Ritz Card: Act now for free airport lounge access for friends and family

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Recently, I signed up for the Ritz-Carlton card.  Even though I’ve recommended getting it before August to lock in the new Marriott/SPG Platinum Elite status, that wasn’t why I signed up for it.

The real reason was for the signup bonus of two free Tier 1-4 nights.  Tier 4 properties currently cost 60,000 points per night.  And when the Marriott/SPG/Ritz programs merge in August, all properties will be bookable for 60,000 points per night or less until a new category is introduced in 2019.  So we expect the Ritz two free nights to change from being usable at only less than top tier Ritz properties to all Marriott, SPG, and Ritz properties worldwide.  That’s pretty amazing, but even that wasn’t my sole motivation…

In my post, “Potential huge win with Marriott Travel Packages before August,” I discussed the small chance (I pegged it at 20% chance) that stay certificates (floater certificates) will be converted to equivalent points in August.  That would be a huge win if Marriott made us whole with the full points equivalent (see that post for details). When I first wrote the post, I didn’t think that Ritz free night certificates would be included if this happened, but then I got more information when Starwood Lurker answered my question about floater certificates and said that examples include credit card certs.  Despite his answer, I’m still unsure what exactly constitutes a floater certificate, but it suddenly seemed that my estimated 20% chance of a big win would include the Ritz certs as well.  That sold me.  While two free nights anywhere is an excellent signup bonus, I’ll very happily take 120K points instead if they’ll offer it.

My new Ritz card appeared on my doorstep last week, and I immediately met the $4K spend requirement by paying a large bill through the Plastiq bill payment service.  My card’s payment due date is August 1, but I want to make sure to get the free night certificates before then.  I may need to secure message Chase to see if they can expedite the bonus.

Priority Pass Select

Priority Pass has become significantly more valuable lately as they’ve increasingly added airport restaurants to their network. You’ll typically get $28 off your bill for yourself and each guest covered by Priority Pass. Since the Ritz version of Priority Pass allows unlimited guests, you can dine with a very large group for free (or for $28 off per person), but keep in mind that tips are extra.

One of the many benefits of the Ritz card is Priority Pass Select membership.  Unlike most other ultra-premium cards, Ritz’ version includes unlimited guests.  I doubt that will last long, though, considering that Chase recently reduced the Sapphire Reserve guest benefit from unlimited to 2.

The other unusual aspect of this card is that authorized user cards are free.  And, authorized users can get their own Priority Pass Select membership (my understanding is that you have to request it for each authorized user — it doesn’t come automatically).

We know that the Ritz card is going to change dramatically in August, but at the moment we only know a few details of those changes for certain.  But I think it is reasonable to expect that the new version will either charge for authorized users (like with the Sapphire Reserve) or will no longer offer free Priority Pass Select membership to authorized users.

And so, finally, I get to the main point of this post:

  • If you have the Ritz card, and…
  • If you have friends or family members who could benefit from Priority Pass Select membership, then…
  • Add them as authorized users and request Priority Pass cards immediately
    (since the ability to do so might go away in August)
    (but first make sure they don’t mind being added as authorized users)

Authorized user credit cards will be shipped to your address.  You don’t have to give the credit cards to your friends or family members.  You can simply give them the separate Priority Pass cards when they arrive.

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Edward

Based on Chase’s website and the terms and conditions for the Ritz Carlton card, it appears that Gold Marriott status is not only for the first year, and not dependent on any level of spend. Was that changed since this was written? or does anyone have contrary info?

Nick Reyes

Sort of. This post is from 2018. Significantly, this was published a month before the merger with the Starwood program. When the programs merged, Marriott re-named their tiers. At the time this post was published, Marriott had the following tiers if memory serves me correctly:

-Silver (I can’t recall how many nights this required)
-Gold (50 nights; free breakfast/lounge access)
-Platinum (75 nights)

Beginning in August 2018, the tiers changed to:

-Silver
-Gold (25 nights; benefits include more points and “priority” late checkout, but not much more)
-Platinum (50 nights; free breakfast/lounge access)
-Titanium (75 nights)

As you can see, Gold used to be 50-night status that was desirable because of the breakfast/lounge benefits. It therefore used to be a first-year-only benefit (similar to the way that the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant recently offered Platinum status — the current equivalent 50-night status — for the first year. That offer has since expired).

