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Middle Age Miles

Keep or Cancel – JPMorgan Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa Card – Plus Retention Call Results (2019)

jpmorgan chase ritz carlton visa infinite credit card benefits features retention offer
JPMorgan Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa Infinite Card

Executive Summary

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.

View from the deck of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

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
  • $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.
A drink and the very nice view from the club lounge
at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas

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.

Wrap-Up

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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15 thoughts on “Keep or Cancel – JPMorgan Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa Card – Plus Retention Call Results (2019)

  1. Grant

    Great overview of the Ritz Carlton CC. Sweet retention bonus too. I had the Ritz Carlton, then downgraded to Marriott, and just recently upgraded back to the Ritz Carlton. I had the $395 AF originally (and did the CARD Act trick one year). I wonder if I will get the $395 AF again or if I will get the standard $450 AF. One nice feature about upgrading in November was that I was able to use the $300 travel credit this year too.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hey Grant – Thanks for the comment and compliment. I’m impressed that you did the CARD Act trick! I never had enough nerve to try it. I hope your card still qualifies for the $395 AF since it’s a continuously-held Chase card, but I don’t have any idea. Great play on your upgrade timing and using the $300 credit this year. I really enjoyed your article about that! ~Craig

      1. Grant

        I wish I could take credit for the strategic upgrade time, but CNB forced my hand so I had to get rid of that CC and upgrade my Marriott Bonvoy CC to Ritz Carlton. The CARD Act worked only 1 year, so I saved $395 once. I believe I lowered the credit limit to $1,500 so it would qualify. I will keep you posted on how much the AF is when it posts (sometime in Jan I think).

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          Makes sense. I’m sorry the CNB card was gutted. We never had it, being out of the geographic scope, and I was always envious of those who did. Btw, loving your articles on your card portfolio – I’ll comment directly on one or both of those articles a little later! ~Craig

          1. Grant

            I didn’t hit CNB hard (no authorized users since the process to add an AU was like filling out a 5 page loan). It was not my favorite card and the benefits and rewards slowly kept getting worse over the last year. I have high hopes for the Ritz Carlton CC tho.

            Thanks for the compliment on my recent posts. Sometimes I get inspired and write good posts and sometimes I have nothing to say so the blog goes quiet for a few days.

            Curious to hear how your total AFs compare and if you do any bank account bonuses 🙂

          2. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

            If you’re interested – I did a full series on our cards, annual fees and spend matrix back in January, which you can still access easily under the “About MAM” item on our top menu bar. I’m planning to update those in early 2020 to provide fresh thoughts; that said, about 75% of it will probably still be the same. Our AF total was a little higher than yours, and just eyeballing it, we’re probably still in about the same range now as then.

            I haven’t been doing bank account bonuses recently. I’ve done a few in the past. I need to study your article to pick up some pointers!

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hey Harlan – Thanks for the comment! Yeah, it’s a sweet package of benefits – and as I mentioned, that’s particularly so for us because we have all the kiddos/AUs who can use Priority Pass and the flight discount. Those are nice little treats that Philly and I can provide for them, and they love it when they get to use the bennies.

      Hope to see you soon, my friend – it’s been too long!!! ~Craig

  2. tmouse

    I thought the Platinum status 75K was per carmember year, not calendar year? This makes it very hard to track your spend online, there is no calculator for how much spend you have met towards Bonvoy Platinum status. The Bonvoy Brilliant is per calendar year.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi tmouse – You’re absolutely correct. Many thanks for the heads-up, and I’ve corrected the article. You’re right about it being difficult to track progress. You probably already know this, but for those who don’t – you can get your cardholder anniversary date from Chase by sending a secure message asking this question. Then you can search your transactions online by date, starting with your cardholder anniversary date. Even at that, though, you’d have to manually add up the charges to figure out your total spend for your cardholder year. I’m not sure whether Chase can give you the total spend for your cardholder year if you just ask them that question directly via secure message (or by calling in; the phone reps for this card tend to be very, very helpful). Thanks again for your help, and for reading Middle Age Miles! ~Craig

      1. Pam

        Yes, just ask a rep to calculate for you. I actually do this with all banks to ensure I have met spending requirements for bonuses. After all, they are the final determinant after any credits, etc. Helps to have it in writing if you are cutting spending close just for a bonus.

        Thx for a good article about a card I also really enjoy (incl its weight!).

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          Thanks, Pam. This is a very solid tip, to double-check with the banks to make sure you have hit important spend thresholds (if you’ve played it straight and don’t mind having bank eyes on your account). I definitely did this with our Barclays AA Aviator Silver cards to make sure that Philly and I had hit the thresholds we needed to earn EQMs & EQDs that would re-qualify us for Exec Platinum!

          I’m very glad you enjoyed the article. And yes, I probably should have mentioned the card’s weight, which is always fun when you hand it to someone! ~Craig

  3. Grant

    RE: “If you’re interested – I did a full series on our cards, annual fees and spend matrix back in January, which you can still access easily under the “About MAM” item on our top menu bar. I’m planning to update those in early 2020 to provide fresh thoughts; that said, about 75% of it will probably still be the same. Our AF total was a little higher than yours, and just eyeballing it, we’re probably still in about the same range now as then.

    I haven’t been doing bank account bonuses recently. I’ve done a few in the past. I need to study your article to pick up some pointers!”

    Oh ya, I remember reading that post a few months ago. Looking forward to seeing your updated post soon.

    Doctor of Credit has all the bank about bonus info you need. You should be in luck, Texas is a big state and should have lots of banks to choose from 🙂

  4. HS

    Spouse’s card. Two+ weeks ago — which is to say, a lifetime ago — called in after AF had posted. Mentioned loss of Visa airfare feature, plus the declining value of the 50,000 point Bonvoy certificate. CSR responded that the $100 airfare discount loss was Visa’s call, not Chase’s and, long story short, no offer of any kind.

    Yesterday, having seen a DP on FT, called in again, simply asked if there were any offers. Yes, a $150 one-time-good-customer credit. Took it.

    Morose conversation from CSR end, but, hey, these are difficult times for everyone (except maybe Doug Parker).

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi HS – Nice job on being persistent, congrats on the great retention offer on a valuable card, and many thanks for posting your DP! ~Craig

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