On my mind (Ritz-Carlton addition edition)

UPDATE: Some of the speculation in this post is based on the assumption that the anniversary date of my Chase Marriott card will not change if I upgrade to the Plus or to the Ritz card. Thanks to Len, in the comments, I learned that this assumption was wrong. The anniversary date most likely will change. So, my best bet for either upgrade may be to wait until after my 2019 free night posts.

At the start of the week I had no intention of writing about Marriott all day, everyday, but things happen.  On Monday, I published my Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide and figured that would be enough about Marriott for a while.  But then I realized that it was past time to publish up-to-date tips on earning Marriott Platinum status, so on Wednesday morning I published “10 Shortcuts to Marriott Platinum Elite status (2019 edition).”  I definitely planned on taking a break from Marriott stuff after that.

But then…

Soon after I published my elite shortcuts post on Wednesday morning, Amex and Chase announced changes to their Marriott/SPG credit cards.  That couldn’t be ignored, so I published “Marriott Bonvoy credit card changes announced.”  And, that led to more thoughts and questions, so I followed that up with “Bonvoy Opportunities,” and “Downgrade from Lux/Brilliant to SPG/Bonvoy? Yes, it will be an option.”  And I updated the post “Which Marriott Bonvoy card is best?

And now this post.

After learning about the Amex downgrade path described above, I wondered if going the other direction with Chase cards would be possible.  If you have a Chase Marriott consumer card, could you upgrade it to the Ritz-Carlton card, even though the Ritz card hasn’t been available to new applicants since last summer?  I reached out to Chase and was told “Yes”.

Rather than just take a Chase representatives word for it, I called Chase to ask about product change options from my Marriott Rewards Premier card.  I was told that there were two options showing on my account.  I could change to the Plus version of my card (but I wasn’t eligible for earning points on the upgrade anymore since that offer ended 12/31), or I could change to the Ritz-Carlton card.  I didn’t do either, but it gave me a lot to think about.

Upgrading from the $85 Marriott Premier to the $95 Marriott Premier Plus is almost a no-brainer since the former comes with an annual 25K free night certificate and the latter comes with an annual 35K certificate.  The 10K difference can easily mean the difference between staying in a highway-side hotel or a beach side hotel.  The main thing I would lose is the ability to earn an elite night credit for every $3K of spend.  But I’ve never used that feature before, so at best it’s a nice to have backup in case I’m very close to earning whatever level of elite status I’m shooting for.

Ritz Perks

But what about the Ritz card?  Should I consider upgrading to it instead?  The Ritz card costs $450 per year, but comes loaded with perks:

  • 50K free night certificate annually
  • Automatic Gold status
  • 15 elite nights (not stackable with elite nights earned from any other card)
  • Earn Platinum status with $75K membership year spend
  • $300 in airline incidental fee credits (see: Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa airline fee credits: What works?)
  • $100 Global Entry credit
  • Priority Pass with unlimited free guests
  • Authorized users are free, and each can get their own Priority Pass with unlimited free guests
  • Visa Infinite Discount Airfare $100 discount on multi-passenger ticket purchases
  • 3 club level upgrades for paid Ritz stays
  • $100 hotel credit for each paid 2 night or longer stay
  • Awesome travel protections (primary auto, trip cancellation & delay, emergency medical & dental, etc.)

That’s a huge collection of perks.  And, for many people, upgrading to the Ritz card can make a lot of sense.  But…

I already have a Ritz card.

If I upgrade from the Marriott Premier to the Ritz card, I would then have two Ritz cards.  And most of the perks listed above are meaningless if you have two of the same card.  The only perks that I care about from the second card are:

  • 50K free night certificate annually
  • $300 in airline incidental fee credits

I’ve learned how to get full value from airline incidental fee credits, but I still don’t value that perk at the full $300 since there is some effort involved.  Let’s say I value that perk at $250.  That brings the effective annual fee of the Ritz card down from $450 to $200.  So, that brings up these questions:

  • Is the 50K certificate worth $200 per year?
  • Is it worth paying $105 more for a 50K certificate vs a 35K certificate?
    (Here I’m comparing the $200 effective annual fee of the Ritz card to the $95 annual fee of the Premier Plus card)

My gut tells me that the answer to both of the above questions is yes, but only because I’m pretty sure that I can easily use the 50K certificate each year toward great value. I have a favorite use for these certificates that just happens to cost 50K per night:

St. Pancras Renaissance London now costs 50K points per night, standard.  We often visit London in the shoulder season so I expect that Peak pricing won’t be too much of an issue.