At the time this post was written, the exciting opportunity was to get the card new and get the associated Gold status because we knew that when the programs merged, that would map to “Platinum” status in the new program (which wasn’t an upgrade, it was just the new name for 50-night status that includes free breakfast/lounge access).

However, there just isn’t much benefit to Marriott Gold status now. It gets you a 25% bonus on points earned from stays, but that’s really the only concrete benefit. Note that you can also get Marriott Gold from having the Amex Platinum card (which also gives you Hilton Gold, which is a much more useful status since it gives you free breakfast at Hiltons).

Keep in mind that having Gold status from a credit card does not shorten your path to Platinum status. That is to say that you don’t get credit for the 25 elite nights required for Gold status — you get the same 15 elite nights that you would get with any Marriott card. You would still need 35 more elite nights to get to Platinum whether you have Gold status from the Ritz card or you simply had the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and Silver status.

So all that is to say that yes, the Ritz card still comes with Gold status, but that isn’t equivalent to the first-year Gold status that it came with when this post was written and it isn’t a particularly exciting benefit today. The Ritz card does have plenty of other benefits that make it worthwhile in my opinion, but the status benefit isn’t exciting today.

Evan

Do you know if the number of guests is unlimited? I have gotten two different answers from chase…2 guests and unlimited guests.

EFJX

Heya Greg, are you able to confirm with any contacts at Chase that the priority pass associated with Ritz Carlton is still unlimited? I’ve called multiple times and all the reps have said it was changed across the board for all priority pass cards associated with the Reserve and Ritz as to 2 guests.
Haven’t found any DP on flyertalk.

Nick Reyes

My new PP card just came a couple of weeks ago. I should have taken a picture of the letter, because I’m 90% certain it said unlimited guests in the letter. That’s why the Ritz PP is the one in my wallet.

Gill

How do you request a Priority Pass card for your authorized user?

Anthony

Greg, can we still add AUs and get the seperate PP memberships? What happened in August?

FLN

Hi Greg – did your Ritz Carlton Visa Gold status convert to Platinum (yet) in the new MR program? My MR account still shows Gold Elite. I talked to the RC executive line on 8/29 and they claim the Platinum status show up until 2019 but that I would have it all year.

FLN

I sent a secure message yesterday and today I’m finally showing as platinum. Again, might be a coincidence as I don’t think the SM would have been dealt with so fast but I’ll take it!

D f

There does not seem to be much discussion about the 10,000 points authorized user. So it is my understanding that that will convert to 10,000 Marriott points plus the possible 120,000 for the two free nights loading certificates. Am I correct on that?

Nick Reyes

Does 10k points are Marriott points. Ritz points = Marriott points. You technically have either a Ritz account or a Marriott account, but it’s all the same. Yes, that’s in addition to the sign up bonus.

Angie

For the AU PP cards, how do we request the cards? Call the number on the back of the card? Thank you.

The Other Sam

Good morning! Currently Marriott Gold through status match with SPG. Earned through spend, not stays. Applied for and was approved for Ritz card late last week. Prompted by piece suggesting platinum status would follow through Feb 2020 (plus the free night certs/point equivalencies). Thank you for the heads-up!

Travelling soon and staying at some SPG properties. Moocher that I am, would like to enjoy free breakfast for us, if possible.

7/23-7/28 = Sheraton Rhodes Resort
7/28-8/2 = Amsterdam Element

Have some legitimate spend for a kitchen remodel, but would need to MS a bit to hit 10k to get platinum. Is it worth it?

Thanks in advance.

The Other Sam

Just read that Element Amsterdam offers complementary breakfast. Oops.

brian

Ritz comes with automatic gold for the first year…

Nick Reyes

Brian is correct. You don’t need to spend anything to get status if you just opened the Ritz card — you get automatic Gold status, which will convert to Platinum when the new program launches in August.

There’s nothing that is going to get you free breakfast at the Sheraton Rhodes. That said, they have a nice area for SPG Gold and Platinum members that’s separated from the main dining area. Service there was fantastic. In fact, the Sheraton Rhodes has some of the best service I’ve had at an SPG property.

You won’t get Platinum (free breakfast) status until sometime in August (and we don’t know exactly when). Sorry it’s not the news you wanted.

NinjaX

greg. i dont think u realize how n00b heavy ur fan base is becoming. i think u should start putting disclaimers and adding key risk points for people who dont get it before busting out “Act Now” posts. i assume u see the massive shift in reddit the past 2 years.

leo

Just applied after reading this Article got the dreaded 30 day wait email. I hope i get it in time to meet the minimum spend by Aug 1

Ralph

Call them. Same thing happened to me. I had to move some credit around from another Chase card to get approved.

