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Update: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
Hyatt announced today that starting on October 1, 2012, the Hyatt Visa will be offering some brand new features and as an existing cardmember, you will be get these new benefits as soon as they launch – you do not need to register or reapply.
Increased Point Earning
The card used to offer 1 point per dollar spend on everything besides Hyatt spend, but now you get 2 Hyatt Gold Passport points for every $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets when purchased directly from the airline, and at car rental agencies. You continue to earn 3 Hyatt Gold Passport points for every $1 spent at Hyatt properties worldwide and 1 Hyatt Gold Passport point for every $1 spent elsewhere. There are no limits to the amount of points you can earn.
Elite Status Credits
The Hyatt Credit Card provides automatic Platinum membership in the Hyatt Gold Passport program for as long as you are a cardmember. However, now you’ll also have an opportunity to earn nights/stay credits towards Diamond status (which I personally enjoy greatly). When you spend the following amounts in a calendar year, Hyatt will award you with credits towards Diamond status:
$ 20,000 annually = 2 stay / 5 night credits
$ 40,000 annually = an additional 3 stay / 5 night credits
Diamond status is achieved by completing either 25 stays or 50 nights at Hyatt properties each calendar year.
This is in addition to automatically receiving Hyatt Platinum just for being a cardholder, which normally requires 5 stays or 15 nights per year to achieve. Benefits of this status include a 15% bonus on earned points, room upgrades, complimentary in-room internet access, expedited check-in, 72-hour room availability guarantee and a 2pm late check-out. You will also receive Platinum Extra Awards after every third stay such as bonus points, food and beverage amenities and even free breakfast.
The current sign-up bonus for the Hyatt Visa is two free nights at any Hyatt in the world after $1,000 spend within the first 3 months, including top-tier Park Hyatts such as the one in Tokyo, where rooms can normally go for in the $400-500 range. Existing Hyatt Platinum members who sign up for this card also get two free suite upgrade certificates along with their two free nights, and Hyatt Diamond members get their two free nights in a suite. There are no foreign transaction fees with this card, and a $75 annual fee. Note: It may be possible to get this card with the first year annual waived by making a fake booking at Hyatt.com and then clicking on the credit card advertisement displayed on the guest information page.
Also every year upon renewal of the card, you receive one free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt property. The award night is good for one night in any available standard room within 12 months from the issue date of the certificate – based on your account anniversary – at any Category 1- 4 Hyatt property, which more than pays for the $75 annual fee, in my opinion.
While I am really glad to see these enhancements, they are weaker in comparison to other cards on the market.
With $40,000 in spend, the Citi HIlton HHonors Reserve and Amex Hilton Surpass cards award top tier Hilton Diamond status altogether. The SPG American Express offers 2 stays/5 nights each year with no spend requirement, but there is no opportunity to earn more than that unless you were to get the SPG Business Amex, which gives an additional 2 stays/5 nights.
As for the 2x points on dining, airfare and car rentals, personally I’d rather get 2 points per dollar spent on all travel and dining on my Chase Sapphire Preferred because they also award a 7% annual dividend on points, so you are actually earning 2.14 points per dollar spent on those categories. Not only that, you can transfer those points to Hyatt at an instant 1:1 ratio or one of their other 8 partners like United, Marriott and British Airways. So you earn more points and have more flexibility on how to use them.
For airfare, I’d also rather put it on my Amex Premier Rewards Gold to get 3x points (4x when booked through Amex Travel) and that card also gives a 15,000 point bonus when you spend $30,000 within a calendar year.
Overall, I hope this ups the competition with the other hotel credit cards and we see more perks and benefits added over time.
That being said, I applaud new enhancements, though I don’t think the elite night/stay credits are enough for me to start putting a big portion of my spend on this card.