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

July 22, 2021
16 min read
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The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card is one of my favorite cards for a number of reasons. The problem is that it's not available to new applicants and hasn't been for years. But if you follow this simple method below, you may be able to get the card -- and potentially a big sign-up bonus to boot, if you take action in the relatively near future.

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

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My Ritz-Carlton Card has saved me thousands since I've received it. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy)

Why you should get the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card

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

  • Up to 21 paid nights at Ritz-Carlton upgraded to the Club Level (potentially over $15,000 in savings if you regularly pay cash for Ritz-Carlton stays -- which most of us do not).
  • Unlimited use of $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 (absolute must-haves for a travel hacker).
  • 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 (15 elite night credits each year, bonus on Marriott spending, etc.).

You can call those bonuses, though none of them are reason enough to get the card, in my opinion. But the perks below are.

Totally unique Priority Pass benefits (potentially worth over $1,000)

This is a three-parter.

1. The most generous Priority Pass guest privileges.

The Chase Ritz-Carlton Card comes with Priority Pass membership. That means you can waltz into over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide for absolutely free. This is a benefit that costs $429 on the Priority Pass website, so it's quite a valuable perk.

However, the Chase Ritz-Carlton is the only credit card (to my knowledge) to offer unlimited free guests. Most other cards offer a maximum of two guests -- and if you pay for membership through Priority Pass, you'll have to pay $32 per guest. But with this card, you'll be granted entry whether you and your spouse are traveling alone or you're shepherding your bachelorette party into a lounge.

2. Unlimited free Priority Pass memberships.

The Chase Ritz-Carlton Card allows you to add authorized users for $0. That's startling, because authorized users get their own full Priority Pass membership, including unlimited guest privileges. One of my friends recently got married and I seriously considered making him an authorized user on my Ritz because Priority Pass would be such a good gift -- and worth over $400, I might add.

3. Up to $112 in free airport food every time you visit a participating restaurant.

I just wrote a post on this subject, and that's what spurred this entire article.

Another benefit of Priority Pass is the ability to get $28 in free food at participating airport restaurants. You are also allowed to bring one guest, and receive an additional $28 in free food for them. That's $56 off your airport food bill -- not bad!

But if you make your travel buddy an authorized user on your Chase Ritz-Carlton Card, their Priority Pass membership will also entitle them to their own $28 off their restaurant bill. If they claim you as their guest, they'd also get $56 in free food. You would likely have to explain the situation to your server, but it shouldn't be much of a problem.

This method would mean your party would receive $112 in free food. You can use this trick as often as you visit participating restaurants -- and even use it at multiple restaurants during the same connection if there's more than one participating location in the airport.

Up to $300 annually in free airfare

The Chase Ritz-Carlton Card offers up to $300 in statement credits for "airline incidentals." They define these purchases as things including checked baggage fees, inflight Wi-Fi, seat upgrades, etc. The sweet spot here is seat upgrades. Let me explain.

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 offer proof that you used your credit in a manner that qualifies.

You can use this reimbursement to receive $300 in airline credit:

1. Find a cheap fare with American Airlines that also has business- or first-class seats costing around $300 more than the coach ticket. You may have to toy with dates and locations, and check both one-way and round-trip to get favorable prices. I found one after about three minutes of searching (Los Angeles to Las Vegas).

2. After you find one, click on the coach fare. Before you check out, American Airlines will prompt you to upgrade your seat. Take a screenshot of it, and then click "Upgrade."

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

3. Buy the ticket.

4. In a couple of days, when the transaction posts to your online Ritz statement, you can secure message Chase explaining that you bought a ticket with your card and would like to use the $300 incidental credit to offset the upgrade cost. With the above screenshot, I'll get $300 refunded to my card, meaning I've paid $117 for a round-trip first-class ticket between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

5. Sometimes travel plans change -- it happens to the best of us. You may have to cancel your ticket due to unforeseen circumstances. Thankfully, U.S. airlines have much more generous cancellation policies nowadays, so by canceling the ticket I would receive $417 in AA flight credit. That's $417 in flights for $117 -- thanks to the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card.

Free five-star hotel night with Marriott annually

Every cardmember anniversary, you'll receive one free night certificate worth up to 50,000 Marriott points. That's a huge deal. Fifty thousand points can get you a free night at some of the fanciest -- and most expensive -- Marriott hotels in the world.

Marriott's award chart has eight categories. The higher the category, the fancier the hotel. With the Chase Ritz-Carlton's 50,000-point annual free night, you'll have your pick of Category 6 hotels with standard rates, and Category 7 hotels during off-peak dates. My wife and I used my annual free night recently to stay at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki. It saved us around $430.

But you can save a ton more, depending on where you stay. For example, the London Edition is a Category 7 hotel that charges around $600 per night off-peak. Or the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, somewhat of a bucket list property in the points and miles community, which routinely costs over $1,000 per night!

