A couple weeks ago I applied and was instantly approved for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. The card has some valuable travel perks that I can put to good use this year, not to mention a lucrative sign-up bonus and waived annual fee the first year. This is my third co-branded credit card in the last several years and will likely stay in my wallet long after the first year.

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After applying over the phone and being instantly approved I requested that the card be expedited to me if possible since I was planning on leaving on a long-term trip in just a few weeks. I was told that I would have to call back after my account was created and could try in a few days. After doing so I was able to get the card sent overnight to me to insure that it arrived before my flight to Asia.

I received it in the mail last week and thought I would do a update on the card itself and some of its valuable benefits.

No Joke Branding

When the package (yes, package) was left at my door, I thought it was a book from Amazon.com at first thought. But after opening it, I realized it was in fact my new Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. Let’s just say J.P. Morgan was not playing around when they designed and branded this credit card—it shows in both the card and promotional material.

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The card arrived in a sleek box that had a refined Apple-esque packaging. After opening it up, I found the card inlaid into the box with additional information about the benefits of the card. Even the terms and conditions were stylish.

The Card

The card itself is metal and definitely heavier (maybe 2X) than the Chase Sapphire Preferred and has a similar front with only your name on it. If you thought you got a lot of comments on your Chase Sapphire Preferred, just wait until you hand this one over to the cashier. The fact that the card is metal is pretty cool in my opinion and makes it quite unique.

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Card Earning

It’s not the highest earning card for everyday purchases, and you’re much better off using the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® or Chase Sapphire Preferred for you daily spending.

However, for anyone that frequently stays at Marriott properties this card can be an incredible powerful way to earn Marriott Rewards points. The card earns 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels, 2 points per dollar spent at airlines, car rentals, and restaurants, and 1 point for everything else.

As a cardholder and Marriott Rewards member you will earn 19.25 points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels! It breaks down like this:

Per dollar spent at Marriott hotels you will earn:

  • Ritz-Carlton credit card: 5 points
  • As a Marriott Rewards member: 10 points
  • 25% point bonus with Gold status: 2.5 points
  • 10% Annual Points Premium on earned points: 1.75 points

To put this into perspective, the card will be among the highest earning hotel credit cards out there and earn free nights on one of the lowest spending amounts. To earn a free night from Marriott or Ritz-Carlton stays you will have to spend:

  • Marriott Category 1 Hotel: $389.61
  • Marriott Category 5 Hotel: $1298.70
  • Marriott Category 9  Hotel: $2337.66
  • Ritz-Carlton Category 1 Hotel: $1558.44
  • Ritz-Carlton Category 3 Hotel: $2597.40
  • Ritz-Carlton Category 5  Hotel: $3636.36

Remember, when you redeem 4 nights at a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton hotel you get the 5th night free, which even further lowers the cost per night. The fact that you can earn a free night at a Cat 1 hotel after spending ~$389 on stays is hugely rewarding. This is the only card I know that triumphs the Club Carlson Visa as far as earning free nights from paid hotel stays.

Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation Benefit

A nice perk that comes with the card is that when you charge a portion of your trip via common carrier (train, plane, bus or ship) you are eligible to be covered up to $100,000 for medical expenses related to sickness or accidental injury occurring during the trip. You will only be covered for expenses not paid by your primary medical insurance and the trip has to greater than 5 days and less than 60 days.

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This can be a great perk for anyone that travels overseas extensively and wants to be covered in the case of emergency.

Expedited Lounge Club Membership Card – Maybe?

After receiving the card in the mail I called into the J.P. Morgan customer service number on the back to find out if there was a way to expedite my Lounge Club membership card. The rep in this department was more than helpful and took down my departure date and put in a request with the department that handles the Lounge Club benefit. I received the card within 3-5 business days.

Worth Paying the Annual Fee?

If you can use the benefits, then it may be worth paying the annual fee. The card comes stacked with benefits that can easily justify paying the $395 annual fee after the first year in my opinion. To start, the card comes with a $300 annual airline incidental statement credit, so this bumps the fee down to $100 out of pocket.

The Lounge Club membership could easily be worth $100+ if you can put it to good use and access more than ~3 lounges within a year. You get the $99 annual membership fee waived and unlimited access to Lounge Club lounges, which normally run $27 per use.

Some other benefits worth mentioning include the automatic Gold status for the first year and every year that you make $10,000 in purchases on the card. You will also get a $100 hotel credit for any stays two nights or longer and receive three Ritz-Carlton Club Level room upgrade certificates that are good for up to stays a week.

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29 Comments

  • I just signed up for this card and am waiting for it to arrive! Thank you for such a detailed review.

  • Anyone think the points bonus will be back for new applicants? I want to get this card but want the most out of my offer. Was hoping to get extra points as a sign on bonus..

  • Thanks for the reviews on this card. I’ve been on the fence about it. Do you happen to know if those of us with Chase’s Marriott card will run into issues when applying for the RC card?

