Update: This offer is no longer available.
Marriott/Ritz-Carlton takeover of SPG has probably been the biggest miles and points story of the year so far. It has created some lucrative limited-time opportunities when it comes to redemption side. One option that has been discussed quite a bit lately is Chase Ritz-Carlton credit card.
Main details on the offer
Chase Ritz Carlton Credit Card
Two complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel, after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from your account opening with your Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card.
Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening. This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.
Annual fee of $450 is NOT waived.
The card is supposedly not going to be discontinued in August, but long-term prospects are unknown at this point.
Lucrative opportunities due to merger
Frequent Miler blog has a good post on this card, which I recommend you read. Few key details:
1) If you sign up for this card before August 1st, you will get Marriott Gold status which will convert to Platinum Elite status in August, and will last till February 2020.
2) The assumption is that free nights will be valid at ANY Ritz-Carlton, Marriott or SPG property as long as you sign up for the card before August 1st.
That’s because Tier-4 Ritz-Carlton hotels currently cost 60,000 points per night, so the logic dictates that when the programs are combined, all properties will be fair game. Supposedly. To the best of my knowledge, Chase has not confirmed anything at this point.
It is possible that the certs will be restricted to Ritz-Carlton hotels only, though you may be able to use them for Tier 5 after August 1st. If Marriott decides to convert the certificates to points, it will be a very good deal for most people.
3) The card is not subject to 5/24 restriction.
My biggest issues with this offer
While on paper this deal looks really good (and it definitely is for some), I’m not going to sign up for Ritz-Carlton card. Here is why:
1) The $450 non-waived fee. I passed on this card back when the bonus was three nights for that very reason. Yes, the fee is packed with value (for some). For example, you can enter Priority Pass lounge and bring your whole family at no cost.
Also, there is a $100 companion airfare benefit that could come in handy for some. You would have to book your tickets via this link We usually use points, so this benefit is of little value to me.
The $300 airline incidentals credit is based on calendar year. According to terms: “To request a statement credit to apply towards qualifying airline incidental purchase(s) made with your Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, you must contact J.P. Morgan Priority Services at the number on the back of your Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card within 4 billing cycles of the purchase date.
Only the following types of non-ticket purchases qualify for this offer: airline lounge day pass, or towards a yearly lounge membership of your choice; airline seat upgrades; airline baggage fees; in-flight Internet/entertainment; in-flight meals.”
Many people report that they were able to use it on airline gift cards, but YMMV Personally, I wouldn’t count on it because you might be disappointed when things don’t go as planned and you are stuck with $450 annual fee.
You’ll also have to call or send a secure message to receive the credit. This could be problematic for some since it would involve lying. It’s definitely your call, but I feel compelled to mention this pesky detail.
2) We don’t know where the bonus nights will be valid after the August merger. If they are limited to Ritz-Carlton properties only, that would not be ideal for someone like myself.
The best deals are outside of my state of Florida, and I’m not flying somewhere just to burn my two “free” nights. I have enough points and certificates to cover several local weekend getaways and this would add to my stash of expiring certs I must use… or lose.
3) Chase has recently been scrutinizing accounts and occasionally closing them when you apply for one of their products. Since my credit behavior is a bit unusual compared to “normal” customers, I don’t want to draw any unnecessary attention unless the offer is truly worthwhile. Again, the $450 fee makes the deal lukewarm for me.
4) I don’t really assign much value to Platinum Marriott status. I get that it is the best thing since sliced bread for many in the hobby, but I usually pursue status via match. If it works, great! If not, we will simply buy some food in the hotel or go off-property. Or we’ll just rent a condo and cook our own food. Boom.
5) Ritz-Carlton card sign-up bonus will probably be changed to points in August, which would be far more interesting to me. Right now I feel it could go either way with the current offer.
6) Possible opportunity cost. No, I’m not talking about foregoing sign-up bonus on another offer, that’s true every time you apply for a new card. My concern is that getting Ritz-Carlton card now will prevent you from qualifying for Marriott co-branded cards in the future. So far, Chase doesn’t have this restriction, but DoC blog is reporting that Amex is considering it when it comes to their new luxury SPG credit card.
A quick reminder: current increased offer on Marriott co-branded card will expire on July 12th. It is subject to 5/24 rule.
Who should consider Ritz-Carlton card
If you are flexible with travel plans and prefer fancy resorts, you already know that this offer is (potentially) very lucrative. But what about regular folks? If you are celebrating a special anniversary or getting married within the next year and want to splurge on a very nice hotel, it could definitely make sense to get this card. Even if your nights convert to points, you will still come out ahead.
Aslo, at least for the time being, the Priority Pass covers your companions for free. Thanks to my reader Winni for reminding me of that fact. This may change in a near future, and I’m guessing that it will. After all, lounge access with Chase Sapphire Reserve will be limited to cardholder+ two guests, starting in August. Also, the terms on this benefit are not very clear:
But so far, Ritz-Carlton cardholders haven’t received any notice of upcoming changes and in the world of travel hacking, no news is good news.
If you fly often and pay cash for at least two tickets, the $100 Companion discount perk should save you a good bit of money over the next year.
This is a very interesting offer, but there are many caveats. It could make sense to wait as close to August 1st as possible in hopes of getting more details on what the sign-up bonus will look like after the merger. Of course, there is always a chance of the card being discontinued without warning, so it’s your call.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.