How to Get Upgraded to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level

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Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

Ritz-Carlton clubs aren’t like the club lounges you may be used with at major chain hotels. They’ll frequently have up to 5 food presentations daily, and adult beverages throughout the day along with great service to take care of any needs you have during your stay.

Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge Chengdu, credit: Ritz-Carlton

You’ll find delicious, substantive food from breakfast to light snacks, afternoon tea, evening Hors d’Oeuvres and desserts.

The new Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card comes with Gold Elite status (which is honored at Marriott hotels, comes complimentary the first year and that you retain each year you spend $10,000 on the card); a $300 Airline Fee credit; $100 Global Entry credit; unlimited use $100 Airline Ticket discounts when buying for 2 or more passengers; and airport loujnge access.

The signup bonus is 3 complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel after $5,000 spend on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

But crucially the Ritz-Carlton credit card comes with 3 complimentary upgrades to The Ritz-Carlton Club® Level each year valid on paid stays of up to seven nights. It also comes with a $100 hotel credit toward dining, spa or other hotel recreational activities on paid stays of two nights or longer.

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles Club, credit: Ritz-Carlton

Here’s what they say about the club lounge upgrades:

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 and select “Account Activity.”

When you sign up for the card you’ll get club upgrades in your account within days. Each upgrade expires 13 months from issue.

Elite status doesn’t get you club access at Ritz-Carlton. Booking through specialty websites or agents doesn’t usually get you a club upgrade either. Normally you have to pay. These credit card upgrades are the best way to get Ritz-Carlton club access.

These aren’t your typical chain hotel club lounge. You can usually expect breakfast, lunch, tea, cocktails, desserts, generally 5 separate presentations daily.

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong Club, credit: Ritz-Carlton

You need to call to book the stay at an eligible rate. Book by phone and apply the upgrade certificate when making the reservation.

  • The ‘member discount rate’ that Marriott launched back in the spring which is designed to be lower than what third party sites like Expedia offer is eligible.

  • But you can’t use the benefits with corporate rates or non-refundable rates. You can’t use this with third party bookings or agency bookings (like the Citi Prestige Card 4th night free). And you can’t use it on reward nights.

And you’re supposed to pay for your stay with the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card.

I think the best value use of these certificates is a long resort stay. They’re valid up to 7 nights. If you’re in a city hotel you might be out and about in the city. But on vacation you might stay around the resort more, and really take advantage of the club offerings. I know people that take their families to Ritz-Carlton resorts and spend literally nothing on food and beverage. And you can save $200 – $300 per night.

Here’s the description of the club level at the Ritz-Carlton Bali:

Designed in a contemporary Balinese architecture, Club Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali features indoor and outdoor seating of laid-back dining, comfortable sofas, and private dining room for intimate dining experience. Enjoy high-speed internet access throughout the lounge especially in the Library area. Soak in the dedicated swimming pool at the Club Lounge on a tropical day in paradise while enjoying refreshing drinks from the bar.

Five food and beverage presentations throughout the day is one of the prime offering at The Club level. Breakfast buffets with an array of typical morning fare of cereal, pastries, fresh fruit, local delicacies and live cooking. At lunchtime, gourmet cut food is served such as mini sandwiches and tasty salads. Afternoon tea is served in the afternoon for a nice break of the day – three-tiers of scones, finger sandwiches and desserts with an extensive choice of international tea selections. When the play day is over, The Club invites guests for cocktails and pre-dinner snacks. Before closing the evening, The Club offers cordials and chocolates.

A dedicated Club Concierge is carefully assigned to assist you with the recommendations for tours and other activities exploring the island.

This isn’t for everyone because of course you’re paying for a Ritz-Carlton stay but you can get phenomenal value out of it if you do. And that makes the credit card really valuable for people who like luxury hotels.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. omg. this RC card must pay the most lucrative referral rates for bloggers. ever. it’s like a drug – it keeps getting pushed every few days.

  2. @Gary, I totally agree with your post, thanks! Quick question:
    “…have your travel professional contact…” gave me hope that the Citi Prestige Concierge qualifies, thereby allowing a fourth night free. But it appears that is not the case. Can you please elaborate? Thx.

