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Review of the Ritz Carlton Credit Card: Free Marriott Gold Elite Status and Airline Lounge Access for $395

I’ve been hoping there would be another random Marriott free Gold Elite status offer like we’ve seen a couple of times in the past, as I’ve been staying at Marriotts a bit more lately. We haven’t seen a free Gold Elite status offer in a year or so, but I remembered that the Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card offers just that — free Gold Elite status with Ritz Carlton. And if you have Gold status with the Ritz, you’ll get the same benefits when you stay at Marriott brand hotels. Oh wait – did I say free? Yes, it’s free — when you pay the $395 annual fee.

Why might you pay that $395? Here are the benefits:

- For every 2-night Ritz stay, you’ll get a $100 hotel credit.
- Free room upgrade on every stay, though only to a better regular room – not to a suite.
- Upgrade to a Club-level room 3 times a year.
- Free Gold elite status the first year, and each year that you spend $10,000 on the card
- $200 reimbursement of airline incidentals
- Free airline lounge access through Priority Pass (though you’re blocked from going to United Club locations)
- No foreign transaction fees
- JP Morgan Concierge access, which people seem pretty happy about
- Gold Elite status at Marriotts gets you lounge access Monday – Friday and/or continental breakfast.

So is it worth $395? If you’re looking for Marriott Gold Elite status, it can be a great deal. A family of 4 can easily spend $100/day (or more!) on breakfast, so lounge access in the morning can save a great deal of money. Priority Pass is not exactly the same as belonging to an airline club, but it’s good enough for most people. If you stay at Ritz hotels, that $100 hotel credit is great, as is the Club level access 3 times a year – that’s usually $100 per night.

It can be a really great card if those are benefits you’ll actually use — in that case, it’s a bargain at $395 (well, maybe not a bargain, but you’ll certainly make that back).

(On a side note, according to this Flyertalk thread, you’ll get 70,000 Marriott Rewards points if you apply for the Marriott credit card through this link. I know that the link makes no mention of the 70,000 points, but in the last couple of pages of posts, you’ll see that people are still applying through that link and getting the 70,000 points on the first purchase. The best publicized offer out there is for 50,000 points, so that 70,000 point link is great to have.)

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