In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out my advertiser policy for further details about our partners, including American Express, Chase, and Citi, and thanks for your support!
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.
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.
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…