If you’re looking for free nights at a high-end luxury hotel, you might want to consider the latest offer attached to the “Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card” from Chase.
The complimentary nights have been doubled from one night to two, making it twice as nice for the guy or gal looking to stay somewhere in comfort free of charge.
The new offer requires $4,000 in spending during the first three months from account opening to get the two complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel worldwide.
That’s pretty much all Ritz-Carlton locations aside from Ritz-Carlton Reserve locations, which total just six.
How Much Is This Deal Worth?
Obviously, the value can vary quite a bit, but some Tier 4 Ritz hotels will run around $700 (or more) per night during peak periods, so you could get about $1700-$1800 in value out of the two free nights when you factor in all taxes and fees.
For example, the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay costs $765 per night during summer months on a weekend.
So if you’re looking to indulge for free, this could be the credit card for you. Other than the opening bonus, I doubt it’s something you’d want to hold for more than a year.
The downside to this offer is that there’s an annual fee of $395, which is not waived during the first year. It has since been increased to $450.
So your two free nights will actually cost you around $400, plus any resort fees that may or may not be included in those two free nights.
Once you spend the $4,000, the Two Free Night Stay E-Certificates will be automatically deposited into your Ritz-Carlton Rewards account. They expire 12 months after issue.
Best Ritz-Carlton Credit Card Bonuses
- 140,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards points for spending $3,000 in first 3 months
- 3 free nights in a tier 1-4 Ritz Carlton property for $5k in spend
- 2 free nights in a tier 1-4 Ritz Carlton property for $4k in spend
Chase has tinkered with the sign-up bonuses on this card several times, offering as many as 3 free nights at one point in mid-2016, and 140,000 Ritz points back in 2014.
There have been rumors that both offers would return, but that remains to be seen.
At the moment, the best public offer is 2 free nights at a tier 1-4 property for $4,000 in spending.
Seeing that free nights at a tier 4 will set you back 60,000 points, it’s the equivalent of 120,000 points. So it’s just shy of the 140,000-point offer.
However, some folks may value points instead of free night certificates because you can transfer Ritz points to SPG or Marriott.
And they transfer to SPG at a 3:1 ratio, so 120,000 points would equate to 40,000 SPG points.
From there, one could transfer increments of 20,000 SPG points to an airline and get a 5,000-point bonus, thereby squeezing 50k airline points out of the deal.
In any case, as long as you can absorb the annual fee via the many credits tied to the card, any of the sign-up bonuses seem to offer tremendous value.
How to Offset the Annual Fee on the Ritz Credit Card
Fortunately, there are several options to make that annual fee less painful.
This card provides a $100 hotel credit when you book a stay of two nights or longer at a Ritz-Carlton.
It can be used for dining, the spa, or other stuff at the hotel, though I believe alcohol is excluded, so think lunch by the pool or a discount on your expensive dinner at one of the hotel’s restaurants.
There’s also a $300 annual travel credit, which can be used for a variety of things like baggage fees, seat upgrades, airport lounge fees, in-flight meals and WiFi.
And a separate $100 credit for Global Entry fees if you don’t have it already.
It’s obviously a bummer that you can’t just use the credit to offset straight up airfare or gift cards for airfare, though it’s possible some GCs might work to trigger the credit.
By the way, you get lounge access via the
Lounge Club Priority Pass with this card anyway, so it’s a bit redundant unless you use an outside lounge.
Still, if you travel a lot you could probably get some use out of the $300, though it’s not a clear cut way to offset to your annual fee if you just want the free hotel nights with no strings.
There’s also a $100 airline ticket discount if/when you book 2-5 round-trip domestic coach airline tickets with the card.
The $100 discount is applied to the entire itinerary, so per ticket. So if two tickets run $600, you’d get $100 off the total cost, dropping it to $500.
This can be used as many times as you’d like, so a frequent flyer who travels with a partner or two often could save a ton by booking flights via the Visa Infinite Discount Air website.
Just make sure the price is the same.
What Else Do You Get with the Ritz Credit Card?
The Ritz-Carlton credit card also gives you automatic Gold Elite status during the first account year, which provides things like free room upgrades, late checkout, and exclusive point bonuses.
If you manage to spend $10,000 on purchases during your first account year, you can maintain your Gold Elite status. The same goes for years after that.
Assuming you spend money like it’s going out of style, aka $75,000+ each account year, you’ll achieve Platinum Elite status. This results in arrival gifts (think champagne and chocolates) and room guarantees, among other things.
Regardless of what you spend, you also get three upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level each year, which is basically a lounge within the hotel that makes your stay at the Ritz even more exclusive.
However, both this benefit and the hotel credit are for paid stays, so I don’t know if you can take advantage of these perks while using the free night certificates.
How to Earn Points with Ritz
– 5 points per $1 spent at Ritz-Carlton hotels and partner hotels (Marriott and others)
– 2 points per $1 spent on airline tickets direct with airlines
– 2 points per $1 spent on car rentals
– 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants
– 1 points per $1 on other purchases
You also earn a 10% “Annual Points Premium” on points earned throughout the year. It’s like the 7% Annual Points Dividend that used to be offered on Chase Sapphire Preferred.
So you’ll earn more than one point per dollar spent, and even more if you spend a lot in the bonus categories.
The chart above details how many points you need to redeem hotel rewards. You get the fifth night free if you happen to book five nights. In other words, you can snag five nights in a Tier 1 hotel for 120,000 points.
There’s also an option to book a room using a combination of points and cash, and a PointSavers program that requires 10,000 less points in each tier.
Is the Ritz Credit Card a Pass or Is It a Go?
In summary, with that hefty $450 annual fee in place, it’d be hard to justify keeping the Ritz-Carlton credit card in your wallet year after year unless you truly love staying at the Ritz and do so often.
And even applying for it to get the two free nights might be a stretch for some unless you have specific travel plans and really want to stay at a Ritz property. It could make sense for an anniversary or another special occasion.
However, keeping the card for the first year could make a lot of sense if you really value those free nights, or transfer the Ritz Rewards points to Starwood or Marriott.
Assuming you can offset the annual fee by taking full advantage of the many credits tied to this card, you could actually make out pretty good here.
And the Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card apparently isn’t subject to the 5/24 rule, making it one of the few cards most churners can still get approved for from Chase.
And there are plenty of nice Park Hyatt hotels worldwide, such as the one in the heart of Paris. Just don’t use the minibar…or visit the hotel bar, the prices aren’t for the faint of heart!