  3. I used my club certificates for the the RC TOKYO for a trip next week. Really looking forward to it.

  4. If I combined an award stay with a paid stay and used the Cert on the paid stay, would you expect that I would have to move room?

    I like your thoughts on the resort- in a city, going out to eat is a big part of the experience.

  5. This rate has to be booked through the Ritz-Carlton reservation system, not through the Citi Prestige system it cannot be combined with 4th night free [and the cert has to be applied at booking, not to a reservation that has already been made].

    It can’t be combined with ineligible rates like award stays although of course any given Ritz-Carlton MIGHT as a courtesy let you keep your benefits on subsequent nights of your stay even if using points, I bet there are stories of this but you aren’t entitled to it.

  6. Phenomenal value??!! You cannot be serious. Rather useless for government travelers and business travelers that have to use corporate card. And the “eligible rates” probably don’t include the frequent 3for2 offers, AAA or other discount rates. In other words, if you are wealthy enough to pay rack rate for your RC stays, they will throw you a bone with lounge access on a few stays.

    This is much less valuable than top tier status at Hyatt (which comes with guaranteed upgrades and free lounge on ALL stays) and SPG, not to mention even IHG RA.

    Don’t get me wrong – I love even the second-tier RC properties which often offer great discount rates. But I’ll pass on another illusory benefit and a hefty AF for a card that I don’t need.

  7. LOL. If DSUs are “guaranteed”, I am sure that it is news even to HGP, who refer to them in their T&C as “complimentary upgrades”…

    — A COMPLIMENTARY suite upgrade is valid on paid nights when paying an Eligible Rate, for a maximum of 7 consecutive nights, at participating Hyatt hotels where suite accommodations are AVAILABLE [all caps mine].

    See the word ” complimentary” and that little stubborn contingency about “suite accommodations [having to be] available”? Anything with a contingency is by definition not “guaranteed” and the contingency of availability won’t go away no matter how often DSUs are claimed to be “guaranteed”, especially since individual properties have the final word on availability…

    There is nothing like claiming expansive benefits that even those offering them are not aware of!

  8. Do you know if a points & cash booking is considered a paid stay where you could use the Club Lounge upgrades?

  9. Have you experienced any issue with two rooms…one at the member rate and one on points…can all parties use the club lounge if the same person is paying for the first room and using points on the 2nd?

  10. Not sure why the negativity about this card or this post. I have had the RC card for two years now and easily get double or more back on what I pay in an annual fee. They are fairly liberal with the $300 airline reimbursement. Any in-flight purchase counts. Any seat upgrade (including Southwest Early Bird check in). Any Lounge. I’ve never tried purchasing gift cards but have read they won’t reimburse.

    The Club Lounges can absolutely be a very good deal regardless if you need to pay the “rack room rate”. I especially enjoy these for lazy vacations by the beach when I don’t want to go out to eat at a lot of restaurants. After 4 or 5 days, the food presentations can become somewhat stale but having virtually all you can eat and all you can drink for an entire vacation stay at a luxury property for “free” is a great deal. Not all Ritz properties are worthy of the brand’s somewhat undeserved luxurious reputation but I’ve had good luck at their South Florida locations where I find myself for long weekend vacations several times per year. I’ve also had good luck with the DC area locations although the Virginia locations are decidedly less upscale.

    Easily, I’ve gotten $1500 in value from my $450 card–some from hotel amenities and some from simply saving money on food and wine that I would have otherwise purchased but is available for free with the club upgrade. I am also a bargain price hunter and have never stayed at a Ritz property and paid more than $400 per night, sometimes even paying less than $200.

    It’s certainly not a card for everyone but I’m confused as to why some feel that because it’s not for them that no one should be able to report on the amenities and rewards that may benefit others.

  11. I have RC upgrade certificate and i tried to book the RC hotel in Dubai. The club level room rate is with certificate and without certificate is same.

    I booked the normal room like normally do and call help desk to upgrade to club level. I tried this time and they are not allowing this anymore.

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