My Experience Using The Ritz-Carlton $300 Travel Credit

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There are lots of great reasons to apply for The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, which has a fantastic sign-up bonus of three complimentary nights at a Tier 1-4 property upon completing minimum spend. Keep in mind that this card isn’t subjected to Chase’s “5/24 rule,” so is generally easier to be approved for than many other Chase cards.

While the card has a $450 annual fee, it comes with all kinds of perks that help to offset it, including a $300 annual travel credit, Ritz-Carlton Gold status (which is also valuable at Marriott properties), a $100 domestic companion airfare benefit, three Ritz-Carlton club upgrades per year, etc.

In this post I wanted to talk a bit more about the $300 annual travel credit, since I just had my first experience trying to use it.

ritz-carlton-bali
The Ritz-Carlton Bali

The Ritz-Carlton Card $300 annual travel credit

Nowadays quite a few premium credit cards offer annual travel credits (these include the Citi Prestige® Card, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, etc.), though they’re of varying value. The travel credit on The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card is among the bigger ones out there, at $300, though it’s also among the more restrictive.

The first good news is that the $300 annual travel credit is per calendar year, meaning if you apply for the card now you should be able to get the $300 travel credit for both 2016 and 2017. That means you’ll get $600 worth of travel credits before the second year’s annual fee is due.

Here’s what the terms state in regards to how the travel credit can be used:

  • The credit isn’t automatic, but rather you have to call cardmember services within four billing cycles of the purchase date to request that it’s reimbursed
  • The credit can only be applied towards non-ticket purchases, including airline lounge day pass, or towards a yearly lounge membership of your choice, airline seat upgrades, airline baggage fees, in-flight Internet/entertainment, and in-flight meals

That’s how the terms say the credit works, though what’s the process like in practice?

Experience using the Ritz-Carlton $300 travel credit

Ford has The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, and we recently needed to buy some 500 mile upgrade stickers from American, for a companion traveling with us. That seemed like the perfect opportunity to use this credit, since it should be reimbursed.

So we purchased five of these upgrades (they cost $40 each), and they looked as follows on his credit card statement:

ritz-incidental

One thing that’s interesting is that when you charge an airline purchase to a Chase card, they don’t seem to do much to show what kind of transaction it is. Here’s what a recent American Airlines ticket purchase looked like on another Chase card:

ritz-card

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. To try and get the credit applied to the upgrade purchase, Ford sent the following secure message through Chase’s website:

I made a $200 upgrade purchase with American recently on my Chase Ritz-Carlton card, which I’d like to get refunded using the annual airline credit. Would you be able to process this for me? Thanks!

Here’s their response:

One of the many benefits of The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card is to receive a statement credit for airline incidentals up to $300.00 per calendar year (January 1 – December 31). Only the following types of non-ticket purchases qualify to receive credit for the Airline Incidental Credit benefit offered on this card:

  • Airline lounge day pass, or towards a yearly lounge membership of your choice
  • Airline seat upgrades
  • Airline baggage fees
  • In-flight internet/entertainment
  • In-flight meals
  • Global Entry fees

The credit cannot be applied to:

  • Taxis/subway/car rental/airport parking
  • Airline gift card purchase
  • Airline ticket purchases, including award booking fees, taxes related to a ticket purchase or pet cabin/flight fees
  • Ticket cancellation fees
  • Duty free shops

Please provide us with information or documentation to show that the $200.00 charge from American Air is for one of the qualified airline incidental charges listed above. Once we review the information requested we will issue credit in accordance with the terms of the benefit.

He replied with the following:

Thanks for the response. This was used to purchase the upgrade coupons that American sells. The upgrade coupons cost $40 each, and I purchased five of them. You can read more about the upgrade coupons here. Let me know if you require further information.

Then here’s their final response:

We have issued a $200.00 travel credit to your account as requested and will post on your December 11, 2016 billing statement. You have $100.00 of $300.00 remaining for the Airline Incidentals credit benefit for the 2016 calendar year. To view or use your Rewards points, go to ritzcarltonrewards.com or call Guest Services at 1-888-696-0394.

Easy peasy!

Bottom line

While the process of requesting a credit on The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card isn’t automatic like on some other cards, I still found it to be easier than I was expecting. It seems you simply have to send them a message with an explanation of the type of purchase you made, though they don’t actually require any specific documentation.

We’ll certainly be maxing out the $300 credit offered on this card every year. If you don’t yet have the card, picking it up soon would net you $600 worth of travel credits within the next couple of months, given that you’d potentially get the 2016 and 2017 credits just weeks apart.

What has been your experience with using the $300 airline credit on the Ritz-Carlton Card?

