The Ritz-Carlton Rewards card has always been perk-heavy, a prerequisite for its target demographic. But the program recently (Aug. 2016) took things up a notch by making the card a Visa Infinite, a Visa tier still rare in the U.S.
The new price tag ($450, up from $395) is not cheap, but neither are the rewards and benefits. This review will guide you through all the card has to offer.
The Rewards Program
As with most credit cards, the Ritz-Carlton Visa Infinite card will earn you points on spending, namely points for the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Rewards program. You will earn them as follows:
- 5 points per dollar for your spending at The Ritz-Carlton hotels (and partner brands within the Marriott International portfolio), anywhere in the world.
- 2 points per dollar on airline tickets purchased directly from an airline, at restaurants and at car rental agencies.
- 1 point per dollar on virtually all other purchases
Of course, all that means absolutely nothing without analyzing how much the Ritz-Carlton reward points are worth, right? To do that, divide the cash price by the number of points required. For example, a standard room at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe starts at $369 per night and is a Tier 4 property, giving you a per-point value of 0.6 cents per point.
The above table is for “Standard” rewards redemption. However when you book your reservation in advance during qualified dates at participating location, you will save even more money through PointSavers. This redemption offers you stays for up to 33 percent fewer points than Standard… Things get better when you redeem your points for a 5-night stay, your 5th night is completely free (which is essentially a 20% points savings, since you are receiving 5 nights for the price of 4).
- Airport Lounge Access: You will receive complimentary membership in the Priority Pass Select program, which grants you access to more than 900 airport lounges across the globe. If you’re curious, this page has a full listing.
- $300 airline fee credit every year (NEW) – For checked baggage fees, in-flight meals, and other airline incidentals, you can receive up to $300 rebated every year. That’s up from $200 on the old version of the card. Simply contact the J.P. Morgan Priority Services (number on back of credit card) within 4 billing cycles of these purchases and you will receive statement credits for them. This perk can help offset the annual fee.
- Global Entry application fee statement credit (NEW): Use your card to pay the application fee for the Global Entry program (which includes TSA PreCheck) and get refunded via a statement credit.
- $100 discounts on group itineraries (NEW): Whenever you book air travel for two to five travelers, you’ll get a $100 discount. There is no limit to how many times per year you can use this benefit, but you must book via Visadiscountair.com/ritzcarltoncard.
- Primary rental car insurance: You get primary coverage on rental cars, meaning you won’t have to involve your personal auto insurance if you get in an accident.
- Rental car privileges: Get upgrades (subject to availability), discounts and other special offers from Avis, National and Silvercar.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee: Some credit cards have a surcharge on purchases made outside the United States, but with the Ritz-Calton card, you won’t pay anything extra.
- J.P. Morgan Premier Concierge: Get help with things like travel-planning, restaurant reservations and more via the 24/7 concierge service.
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement: You’re covered for up to $3,000 per passenger if your checked or carry-on bags are lost (see terms and conditions for restrictions)
- Trip Delay/Cancellation Insurance: This card provides up to $10,000 per trip for pre-paid non-refundable expenses, if you have to cancel or cut it short for a covered reason.
- Emergency Medical Coverage
Ritz-Carlton Hotel Benefits
- Status: You’re automatically elevated to Gold Elite status your first account year, which comes with room upgrades (based on availability), complimentary Internet, late check-out and point-earning bonuses. After Year 1, you must spend at least $10,000 on the card to retain your status.
- $100 Hotel Credit: Every time you stay 2+ nights (paid stay at Ritz-Carlton), you receive $100 credit to use at the hotel’s restaurant, spa, or recreational activities.
- The Ritz-Carlton Club Level Upgrade: If you’re not familiar with the Ritz-Carlton Club, it’s a luxurious private lounge which is typically located on an upper floor (and it can only be accessed via your special key). Five times per day, complimentary food and beverages are served. Perhaps the most raved about is their vast breakfast buffet. A wide-array of international magazines, newspapers, books and more makes it the perfect place to relax. From 6 am to 11 pm a concierge is on duty, at your beck and call. This Club Level upgrade is yours free of charge, up to 3x per, on stays of up to 7 nights.
- Gold Elite Status: You’re automatically elevated to Gold Elite status your first account year, which comes with room upgrades (based on availability), complimentary Internet, late check-out and point-earning bonuses. After Year 1, you must spend at least $10,000 on the card to retain your status.
- Price protection
- Extended warranty protection
- Purchase security
- Return protection
Chase’s Ritz-Carlton card offers a lot, but is it worth $450? If you utilize all the benefits, including the travel credit, the Global Entry credit and the unlimited $100 discounts on group air travel, you could easily offset the annual fee. The airfare discounts are especially compelling if you frequently travel with family.
If you’re not a loyal Ritz-Carlton customer, though, consider other similarly priced premium cards, like the Citi Prestige and the Platinum Card from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner). You’ll find many of the same benefits, like Global Entry fee refunds, lounge access and travel statement credits.
Written or last updated Aug. 15, 2016