The JPMorgan Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa Infinite card (RC Visa) comes with an annual fee of $450 (or $395 for some lucky cardholders like us who are grandfathered in to the lower rate), but it’s one of the most valuable cards in our portfolio. We get far more benefits for ourselves and our family each year than the annual fee costs, and we believe that many other people would be able to do the same. For us, the Ritz-Carlton card is an absolute keeper until the day they pry it out of our hands.
And this year, we got an extra bonus for keeping the card – a nice statement-credit retention offer that served as the cherry on top of a the RC Visa card’s already-tasty sundae.
Background of our RC Visa Card
We first obtained the RC Visa card 4 years ago. It was actually my first travel rewards card as I started to get us involved in using credit cards, points and miles to get great value for our travels.
Back in 2015, Philly and I were planning a trip to Maui, and the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui looked enticing. We found a good rate for a week in late October, booked a room, got the RC Visa card, and used one of our Club Level Upgrade certificates from the card to get ourselves into a club-level room for our stay. The property was great, the club lounge food was tasty, its drinks were plentiful, and the service was on-point. It was a great and high-value experience for us in our first serious venture into travel rewards.
Fast-forward to today – the RC Visa card remains one of the most valuable cards in our portfolio, despite its hefty $395 annual fee.
Unfortunately, the card is no longer available for new sign-ups, having been taken off the market by Chase back in 2018. That said, though, it’s still possible to obtain the RC Visa card through a product change. We have seen confirmed data points that it’s possible to convert the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card to a RC Visa, as long as you’ve held the Boundless card for at least 12 months. We believe that it’s also possible to convert a no-fee Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold card to a RC Visa after 12 months, although we haven’t seen a confirmed data point on this.
Also, note that some cardholders (including new cardholders as a result of a product change) will have an annual fee of $450 rather than $395. The annual fee increased after we got the card, but we are grandfathered in to the lower $395 fee.
Benefits and Features of the Ritz-Carlton Visa Card
Let’s take a look at the key benefits and points-earning structure of the RC Visa card:
- Annual Free Night Certificate each year after account anniversary, good at Ritz/Marriott/SPG hotels at a redemption level up to 50,000 Marriott Rewards points
- Note that we received our Free Night Certificate on our cardholder anniversary date again this year (plus or minus a couple of days); we did not have to wait until after the annual fee was paid, as is the case with many other cards
- $300 annual credit per calendar year for airline fees
- This includes baggage fees, seat upgrade fees and in-flight food/beverage/entertainment purchases
- It excludes airfare, fees on award tickets, and gift cards (although people have been able to get some such charges covered if Chase didn’t ask them exactly what the charge was for)
- It’s good on any airline
- You have to call Chase or send a secure message to get the credit applied, which can be a pain even though the phone call itself is easy
- $100 Visa Infinite airfare discount
- Applies to 2 (or more) people traveling together on the same domestic coach itinerary – the second ticket is $100 off
- You must book through a specific website and pay with your RC Visa card
- Authorized Users (AUs) may use this benefit
- There is no limit to the number of times you can use this benefit, and there are no blackout dates
- The discount applies on Alaska, American, Delta and United – but not Allegiant, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit or Southwest
- Priority Pass membership for primary cardholder and AUs, with no limit on the number of guests
- No additional fee for AUs
- 3 Ritz-Carlton Club Level Upgrade certificates per cardmember year
- Each certificate is good to upgrade you during a single stay of up to 7 days
- Requires you to book a qualifying rate – Marriott Rewards-member discounted rates qualify, but you cannot use an upgrade certificate when booking with a corporate rate, AAA rate, or advance purchase rate
- This can be a meaningful limitation on using the certificates
- Automatic Gold elite status with Marriott Bonvoy
- Plus, you can earn Platinum elite status if you spend $75,000 on the RC Visa card in your cardmember year
- 15 Marriott Rewards elite nights credit each calendar year
- 15 elite nights is the cap across all Marriott co-branded cards; elite nights credit is not additive if you have multiple Marriott co-branded cards (including the RC Visa)
- $100 Global Entry application fee reimbursement, good once every 4 years
- No foreign transaction fees
- Points earning structure:
- 6 Marriott Rewards points per dollar at Marriott Bonvoy hotels (including Ritz-Carlton hotels)
- 3 Marriott Rewards points per dollar for airfare, dining and car rentals
- 2 Marriott Rewards points per dollar on everything else
- Primary auto collision damage waiver coverage when you book and pay with the card
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance & Trip delay reimbursement (up to $500/ticket; triggered at 6+ hour delay or overnight stay)
The Value We Get from the Ritz-Carlton Visa Card
For us, the value we get from the RC Visa card far exceeds the $395 annual fee (and we’d say the same if our fee was $450). I am the primary cardholder on our account, and Philly and all of the 5 Middle Age Miles kids (all college-age or older) are AUs. A lot of our value comes from being able to have the kids be AUs and use the benefits; it would be a closer call if we couldn’t take advantage of the AU benefits.
