process, but it can offer valuable peace of mind when things go wrong.

How to get the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card

If you’re interested in the above features — which can save you a ton of money each and every year — here’s how to get this car in three steps:

Step 1: Open any Chase Marriott credit card

As noted previously, the Ritz-Carlton Card isn’t available to new applicants — and it hasn’t been for years. Nowadays, the only way to get it is to “product change” an existing Chase Marriott credit card account. If you already have one and are interested in switching, skip ahead to Step 2.

If you don't have one, Chase currently offers three Marriott credit cards for new applicants, with these welcome bonuses:

The information for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

TPG estimates Marriott points to be worth 0.84 cents each, so if you can use the free nights on the Boundless Card for maximum value, you could get $1,260 in value — or potentially even more if you know the best ways to use Marriott points.

Step 2: Wait one year after account opening

After you've held the card for at least a full year, contact Chase and request that your Bonvoy card be converted to a Ritz-Carlton card. You can use the secure message functionality or call to accomplish this.

Last year, TPG writer Ashley Onadele called to change her card and reported that a friendly Chase representative thoroughly explained the card benefits. All she had to do was confirm she wanted to make the change and it would be done instantly.

However, your account must be open at least 12 months before Chase will allow you to product change. In addition, you will not get a sign-up bonus from the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card. You’re simply turning your existing Marriott credit card into something else. By that same token, this will not count as an additional card against your “Chase 5/24” status.

Finally, it's worth noting that this option could disappear at any time — though it is still possible as of the publication date of this article.

Step 3: Have a total credit line of at least $10,000 with Chase

You’ll need at least a $10,000 credit line to be eligible for the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card. If your existing Bonvoy card doesn't have that high of a limit, you should be able to move credit lines from other Chase cards you have open. If that's the case, be sure to inquire about that when you secure message Chase to request a product change.

Two things to keep in mind

That said, the above process is not without some important disclaimers.

Ensure you qualify for Marriott cards

This post explains some of the intricate application rules you need to know before opening a Marriott card. Read that to make sure that you’re eligible.

You’ll find in there the fact that you won’t be eligible to open the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card if you’ve held the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card in the past 30 days. As a result, before you product change to a Ritz-Carlton card, you may want to consider opening the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant. It too has some fantastic benefits, and I (personally) have both the Bonvoy Brilliant and the Ritz-Carlton cards in my wallet.

Beware of adding authorized users

When you add someone as an authorized user to your account, you’re giving them permission to spend your money. You’re the one responsible for the bill, not them. Only add someone that you trust implicitly.

Also, when you add authorized users, that is known to count against their Chase 5/24 status. Chase stipulates that if you’ve opened five or more personal cards (from any bank) in the last 24 months, you are ineligible to be approved for its travel credit cards. If someone is denied by virtue of being an authorized user on your card, it should be possible to call Chase and have the Ritz-Carlton card removed from the equation — which may ultimately result in a successful reconsideration call.

Bottom line

I've held the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card from Chase for a number of years, and it clearly deserves a spot in my wallet. However, recent changes make this decision to keep the card even easier.

My favorite perks on the card include:

  • Up to $300 in airline statement credits each calendar year.
  • An 85,000-point free night certificate each anniversary year (potentially worth over $1,000, but more likely at least $500).
  • Unlimited guest privileges at Priority Pass lounges.
  • Free authorized users to enjoy their own Priority Pass privileges — including restaurant credits.
  • Excellent travel protections that match those of the Chase Sapphire Reserve — with an annual fee $100 cheaper.

And even though the card is no longer available to new applicants, you should still be able to request a product change from any personal Marriott card issued by Chase.

Additional reporting by Joseph Hostetler.

Featured image by JOSEPH HOSTETLER/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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