The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from Chase is an exclusive hotel rewards credit card with a $395 annual fee and an impressive slate of benefits for frequent travelers. It’s comparable to some of the most exclusive credit and charge cards on the planet, including the American Express Platinum Card, as well as high-end airline, hotel, and general travel rewards credit cards with high annual fees and generous benefits to match. It’s worth noting upfront that Ritz-Carlton is part of the Marriott hotel family, and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program extends to the more than 3,000 hotels and resorts under the Marriott umbrella, so this card is more relevant and widely useful than the rarefied Ritz-Carlton name suggests.
That said, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card is admittedly suitable for a relatively small group of people with the means and lifestyle to get the most out of it. If you’re a member of that group, or you aspire to be, you need to take a closer look at this card.
- Sign-up Bonus: When you spend at least $4,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you earn 2 free nights at any Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton property. Depending on the selected hotel, room type, season, and other factors, the value of this benefit can exceed $1,000.
- Earning Ritz-Carlton Rewards: Every $1 spent at a Ritz-Carlton or partner hotel (including Marriott, JW Marriott, and other members of the Marriott brand family) earns an unlimited 5 points. Purchases made directly with airlines and car rental agencies (no third-party booking sites), as well as at restaurants, earn an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent. All other purchases, including hotel stays at non-Ritz Carlton and partner hotels, earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent. Points don’t expire as long as you make a purchase on your credit card at least once every 24 months.
- Redeeming Ritz-Carlton Rewards Points: Points can be redeemed for free hotel stays at Ritz-Carlton and partner properties, which usually start at a minimum of 30,000 points for Tier 1 Ritz-Carlton properties and 70,000 points for Tier 5 Ritz-Carlton properties. However, Ritz-Carlton’s PointSavers option provides 10,000-point discounts on select dates, lowering the Tier 1 threshold to 20,000 points and the Tier 5 threshold to 60,000 points. Further, the Cash & Points option allows you to redeem for free room nights with as few as 15,000 points plus $115. Through Ritz-Carlton’s partnership with Marriott, you can also redeem Ritz-Carlton points at more than 3,000 Marriott and partner hotels worldwide, starting at 7,500 points per night (6,000 per night with PointSavers) at Tier 1 Marriott properties. When you redeem at least 4 consecutive nights, you get the 5th night free.
- 10% Annual Points Premium: At the end of every 12-month period, you get a 10% premium on your total point earnings during the preceding year. For instance, if you earned 10,000 points last year, you’d end the year with 11,000 points – 10,000 points earned on purchases, plus a 1,000-point bonus.
- $300 Annual Travel Credit: Every year you remain a cardmember in good standing, you get up to $300 in annual travel credits, redeemable for statement credits against airline and air travel purchases. Eligible purchases include baggage fees, airport lounge memberships and day passes, Global Entry fees, seat upgrades, and in-flight purchases.
- Complimentary Airport Lounge Membership: The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card comes with complimentary Lounge Club membership. Lounge Club is an independent airport lounge marque with approximately 350 lounges in 200 airports worldwide. As a Lounge Club member, you enjoy complimentary access to all lounges, which have free WiFi, snacks, beverages, comfortable seating, and other perks.
- $100 Hotel Credit on Paid Stays of 2 Nights or Longer: When you pay for a stay of 2 nights or longer at any Ritz-Carlton property, you get a $100 hotel credit for use against hotel services, food, and other purchases (excluding your room rate, alcohol, tax, and gratuity). The credit isn’t available on stays paid for with Ritz-Carlton Rewards points.
- Ritz-Carlton Club Level Upgrades: You get 3 Ritz-Carlton Club Level upgrades per year at no additional charge. Upgrades are good on stays of up to 7 consecutive nights. Club Level benefits include access to a private, luxurious dining and lounge area, meeting spaces, and complimentary food and drink. The dollar value of Club Level access varies by property, but often exceeds $100 per night, based on the difference between a regular room reservation and a room reservation with Club Level privileges.
- Gold Elite Status: During your first year as a cardmember, you automatically earn Ritz-Carlton Gold Elite Status. Benefits include complimentary room upgrades when available, guaranteed late check-out, and a 25% bonus on all base point earnings. After the first year, automatic eligibility ends, and you must spend at least $10,000 per year to secure Gold Elite Status.
- Platinum Elite Status: If you spend at least $75,000 in a calendar year, you earn Platinum Elite Status (Ritz-Carlton’s highest loyalty status) for the subsequent calendar year. Platinum Elite benefits include 1,000 bonus points upon check-in, 50% bonus on all base point earnings, and guaranteed room availability on all reservations made within 48 hours of arrival, plus all Gold Elite benefits.
