Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card: Is $395 Per Year Worth It?

Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card: Is $395 Per Year Worth It?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Few credit cards are as, or more expensive than the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. In order to justify paying its annual fee, and have the card be actually net positive, you should consider whether the luxury benefits it offers appeals to you. If not, cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card might be better choices – they can still earn points towards Ritz-Carlton stays, though at a significantly lower cost to cardholders.

Good For…
Bad For…
  • Consumers who enjoy luxury benefits & treatment
  • Those who can make use of the $300 travel credit and $100 hotel credit
  • Someone looking to just earn Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Rewards Points
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Review: Is the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card Worth Its $395 Annual Fee?

If you’re thinking about signing up for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, ask yourself: will I use the card’s bonuses or benefits? Only through these can users hope to come out ahead of the $395 annual fee they’ll be paying with the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. There are other credit cards that may be better at earning users rewards points – this should not be your end-goal with this card. Instead, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card shines when it comes to showering its users with added benefits, including Club level upgrades, and travel credits. You can find out more about the different available redemption options by reading our comprehensive guide to the Marriott rewards program.

The luxury perks included with the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card rival that of The Platinum Card® from American Express, a long-time favorite. The airport lounge access, provided through complimentary Lounge Club™ membership, isn’t as expansive as that on The Platinum Card® from American Express, but may still be enough to leave consumers satisfied.

Individuals poised on obtaining Ritz-Carlton Gold/Platinum status also have a lot to take out of this card. During your first year of cardmembership, you will be granted Gold Elite Status for free. Each year after that, when you make at least $10,000 in purchases, you will be granted this status again. If you’re a high spender ($75k+ annually), this card will unlock Platinum Elite status. You can read about all the perks that come with these statuses here.

This clustered bar graph shows how the Ritz-Carlton's rewards rate compare to two similar competitors
Comparison of the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card Rewards Rate

Bottom Line: If you frequently stay at Ritz-Carlton hotels, or their partners, and want to add an extra level of comfort to your stays, consider getting the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. Before you do, however, make sure that you can make use of its many side-benefits, to the point that they cover the card’s high annual fee.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card Benefits and Features

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card gives its users plenty of opportunities to earn rewards points, which can be turned into anything from stays at their properties, or room upgrades. You will earn 6X points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott BonvoyTM; 3X points for every $1 on dining, car rentals and airline purchases; and 2X points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

At the end of each year, you will receive a 10% points premium, with no cap. For example, if you used the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card to pay for a $1,000 stay at their hotel, you'll get 5,000 points (5x per $1). At the end of that cardmemeber year, you will receive a bonus 500 points (10% of 5,000).

Lounge Club™ Membership

A big benefit of owning the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card is the complimentary membership to Lounge Club™, which provides access to over 350 lounges across 200 airports worldwide. Lounge Club™ values their membership at around $99 annually, though it is currently impossible to purchase it directly. The only way to obtain membership is to have one of the few credit cards that offer it (including the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card).

Lounge access provides cardholders with the ability to enjoy a quiet place, with complimentary Wi-Fi, snacks, beverages, conference rooms, and even showers (in certain lounges). This can be particularly useful for a business traveler, who frequently finds themselves in an airport.

Ritz-Carlton Specific Benefits

It’s difficult to justify getting the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card if you plan to use it only for the benefits outlined above. The true value of the card, and the reason it costs $395 annually, lies in the non-spending related benefits.

Upgrades To The Ritz-Carlton Club® Level

Every year you remain a Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Cardholder in good-standing, you will receive 3 complimentary upgrades to Club® Level. This differs from a regular rate stay, by giving you access to an in-hotel lounge. This special lounge works similarly to airport lounges most travelers will be familiar with. Inside these lounges, Ritz-Carlton guests can enjoy complimentary beverages, concierge services, and a relaxing atmosphere.

The difference between a regular-rate hotel room, and a Club® Level one comes out to about $120 per night – a sizable difference.

Travel/Hotel Credit

Every year, Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Cardholders receive $300 in travel credit. This can be used towards baggage fees, Global Entry, seat upgrades, or lounge access (both day-passes and annual membership). In order to qualify for this benefit, cardmembers must charge the purchase to their Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, and notify J.P. Morgan Priority Services within 4 billing cycles of the transaction.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card holders also receive $100 in Hotel credit, every time they stay at a Ritz-Carlton affiliated hotel, for at least 2 consecutive days. This credit can be used to cover room upgrades, and services (though not ones provided by a third party). The $100 credit can also only be used towards add-on charges, meaning you cannot use it to pay for the actual stay itself.

Gold/Platinum Elite Status

When you are first approved for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, you receive complimentary Gold Elite Status for the first year. With this, you get benefits which include late checkouts, and free room upgrades. In order to maintain Gold Status past your first cardmember year, you must make at least $10,000 in purchases on your card annually.

If you spend $75,000 in an account year (average of $6,250 per month), you will receive complementary Platinum Elite Status. This gives users 50% more rewards points for their bookings, an additional 1,000 bonus points upon each booking, and the guarantee that a room will be available to you, up to 48 hours before you need it.

Note that you can also get Gold/Platinum Elite status by other means, namely accumulating Elite Qualifying Nights (EQNs) with Ritz-Carlton - you earn these every time you pay for a stay at their properties.

How Does the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card Compare To Other Credit Cards?

When shopping for credit cards, it is a good idea to keep your eyes wide-open for your options. It’s impossible to choose a best credit card in a vacuum – comparing choices is a must if you hope to maximize your value. To that end, this section profiles the competitors of the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card vs The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with an annual fee of $550 (See Rates & Fees) – that’s $155 more per year than the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. Both of these cards are focused around luxury travel, however The Platinum Card® from American Express is not tied down to any particular brand. One reason one might prefer The Platinum Card® from American Express to the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card is the type of airport lounge access they offer. With the Amex card, you get membership to Centurion Lounges, which are considered to be some of the most luxurious and best equipped. Outside of this, The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with Priority Pass membership, which is a better version of the Lounge Club™.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

Some consumers – those who hold no brand loyalty to either Marriott or Ritz-Carlton – will be better off with a general travel rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This credit card earns users Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are part of one of the most valuable rewards programs. Instead of luxury, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives its users the flexibility to use rewards on a variety of things – from travel statement credit to the ability to transfer them to one of 11 partner programs (including Marriott). The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is most beneficial to individuals with high dining and travel spending, as it gives 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. If you spend at least $4,000 annually on these things, and value flexible rewards, consider this card instead.

The information related to the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card and the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).