How Much Is Ritz-Carlton Gold Status Really Worth?

I’ve written in detail about The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, which is offering an incredible sign-up bonus:

  • Three complimentary nights at any Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel after spending $5,000 within three months
  • 10,000 bonus points after adding an authorized user and having them make a purchase within the first three months

While the card has a $450 annual fee, the three complimentary nights along with some of the other perks make this card extremely lucrative. For example, the card comes with a $300 annual airline credit, Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit, $100 airline credit when booking two passengers on a domestic itinerary, etc.

In this post I wanted to talk a bit about the status offered through The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, which shouldn’t be underestimated.

Ritz-Credit-Card

Earning Ritz-Carlton Gold & Platinum status with the Ritz-Carlton Card

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card makes it pretty easy to earn Gold or Platinum status in the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program. With this card you receive Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold status for your first account year, and you can maintain Gold status in subsequent years by spending $10,000 on the card, which isn’t all that much for a very useful status level.

Furthermore, you can achieve Platinum status when you spend $75,000 on purchases every account year. Personally I don’t think Platinum status is worth it, marginally, but $75,000 in spend is a lot less than the $180,000 of spend required on the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card in order to earn Platinum status.

What’s the difference between Marriott and Ritz-Carlton status?

They’re basically the same. Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards both have Silver, Gold, and Platinum tiers, and they more or less offer reciprocal benefits.

Keep in mind that Ritz-Carlton is owned by Marriott, though they decided to maintain a separate loyalty program just from a branding perspective. I guess they figure that frequent Ritz-Carlton guests would rather be recognized as a Ritz-Carlton Gold member than a Marriott Gold member, for example.

So the programs are really only different in terms of marketing. You’ll get the same treatment at Marriott regardless of whether you have status with Marriott or Ritz-Carlton, and you’ll get the same treatment at Ritz-Carlton regardless of whether you have status with Marriott or Ritz-Carlton.

The only real difference between the two programs is the promotions they offer.

What does Ritz-Carlton Gold status get you at Ritz-Carlton hotels?

I don’t love Ritz-Carlton’s elite recognition. To break down what I consider to be the most valuable benefits, Gold members receive:

  • A 25% bonus on earned points
  • Guaranteed 4PM late check-out at non-resort properties
  • A complimentary room upgrade, excluding club rooms and suites

So as you can see, the benefits aren’t huge, though the late check-out benefit is nice. That being said, most of my Ritz-Carlton bookings are through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, where I already get guaranteed late check-out and a room upgrade.

But there’s much more value to Ritz-Carlton status than that…

What does Ritz-Carlton Gold status get you at Marriott properties?

As a Hyatt and Starwood loyalist, this is where I see the most value. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold members receive the same benefits at Marriott properties as Marriott Rewards Gold members.

These include the same benefits as above — a 25% points bonus, guaranteed late check-out, room upgrades, etc.

However, the big difference is that you get executive lounge access or free restaurant breakfast at most Marriott properties. Here’s the confusing way they phrase the benefit:

  • Free daily continental breakfast, light snacks and beverages for members and one guest in the Executive Lounge at JW Marriott®, Autograph Collection®, Renaissance® and Marriott Hotels® (resorts excluded), Delta Hotels®. In the U.S. and Canada, select hotels will provide 750 or 1,000 points in lieu of breakfast in the event the lounge is closed.
  • At JW Marriott®, Autograph Collection®, Renaissance Hotels® and Marriott Hotels® (Resorts, Courtyard Hotels, EDITION® Hotels and AC Hotels are excluded).

So you’re not guaranteed breakfast at resorts, but otherwise you’re getting free breakfast at most Marriott brands.

To me this is really valuable. While Marriott is in the process of taking over Starwood, it’ll likely be another year before the programs are merged in any substantial way.

Marriott has hotels everywhere, and I need to make stays with them fairly often. For example, I recently stayed at the Marriott Madrid Airport, and ended up paying for a club room. Even so, I couldn’t get late check-out, even though I would have really valued that.

If I were a Ritz-Carlton Gold member, I would have gotten free lounge access and 4PM check-out without issue.

Marriott-Madrid-Auditorium-Hotel - 31
Club lounge at the Marriott Madrid Airport

Bottom line

It can be confusing to understand the difference between the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton loyalty programs, though the reality is that they more or less offer the same elite benefits.