- Complimentary Concierge and Priority Service: This card comes with complimentary 24/7 white-glove concierge service from Chase, including assistance with all event and travel bookings, dispute resolution, and more. Additionally, Chase prioritizes Ritz-Carlton Rewards cardholders over lesser cardholders with dedicated staff and shorter wait times.
- Regular APR: The regular purchase and balance transfer APR ranges from 16.49% to 23.49%, depending on prevailing interest rates and your personal creditworthiness. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and there is no penalty APR.
- Important Fees: There is a $395 annual fee, but no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
- Credit Required: This card requires excellent credit.
- Amazing Hotel and Travel Benefits. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card offers a host of generous hotel and travel benefits: a $100 hotel credit on paid stays of 2 nights or more, a $300 annual travel credit for use at airports and in the air, and 3 annual Club Level upgrades at Ritz-Carlton properties. Depending on how the Club Level upgrade is valued and how often you pay for stays of 2 nights or more, these benefits are easily worth hundreds of dollars (and perhaps more than $1,000) per year. When fully utilized, they more than offset the card’s annual fee – with room to spare.
- Generous Sign-up Bonus. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards card’s sign-up bonus is very generous. If you’re able to redeem your 2 free nights at a Tier 4 property, the award’s total value could end up north of $1,000. By contrast, some other hotel rewards cards offer points-based (rather than nights-based) sign-up bonuses worth a few hundred dollars at best.
- Complimentary Access to Hundreds of Airport Lounges Worldwide. This card comes with complimentary Lounge Club membership, which offers access to about 350 airport lounges worldwide. Though Lounge Club membership isn’t sold separately and it’s therefore impossible to ascribe a precise dollar value to it, it’s clearly very valuable for frequent travelers who want to get peace and quiet away from public airport terminals.
- Broad 2x Categories Ideal for Frequent Travelers. This card’s 2x categories include airfare purchases, rental car purchases, and restaurant purchases. Out of necessity, most travelers spend heavily in these categories, so they’re collectively a great fit for the ideal Ritz-Carlton Rewards cardholder. Some competing hotel cards don’t have a middle-tier spending category, offering instead accelerated point earnings on hotel stays and a low 1-point-per-$1-spent rate on all other purchases.
- Includes Personalized Concierge Service and Priority Assistance. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card comes with high-end concierge service and priority assistance, meaning you can look forward to hands-on, expert assistance with even the most complicated reservations, as well as shorter wait and response times.
- 10% Annual Points Premium Boosts Earning Power. This card’s 10% annual points premium significantly boosts its earning power, even in the absence of guaranteed Gold Elite Status after the first year. This premium can really add up: If you earn 20,000 points in a year – not difficult for frequent travelers – you end the year with 22,000 points.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees. This card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. That’s a huge relief for international travelers. Some competing cards, including Expedia+ from Citi, do charge foreign transaction fees of up to 3%.
- Has a High Annual Fee. This card comes with a very high annual fee of $395. If you don’t take advantage of its signature benefits, such as the $300 travel credit and Club Level upgrades, you’re unlikely to earn rewards fast enough to offset the recurring charge. If your top priority is earning and redeeming points toward free hotel nights, and luxurious add-on benefits are of secondary concern, look to the much cheaper Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card ($85 annual fee). You can redeem Marriott Rewards points at Ritz-Carlton properties.
- No Automatic Loyalty Status After First Year. Though the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card comes with Gold Elite Status during your first year of cardmembership, this benefit doesn’t stick past the 12-month mark. That’s a big drawback relative to Chase IHG Club Rewards, which automatically confers Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a cardmember in good standing.
- High Redemption Thresholds for Many Properties. Ritz-Carlton’s free night redemption thresholds start at 30,000 points (at the regular rate) or 20,000 points (for PointSavers redemptions). And, though Tier 1 Marriott properties require just 6,000 to 7,500 for free room nights, they’re typically far less luxurious than lower-tier Ritz-Carlton properties. Unless you spend heavily at Ritz-Carlton properties, it’s likely to take you a long time to earn enough points for a free night at the Ritz.
- No Complimentary Anniversary Nights. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card doesn’t give you a free night on your cardmember anniversary. Many competing cards, including Chase’s own IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card and Hyatt Credit Card, do offer complimentary anniversary nights.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card isn’t for everyone. In fact, it’s not for most people. To get your money’s worth out of this card, you need to travel frequently, spend fairly heavily on the road, and prefer (or, at least, have no problem with) Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotel and resort properties. If you travel often, but don’t value luxury benefits, a cheaper card (such as Marriott Rewards Premier) is likely to be sufficient.
That said, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card is an excellent choice for road warriors who savor creature comforts. When fully utilized, its benefits offset the annual fee with room to spare. If you’re willing to pay nearly $400 upfront for a potentially much greater return, this card should definitely be on your shortlist.