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I am a very dedicated Starwood Preferred Guest member, have some points with Hilton, and nothing with Hyatt so the choice isn’t as clear to me on which program I should add on.
Which card would you recommend for someone who will be returning to school and traveling less?”
Good question! I myself currently have both the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve and the Chase Hyatt Visa, as well as top-tier status in both these programs as well as Starwood, so let’s look at how these cards stack up.
Just evaluating sign-up bonuses, the Hilton card will give you two free weekend nights at most of their properties (with some exclusions) when you spend $2,500 in 4 months, whereas the Hyatt card will give two free nights at any of the their properties any day of the week when you spend $1,000 within 3 months. So when it comes to sign-up bonuses, I’d say Hyatt wins, although Hilton does have a lot more properties than Hyatt.
Jeff doesn’t have elite status with Hyatt, but if you are Hyatt Diamond when you apply for the card, you’ll end up getting two free nights in a suite, which is extremely valuable, and if you’re a Platinum member of the program, you also get a sign-up bonus of two free suite upgrades. However, in Jeff’s case with no status, I think it’s a wash here depending on what type of hotel you want.
Another big consideration here is the annual free night you can earn with both cards. With the Hilton Reserve card, if you can spend $10,000 in a calendar year, you’ll get a free weekend night at any of their properties (apart from the exclusions list). I just redeemed mine at the Conrad Maldives which goes for $1,000 a night, so I’ll gladly pay the annual fee of $95 for that free night. The Hyatt card gives cardholders a free night at a Category 1-4 each year, with no spending required, so I also keep my Hyatt card open, since I get more value out of the free night at a property like the Andaz West Hollywood or the Park Hyatt Seoul than the $75 annual fee.
The cards also come with elite status. The Hilton card will give you Hilton Gold, which I think is the most valuable mid-tier hotel status and includes free breakfast and internet. The Hyatt card gives Hyatt Platinum status, which sounds better than it is since it just gets you free internet and space-available room upgrades.
Lastly, if you can hit $40,000 in calendar year spending, both have some additional elite status perks, but I think the Hilton Reserve wins out, since you’ll get their top tier Hilton Diamond status. The Hyatt card is much stingier with giving the elite status credits. At $20,000 in spend, you’ll get 2 stay / 5 night credits, and at $40,000 you’ll get an additional 3 stay / 5 night credits, so that’s really not that great in my opinion since Hyatt Diamond requires 25 stays or 50 nights a year whereas the Reserve card just gives you Hilton Diamond status outright.
When it comes to chip and signature, it’s nice to have that, but I’ll be honest I’ve used these cards abroad, but the cards that require chip, require chip and pin. But in my experience you can use any credit card abroad for the most part.
I think overall you’ll get more value out of the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, but why not get both at some point down the line? Think about getting the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card first, trying to hit that $40,000 spending threshold, then status match to Hyatt Diamond so then when you do get the Chase Hyatt Visa, you can get your bonus two free nights in a suite, which makes the Hyatt card a real winner in my book.