I value the Gold status offered by The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card more for my stays at Marriott properties than Ritz-Carlton properties. Free breakfast or lounge access, 4PM check-out, and a room upgrade, would go a long way to making my Marriott stays more pleasant.

Heck, long term that might just be how I choose to maintain my status with the “new” Marriott, once the merger is complete. If I can earn all the important status benefits with $10,000 of credit card spend, and if they don’t introduce a substantial suite upgrade benefit for Marriott Rewards Platinum members, then why bother putting in more effort?

So it’s yet another great benefit of this card, even though many may not think of the association between Marriott and Ritz-Carlton.


Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Can you elaborate on reciprocal lounge access, if any? Specially, if I am a Marriott Rewards Platinum, am I able to access the Club Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton? …and vice-versa? Sorry, it wasn’t clear to me in your post, Lucky.

  2. I’ll just say this. I’ve been a cardholder of the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card for a while.

    I get invited to exclusive events. One in particular, a private concert with Gavin Degraw. There were only about 50 people at a private restaurant where he performed and we had an amazing dinner.

    I also highly value the club lounge upgrade for Ritz properties. You receive 3 per year (up to 7 days each) on a regular rate. You can find some amazing Ritz Club Lounges. One in particular I love is the one in Key Biscayne. They have a club lounge on the top floor along with an annex by a private club only pool. There you receive free alcohol and appetizers while at both locations.

    Along with that, $100 off your bill every time you stay at a Ritz propert.

  3. The Fairmont card gives you 2 nights at better hotels plus 2 free suite upgrades and free meals for no annual free. Hyatt is also as good as Ritz for no fee and just $1K spend.

    The Ritz card is over-hyped.

  4. I signed up for the Ritz Card back during the 140K sign up bonus…I will say that I have been thrilled with the benefits and the customer service from “JP Morgan” as it is not marketed as “Chase”…While I do not regularly stay @ Ritz properties, the status @ Marriott hotels has been great…Previously I was never a Marriott fan, this card changed that…As I have brought up on here before [and complained to SPG] my biggest gripe w/ SPG is that from time to time when my company books a “corporate negotiated” rate @ an SPG hotel, they do not honor my Platinum status/benefits…This is NEVER the case w/ Marriott…My Gold benefits are honored at all the hotels regardless of the booking channel…I really hope that this policy survives the merger…

  5. I’m going on my first ever solo trip tonight! Not staying at a Marriott or Starwood property but am staying at a Hyatt property in Dubai.

  6. I have been a Chase Ritz card holder for 8 months now and a Marriott rewards member for more than 20 years. The gold status benefits are nice, but I’m extremely disappointed with what it takes to get the Ritz and chase to honor the other perks!
    Just last week I spent 2 hours talking with everyone at Ritz and chase trying to get them to honor their club floor certificates they issued. Couldn’t get it done. Not to mention the free nights I earned are only good at certain Ritz hotels. Not really happy with the card right now.

  7. Contrary to the demonstrably bogus claim about how there is no “material difference” between HH Gold and HH Diamond elite levels, those making the claim would be on much more solid ground making the same claim about Marriott Rewards Gold and Platinum levels.

    I have Marriott Gold status, as United 1K/1MM, through the UA-Marriott Rewards JV known as RewardsPlus. As a Marriott Gold I have complimentary breakfast, club lounge access and unlimited complimentary suite upgrades just like Platinums. I have scored suite upgrades at 4 of my 5 most recent stays at Marriott hotels, including at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown (DC) where I did not get breakfast but got a suite upgrade! Two of the 4 suite upgrades were in Bangkok (JW Marriott BKK and Renaissance BKK). I think that the Ritz-Carlton Gold status is a step down from the Marriott Rewards Gold.

    Anyway, the only differences between Marriott Rewards Gold and Platinum levels are
    are that Plats get these additional perks below [their “48-hour Guaranteed Availability” is a greatly watered down version of what HHonors provides as the tremendously powerful “HH Diamond Force” perk, which is automated and works even on award stays!]