In my unique situation, the 50K certificate is arguably worth close to 50,000 points.  But points are worth more.  You can’t book a 5th Night Free award if you use free night certificates.  And you can’t book two nights at a 25K hotel with a 50K certificate.  Both of these options are available with points though.

The Decision

Ultimately, I should phrase the question to myself like this: Would I pay $105 per year to upgrade my 35K per night certificate to 50K?  This decision needs to be made before the annual certificate is issued (which, in my case means deciding by mid-March).  For some reason, when I phrase it this way, I lean towards “no”.  I don’t want to sink extra money into Marriott just in case I’ll get great use from the 50K certificate.

So, for this year, I think I’ll simply upgrade to the Premier Plus and see how it goes.  If I find during the course of the year that I really could have used that 50K certificate, and if it seems likely to happen again in the future, then maybe I’ll upgrade to the Ritz next year.

Thanks for listening!

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Upgraded to this card Fall 2019, for a number of good reasons. Got the travel credit for 2019 and 2020. AF just posted. My plan, given COVID and not being able to use benefits otherwise for some time was to product change (after the free night cert posts) back to a $95 AF Marriott card, or even the no fee version. Question: using your crystal ball do you think this Ritz card will still be around in the next year to change back to?


why would you not care about and not value the 3 upgrades? I realize they are a pain to use and sometimes don’t save money but there are opportunities and they do have value


I know I’m late to the conversation but I just PCed by Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and was wondering if the Ritz is a metal card (think Chase Sapphire Reserve). Insight anyone?

Nick Reyes

My Ritz card weighs more than 2 CSRs combined. Literally. According to US Credit Card Guide, the CSR is 13g and the Ritz is 28g. The CSR is a piece of metal sandwiched in plastic, whereas the Ritz card is a hunk of metal that clangs when you drop it. I don’t know for sure that they are still issuing it that way. I’ve had mine for several years and have gotten a replacement once or twice for one thing or another — sometimes a plastic one comes, sometimes a metal one comes. If you get a plastic one, you could try calling and asking for a metal one. I don’t know for sure if they still issue it or not.


Thanks for your response, Nick. I do realize that the original Ritz card’s weight was substantial for a credit card, especially compared to other competitors, but I’m curious to see if the refreshed Ritz card is anywhere close to its original variation’s weight. I’ve read that the newly-refreshed version (that can only be acquired via product change) is CSR weight, but I’ve also read that some folks have received a plastic one. Mine should be coming in the mail within the next couple of days so we’ll see.

Nick Reyes

I don’t think there is a “refreshed” version — it’s just that sometimes Chase sends out plastic versions of the card. I got a new one last year, so I won’t see another one for quite a while, but my last one was metal. I have an older metal one and a couple of plastic ones from long before they dropped the card. It’s certainly possible that they’ve stopped issuing them in metal, but I wouldn’t take whichever card you receive next week as the final word on that. If it isn’t metal, maybe try calling and asking if those are still available (assuming that’s what you want).


@Gabe HUCA. Just upgraded. Called the number on the back of the card. Good luck.

Gabe Rodriguez


Recently I called Chase and asked if it was possible to upgrade to the Ritz-Carlton card. The representative said that to their knowledge it was not possible. Did you speak to a specific department about upgrading to the Ritz-Carlton card?



I called Chase CSR regarding product change (Marriott Premier to Ritz Carlton). They said since this is a product change I won’t be eligible for platinum status upgrade once $75K spending threshold is met. Do you have any insight on this?


Thank you for clarifying. I will do the product change as soon as as I get my annual certificate in approximately 2 months.


Just curious, were you able to still product change to this card? I am still hoping to in a few months.


Yes I was.
With the devaluation of Marriott Bonvoy program, it makes the Premier card less desirable. If you can put $75K spending on the card, you’re guaranteed to have Platinum status (until Marriott changes their policy .. again)


I thought they got rid of the 1 elite night for each $3k spend; is it still around? What cards offer this and does it count towards lifetime status?