Here’s how we’ve used the RC Visa card’s benefits:
- We use the full $300 annual credit each year. Given our elite status on AA, Philly and I don’t have many incidental fees. But the kids do. The kids use their RC Visa AU cards when flying, mostly for baggage fees. We have used the full $300 credit in each year from 2015 through 2019.
- Between Philly and me, and the kids, we have used the $100 Visa Infinite airfare discount 16 times during 2018-19 – 9 times during 2018 and 7 times during 2019.
- We all use the RC Visa for our primary Priority Pass card, given that its benefits are the most extensive with unlimited guesting. Philly and I each have at least one other Priority Pass card with guesting privileges, so for us the incremental value from the RC Visa card is less. But the kids don’t have other Priority Pass cards. They’ve been able to get some nice benefits, including Middle Age Miles son Dylan visiting the Turkish Airlines lounge at Dulles (which many reviewers say is the nicest PP lounge in the US) and several of the kids eating at Timberline Grill in Denver before it stopped accepting Priority Pass in October 2019.
- We have used several Club Level Upgrade certificates while we’ve held the RC Visa, including 2 this year at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City in the DC area when we stayed there for Middle Age Miles son Dylan’s wedding. Even though we certainly haven’t maximized the benefit from these certificates (frankly, we don’t stay in Ritz-Carlton hotels that often), we’ve definitely gotten some value out of them, including a 4-night stay at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas back in 2017 (which has an awesome Club).
- We also look forward to using the annual Free Night Certificate at a hotel up to 50,000 points. Our first Certificate came last year. We haven’t used it yet, but Marriott was gracious enough to extend it by one year. Even with the Marriott Bonvoy devaluations including Peak award pricing, we expect to be able to get $250-350 in value from these certificate, easily, and perhaps even more.
- On one of our trips where we used the $100 Visa Infinite discount to purchase our airfare, we were delayed overnight in Denver, and the card reimbursed us for about $400 in expenses, including a night at the very nice Westin hotel adjacent to the Denver airport terminal.
I’m not going to try to precisely quantify the value we’ve gotten out of the RC Visa card in the past year. A ballpark estimate might be at least $1,500, but in any event it clearly exceeds the $395 annual fee. Looking forward, we may use the card benefits slightly less next year, but there’s still no doubt that we’ll get way more than $395 in value.
Results of Our Retention Call (Data Point)
Even though we knew we would keep our RC Visa card for another year, I decided to call Chase to see if any retention offers were available.
Back in 2018, I had not received any retention offer at all on the RC Visa card. We hadn’t been surprised by this, because the RC Visa was already a discontinued product for new sign-ups, and Chase wasn’t trying to attract customers for it. However, I’d seen a successful data point or two on FlyerTalk, so I figured it was worth a try. We’d had about $7,000 in spend on the card during our most recent cardholder year.
I made the call in late October, after our annual fee had posted but before the payment was due on the statement that included the annual fee. As usual, I told the representative that I’d just received my statement with the annual fee, that I’m trying to decide whether to keep the card or close it, and I wondered whether there were any offers or anything else to help offset the annual fee.
The retention agent thanked me for being a “valued Chase Private Client” but then noted the great benefits on the card. At that point, I thought I was headed for another “no offer” year. However, somewhat to my surprise, the agent said that she could extend of $150 statement credit as a courtesy for keeping the card open and paying the annual fee. This was the same offer that I’d read about on FlyerTalk. I was delighted to get the offer and accepted right away.
For us, as we’ve outlined in detail here, the RC Visa card is an absolute keeper. We’re delighted to keep it at our $395 grandfathered annual fee; we’d keep it even if the annual fee was $450; and we’re absolutely ecstatic to get the statement credit retention offer to effectively reduce our annual fee down to $245!
That said, our situation is close to perfect for this card, as we can make great use of the generous Priority Pass and $100 Visa Infinite airfare discount for our kids as AUs. As always, be sure to evaluate for yourself how the card works for you in your own circumstances.
And for those who don’t have the RC Visa card, remember that there’s still a path to get one through a product change, even though the card is closed for new applicants. Considering the generosity of the benefits, it might be a great strategy for many Middle Age Miles readers to get one.
What is your experience with the RC Visa card? Are you keeping or canceling when your annual fee comes due next? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!
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