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The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card: Better than the Platinum?

by on August 12, 2011

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The Ritz-Carlton credit card, which has the perks of the American Express Platinum as well as a solid rewards program, is now offering a 50,000-point bonus when you make your first purchase – none of the usual “spend $3,000 in the first month” conditions. The card, always a good value, became even more attractive with the bonus.

But is it worth the fee?

The Ritz-Carlton card has a hefty $395 annual fee (though it’s still less than the AmEx Platinum’s $450) but has any number of valuable perks to offset it. First, though, the rewards rate: receive 5 Ritz-Carlton Points per $1 spent at the hotel; 2 points per $1 spent on airfare, dining out and car rentals; and 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere. 5% back at the Ritz is much better than most hotel credit cards: usually, they’ll offer somewhere between 3% and 4.5%. You can redeem your points at a rate of ~1 cent per point for hotel stays, and up to ~1 cent per point for airline miles.

On top of its rewards program, the Ritz-Carlton card boasts:

  • Complimentary access to 600+ airport lounges with a Lounge Club membership, valued at around $400 in itself.
  • A $200 airline incidentals credit offsetting expenses like change or baggage fees
  • Gold Elite status in your first year, earning complimentary room upgrades, a points boost, and priority late checkout
  • A $100 hotel credit for spas, dining and other hotel activities each time that you stay 2 or more nights at the Ritz
  • 3 upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton club annually
  • No foreign transaction fee

These are pretty lucrative perks: assuming you have three two-night stays at the hotel each year, the benefits alone add up to $900. And that’s not even counting the rewards rate.

In our opinion, the perks and benefits are easily worth the annual fee. On top of all that, the card has no foreign transaction fees, sparing you from paying the industry-standard 3% charge on all overseas purchases.

A final note on signup bonuses

If we’re talking about a huge signup bonus, we’re probably talking about Chase. But their deals don’t last forever, so if you’re thinking of signing up for the Ritz-Carlton card, we suggest you strike while the iron’s hot.

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