    — Guaranteed Platinum Arrival Gift is available at all participating Marriott hotel brands. See below for Platinum Arrival Gift options by brand:
    JW Marriott, Autograph
    Collection, Renaissance Hotels,
    Marriott Hotels, Gaylord Hotels, and Delta Hotels (limited participation) 500 bonus points or Food & Beverage amenity (outside the U.S. &Canada) or $10 Food & Beverage credit (U.S. & Canada only)
    AC Hotels, Courtyard (U.S. & Canada) 400 bonus points and a Food & Beverage amenity
    SpringHill Suites, Residence
    Inn 200 bonus points or Food & Beverage amenity
    AC Hotels, Courtyard and Protea Hotels® 250 bonus points or Food & Beverage amenity
    Fairfield Inn & Suites,
    TownePlace Suites, Moxy Hotels 200 bonus points or Food & Beverage amenity
    Marriott Vacation Club 500 bonus points
    EDITION 500 bonus points or 250 air miles

    — 48-hour Guaranteed Availability: Limited to Platinum Member’s personal guestroom. Guaranteed room availability for reservations booked at least 48 hours prior to arrival available at all participating Marriott hotel brands except Marriott Vacation Club. 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability may not be available on certain limited dates (e.g., special events). Benefit cannot be used in conjunction with award usage or any type of promotional or discounted rates. For Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites, 48 Hour Guaranteed Availability applies to studio rooms only.

    — Platinum Elite Reservations Line: Exclusive reservations number available for Platinum Elite Members:

  8. @midwest guy

    While the status itself is reciprocal, ie gold in one is gold in the other, the benefits for each program are completely separate.

    You have to look up the program you are staying at with the level you have to set the benefits.

    As mentioned, Ritz platinum right now is a joke. Gold is the only thing worthwhile.

  9. @DCS. Agree. I have been HH Diamond for the past two years and HH Gold for several years prior, and have definitely seen the difference, primarily in quality of room upgrade and guaranteed lounge access (and guaranteed Hilton lounge access is very important to me, especially at resorts since Marriotts have no lounge access). I have also been Marriott Gold for at many years and just made Platinum a few months ago (good until early 2018), but I truthfully I haven’t seen the difference yet (other than getting United Silver, which doesn’t give me that much more than the United credit card I am holding, unless I am missing something).

    To me, the best reason to get the Ritz Carlton card is to use it for Marriott Gold status the easy way. So far, I have been earning Marriott status by getting 50 or 75 nights, i.e., the hard way. Currently thinking it is not worth it to spend an extra 25 nights in Marriotts in 2017 to get Platinum for the rest of 2018. Somebody can correct me if I am wrong. As for Ritz Carltons vs. Marriotts, I have stayed at plenty of Ritz Carltons but I’m not fully sure I see the value proposition since I am retired and pay my own way.

  10. @DCS, have you seen a diamond force available for points recently? The last time I saw one was at the beginning of May. Recently I was looking for a place in Charlottesville, VA during a college football weekend and pretty much everything is sold out. There were two that had a diamond force for cash, but neither offered the rooms for points. Couldn’t really argue the point since the T&C say that it is only for cash and now they aren’t even available for cash, but I am curious if Hiltons have more broadly eliminated the diamond force points room.

  11. The offer states, “participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel”. Here’s the million dollar question: Is there a list of “participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton” hotels?

  12. Love Marriott but no reason for anyone to waste a 5/24 app if they already have UA Gold status or MR Gold. Much better perks with CSR. Rtiz card is pretty much useless For everyday spend and thus useless after you get signup bonus. Lack of breakfast and 4pm checkout at resorts really denigrates Gold status for family travel.

  13. I have a question, I routine get mailed offers for the Ritz card and noticed that NO WHERE ON THE OFFER CARD does it mention points being earned! I read it over and over again. It always has the free rooms, etc. but never states that you earn any points per dollar for cc spend beyond the bonus nights for the minimum spend. Is this correct? What is the earn rate per dollar if you earn points?

  14. Hi Lucky,

    Few corrections: Most Marriott chain hotels and brands *don’t* provide breakfast. More brands don’t than do and more absolute number of hotels don’t than do.

  15. Have enjoyed the Ritz card now for my 3rd year. It’s very easy to use the $300 airline credit and with planning have always used up my club floor upgrade coupons. Given the upgrade is usually worth a minimum of $100 per night for a maximum of 7 nights per reservation, if you apply them wisely for longer stays, the value is obvious.

