I recently applied for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card and also wrote about some of the great benefits that the card offers and why I decide to get it. One of the primary benefits of the card is that it comes with automatic Marriott Gold status which is the sweet spot of Marriott’s elite status level.
The card gives you free automatic Gold elite status the first year and each year after when you spend $10,000 or more on the card.
Although $10,000 is not an absurd amount to spend, at the same time, it’s not an insignificant amount to spend either and also means not putting spend towards another card. You can also earn Platinum status if you spend (don’t spit out your coffee) $75,000 on the Ritz-Carlton credit card a year. And just for comparisons sake, the American Express Hilton Surpass card requires a $20,000 of annual spend to get Gold status and $40,000 of spending to get Diamond.
Depending on your primary hotel program this can either be an easy way to keep Marriott gold status, or retain it as a backup program. Now you may be saying “wasn’t Marriott was hit with a rather large devaluation in 2013?” That is true. And even a smaller devaluation (or ‘hotel category update’) in March 2014. However, the program still holds value in my opinion. It may not be on par with Hyatt and SPG as far as value and hotel experience, but you also have to consider that Marriott has many more locations and can be a great backup if it is not your ‘primary’ hotel program.
With more locations it also makes it easier to both earn and keep Marriott status, but then again there is obviously the Ritz-Carlton credit card to fast-track status. The bottom line for me is that each hotel program has great properties and their own unique aspirational hotels across the globe, so having the right points and status is key, even if it is just middle or upper-tier elite status.
That said, this is why I will make it a priority to keep the Ritz-Carlton card after the first year and put the $10,000 annual spend on it to keep Marriott Gold status. To earn Platinum it would take a massive $75,000 of spending or 75 nights per year to earn it. However, the benefits above and beyond Gold are diminishing in my opinion.
Why You Should have Gold Status and Not Worry About Platinum
Unless you frequently stay at Marriott hotels and hit the 75 nights needed for Platinum status, it’s doubtful you should make it a priority to earn it. Gold status is the sweet spot for benefits as far as I’m concerned, and being quite easy to obtain it will get you the most bang for your buck.
What you get with Marriott Gold status (50 qualifying nights):
- Guaranteed lounge access/breakfast for members and one guest
- Complimentary room upgrade
- 25% bonus on points for stays
- Guaranteed room type
- Hertz #1 Gold membership
- Free premium tiered internet service
- Free local phone and local fax
Above this, Platinum status (75 qualifying nights) will get you:
- Complimentary MileagePlus Premier Silver status
- Guaranteed Platinum arrival gift
- 50% bonus on points for stays
From the looks of it, Platinum is not that much better than Gold. Considering the tradeoffs in stays and without the option to earn it through spending, Marriott Gold really is the best elite Marriott Rewards level to have. Again, this makes the Ritz-Carlton credit card an incredible card to have. Anyone that travels frequently and stays at Marriott properties could put this card to good use.
Easy Way to Get Gold, the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card
I recently signed up for the card and here is a quick recap of the bonus offer: 70,000 points, along with the card benefits of an annual $300 airline travel credit, automatic Marriott Gold status, free Lounge Club membership with unlimited lounge access, three Ritz-Carlton Club Level upgrades, and a $100 hotel credit for each two night or longer stay.
The $395 annual fee is also waived the first year, and the card benefits can easily outweigh the fee every year if they are put to good use.
Since Gold status members get guaranteed free lounge access, free breakfast, free internet, and room upgrades the $10,000 annual spend and fee is an easy decision. It is possible to break even with the annual fee during a single stay.
Given how easy it is to get Marriott Gold status from having the co-branded credit it actually seems crazy to earn it from stays. Unless Marriott is your primary hotel program and you frequently rack up stays, you may as well just have the card and keep Gold status for a net cost of $95. Plus you will get the additional perks on top of that, such as airport lounge access.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately the differences between Platinum and Gold status are not great, and if Marriott is not your go-to it is probably not worth going extra lengths to earn Platinum. You will earn a higher points bonus from paid stays and potentially get some preferred treatment from certain hotels, but the payback is not likely worth the effort. Most of the ‘valuable’ benefits come at Gold level and it’s just too easy to get it from the Ritz-Carlton credit card.
|Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card|
|Bonus: 80,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 7,500 points after adding an authorized user.|
-- 5X points on Marriott/Ritz Carlton purchases.
-- 2X points on airlines, car rentals, and dining.
-- Annual free night certificate at any category 1-5 property.
-- No foreign transaction fee.
Annual fee: $85
Quick review: The 87,5000 points sign-up bonus on this card makes it a great way to earn extra Marriott points. Plus, the annual free night can easily make keeping the card worth it after the first year.