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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Chase Sapphire Reserve
If you’re hoping to earn free hotel nights and enjoy elite status perks during upcoming stays, travel rewards cards should definitely figure into your strategy. Below, TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Jason Steele walks you through some of the top options for hotel stays within the Hyatt brand.
Hyatt is one of my favorite hotel chains. Its Gold Passport loyalty program features strong value per point; it offers any unsold standard room as an award (though some properties have minimum-stay requirements for awards); and points are relatively easy to acquire since it’s a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. In today’s post, I’ll take a look at the best credit cards to use if you prefer to stay at Hyatt hotels.
This Chase-issued card is an obvious choice for Hyatt guests. Benefits include instant Platinum status in the Hyatt Gold Passport program, which offers complimentary room upgrades, late checkout and a 15% bonus on points earned. You can also earn 2 stay credits and 2 night credits toward Diamond status after spending $20,000 in a calendar year, and an additional 3 stay credits and 5 night credits after spending a total of $40,000 in a calendar year. When using this card, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels; 2x on restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and car rentals; and 1x elsewhere. Finally, you receive a free night at a Category 1-4 property each year.
New applicants currently receive a sign-up bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt hotel after they use their card to spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening, plus an additional 5,000 points when they add an authorized cardholder who makes a charge within the same three months. There’s a $75 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
Ever since the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card launched in late summer 2016, it’s been the go-to choice for many award travelers any time they make a travel- or dining-related purchase. The card earns you 3x points on virtually all spending in these two categories — a higher return than you’ll get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card mentioned below. While this card has a $450 fee, it also includes a selection of benefits worthy of a premium travel rewards card, including a $300 annual travel credit and Priority Pass Select lounge membership. And, as with the Sapphire Preferred Card, Sapphire Reserve earns you points in the Ultimate Rewards program, so you can transfer them to 11 travel partners.
Currently, this card is offering a sign-up bonus of 100,000 points after new cardholders spend $4,000 in the first three months. This card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
While you’ll only earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points on Hyatt (and other travel) purchases compared to 3x with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, the Sapphire Preferred Card is still a great choice — especially if you can’t maximize the more premium card’s other benefits (and don’t want to pay the $450 annual fee). Double Ultimate Rewards points on travel is a solid earning rate, since based on TPG’s valuations you’ll be getting a return of 4.2%. You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt, Marriott and several other airline and hotel programs.
Currently, new cardholders receive 50,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. You can earn an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized cardholder who makes a charge within the same three months. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
Chase Ink Plus Business Card
This business card is indispensable to anyone who’s serious about earning Ultimate Rewards points for transfers to Hyatt or any one of the other transfer partners. This is because it offers an outstanding 5x rewards for television, telephone and internet service as well as 5x at office supply stores (all on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year). Considering how much most people spend on telecommunications services and the wide array of goods available at a typical office supply store, it’s easy to use this card to greatly enhance your rewards balance. You can also use this card to earn 2x rewards at gas stations and hotels (also on the first $50,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year).
Finally, this card is currently offering new applicants 60,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within three months of account opening. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
Although the Freedom is a very popular cash-back card, it also makes sense for Hyatt fans. It offers 1x rewards on most purchases, but 5x on up to $1,500 spent each quarter at select categories of merchants. For example, during the second quarter of 2016, the eligible categories include grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
While you could just use this as a cash-back card, savvy award travelers know that they can transfer the points earned from the Chase Freedom Card to products such as the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus that allow transfers to airline and hotel partners, including Hyatt.
This card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of $150 cash back (or 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 in the first three months. There’s no annual fee, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee imposed on all charges processed outside of the United States.
Chase offers this recently introduced product in addition to the standard Freedom Card, and it has a few key differences that could also make it worth considering. Instead of featuring rotating bonus categories, it offers a simple 1.5% cash back or 1.5x points on all purchases with no limits. This makes the Freedom Unlimited Card ideal for non-bonus spending on things such as healthcare bills, insurance payments and anything else that you could otherwise only earn 1x on.
You can currently earn a sign-up bonus of $150 back (or 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you pair this with a UR-earning card) when you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening. As with the standard Freedom, there’s no annual fee, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.
The Citi Prestige Card can be a great complement to the Hyatt Card and Ultimate Rewards-earning products, primarily due to the 4th Night Free benefit on any consecutive four-night paid stays booked through the Citi travel agency. When you use this benefit, you can still attach your Hyatt Gold Passport number to your reservations to receive points, night credits toward elite status and any other benefits that you may be entitled to as a Hyatt elite.
Other valuable benefits of the Prestige Card include access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs (when you’re traveling on AA) and the Priority Pass Select airport lounge program, a $250 annual air travel credit and a $100 fee credit toward the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
You also earn 3x points for air travel and hotel purchases, 2x on dining and entertainment and 1x on all other purchases. So when you use this card to purchase reservations at a Hyatt property, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar. While TPG values Hyatt points a bit higher than the Citi ThankYou points you’ll earn with the Prestige (1.8 vs 1.6, according to his latest valuations), the ability to get the fourth night of your stay for free can definitely make up for the slightly lower return.
This card currently offers 50,000 bonus points to new applicants who use it to spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
This card offers 3x rewards on all travel including gas, 2x on dining and entertainment and 1x on all other purchases. And like with the Prestige Card, points can be transferred to airline miles or to the Hilton HHonors program, which allows you to further diversify your rewards. Unfortunately, Citi recently pulled the sign-up bonus for the Citi ThankYou Premier Card, which means you won’t get a nice haul of points as a new cardholder — but on the upside that means you don’t need to meet a minimum spending requirement in the first three months. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
Picking the Best Cards for Your Needs
It’s a challenge to pick the best cards for Hyatt stays since each offers something different. The Hyatt Credit Card itself is a great choice to receive instant Platinum status and a boost toward Diamond status, but not for everyday use outside of Hyatt hotels. For travel purchases, you’ll earn more valuable rewards with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and you can earn more points on all non-bonus purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. And of course, business users should have an Ink Plus Business Card for the great 5x categories of office supplies and telecommunications services.
But another strategy is using the Citi Prestige Card, which offers an extremely valuable 4th night free benefit. Finally, some cardholders might prefer the Citi ThankYou Premier Card to earn 3x points on their hotel stays, while paying a lower annual fee than they would with the Prestige.
But even when carefully weighing all of these options, Hyatt guests may still have a hard time choosing just one single card. Depending on your needs, it could be worth holding a few and maximizing them based on their benefits and spending category bonuses. Hopefully this post has given you some ideas on how to do just that!
Featured image courtesy of the Hyatt Regency Maui.