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Comments

  1. I used my $300 Ritz travel credit for the cash portion of an upgrade from HND – IAD on AA. Cash copay was $350. Once the charge hit I called the number on the back of the card and got the credit with no problem. I was asked what to describe the charge and I replied “seat upgrade co-pay from economy to business on AA from HND – IAD.” Credit posted 2 days later.

    I was a bit nervous about using the credit to upgrade to a different class of service, but Chase didn’t have any problem with it.

  2. I used the travel credit in late 2015 and early 2016 and purchased AA gift cards. I purchased them in differing amounts: $50, $75, $125 etc. I called in to have the credits processed. They were processed without event every time.

  3. My wife used it to cover $300 of a $322 charge for southwest. The CSR asked a bunch of questions and she just told him it was for a intl fare that had a lot of fees associated with it. I planned on buying GCs in small amounts but thought we would try this first. It was an uncomfortable conversation and the CSR eventually refunded $300 of it.
    I used mine to cover a bunch of misc amounts for $50-$100 and the CSR i had took care of them all with no questions.

  4. I didn’t even think about this credit applying to seat upgrades/certs. Might be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back and gets me to pull the trigger on applying.

  5. I’ve used the credit to pay for actual tickets on JetBlue, Volaris, and Frontier without any issue. When I called the csr never even asked what they were for. It helps to keep the dollar amount low.

  6. I’d disagree that either a call or multiple messages to Chase is ‘easy-peasy.’ Easy is the Reserve card issuing the credit automatically. If I’m paying $450 annually to hold a card I’d better not have to manually ask for benefits each time I use them.

  7. What is the date that counts for the once-per-year limit? Is it date of expense or date of reimbursement? If I get it now, will I have time to get the credit attributed to 2016 calendar year?

  8. You know what’s easier? Charged a $350 UL ticket from HKG-BKK last month – that $300 credit hit my account almost immediately without having to talk to or explain anything to anyone. 🙂

  9. Another use of this credit is for Global Entry for multiple people. I had to cancel my card in February so in January I used it to pay for GE for my brother, his wife, and kid. $300 refunded without any questions. I used $200 for two GE’s the prior year for myself as well.

  10. Why is that easy peasy? They gave Ford a hard time and made him basically repeat himself. Try the Citi Prestige credit and compare

  11. Booked a QR upgrade at ~$1k w the card, called and refunded $300 of that. Pretty quick, and knocked out the full credit amount with one call.

  12. In my third year anniversary with the Ritz card, the $300 credit is much easier to use than the Platinum American Express $200 airline credit in that you don’t have to pre-select one airline as well as not have to deal with more restrictive criteria. Yet I will still keep my Platinum Amex card because the Centurion Lounges and the rebate offers are worth the fee.

  13. I haven’t tried a secure message yet; only live chat with a rep. So far the experience has been fantastic. I’ve had the following reimbursed this year: Southwest EarlyBird, Southwest upgrade to Business Select, American in-flight beverages, American in-flight headphones, Gogo WiFi, and upgrade to Delta Comfort+ seats. I think that reimbursing WiFi is a big advantage to the Ritz Carlton’s credit.

  14. @Lucky — As I am up against the (in)famous “Chase 5/24 Rule,” and thus cannot yet get a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, I have been eyeing the Ritz-Carlton card, but I must say I had — up until now — misunderstood the $300 travel credit. Frankly, it seems (other posts to the contrary), a P.I.T.A. It’s so much easier just to have the travel credit automatically applied, as with my other cards, than to a) *not* have it applied to the cost of actually travel, but to things like gift cards or luggage fees; and b) to have to call/contact Chase and say “p-u-u-u-l-l-l-l-l-e-e-e-e-e-e-z-e, I beseech thee: give me the credit to which I am entitled . . . ”

    I think I’ll wait for my “exclusion” due to the 5/24 rule to lapse, after all . . .

  15. Just had really easy time getting reimbursed the difference between coach & first class on a United flight. I attached a screen print of the booking portal on United, since receipt shows no itemization of “upgrade” price. Sharing my PM below, in case it’s of use —


    Dear Chase:

    Please apply my remaining $270.00 in travel credit for 2017 to the upgraded flight purchase to United Airlines that posted on _______.

    I have attached documentation showing:
    + Coach fare: $183 total per ticket
    + First class upgraded seating: $368.65 total per ticket

    = DIFFERENCE: $185.65 per ticket (for First Class upgrades for both myself and wife).

    Thus for the 2 airline tickets, the upgrade portion to first class combined was $371.30. I would ask that you apply the remaining $270 in travel reimbursement credit to my account.

    —-
    Chase support has never rejected one of my requests (baggage fee, lounge access, priority boarding charges, drinks on flights, etc.)

  16. Does this apply to airport/transit hotels? Arriving from internstional trip > 12 hours, too exhausted to drive 3 hours. Would the travel credit apply for a hotel?

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