[…] On my mind (Ritz-Carlton addition edition) […]


Please note that Southwest Gift Cards are no longer eligible for the Ritz travel credit. I called to claim credit of $75 GC just like the previous two times but was told that the transaction shows up as Gift Card purchase so not eligible. I didn’t have any problem in Oct doing the same reimbursement over the phone for SW GC, so I really can’t think of a good way to spend that $300 travel credit anymore. Wish they would be less restrictive like Chase Sapphire Reserve! You may want to update your “What works” page.


Greg, how does this compare to the CNB Visa. That seems to be the most similar card in my eyes. I was thinking of going CNB, but now wondering if this is better (initially discounted RC card due to 5/24)


Ritz has more Marriott focused perks – automatic Gold status, earn Platinum status with $75K membership year spend, 3 club level upgrades for paid Ritz stays (up to 7 days each stay), and $100 hotel credit for each paid 2 night or longer stay. This could be more than thousands if you utilize them.

Marc Elliott Levy

Would make a great segue to full list and rank of cards available from all issuers via product change only.


Could you share (or point to) how to get full value out of the airline incidental fee credits?


Problem is that the upgrades and $100 credits are really worthless because they are only good on the higher standard rate. I love Ritz Carlton Hotels but the dishonesty of their team in the design of this card has made me swear off ever staying again. I’d rather just use Citi Prestige for 4th night or use Hotels.com and stay at the best boutique available in that city if there’s no Park Hyatt


I tried doing this same upgrade last July, hoping for an easy path to Platinum status Chase unfortunately wouldn’t allow. I had to make new application which has still absolutely been worth doing.


“My gut tells me that the answer to both of the above questions is yes, but only because I’m pretty sure that I can easily use the 50K certificate each year toward great value.”

Don’t listen to your “gut”. Instead, you should whip out that very nice Ultra Premium Card Value Spreadsheet that you created a few months back, and answer the question more scientifically.

For me, the best-in-class travel insurance (tied with CSR), pushes this card to the “keep” column

ETA: I see that others are also mentioning the travel insurance. Nice for them to also catch this!


When I PC’d my Marriott card for the RC last summer a week or so after they closed it, I was given a new anniversary date, I’d already gotten the 25k night cert from the MR card. I ended up with 6, two sets of 3 club lounge certs, and the 50k RC night in the weeks after I did the PC. All that might have been a mistake though.

Also at least last year RC was giving a second EQN, as a promo night, for every paid night but only if your membership was tied to RC and not Marriott. I got 7 additional EQN last year and 3 this year (from a New Years stay where the nights posted as ’18 night but additional promo nights posted in ’19. With Bonvoy they haven’t been able to tell me if that continueing in ’19. Now I only have 4 more CL certs to use before the new anniversary


Question, so the premier plus card, do you not receive night credits with the spend?


I upgraded to the MR P Plus and took the 50k points. Any risk of losing the points now by product changing to Ritz?


So to be clear, upgrading to the premier plus last year should not affect eligibility to upgrade to the Ritz a few months later (ie there’s no 1 year rule like there is for a new card?)


I think TWO 50 certs are worth way more than one. That’s a weekend in a nice hotel in a big city. And if you have the Lux you’d have three. That’s a long weekend in a major city.

I don’t get the value of a single 50K cert–mainly means I’m going to need to scrape up 50-100K Marriott points to make using it worthwhile (or I end up blowing it on a lower value redemption).


Another way to think of it—the only reason I am keeping the SPG Lux card is because I have the Ritz card. In that case, I can take both certificates together and stay at a 50k certificate hotel, which is starting to look like a mini vacation and not a one night stand. Add another night with 50,000 actual points and that four day/three night vacation works out very well. I also do the same with a Friday to Monday mini vacation using AMEX Aspire/Ascend free night certificates and one night paid for with points.



Mary Jane

…Add the $250.00 yearly resort credit on the Aspire plus breakfast and you have yourself a completely free weekend!


I would also prefer the $300 Luxe credit (on spend at a Marriott propeety) as a complement to the $300 RC Travel Credit rather than 2, RC Travel Credits (since the free nights are otherwise the same). I have been using my RC credits on AA gift cards, & I would prefer an alternative spend rather than doubling down on more gift cards.

Surely AMEX will finally allow upgrades of the SPG card with decent bonuses when new apps are discontinued? Like they did with the Aspire (previous Reserve)? I received a 75k email offer thru Vistana, but when I called in to do AMEX knew nothing about it. Disappointing to say the least…


Why did you say you have to make a decision before the annual certificate is issued? My understanding is product change will reset the anniversary date, so wouldn’t it be better to change the product after you receive the cat 4 certificate so you won’t have to wait another year? Also, is there any data point out there that you can have 2 Ritz Carlton cards? Combining it with the Amex Luxury card yields three cat 5 certificates, which can make a real trip as 1-2 nights are too short to enjoy.


