Compare Hotel Premium Cards: Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card Vs. Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card Vs. Amex Hilton Aspire Credit Card

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We’ve seen hotel premium credit cards are increasing these days. The annual fee on the card is $450 and that fee is pretty steep for holding on to the card. After Chase has discontinued the Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card, American Expressed has introduced two additional hotel premium credit cards such as the Hilton Aspire and the SPG Luxury credit cards. The SPG Luxuy card is now the new Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card. Confused yet? Read on and we’ll try to simplify this by making a comparison on these $450 annual fee hotel premium credit cards to see if each one is worth keeping or letting go.

Maui’s Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

It’s worth noting that, although Chase has discontinued the Ritz-Carlton credit card, any card holders can still hold on to the card and use the card. The card, however, is no longer open for new applications.

Marriott now becomes Marriott Bonvoy. SPG and Ritz-Carlton also become Marriott Bonvoy. From now on, it’ll be just Marriott Bonvoy points and Marriott Bonvoy properties.

Card Benefits Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards (Discontinued) Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Hilton Aspire

Best Sign-Up Bonus
3 Free Nights Certs Tier 1-4 Ritz properties 100,000 Marriott
150,000 Hilton Points + 1 Free Weekend Night Reward

Annual Fee
$450 $450 $450

Points Earning
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy properties.
3x points on dinning, car rental and airline purchases.
2x points on others.
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy properties.
3x points on dinning and airline purchases.
2x points on others.
14x points at Hilton properties.
7x points on dinning, car rental and airline purchases.
3x points on others.

Hotel Elite Status
Automatic Gold Elite Status. Spend $75,000 on card to earn
Platinum Elite
Automatic Gold Elite Status. Spend $75,000 on card to earn Platinum Elite Automatic highest Diamond status

Free Night Anniversary
Yes, capped at 50,000 points or lower hotels.  Yes, capped at 50,000 points or lower hotels.  1 Free weekend night reward, no capped.

Annual Travel Credits
$300 on qualifying airline fees.

Unlimited $100 savings on two to five economy round-trip tickets book with Visa Signature

 None $250 airline fee credits.

Hotel/Resort Credit
 None $300 $250 at eligible Hilton resort properties

Paid Stays
3 Club Level Upgrades e-certificates on paid stays. None $100 credit at Waldorf Astoria & Conrad on 2 nights minimum paid stays through Hilton Aspire site.

5th Reward Night Free
Yes Yes Yes

Elite Night Credits
15 max 15 max N/A

Priority Pass Airport Lounges Access
Yes Yes Yes

$100 Global Entry Credit
Yes Yes Yes

Foreign Transaction Fees
None None None

Analysis & Recommendation

  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card: If you are holding this credit card, you receive $300 airline credits towards qualifying airline fees (see what airline fees work here and here). This knocks down the annual fee to $150. If you are able to take advantage of the $100 savings on 2 to 5 round-trip economy tickets booking per year, then you will be paying only $50 annual fee. The $100 savings benefit is unlimited, so if you can take advantage of it multiple times a year, you are already ahead of the game. Plus, every year you receive a free night certificate at any Marriott’s property that requires 50,000 points or less. Stacking all that together along with airport lounge access, keep the card because it’s no longer open to new applications. The rest of the benefits of the card are just icing on the cake, and cannot be used as the reasons to keep paying for that $450 annual fee. 3 club level upgrades are only good for paid stays and Ritz-Carlton properties are too overrated and expensive. Gold elite does not mean much with Marriott Bonvoy and to get better Platinum elite status you have to spend $75,000 on the card. That’s just pure insane! $100 global entry credit is a norm these days with any premium credit cards out there.
  • Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card: We are hoping that the card may increase sign-up bonus in the future. The sign-up bonus is what worth getting this card in the first place. After that, this card gives $300 credit at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties. What this means is, each year you will need to come up with a stay at Marriott in order to take advantage of this benefit. If you are able to do that, that will reduce the annual fee of this card to only $150. The card also gives anniversary free night certificate that is good for Marriott properties worldwide that require 50,000 Marriott points or less. 50,000 points Marriott properties are generally nice and well located. So this is like paying for a nice Marriott’s night stay for $150 every year. You can make that $150 to be much more valuable if you use it at the property that the paying rate is expensive. Otherwise, the rest of the benefits are just mediocre such as the automatic Gold status which does not mean much, airport lounge access, and $100 global entry credit. Therefore we feel that this credit card is not a long term type of credit card to hold on to and keep paying for the $450 annual fee. Compared with the above Ritz-Carlton credit card, the Ritz card is better. Keep in mind also, American Express welcome bonus is once a lifetime so it’s always recommended that if you get an American Express card because of the sign-up bonus, do it when the offer is high, or you have a great use of those points in mind in a short-term period. Because this credit card is new, 100,000 sign-up bonus points is currently the highest offer. 
  • Amex Hilton Aspire Credit Card: The sign-up bonus is very good and what really stands out about this card is the fact that, upon approval of the card, card member receives Hilton’s highest Diamond status automatically. This is huge because you don’t have to pay for several Hilton stays to achieve that status, and Diamond status comes with several benefits. After all, Diamond is Hilton’s top tier elite membership level. Moreover, in addition to the sign-up bonus, you also receive 1 free weekend night reward in the first year upon approval of the card, and then subsequent years as long as you are a card member. You also receives annual $250 airline credit, which reduces the card’s annual fee from $450 to $200. But that’s not all, you also receive annual $250 resort credit that can apply to the room’s rate at participating Hilton resorts. If you can take advantage of the $250 airline credit and the $250 Hilton resort credit every year, you are doing really well. The challenge is the $250 resort credit are not for Hilton properties worldwide so it can be difficult to figure out ‘where’ to spend it. Stacking all of these benefits up, this card is truly worth more than the $450 annual fee and thus it’s worth keeping in our credit card’s portfolio. The other benefits on the card is nothing to brag about. The $100 credit on minimum 2 night stays at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad is not that good because those properties are expensive to begin with. 

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