Ricardo

Question: can the $300 reimbursement be applied to airline gift card purchases? could you extend on what this reimbursement id good for?

Nick Reyes

Not easily. You need to call in or send a secure message to get the credits. This one involves human interaction, so YMMV on the agent you speak with. It’s not impossible, but not as easy as with other cards. Personally, I’ve used it with low cost carriers since they charge for everything. I’ve had no trouble using it for baggage and seat fees on Spirit and WOW Airlines or on Southwest upgraded boarding at the gate.

Sean

Nick,

Can we use it for the $15 Southwest Priority boarding that we pay for in advance too? I’m not sure if you were referring to something else before boarding the flight.

Nick Reyes

I haven’t tried that. I’ve used it for the A1-15 boarding at the gate – $30 or $40 per segment.

Robert

Will adding someone as an authorized user increase that persons Chase 5/24 count?

Nick Reyes

This depends on whether or not the card gets connected to their credit profile. If they live at the same address as you, probably yes. If they don’t, probably no.

Josh

You can change the statement day to something like 25 and then it would post on July 25th with the statement?

Nick Reyes

I expect it would.

Jimbo

Like others are asking, why are you rushing to get the spend done now? None of the earlier posts about this card mentioned anything about this, so I’m surprised to see it now.

Martin Fleisher

In addition, at least under the current rules the certificates expire a year after issued, so I had the idea of finishing the spend on the later side

phil

The certs can be extended for another yr. Just call.

Martin Fleisher

wow! really. that would be great.

Nick Reyes

Are you sure that’s the case for free night certs? I know that’s been the case with the seven night certificates from travel packages. I’m not sure how they handled it with the Ritz certificates. That said, I got a report yesterday about someone who was unable to extend a 7-night certificate. Still trying to determine whether it’s a change in policy on those – not sure if such a change might also affect other certificates like the ones from this card.

Mariusz

Data Point: Successfully extended 3x free Tier 1-4 nights certs for another 12 months on 1/7/2018. It was done just before I cancelled my Ritz Card.

Nick Reyes

Awesome, thanks.

wise2u

PP is not a worthwhile benefit, there are too many passes out there and being denied entry (even during non peak times) is the norm…count it as a YMMV benefit

Jimbo

You are just unlucky. Like you, I can’t speak for everyone, but IMHO, it’s definitely a great benefit.

Nick Reyes

It is infinitely better to have it than not. Especially when it doesn’t cost anything. You’re right that there are overcrowding issues in some places — but PP has responded by adding more restaurants where you get a $28 credit. Even if your AUs are only able to use that once per year, that’s a free $28 meal x your number of AUs. Not a bad deal.

Ralph

Nick, how does the credit work for PP at restaurants. Is it at the point of sale, or a credit back on your statement?

Nick Reyes

At the point of sale. It comes directly off the bill at the restaurant. Most restaurants will not allow you to use it towards gratuity, though I’ve read that some do. At grab-and-go type places, you just get $28 worth of stuff for free. If you have guest privileges, it varies based on your card. That’s what makes the Ritz card so valuable. Guesting privileges are theoretically unlimited. That said, some restaurants do limit you. I think Bobby Van’s in JFK limits you to 2 guests. I think some of the grab-and-go places allow more.

Nick Reyes

You can check the terms of each in the Priority Pass App.

Theresa

Don’t fully understand why we need the ritz certs before Aug 1?

CuriousGeorge

Can you explain why you’re trying to get the two night certs before August 1st?

Nick Reyes

See my comment above — I think the main reason is to position himself to get a points payout if Marriott decides that these are “floater certificates”.

Jessie

Any DP for approval applying for 2 non 5/24 chase cards in one day to combine pulls? Looking at Ritz and Hyatt-thanks!

Nick Reyes

It’s possible to do — but the way that Chase has been shutting down accounts this year, it’s much more of a risk now than a year ago. Personally, I don’t think the risk of account shutdown is worth saving yourself a hard pull. Hard pulls just aren’t that big of a deal — I’d rather space out the applications by 30 days and reduce (yet stil not eliminate) risk of shut down for too many new accounts at once. Call me conservative, but Chase has been a little ban-happy this year.