  16. @farnorthtrader — Glad you posed that question, as I “wrote the book” on the HH Diamonds-only perk known as “Diamond Force.”

    The last time “Diamond Force” automatically popped to “force” availability of a revenue room for me was in Boston, July 21-22, when, for whatever reason, it was nearly impossible to find a room in the vicinity of Mass General Hospital/Harvard University Medical School Campus. I recall that not only did Diamond Force succeed in “forcing” the availability of a standard revenue room, but it also made the same room available for booking with points. It was a business trip so I booked it as a revenue stay.

    So, from a recent direct personal experience, I can say that HH “Diamond Force” for award stays is alive and well. However, it is not always true that Diamond Force can “force” the availability of standard award rooms wherever it forces the availability of standard revenue rooms or vice versa because, strangely, under Diamond Force, a room shown as available for booking with points may not be available for booking with cash!!!

    A good place to test out the full power of Diamond Force is the Comic-Con — a really “hip” and REALLY YUGE conference that’s held yearly in San Diego, where hotel rooms are sold out a year or even two in advance!. Next year, the Comic-Con will be held between July 20 and 23, so I just tested “Diamond Force” to see whether it’s been discontinued for award stays as the T&C have claimed SNICE 2012 without it being the case. I am happy to report that I just reproduced every scenario I just described above.

    First, searching for availability (revenue or award) for July 20-23 without logging in as a HH Diamond, I found nothing available within a radius of 3.2 mi of “ground zero”, the San Diego Convention Center.

    Then after logging in as a Diamond and redoing the search, I was able to “force” the availability of standard revenue and/or award rooms within the same radius of grand zero, where none were available before. Illustrating what I just wrote above, and you can confirm it yourself by doing the search with and without logging as a Diamond:

    1. Without being logged in as a Diamond, DoubleTree (DT) by Hilton Sand Diego [0.51 mi], Hilton Garden Inn (HGI) San Diego/Bayside [0.57 mi], and Embassy Suites (ES) by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown [0.91 mi] — to take just 3 cases within less than 1.0 mi of ground zero — show no availability of either standard award or revenue rooms.

    2. After logging in as a HH Diamond, you will see that the DT shows availability of a revenue room, but NOT of an award room (like what you described), WHILE both the HGI and ES show availability of standard AWARD rooms but NOT of revenue rooms! In fact, it seems that availability of award rooms with NO revenue rooms within the same property is the prevalent situation, which I’d noticed before and had speculated about the reason for that oddity. For a YUGE conference like the Comic-Con, for which many rich people (Hollywood types) and companies book rooms wholesale way in advance, Hilton seems to have decided to use the opportunity to reward their loyal HH Diamond members by offering them more AWARD ROOMS THAN REVENUE rooms (which are VERY EXPENSIVE due to the high demand), available COURTESY of the rich folks and companies that book nearly everything in sight. Th conference delegates “subsidize” the availability of standard award rooms for HH Diamonds! For revenue room that Diamond force makes available for booking, you will see a notice like this one:

    “There are no rooms available for standard reservations on 20 Jul 2017 – 23 Jul 2017 at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Diego Downtown. Because you are an HHonors® Diamond VIP, you can choose from the rooms shown below, view a list of available dates at this hotel across a 2-week range, or view nearby hotels.”

    Such Diamond Force-freed rooms are always very expensive (100%-200% mark-up), so that if one were paying with one’s own dime, this would be a textbook case where paying with points would be strongly indicated.

    3. To find a significant number of properties that offer BOTH standard award and revenue rooms, one has to be outside out the 3.2 mile radius of “ground zero.”

    If you are going to attempt this demo, remember that things are very fluid, with constant booking and cancellations, so that you may not see exactly what I just described.

    In short, the preceding is yet another jaw-dropping demonstration of HH “Diamond Force” that again makes it clear that anyone who goes around claiming how there is no “material difference” between HH Golds, for whom “Diamond Force” is not a perk, and HH Diamonds is clueless and, thus, should not be believed.

    G’day!

