Maxing Out My Last $300 Travel Credit Of 2016

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There are several premium credit cards that offer annual travel credits, most of which are in the range of $200-300, and reset each calendar year (though exact terms vary).

One of the cards that offers a sizable travel credit is The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card. In addition to the $300 travel credit, the card offers a great sign-up bonus of three complimentary nights at a Tier 1-4 property upon completing minimum spend, as well as perks like 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.

ritz-carlton-vienna
Redeem your complimentary nights at the Ritz-Carlton Vienna

Lastly, the card isn’t subjected to Chase’s “5/24 rule,” so is generally easier to be approved for than many other Chase cards.

A couple of weeks ago I talked more about my experience with the $300 travel credit on this card. On one hand the card has one of the biggest annual travel credits of any card, though on the other hand it’s also not as straightforward as some others:

  • The credit isn’t automatic, but rather you have to call  or secure message 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 passes, or towards a yearly lounge membership of your choice, airline seat upgrades, airline baggage fees, in-flight Internet/entertainment, and in-flight meals

As I wrote about, the easiest way to request the credit is to send a secure message through Chase’s website requesting the credit. When you do so, you’ll be asked to “provide [them] with information or documentation to show that the charge from [the airline] is for one of the qualified airline incidental charges listed above.”

For us this was as simple as indicating that we purchased five upgrade “stickers” from American, which cost $40 each. We sent them a link to American’s website about upgrades, and they credited the amount.

That covered $200, though I wanted to make sure we were maxing out the credit, so we then made another $120 purchase with American, and sent a similar secure message (this seemed pretty straightforward, since the purchase was in the same $40 increments as before). American seems to code most purchases in a similar way as far as Chase is concerned, so a similar explanation sufficed.

ritz-credit

Initially I didn’t think we’d be able to efficiently maximize this, though it has been easier than I expected.

If you don’t yet have The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, now really is an ideal time to apply. You’ll get a $300 travel credit that you can use before the end of 2016, and then another $300 travel credit in the new year. If you maximize that and value the credit at face value, you’ll already have come out ahead on the $450 annual fee.

Then you get three complimentary nights at a Ritz-Carlton property, and all kinds of other perks.

This travel credit is much more valuable than I was expecting it to be…

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. From what I’m seeing with my CSR and others on myFICO, it looks like instead of resetting according to calendar year, the credit resets when you start a billing period ending in the new year. Mine has reset because it closes 4 January. So anyone who gets a new card now will have to wait until December to use their second fee credit

  2. That’s weird, why would you buy 500-mile upgrade stickers? I know you’re Executive Platinum and all, but that makes it even more weird.

  3. I’ve had mixed experiences with the chase people on the $300 reimbursement. Sometimes they give me the third degree and make me send documentation, and other times, they practically say, “just please say it was incidental so I can reimburse it.” Depends on the agent, I guess. I typically don’t have much trouble meeting the $300 stuff that is legit, but if you’re pressing the envelope on something that is iffy, don’t wait until December to try it.

  4. @ Eugene — EXPs don’t get complimentary upgrades for their companions, but also don’t earn stickers. The only real option if you’re traveling with a non-status companion is to buy stickers.

  5. Lucky, I don’t mind you pushing CC sign ups like some of your other readers here but telling them that right now is a great time to sign up is terrible advise when BEST CASE SCENARIO they may have 1 week to use up the credit for this year.

    Best time to sign up for credit cards for the purpose of travel credits is during the middle of the year where you have a full 5-7 months on your first year to spend it and 5-7 months the 2nd year to spend it.

  6. @Babetta – I spoke to a JPM customer service rep by phone when redeeming my credit and they told me that as long as the applicable purchase is posted in 2016, it can be used to redeem the credit. I asked what would happen if the transaction posts in 2016 and I call at the beginning of 2017 and they said that the 2016 credit could still be used for that transaction. If the applicable purchase posts in 2017, the credit for 2017 is used.

    My strategy for redeeming the credit was just calling the JPM CSR and saying something like “I know I definitely had a $100 seat upgrade in there that works from Delta. I think there were also a few others but I can’t remember what they were.” At which point they usually say, “oh yeah here’s one from American and another from Delta and I think this other one will work as well.” I only used the credit for seat upgrades though, so I’m not sure success rate with gift cards.

  7. I have the American Executive card, which has a $200 yearly credit. Will a $200 gift certificate qualify or $200 worth of miles?

  8. can upgrade stickers be purchased by non elites and can they be sold without violating any airline rules?

    if i buy a coach ticket in Dec for travel next spring, can i buy a paid upgrade after purchase (in Dec)?

  9. Got my card on Dec 7. Just sent 7 SM trying to get statement closing date changed to Dec, went back and forth with no luck, called customer service and got the same answer “not possible, takes 1-2 billing statements blah blah and on the third call in I got a super awesome rep who made it happen!! So don’t give up hope on getting your statement closing date changed to Dec!!

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