I plan to use next year's certificate at the JW Marriott Venice, which costs over $580 per night -- the resort is on its own island right beside Venice, and the entrance can only be accessed by boat. The resort gives you free rides to Venice as often as you please.

The JW Marriott in Venice looks like a Bond villain's lair. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Of course, you can use this free night at lower-category hotels, too. The certificate is valuable enough that you can use it at 98% of all Marriott hotels -- that's 7,859 hotels to choose from.

The best travel coverage for the lowest fee

You might have heard that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the credit card with the best travel insurance. You'll be pleased to know that the coverage provided by the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card is identical -- and its annual fee is $100 less expensive! Here's what you'll get:

  • 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. That could save you more than $13 per day on insurance! I've personally received thousands of dollars from this benefit (read here for more details).
  • Delayed baggage insurance: If your checked bags are lost or delayed more than six hours, you will receive up to $100 per day for up to five days to purchase necessities like clothes, toiletries, etc. If the airline never retrieves it, you'll get up to $3,000. I've received hundreds from this benefit.
  • Trip delay insurance: You'll receive up to $500 per ticket for you, your spouse/domestic partner and immediate family on your reservation when your flight is delayed by six hours or more (or if the delay requires an overnight stay). This is extremely generous, as the vast majority of cards offer benefits after a delay of 12 or more hours. More than once have I found myself four hours into a delay, wishing upon a star that my flight will be delayed two more hours. Again, I've received hundreds of dollars in food and hotel stays from this benefit over the years.

3 steps to get the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card

If you're interested in the above features -- an effortless $1,500-plus in savings annually, by the way -- here's how to get this card.

Step 1: Open any Chase Marriott credit card

The Chase Ritz-Carlton Card isn't available to new applicants -- it hasn't been for years. Because of this, very few people have the card. Nowadays, the only way to get it is to "product change" an existing Chase Marriott credit card account.

Chase offers two Marriott credit cards:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 125,000 bonus points + 1 free night (valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 in the first three months from account opening (total of up to 175,000 bonus points).
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

That Bonvoy Boundless offer is abnormally high, so if you're interested in the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card, now's a good time to begin your journey. TPG estimates Marriott points to be worth 0.8 cents each, so you should be able to get $1,200 in value from the bonus of three up to 50,000-point certificates -- and much, much more than that if you know the best ways to use Marriott points.

For example, my wife and I received a value of more than 2.5 cents each when using our points for a free stay at the St. Regis Maldives.

The St. Regis Maldives regularly costs $1,400 per night. Here's the massive deck on our overwater villa. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy)

Step 2: Wait one year after account opening

Contact Chase and request that your Bonvoy card be converted to a Ritz-Carlton card. I chose to secure message Chase, but you can also call. TPG writer Ashley Onadele called to change her card just yesterday, reporting 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.

Your account must be open at least 12 months before Chase will allow you to product change. In other words, after your first cardmember anniversary, you can ask Chase to upgrade you to the Ritz-Carlton Card. While you never know when Chase will pull the plug on the Ritz-Carlton Card as a viable conversion option for Marriott cobranded cardholders, it is still possible as of the publishing date of this article.

Note that 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.

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. My Bonvoy card didn't have a $10,000 credit line, but I had about $40,000 in credit with Chase. So when I secure messaged Chase to request a product change, I asked that they move some credit from one of my other Chase cards to my Marriott card. There were no issues, and I received my new metal Ritz card within a few days, flamboyant packaging and all.

Two cautions

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. Before you product change to a Ritz, I strongly recommend you open the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, or you're leaving a perfectly good welcome bonus on the table. Plus, it's got some stunner benefits itself -- I've personally got both the Bonvoy Brilliant and the Chase Ritz-Carlton.

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 an authorized user, 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 their travel credit cards. If someone is denied because their authorized user status on your card has pushed them over their limit, they should be able to call Chase and explain the situation without issue.

Just make sure you're not messing up someone's credit card strategy by adding them!

Bottom line

So there you have it. The Chase Ritz-Carlton Card is valuable because:

  • It can give you up to $300 in free flights each calendar year (you can use it twice before the second annual fee hits).
  • You'll receive a 50,000-point free night certificate each anniversary year (potentially worth over $1,000, but more likely over $400).
  • You and an authorized user can save $112 per meal at participating restaurants (this alone could save over $1,000 annually, if you take four or five trips per year).
  • It's got the excellent travel insurance of the Chase Sapphire Reserve -- with an annual fee $100 lower. You'll inevitably and unfortunately save thousands with this benefit if you travel regularly.

Now's a great time to go for the Ritz card, because the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless has a giant limited-time bonus. It's worth up to 150,000 points, after all!

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Featured image by My Ritz-Carlton Card has saved me thousands since I've received it. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)
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.