One of the cards I keep around basically just for the perks is the Ritz Carlton Visa card issued by Chase. While this card isn’t open to new applications, there have been recent reports of product changes from the Chase Bonvoy cards being possible. The $450 annual fee is partially offset by a $300 travel credit. If you use that credit, you’re basically paying $150 per year and getting a variety of perks, the main one for me being the 85,000 free night certificate, easily worth $150. So, let’s talk about how we’ve used our $300 Ritz Visa travel credit!
What the Ritz Visa Travel Credit Can Be Used For
Unlike some travel credits, the Ritz Visa $300 credit cannot be used toward airfare or hotel stays. It’s one of the restrictive credits that can basically only be used for incidentals. (FWIW, the Amex Platinum‘s air travel credit is even more restrictive, forcing you to pick an airline for the year in advance.) Here’s how the terms describe the credit:
Only the following types of non-ticket purchases qualify for this offer: airline lounge day pass, or towards a yearly lounge membership of your choice; airline seat upgrades; airline baggage fees; in-flight Internet/entertainment; in-flight meals.
Lounge day passes and memberships are probably the worst use of the credit unless you get to the end of the year with no other good options. In-flight meals are maybe a fine use, but honestly I don’t usually remember to carry the car when flying.
This leaves seat upgrades (any paid seat selection actually counts), baggage fees, and in-flight internet/entertainment as our most common uses. On its face, the credit is actually great for travelers like us who frequently fly low-cost, since baggage and seat selection usually aren’t free on those airlines.
As with all credit card credits, it’s best when the credit is used for something you were planning on buying anyways. This ensures you’re getting the most value out of the card.
We’ll go through some of our specific uses below. But first, let’s quickly talk about how you actually claim the credit.
How to Claim the Ritz Visa Travel Credit
The Ritz Visa Travel Credit is good for up to $300 in purchases in a calendar year (by posting date). You can split the credit over multiple purchases, if necessary.
Chase recommends calling 1-855-896-2222 once the charge posts in order to request the credit, but no one (well, no one in this house at least) wants to deal with a customer service phone call if it can be avoided.
Luckily, we’ve had continued success redeeming the credit via secure messages to Chase via the Chase.com website. You can access “Secure Messages” via the hamburger menu on the left of the website.
The specifics of the Secure Message center have changed over time, in part because during the pandemic Chase preferred to direct people to other sections of the website rather than overburden customer service. Nonetheless, by clicking “New Message” and making the proper dropdown selections you can still unlock the option to send a message:
- What is this about? “I have a question about one of my accounts”
- Choose a topic: “Account Inquiry” (NOT “Rewards Inquiry”)
This will yield a link to “Send us a message.” From there, I have a pretty standard script I use (changing the relevant specifics):
I’d like to apply $124 of my annual travel credit on card XXXX toward the February 1 purchase from Spirit Airlines for $124. The purchase was for a carry on allowance on two flights.
Thank you in advance.
So far, this has always yielded a positive response and a credit with a few days. Now, onto some examples of how we’ve used the credit in the past.
Southwest Early Bird Check In 
Southwest Early Bird Check In is basically an automatic check-in option for Southwest flights. Since Southwest doesn’t have assigned seating, getting an early boarding group is important. Since Southwest assigns boarding groups based on when you check in, checking in ASAP is important.
Since everyone makes mistakes, Early Bird Check In is an option to lock in an early group without risking that you’ll drop your phone in the toilet right when it’s time to check in. The cost was $25 per person for two people, totaling $50. We received the remaining $43.28 of our annual travel credit for this shortly after we requested it.
Virgin Atlantic Onboard Wifi 
Flying Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class between LHR and JFK, Emily paid $3.72 for messaging for the entire flight. It didn’t allow video or images, but we were able to keep in touch throughout, which was nice. I actually requested the credit a few days after my statement closed (with just that charge). The credit was quickly applied and no payment for the statement was required.
Qatar Onboard Wifi 
While flying Qatar’s 777 QSuites, I paid $10 for onboard wifi for the entire flight. It worked well the most of the flight and actually enabled me to place an order for a replacement laptop (I lost mine on our Air India business class flight) to be delivered just after we got home that evening. I requested the credit a few days after my statement closed (with just that charge). The credit was quickly applied and no payment for the statement was required.
JetBlue Even More Space Seats 
Returning from Santo Domingo, I noticed at check-in that there was a row of JetBlue Even More Space seats available. While I’m not a huge fan of these seats (outside the exit rows, at least), Zoe had a tough weekend and we felt like every inch of space on the 4-hour trip home would be worth it. I booked three seats for $41, $41, and $37 (total $119). They posted as three separate charges, but I just made one request (noting all three charges) and received confirmation back from support within 24 hours.
Spirit Carry Ons 
Our first use of 2023 is a good example of why it’s nice to have these credits available. As we were on the train, heading to a Spirit flight to Walt Disney World, I realized we hadn’t purchased a carry on for this flight. While I considered using my Amex Platinum incidentals credit, I hadn’t set that up yet (you have to pick an airline in advance). Plus, once I picked Spirit I’d need to find a way to use the remaining of the annual credit specifically on Spirit.
Instead, I plugged in my Ritz Visa and paid $124 for two carry ons (one each direction).
Delta Upgrade to Comfort Plus 
This was a classic scenario of getting to the end of the year and realizing I hadn’t used the credit. We were booked in Delta’s Main Cabin roundtrip from LGA to MCO in early December, having paid about $330 per person. An upgrade to Delta Comfort Plus was available for about $96 per person in each direction (for three of us). I upgraded for one direction.
Sadly, I actually didn’t make use of the remaining $12 of the credit this year.
Spirit Seat Assignments / Carry Ons 
This was my second low-cost airline redemption of the year. I spent $100 on two carry ons (one each direction) and $120 on six seat assignments (three each way). Since I’d already used $178 of the credit, I was given the remaining $122 for the year. In the past, we’ve found the Spirit Big Seats to be a great use of the credit.
Frontier Seat Assignments / Carry Ons 
This was a classic Frontier booking—the flight cost $83.96 for three people, but we spent $277 on seat assignments and carry ons. I actually didn’t use the Ritz Visa credit for all $277, as I had another card that covered some of it. Nonetheless, this one was $96 for three seat assignments (one way) and $82 for two carry ons (one each direction) for a total of $178 on the Ritz Visa.
Some Previous Redemptions
Inflight Wifi For A Family Member
As part of a family trip to Hong Kong, we had relatives flying to Hong Kong on United’s 777-200 economy class. They aren’t frequent flyers and we knew they’d feel more comfortable with wifi, so we let them use our card to purchase wifi.
In-Flight Gogo Wifi Passes
Back when we used the credit for Gogo years ago, Gogo was one of the leading providers of in-flight Wifi. Nowadays, it’s only United, Alaska, and Air Canada that use Gogo, and I’m not sure whether its on all or most of the flights on those airlines.
Wifi passes are $19, but its the ability to purchase them in advance that makes them a nice use of the credit. If you’re nearing the end of the year without having used your credit, it’s these sorts of purchases, that can be used at a future time, that are pften the best option.
We’ve been happy to find ways to use our travel credit to make some flights more tolerable for us and for family. We’re big fans of low-cost airlines. As small, low-maintenance people with the ability to be flexible (with both time and money) in case things go wrong, we usually think we can survive low-cost. Without our travel credit, though, we’d be less likely to book low-cost airlines for long-haul flights. We still have to see how things go on the flights, but so far, the flexibility of the Ritz Visa travel credit has been a nice “nudge” that allows us to ultimately save money by flying more low-cost.