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When it comes to reward cards, the name of the game is value – in both the initial sign-up bonus and the rewards you’ll receive from spending. If a card charges an annual fee, you should get additional value to offset it.
Many airline credit cards have promised a “free flight,” but as fees and surcharges have gradually been added, those flights are getting a lot less “free.” Fortunately, hotel cards offer an alternative form of travel rewards that can meet – or even exceed – the value of the airline cards.
Chase offers its Hyatt credit card to travelers who want to earn free nights at premium properties and receive all the perks of elite status…
- Earn two free nights. You receive a sign-up bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt hotel worldwide after your first purchase. Additionally, those who already hold Platinum status in Hyatt’s Gold Passport program will receive two suite upgrade certificates. Those who hold Diamond status will receive two free nights in a suite. Considering that a standard room at some Hyatt properties in Europe can cost more than $1,000, and a suite can cost several times that, this is one of the most valuable credit card sign-up bonuses offered.
- Receive elite status. You automatically receive Platinum status in Hyatt’s Gold Passport program. This entitles you to receive room upgrades, free Internet service, and late checkouts.
- Earn points from spending. You earn 1 point per dollar from most purchases, with 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt properties.
- Redeem points for free nights. Standard room awards vary from 5,000 to 22,000 points, depending on the hotel category. The real value is in the high-end properties such as the Grand Hyatt in Paris or Milan. Even a suite at their top hotels only requires 33,000 points – a real bargain for a room that can normally cost thousands of dollars.
- International travel features. The Hyatt card has no foreign transaction fees, and it includes an EMV smart chip that will allow your card to be accepted at unattended kiosks in Europe. (See: Why Your Credit Card Might Not Work in Europe)
- Renewal bonus. Each year upon renewal, you receive a complimentary night’s stay at one of Hyatt’s low-end to mid-range properties. This takes the edge off of the $75 annual fee.
- Annual fee. There’s a $75 annual fee, and unlike some competitors’ cards, it’s not waived the first year. Even though this card offers tremendous value at sign-up and renewal, some credit card users still draw the line at paying an annual fee.
- High interest rate. The standard APR is 15.24 percent, which is a lot higher than the credit cards with the lowest interest rates. Anyone who carries a balance on their credit card should always be looking for the lowest interest rate, not the highest rewards.
- Other redemption options have low value. Hyatt’s Gold Passport program offers redemption options for dining, spa treatments, flights, and car rentals – but none of them offer nearly as much value as the free night stays.
Get it if: You want to earn free nights in luxury hotels around the world.
Forget it if: You’re carrying a balance and need the lowest interest rate.