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 welcome 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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