NinjaX

ur not being conservative. ur being smart. chase is just too key. look at all their new cards. its a gold mine. being shut down from that + amex new rules + barclay 6/24, it will be crippling.

Trevor

Do you think it is critical to get the certificates before August to take advantage of the potential huge win? What do you think will happen if you get the certificates after August? I just signed up for the card last night, but I’m not sure I would meet the minimum spend by then. Thanks!

Nick Reyes

It’s hard to say for sure what will happen. It’s possible that if you get the certificates after August (whether the 1st of August or whatever day Marriott chooses to launch the new combined program), you could potentially get a capped certificate (like “up to 50K or 60K points per night”). Greg’s thinking here is that if you get the certs now, they are valid at properties that charge up to 60K today. Marriott has reiterated many times that they intend to keep customers whole with something comparable in the new program — which to us implies that you’d get certs valid at properties up to 60K.

Additionally, I think Greg’s rationale behind getting the certs now is that it’s possible that they will be considered “floater certificates” and get converted to 60K points each if you have them in your account before the programs merge in August. If you get them later, you’re more likely to get certificates I think (that might still be capped at properties up to 60K – but that’s less flexible than points that don’t expire as long as you have activity). Meeting the spend now puts you in position to get paid out in points if that’s what Marriott intends to do.

CuriousGeorge

It doesn’t make sense (to me) that Marriott will treat the Ritz 1-4 category certificates issued before August different from those issued after August. This would, for instance, imply that unused certs issued before August will be converted into 60k points equivalent but those issued before August but applied to a reservation that is cancelled after August will only get 50k equivalent.

It seems to me that whatever Marriott plans to “do” with Ritz 1-4 certs will be the same for certs issued before and after August.

About the floater cert thing and converting the certs into points and not point equiv certs … I can’t imagine any reason for Marriott to do that … the only thing leading to that conclusion is dissecting a couple of sentence blog post by a Starwood rep posted on a blog that a very very small percentage of Marriott customers read.

Just my 2 cents 😉

Boonie

I’ve had this card for a few years so get the 3 upgrade certificates per year, it allows you club level access which is significant. I’m hoping this doesn’t go away?

Nick Reyes

We don’t know, but I would think this would be kept.

Elias

What exactly can you “pay” with plastiq? I am thinking of getting the new Hyatt Visa and spending $75k to get me to globalist again (I am missing 30 nights). 2.5% seems really fair to me but I dont have any 75k bill to pay…

Thanks in advance,

Elias

Nick Reyes

You can’t pay off your credit card bill. You can pay almost anything else that normally requires a check — though the problem now is that personal Visa cards may incur a cash advance fee or payments with Chase cards will be limited to 20% of your credit limit (i.e. if your credit limit is $10K, you can’t make a Plastiq payment for more than $2K).

With the 20%-of-your-limit restriction in mind as this is a personal Chase card, you could pay things like tuition, car payment, general contractors, HOA fees, student loans, utilities, taxes, etc (though if you don’t have fee-free dollars, it might make more sense to pay extimated taxes directly at a lower fee). Those are just a few ideas, anyway.

JayP

I was figuring it wouldn’t matter if you met spend / got the certs before or after 8/1, since either way they’re certs from the old card. I don’t remember this being implied in your previous post, but could be wrong. Anyways, I gotta hurry up and hit spend today if you think it’ll make a difference. Buying VGC’s at Walmart is still fine with Chase for min spend?
Edit: Just saw this on your CSR page that was updated a month ago, so question answered: “Can I buy gift cards to meet the spend bonus? Yes”

Nick Reyes

I think that it likely wouldn’t make a difference when you complete the spend — but if you can meet the spend and have the certificates before August, then you don’t have to wonder.

JayP

Thanks, I’ll hit it if I get a chance but won’t go out of my way.

Nick Reyes

See my further replies below for more.

PSL

Will Gold status ( which you have stated will turn into Platinum Elite) be immediately granted even before you complete the 4K spending?

JayP

Yes, I have it. It seemed nearly instant, definitely within days of receiving the card

Nick Reyes

Yes, it is a first year card benefit. The terms state that it can take 4-6 weeks I believe, but most people report it taking affected within a week or two. It usually takes about a week to get a Ritz card number generated I believe (it’s not as fast as other Chase cards).

Kate

How many Chase cards do you have?

Jack

No need to ask Chase to expedite the bonus. You’ll get it within a week from when the spend posts.