One of the seldom-discussed perks of American Express’s range of OPEN business credit cards is that they offer a 3% discount on spending at Hyatt properties in the US (excluding Hyatt Place, Hyatt House and Hyatt Residence Club), up to savings of $500 per calendar year.
As of January 1, 2013, however, Amex OPEN is going to up the discount to 5% up to $500 per calendar year – on spending up to $10,000.
A 5% rebate is a pretty solid return on your money – especially because you still earn the points you would on your Amex card anyway – whether it’s the Membership Rewards points from your Business Gold or Business Platinum card, or the Starpoints from the Business Starwood Amex – and that entire sum taken together can be worth more than the points you’d rack up by using the Hyatt Visa from Chase, which awards 3 Gold Passport points per $1 you spend at Hyatt.
So what should your Hyatt spending strategy be?
If your Hyatt stays are in the US, and you’re looking to save just a little extra cash for your Hyatt stays while still earning some points, then using one of the OPEN Amex cards is the way to go. Ironically, using the Starwood Business Amex at Hyatts might earn you a better return on your spending than using the Hyatt card – you still get 5% back while earning valuable Starpoints.
Don’t throw away your Hyatt Visa just yet, though. It still has plenty of great features beyond just padding your Gold Passport account with points that should earn it a place in your wallet. Here are a few reasons to keep it around:
Sign-Up Bonuses: If you don’t have the card yet, when you sign up, you’ll get 2 free nights at any Hyatt in the world when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months. Diamond members get 2 free nights in a suite, while Platinum members get 2 free nights in a room and 2 suite upgrades. These free nights and upgrades can be worth a huge amount of value – far beyond $500 – when put to use at Hyatt’s top-tier properties like the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome or the Andaz Fifth Avenue.
Anniversary Free Night: Each year on the anniversary date of opening your Hyatt Visa, you get a free night certificate good for 12 months after at any Category 1-4 property. While the top 2 categories are excluded, there are still some amazing values in Category 4 including the Park Hyatt Seoul, where I just had a great stay, and the Andaz West Hollywood, where I’m a frequent guest and room rates can get up to over $400 a night.
Category Spending Bonuses: The Amex OPEN savings are only for stays at Hyatts in the US, while you’ll still earn 3 Hyatt Gold Passport points per $1 you spend using your Hyatt card at Hyatts all over the world. The Hyatt card also offers a spending bonus of 2x points on purchases at restaurants, airline tickets and car rental agencies.
Elite Status: Cardmembers get Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum status as long as their card is active. Platinum status confers perks including a 15% bonus on earned points, complimentary internet, 72-hour guaranteed availability and late check-out. You can get to Diamond status faster since spending $20,000 in a calendar year earns 2 stays/5 nights credit toward elite status and spending $40,000 in a calendar year earns an additional 3 stays/5 nights credit. Diamond status includes perks like a 30% point bonus, room upgrades, club lounge access, free breakfast, four suite upgrades a year and a welcome amenity at check in.
Easier To Use Abroad: Unlike most Amex OPEN cards, the Hyatt Visa does not levy any foreign transaction fees, and it’s embedded with a SmartChip, making using it abroad (and especially in Europe) both more secure and easier.
Annual Fee: The $75 annual fee, which is not waived the first year, is lower than that on many OPEN cards – for instance, the Business Platinum card is $450 a year and the Business Gold Rewards card is $175 after the first year, though the Business Starwood Amex is just $65 after the first year.
Types of Redemptions: If saving a little bit of money is your goal, then using an OPEN card might still be the way to go. But if you’re a really Hyatt hound and spend more than $10,000 a year there, your rebate is capped anyway and it’s nice to have the Hyatt Visa as a backup to pad your Gold Passport account.
It should also be the card you use if your goal is to pad your Gold Passport points for ultra-premium redemptions at top-tier properties like the newly reopened Park Hyatt Sydney. An award night there costs 22,000 points, but rooms are running over $800 per night in January. To earn those 22,000 points, you’d need to spend just $7,334 at Hyatts at the 3x points per $1 earning ratio with the Hyatt card. Spending that much on an OPEN card would just earn you $367 in rebates, so you’re already ahead by $433 (assuming you’d actually shell out the $800, which many of us wouldn’t).
If ultra-premium redemptions are your final goal for your Hyatt points, or you plan on traveling a lot outside the US, then it’s still a good idea to carry the Hyatt card and earn those valuable Gold Passport points, but if your Hyatt stays are mostly in the US and you’re just looking to earn a solid 5% return on your spending, it’s great that OPEN from American Express has upped the rebate it offers to its cardholders.
Tip of the hat to View from the Wing!