    • Since they are different Chase products you shouldn’t have a problem. From my experience I’ve had two versions of the Marriott credit cards and the Ritz card in the last few years (both a Marriott and the Ritz card at the same time as well).

      • Just as a follow up, I applied and got approved. I have a Marriott card as well, and that didn’t seem to hinder anything along the way. On the Ritz app, I put in my Marriott Elite number and the day after I was approved for it, my Marriott Elite account upgraded to Gold and the 3 club level certs for RC stays were in my account. I also called Chase (the phone app number) and requested expedited shipment of the card, since I need to make some bookings. Agent confirmed they will be sending it UPS and should be here in two business days.

        My only big regret is that I totally missed the megapoints bonus, but am happy to get Gold status as I have some RC and Marriott stays coming up.

        • Congrats and thanks for the update. It’s good to know they are offering to expedite their cards still. Enjoy status on your upcoming stays!

  • Rand, any update on how you used the airline credit? Were there any specific gift cards that you were able to get credit for?

  • I am a charter member of this card and can say that I use it for all my purchases. I have an Amex PT. Business as well. I just plain like the Ritz card, if you use it properly…IE: getting to know the G.M. at a property you are going to visit, the upgrade is amazing!!! They actually do care about the Ritz Rewards Members. Who really “needs” this card? its a luxury. There are so many other cards that can get you points, airline, etc…
    This is just a peace of mind that I like as to the “family” sort of intangible nuance it has. Its my go to…..
    Worth the fees? that’s a personal thing you will have to sort out.

  • Any idea how many people can use the club level upgrade? So, if you have the Ritz card and use one of the three certificates to upgrade to club level at one of your stays, can one more person accompany you or is it just the card holder?

  • Regarding earning hotel points, I am a member of none (Ritz or Marriott). If I do end up getting the card, would I need to become a member of Marriott as well to get 19.25 point? Also, what steps do I need to take to get 19.25 points besides becoming a member of the reward(s) program?

    • Rajiv, the points are interchangeable between the two programs as well as the elite status benefits. However you can only be a member of one, either Ritz or Marriott. The main difference is that you will get difference promotions, so if you stay at Marriott’s more go with that account or vice versa. You should earn the extra base points for stays at either hotel and the Ritz card will always earns extra points at any Marriott hotel. So really you just have to choose the program that the most sense to you and use the card for your stays to earn the 19.25 points per dollar (after considering the 10% point bonus from the card).

      • Thanks! It seems like given all the benefits, including primary coverage for car rentals and also access to JP Morgan concierge service on top of Visa Signature concierge service, this card is awesome. Throw in Chase Sapphire and another $95 airline card (United Explorer for instance) and you are good to go. Sapphire for dining, Explorer for free bag checks and two annual lounge access, Ritz/Sapphire/United for car rental as all offer primary, and Ritz for Marriott/Ritz hotel stays and airline upgrades/lounge access.

        • If you can put the benefits to use it’s definitely a valuable card! Having the two free United lounge passes may come in handy when you cant find a Lounge Club, and as you said the service/concierge through JP Morgan is a step above.

  • Can you explain how the club access works at Ritz and Marriott? Is there just an area that you have access to with the credit card or is it based on booking? I see the Ritz card comes with club level upgrades (which looks like you can only access the floor with the club on it), but with Marriott how do you access it?

    • Joe, you get club lounge access (free drinks/food) whenever you have a room on the club level of the hotel. The club level upgrades just get you a room upgrade to the club floor and can only be used at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

  • Thank you for the breakdown in hotel spending. I hadnt considered that. It seems that 95.00 annual fee (after- 300 in airline gift cards) is worth it for the 70,000 Ritz points + Lounge club + Marriott gold status (club access, breakfast and wifi). Would it be possible to get 300 in airline incidental for this year and again in 2015 before the annual fee comes due again?

    • Jordan, the $300 airline credits should revolve around the card year, so second one would come after keeping the card a full year.

  • could you report back on how you will apply that $300 airlines credits, i.e buying GC cert from the airlines, thanks

      • Hey Rand, were you able to successfully use the travel credit on gift cards? I believe I read that you must call them in order to get purchases reimbursed and wanted to know how that went before I pull the trigger 🙂

        • Eric, I haven’t as of yet since I don’t really have a need for them right now. Keep me posted if you end up pulling the trigger one some!

    • choi, I have the card, and you can’t use the credit for GC’s (unlike amex plat) – after you use the card for an eligible airline fee, you have to call to request the credit – they call the airline to confirm the fee is eligible, then issue the credit

      edit: never mind – guess many folks have been able to get GC’s – will try myself

  • 2 more questions about this card please, with the lounge card, can you have a guess enter without a fee ? is there an additional fee for a second user card ? Thanks

    • choi, you’re allowed unlimited access for yourself plus one guest. There is no fee to add an additional authorized user, but haven’t had experience if they will be issued a separate Lounge Club membership card. If it’s similar to the Chase Ink benefit they should.

    • choi, I used my Marriott Rewards number, but I would suspect both would work as the points are interchangeable.