Note: The 140,000 point offer below has expired as of September 24, 2014.
Last week, at my reader meetup, a few people mentioned to me they had gotten in on an offer for the Ritz Carlton card offering 140,000 points with an annual fee of $395, not waived the first year. To be honest, when I first heard about the offer, my mind kind of passed over it and I didn’t really think about it until last week. After thinking it through, I decided to submit applications for not one, but two of these cards. One for each of my parents.
Why? Are Ritz Carlton points so valuable that we need to pay $800 in annual fees to get them? Perhaps not, but the truth of the matter is they become a lot more valuable once you have a lot of them. At lower levels of points, you can only redeem for hotel nights. With more points, the situation is completely different.
- Once you have over 200,000 points, you can then access the Marriott Flight and Hotel Packages.
- These Flight and Hotel Packages allow us to redeem points for a seven night hotel stay and transfer a bunch of Ritz Carlton Rewards points to miles at a 1:1 ratio or better!
- Spouses can combine points for an award redemption, my parents will be able to get up to 132,000 United miles on top of a a seven night vacation. That’s potentially enough to pay for two tickets to Europe plus a week-long hotel stay somewhere.
In this post, I’ll do a breakdown of the offer and whether it’s worth it. To be fair, I really don’t advocate that everyone else go out and sign up for two of these cards. In fact, unless you have a specific plan in mind on how you’d use the points, I really really suggest just not signing up. That said, I do want to make sure that everyone who may have a use for these points gets a chance to understand the hidden value.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I do not receive any commission for applications for the credit cards mentioned here. I always strive to provide the most honest and useful advice regardless of commission. The offer referenced here is also a specific offer that is only available by phone – it may frequently change and not everyone may be eligible. Please check full terms before applying. )
Coming to Terms with the $395 Annual Fee
The one thing I don’t want is someone to read this post, get excited about the miles and then be surprised at the annual fee. So let’s get that discussion out of the way first. The 140,000 point offer comes with a $395 annual fee, not waived the first year. This means getting two cards is going to cost $790 up front.
Each card now comes with a $300 airline fee credit to use on incidentals, baggage fees, club day passes, etc. Some people have been able to use these for airline gift cards, but this isn’t guaranteed to work and your miles may vary on that one. The other benefit is that the $300 fee credit is per calendar year whereas the annual fee on the card is per membership year… meaning that if you redeem the $300 this year, you can get another $300 next January before the annual fee is due again for a second year. Overall, I may be able to recoup my entire $790 and possibly more – but it’s important to understand I do need to pay it up front.
Signing Up for the Offer and Terms
The offer is not actually available online and you need to call 1-888-846-7004 and mention RSVP code “F5BP.” From a bit of research, it seems the bank is ok with people applying for the offer even if no official targeted letter was received. When I called and mentioned the offer code, they were more than happy to process the application.
- 140,000 Ritz Carlton points after $2,000 in spend after 3 months
- $300 in airline fee credits
- $395 annual fee not waived the first year.
- Marriott Gold status and a few other perks.
- A few other perks I don’t value so highly like gold status, 3 club upgrades annually, etc.
You will either first need a Ritz Carlton account or one will be assigned to you when you apply. The points can only be deposited into a Ritz Carlton account. Technically, you should only have a Marriott account or a Ritz Carlton account (not both) so you’ll need to convert your Marriott account to a Ritz Carlton account before you apply. It only took a few minutes when I did this.
Maximizing the Offer
Marriott and Ritz Carlton allow us to redeem our points for Travel Packages. When we redeem for 7 nights vacation, we can choose to transfer additional Marriott Rewards to miles at the same time and this is the one time the transfer ratio is very good. The better ratio transfer partners are Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Southwest Rapid Rewards. Because of the RewardsPlus partnership between Marriott and United, you receive a 10% mile bonus when transferring to United. There are more partners, but with worse ratios.
Who is best to transfer to? Well, it depends on which miles you need. However, you do get a 10% bonus transferring to United so that’s definitely an attractive partners. The transferred miles will also count toward the Southwest Companion Pass so this is a good way to get it.
It does take a lot of miles to redeem for travel packages, but spouses are able to combine their points specifically when making an award redemption. The instructions for doing so are here on this page. This means that a set of spouses with 280,000-290,000 has a number of travel packages available.
The number of miles you receive depends on which category hotel you choose. As an example, you receive 120,000 miles (or 132,000 for United) when redeeming 270,000 points at Category 5, but only 70,000 if you go for a Category 7 hotel. To go for Category 8, the couple would have to do a little work to boost the Marriott Rewards points balance as the vacation package requires 290,000 points. Ritz Carlton is actually a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards so that’s a potential option.
The next question is: What kind of options do we have in places where we’d actually want to spend seven nights? My parents like to relax and take it easy on vacation so I made them a list of places they could consider and I’ll share it here. The list is a bit long so bear with me. They like the Caribbean and the beach and would like to take a trip to Hawaii in the near future. These are destinations where they could easily enjoy a week and I also included a few properties in Europe.
I’ve broken out the option for Categories with how many miles they’d receive on the airline partners. Keep in mind transferring to United earns an additional 10% miles bonus.
Category 5: 270k points = 7 Nights + 120,000 Miles
- Category 5: Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa in Tuscany, Italy
- Category 5: Denia Marriott La Sella Golf Resort & Spa in Alicante, Spain
Category 6: 280k points = 7 Nights + 100,000 Miles
- Category 6: Courtyard Kaua’i at Coconut Beach in Hawaii
- Category 6: St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino in St. Kitts
- Category 6: Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino in Curacao
- Category 6: Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa in St. Croix
- Category 6: Marriott’s Village d’lle-de-France – French countryside townhouse timeshare
- Category 6: Marriott’s Club Son Antem – Spanish countryside townhouse timeshare
- Category 6: Hotel am Steinplatz, Autograph Collection – Berlin, Germany
Category 7: 280k points = 7 Nights + 70,000 Miles
- Category 7: Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino
- Category 7: Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino
- Category 7: Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa on Big Island
- Category 7: Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Oahu
Category 8: 290k points = 7 Nights + 50,000 Miles
- Category 8: Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club in Kauai
- Category 8: Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Maui
- Category 8: Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club in Oahu
- Category 8: La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort
- Category 8: Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort
- Category 8: Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection
The Ritz Carlton credit card with Chase is currently offering 140,000 points as a sign-up bonus after spending $2000 within 3 months and a $395 annual fee. Two spouses or domestic partners teaming up can redeem for a Marriott Flights and Hotel package to receive seven nights at a Marriott property as well as up to 132,000 miles depending on which category they choose. It is $800 in annual fees up front, but there’s opportunity to earn up to $1200 in airline incidental fees in the first year of membership. The select few for whom the plans and fees align can turn $800 into a seven night vacation package, 100,000+ miles and $1200.
Anyone else going for the Ritz Carlton 140,000 point offer? How are you planning to spend the points?