Update: This offer for the Citi Prestige® Card has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.
I’ve written about some of the benefits of The Ritz-Carlton™ Card, including the $300 annual airline credit, Ritz-Carlton Gold status (which is also valuable at Marriott properties), the $100 domestic companion airfare benefit, etc.
In this post I wanted to talk about one of the less marketed benefits of the card, and whether it makes sense to use it. For having The Ritz-Carlton™ Card you get three annual Ritz-Carlton club level upgrades. Here’s how the perk is marketed:
UPGRADE TO THE RITZ-CARLTON CLUB LEVEL
The more personal comfort of The Ritz-Carlton Club Level is yours. Upgrade your stay three times annually on paid stays of up to seven nights. Subject to availability at the time of your reservation. Advance reservation and e-certificate is required. Valid only on member rates and non-discounted rates. Cannot be combined with any packages, discounts, negotiated corporate or group rates or point-redemption bookings.
To use one of your three Club Level Upgrades e-certificates, please call or have your travel professional contact the dedicated Reservations line at 1-800-542-8680. To view available e-certificates, simply log in to your Ritz-Carlton Rewards account at www.RitzCarltonRewards.com and select “Account Activity.”
Sure enough, once you activate the card you should see the three sets of club level upgrades in your account pretty quickly, and they expire 13 months after they’re issued (as you can see, they’re issued on a cardmember year and not a calendar year).
Furthermore, as explained in the terms, the club upgrades are each valid for up to seven nights, meaning you can potentially get up to 21 nights of club rooms out of the three certificates.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the details.
Why you’d want Ritz-Carlton club level upgrades
While Ritz-Carlton is technically part of Marriott Rewards (and Ritz-Carlton Rewards), no level of elite status will get you an upgrade to a Ritz-Carlton club level room. You might get a suite upgrade, but you’ll almost never be upgraded to a club level room. That’s also true with American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts and Virtuoso, where you might get a nice room upgrade at Ritz-Carlton properties, but typically not to the club level.
That’s because Ritz-Carlton tries to keep their club level exclusive, and generally their clubs are in a different league than what you’d find at other major chain hotels. You can generally expect five servings per day, including breakfast, a light lunch, afternoon tea, evening cocktails, and then chocolates and cordials.
While everyone values things like club lounges differently, Ritz-Carlton on the whole operates among the best lounges there are.
What kind of rates are eligible for Ritz-Carlton club upgrades?
You need to book directly through Ritz-Carlton at the members only or flexible rate in order to redeem these certificates. That means the following types of stays aren’t eligible for these certificates:
- Points stays
- Corporate rates
- Pre-paid rates
- American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts and Virtuoso rates
- Citi Prestige® Card fourth night free bookings
Furthermore, you technically have to pay for your stay with The Ritz-Carlton™ Card to be eligible, though I’m not sure to what degree that’s enforced.
The best way to figure out what rate is eligible is to call. It used to be that entering code “Z38” online in the special codes field would return rates for this offer, but that doesn’t seem to work anymore.
Rewards Member Rates do qualify for this promotion, so in the below example at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, the rate of $391 would be eligible (a whopping savings of $8 over the standard rate).
Meanwhile a pre-paid rate, as shown below at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, wouldn’t be eligible.
I called, and for those dates at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, the lowest rate required for a club upgrade is 4,100HKD, which is the same rate Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts charges.
I’m not sure if there’s last room availability for the club level upgrades. I assume perhaps not, though based on all the hotels I called to inquire about, availability was never an issue.
Is it worth using Ritz-Carlton club level upgrades?
It all depends how much you value club access. There are certainly a lot of considerations when using one, though.
For example, for the same rate you could typically book through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, which comes with daily breakfast, guaranteed 4PM check-out, a room upgrade, a $100 hotel credit of some sort, and sometimes even a complimentary night. For example, in the case of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, there’s even a complimentary third night offer at the moment.
So if you were staying for three nights you’d be better off outright booking a club room with the third night free, given all the perks you’d receive.
Furthermore, if restaurant breakfast is already included, how much do you really value club lounge access? Restaurant breakfast is almost always better than club lounge breakfast. That’s especially true when you consider that you typically have a $100 food & beverage credit included as well.
Everyone’s perception of value differs. I know some people who get the card specifically for this perk, while others would never consider using it.
The club level upgrades offered by The Ritz-Carlton™ Card have the potential to be extremely valuable, though it’s important to understand the terms associated with them. Under almost all circumstances there’s a direct opportunity cost to using them, given that for the same rate you could book through a program that gets you extra benefits like breakfast and a $100 property credit.
So you can get a lot of value out of these certificates, just don’t be lured in thinking that you’ll be able to use these on points stays, in conjunction with other programs, etc.
If you have The Ritz-Carlton™ Card, have you used these club level upgrades yet?