This past Friday, I
forced inspired myself to redeem my capped 25,000-point annual free night award from my Marriott Premier Visa ($85 annual fee) at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center.
Sure, it ended up being a fun night out with a hotel price of $0, but in my opinion, you can get the best value of the highly-restrictively Marriott category 1-4 certificates abroad, such as in SouthEast Asia. In fact, one of my favorite redemptions has been at the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit which is modern, has a full-service lounge, and an amazing rooftop bar that offers 360-degree panoramic views of Bangkok.
I was hoping the use my last remaining category 1-4 certificate (25,000 points) during my upcoming spring break trip to Asia, but unfortunately my certificate was set to expire just a few weeks before the redemption I had in mind, and I had no dice with Marriott asking for an extension. So Atlantic City it was.
If you remember an earlier post, I kept this card open for another year solely because I received a $50 statement credit for paying my $85 annual fee. A 25,000-point free night award is worth paying $35 net, so that was a no brainer. It’s also worth noting that I currently pay the $95 annual fee on the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card (old SPG AmEx) for an annual free night award worth 35,000 points.
As the year winds down, I typically like to take a deep dive into my household’s free-night award “inventory”, make sure all credit card “airline incidental” credits are used up, etc. After all, I’m still the one who “wears the points”.
I continuously come to the realization, year after year, that it’s becoming more of a headache to organically put lowly-capped credit card free night awards to use (for the record, I also recently said goodbye to my Chase $49 IHG credit card once the 40,000-point restriction came into play), so that’s why I decided it was time to make a change.
After I used my remaining 25,000-point free night award, I called the number on the back of my card and asked to product change my Marriott Premier Visa to the Ritz-CarltonTM Credit Card (no longer available to new applicants). I even got a pro-rated refund of $21.27 towards my $85 (net $35) annual fee.
If you have a Chase Marriott consumer card, you could upgrade it to the Ritz-CarltonTM Credit Card even though the card is no longer available to new applicants. Keep in mind that a minimum credit line of $10,000 is needed, but moving credit between existing Chase accounts is easy and only takes a few seconds during the phone call.
Benefits of Ritz Card
The Ritz card comes with a steep annual fee of $450 per year, the value of cardmember perks outweigh the costs:
- Annual free night certificate worth 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
- Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold status
- 15 elite night credits per year (keep in mind: not stackable with elite nights earned from any other card)
- The ability to earn Platinum status with $75,000 spend on the card each year
- $300 in airline incidental fee credits annually
- $100 Global Entry credit
- Priority Pass Membership with unlimited free guests
- $100 Visa Infinite Airfare discount on each purchase of two round-trip flights
- 3 Club-Level upgrades on paid Ritz-Carlton stays
- $100 hotel credit to use during your stay for each paid stay, 2 nights or longer
- Amazing insurance/travel protection benefits including primary rental CDW, trip cancellation/delay insurance, roadside assistance, emergency medical and dental, etc.
- Free authorized users – each can get their own Priority Pass with unlimited free guests and can utilize the the $100 two-person air discount benefit
My Thought Process
The key perks that I’m most attracted to are the 50,000-point free night award, $300 in annual airline incidental fees, the insurance benefits (especially since I’ll be dumping my Citi Prestige in February), and the $100 airfare discount.
The 50,000-point free night certificate opens up the door to many great remdeption opportunities such as the Ritz Carlton Langkawi, which I loved, and many Hawaii island properties with rates that soar past $500 a night during peak season.
The Ritz-CarltonTM Credit Card $300 travel credit resets every calendar year January 1 – December 31. By product changing before December 31, I’m able to take advantage of the $300 credit in 2019 and again in 2020 while only paying the $450 annual fee once.
Remember that Asia trip I mentioned above? I still have a few more intra-Asia award flights to book that I could use this year’s $300 travel credit to help off-set. I am also due to renew my monthly wifi subscription with United soon…
I no longer qualify for Marriott Gold status on my own because canceled my Business Platinum Card from American Express when the increased $595 annual fee hit, and now I’m an authorized user on a family member’s Platinum Card from American Express instead to have Centurion Lounge access (and I’ll admit, I do hijack the $50 Saks credit twice per year on that card too, so this girl is happy).
Further divulging into the Platinum strategy, if someone in your household (or close friend or family member) has a personal American Express Platinum card, you can pay $175 per year for up to 3 authorized user cards for the first year. Split 3 ways, that’s roughly $58 per person for a year of Centurion Lounge access.
The timing was right for me to product change my Chase Marriott Premier Visa into the Ritz-CarltonTM Credit Card, especially since I’ll be able to take advantage of this year’s $300 annual travel credit benefit. Product changing allows you the chance to enjoy a card with better perks or stop paying for those you no longer use or value without being subject to 5/24 or requiring a new credit check.
Even with the $450 annual fee on the Ritz-Carlton Card, I know the value of travel benefits will exceed the cost.
What are your thoughts about the Ritz-CarltonTM Credit Card? Have you product changed before? Feel free to share your thoughts!