  17. Addendum:

    Just to drive home the points I made above

    (a) that Diamond Force-freed revenue rooms generally tend to be very expensive because, by definition, Diamond Force becomes operative — automagically — only when there is “extraordinary demand”;
    (b) that this presents a textbook case for paying with points rather than with cash if the option is available; and
    (c) that HHonors likely purposely makes more award rooms available through ‘Diamond Force” under such “extraordinary demand” conditions as a benefit to their loyal Diamond members [at the expense of everyone else],

    I just reran the search above for availability of revenue rooms over a two-week range in July 2017 at Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside and got the following:

    Jul 13 Thu — Jul 16 Sun From $295 per room
    Jul 14 Fri — Jul 17 Mon From $295 per room
    Jul 15 Sat — Jul 18 Tue From $295 per room
    Jul 16 Sun — Jul 19 Wed From $189 * per room
    Jul 17 Mon — Jul 20 Thu From $275 per room
    Jul 18 Tue — Jul 21 Fri From $295 per room
    Jul 19 Wed — Jul 22 Sat Sold out for these dates
    Jul 20 Thu — Jul 23 Sun Sold out for these dates*
    Jul 21 Fri — Jul 24 Mon From $555 per room
    Jul 22 Sat — Jul 25 Tue From $555 per room
    Jul 23 Sun — Jul 26 Wed From $265 per room
    Jul 24 Mon — Jul 27 Thu From $265 per room
    Jul 25 Tue — Jul 28 Fri From $265 per room
    Jul 26 Wed — Jul 29 Sat From $295 per room
    Jul 27 Thu — Jul 30 Sun From $295 per room

    Note that:
    — for the Jul 20-23 dates that I wanted the “range search” showed no availability.
    — for the next conference dates that show availability the rates are sky-high ($555/night) compared to a mean rate of about $290 for non-conference dates — a YUGE rate mark up due to the high demand and that is what I wanted to show.

    Next, rather than doing a “range search”, I just did a search for the Jul 20-23 dates that I was interested in. Here are the summaries when I searched for revenue and then for award room availability on those specific dates:

    Reservation Summary
    20 Jul 2017 – 23 Jul 2017, 1 room for 1 adult

    Revenue:
    48 GUARANTEE-MONEY [official name for “HH Diamond Force”]
    This is a Diamond member benefit to reserve a room with money at …etc…

    Rate: $555  
    Free WiFi‡

    Award:
    DIA STANDARD RM RWD
    This is a benefit for Diamond members to bypass length of stay..etc…

    Rate: 50,000 HHonors Points
    Free WiFi‡

    These features of Diamond Force are readily apparent:

    — First, for this property it made the same standard rooms available for booking with either cash or points. For non-Diamonds, including HH Golds, the search would have shown no availability. Zilch.

    — Second, note that the rate in CASH for Diamond Force-freed rooms is about 2X more than it would be for non-conference dates ($555/night vs. ~$290/night). That is “the price” that one pays for invoking Diamond Force to “force” the availability of revenue rooms during dates of “extraordinary demand.” Econ-101.

    — Lastly and on the other hand, if one is lucky, Diamond Force would also “force” the availability of standard award rooms, and at low category properties with hugely marked up rates like at this HGI, the rates in points would generally be outstanding (50K HH points/night at this HGI), making the decision of whether to pay with cash or points a no-brainer.In fact, as I’d noted, it seems that HHonors arranges to make more rooms available for booking with points than with cash for Diamond members only, making HH “Diamond Force” a tremendous elite benefit because it shows up ONLY when the chips are down 😉

    Would you pay $555/night or 50K HH points/night at this HGI for a redemption value of 1.1 cents/point? See? A no-brainer…

    Long live HH “Diamond Force”!

  18. Love how DCS just turned this into another HH worship thread, when 1) nobody cares, 2) the smart money goes elsewhere (or just gets the $95 CC for Gold, and 3) it’s not even the subject of the thread to start with. Kudos chump!

  19. How more stupid can one possibly be to claim publicly that “no one cares” or that it’s not the subject of the thread, when in the same PUBLIC forum there is someone who clearly did care and posed the question, which I responded to, making it relevant, although it did not even have to be.

    You can remain stupid and not learn anything, but I am sure that the HH Diamond member who posed the question and maybe others too, would benefit tremendously from being aware of the nuances of this incredibly powerful HH Diamonds-only perk.

    Now please go back to being stupid. It’s free…

    G’day.

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