Once upon a time – in fact, up until today – travelers who wanted to earn hotel rewards at the Ritz Carlton line of hotels using their credit card only had one option – a card with a steep $395 annual fee. The Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card, issued by Chase, is targeted to an elite customer who is willing to pay a hefty sum to carry a card with the exclusive Ritz name on it. Now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and Ink Bold card, as well as the Ritz Carlton Rewards card, will offer cardholders the option to earn Ritz-Carlton rewards.
The Ink Bold card is a business charge card, not a traditional credit card, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great option for the everyday consumer. While it does carry an annual fee of $95, that fee is waived for the first year, and the card is part of Chase`s popular Ultimate Rewards program.
Ultimate Rewards, Ultimate Flexibility
The Ultimate Rewards program is offered on the Chase Freedom Card, the Sapphire Preferred Card, and the Ink line of Chase business cards. Cardholders who carry another Ultimate Rewards card as well as the Sapphire Preferred card can combine all their points and transfer them to their Ritz Carlton rewards program. Since points are earned at a minimum rate of one per dollar, and one hundred points are needed to equal a dollar in rewards, combining rewards across cards can help them add up much faster.
Here`s a side-by-side comparison of the fees and features of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card and Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card:
|Terms and Conditions||Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card||Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card|
|Annual Membership Fee||$95 (Waived for the first year)||$395|
|Purchases and Balance Transfers||15.24%. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.a and hovers around industry average|
|Cash Advance APR
Overdraft Advance APR
|19.24%. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.b and is lower than most other cards|
|Penalty APR and When It Applies||19.24%. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.b and is significantly less than most credit cards|
|Balance Transfers||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater – this is standard for the industry|
|Cash Advances||Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater, also standard for the industry|
Prime Rate: Variable APRs are based on the 3.25% Prime Rate as of 2/22/2010.
aChase adds 11.99% to the Prime Rate to determine the Purchase/Balance Transfer APR.
bChase adds 15.99% to the Prime Rate to determine the Cash/Overdraft Advance APR.
With nearly identical terms – same APR, same balance transfer fees – the only major difference between the cards is the Sapphire Preferred`s lower annual fee. The Ritz Carlton card does allow cardholders to earn hotel reward points faster, however, offering with 50,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards points the first time cardholders use their card, and 5 reward points per dollar spent at the Ritz-Carlton.
The Chase Sapphire card also gives chances to earn more than the one-point-per-dollar reward as well, giving customers 2 points per dollar spent on airfare, hotels, fine dining, rental cars, fast food, cruises, and more. Ultimate Rewards Points never expire, and there is no cap on how many can be earned.
You`ve Earned Them, Now Enjoy Them
How do cardholders redeem their ritzy rewards? It`s a pretty straightforward process of transferring Ultimate Rewards points over to the Ritz Carlton Rewards Program at an equal rate of one-to-one. Once cardholders have accumulated enough rewards, they can be redeemed for things like hotel stays, room upgrades, airline miles with partner airlines including Delta, United, and British Airways, luxury cruises and travel packages, and merchandise in their rewards mall – which offers such elite items as diamond watches, plasma TVs, and espresso makers.
When redeeming rewards for hotel stays, Ritz-Carlton hotels divide their properties into five different price tiers. The first tier costs the smallest amount of points, and the fifth tier takes the most points. The tiers are simply determined by location and hotel type. Tier 5 hotels, for example, are only located in New York City (Central Park), Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Tier 1 and Tier 2 hotels are located all over the globe, from Dallas and Denver to Dubai and Doha, while Tier 3 hotels can be found in 21 cities, including Boston and Barcelona.
For travelers, seekers of luxurious accommodations, and deal-hunters, this new development from Chase and Ritz-Carlton offers even more ways consumers can make their credit cards work for them.