Sorry I meant three cat 6 certificates.


U better Check on anniversary date before u do anything . My IHG card changed so I canceled it .


When I PCed my CIP to a CIC Chase reset the date for the 50K spend to begin on the PC date in mid December. Which was a problem because they told me it would be my original anniversary date in May and I rammed through 50K of spend in four months then had to wait for 8 months while great OD/OM sales happened.


When I found out about the change AFTER the fact I canceled . She TOAD me the person should’ve told me before the change but didn’t .




Yes it is very important. I read these posts so I am waiting for my cat 4 certificate BEFORE I upgrade to the Premier Plus or, thanks to your post, the Ritz Carlton Card. If anyone else have a different experience please chime in.

T. Jones

I upgraded my Premier card to the Premier Plus. The anniversary date did not change. I was awarded a 35K certificate on the unchanged anniversary.


After reading this comment about reseting the anniversary date, I reached out to Chase via SM about the upgrades both my spouse and I did on our personal Marriott cards, and YES it does reset your anniversary date. Hubby won’t get his free night until Dec 2019 (he was going to get it this month). I won’t get my free night until Oct 2019 (I was going to get it in March). On the upside, we each got 50K points for a single purchase so we essentially did each get a free night’s worth of points.


Edited: Chase SM was wrong about when the free night would post. Hubby’s 35K FN certificate is in his account (original anniversary month) as of now.


He upgraded in late December. His original anniversary is in Jan.

T. Jones

I did the exact same. Upgraded in December. Anniversary in January. Got a 35K certificate on anniversary.


Hi Greg. I’m trying to understand your logic on aligning the dates. The only benefit I see is that you have the same 1 year expiry date for both cat 6 certificates. I just think it is a better move to product change as soon as the cat 4 certificate posts from the Marriott Premier card. That way you have: 1) More flexibility in using the new certificate as maybe there are 1 night that you need to use somewhere. 2) If you do another product change down the road you won’t wait as long. 3) If you have Marriott Premier status in 2019 then you have more chance to use the benefits. I’m on the same boat as you so I’m curious to know your logic on the timing of the product change.



A little off this particular subject. But for the ones of us that bought Marriott 7 night certificates, before the points increases. Do we know if these will be able to be extended, as they were in the past.


You should get one extension when it gets converted from the old cert to the new cert.


do you think they’ll allow marriot biz to ritz? looking for a better use of this card slot.


Probably not, Ritz is a personal card, difft underwriting from biz card.


Do I have to wait a year to product change to Ritz?


@Greg i have a Chase Marriott Bold card. Am I allowed to product change to Ritz Carlton card after I hit 12 month?

Nick Reyes

Greg means “Call Chase”.


Does Ritz-Carlton card come with primary rental CDW?




Interesting thought…hmmm a second Ritz card. 2 nights a year in 50k hotel sounding a lot better than 1 and I’m sure I could use up the $300 air credit as I have always done, so for me it’s really only the difference between $150 and $95. $55 more for 15k pt upgrade definitely sounds worth it for me. Do you think they would give you 6 club upgrades a year, 3 per card?


I agree that $55 more for 15k point upgrade is a better value. Cat 6 hotels is a bigger upgrade from Cat 5 vs Cat 5 from 4.


@Greg- Ritz also makes sense for the Travel insurance perks and especially if one is locked in to the $395 fee. I plan to cancel all SPG cards and just keep the Ritz and open up a few Amex Slots. I like you spend a lot on the Delta cards so need 2 slots for that plus the Amex Blue Business. This 5 card rule with Amex sucks!!

Biggie F

Also for primary auto insurance.

Biggie F

And, at the risk of seeming to shill for this card, because the AUs can also book the $100 two-person air discount, with a family of 4, or 2 couples, you can actually get 2x$100 on a multi-party trip. Idem, with a second RC card (if not wanting spouse to use up a 5/24 slot on an AU account), one could plausibly pocket an extra $100 from time to time.

With that out of the way, I think the most telling point here relative to your musings that motivated the post is the one from @Blue, below: that the marginal utility of a 2nd 50,000 point hotel night is greater than that of the first.