Best Credit Cards of 2022: Why the Hyatt Card Was My Pick for Hotels

For the third year running, Hyatt's co-branded credit card has been crowned NerdWallet’s Best Hotel Credit Card. Here’s why I cast my vote for it.
Erin Hurd
By Erin Hurd 
Edited by Kenley Young

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As of March 22, 2022, this Hyatt hotel moved up to a Category 5 distinction. As a result, Category 1-4 free night awards are no longer valid at this property.

Hyatt has fewer hotels than its competitors like Marriott and Hilton, but loyalists love the hotel chain for its outstanding service and rewarding loyalty program.

And the secret many value-seekers may not know: A Hyatt award stay can cost substantially fewer points than award stays with other hotel programs. While competitors like Marriott and Hilton charge up to 100,000 points (or more) for a standard room at their nicest hotels, standard rooms at luxury Hyatt properties go up to a maximum of only 45,000 points per night.

For the third year in a row, the chain’s co-branded credit card — the World of Hyatt Credit Card — has been crowned NerdWallet’s Best Hotel Credit Card. Here’s why I love the Hyatt program, and why I cast my vote for the credit card.

Outsize value with the free night award

Though the card has an annual fee of $95 per year, it comes with a free Hyatt award night each year. The award can be redeemed for any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort, and the value of that free room can often outweigh the fee you’ll pay to carry the card.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, you’ll earn another free award night good for any Category 1-4 Hyatt.

The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina (Photo by Erin Hurd)

During the pandemic, our family of usually eager travelers stayed close to home. But after a long stretch, we were antsy for a change of scenery. We opted to redeem the World of Hyatt Credit Card free night for a “staycation” at a nearby Category 4 Hyatt property. The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina is on Maryland’s Eastern Shore about two hours from Washington, D.C. With multiple pools, games and activities all set against a scenic waterfront backdrop, it makes for a perfect family getaway.

In peak season, this popular resort can run upward of $400 per night, but I was able to redeem my free night certificate and paid $0 out of pocket. And since World of Hyatt members get resort fees waived on award stays, we didn’t pay the $39-per-night resort fee that would have been added had we paid cash for our stay. While time spent with family is priceless, I was sure happy not to have to pony up that much money to enjoy this resort.

The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina (Photo by Erin Hurd)

Spending bumps up status

If you like VIP treatment when you stay at a hotel, then elite status is right up your alley. The World of Hyatt Credit Card grants automatic Discoverist status to all cardholders — a lower-tier status that offers perks like late checkout, limited room upgrades and elevated points-earnings.

It's true that automatic status from a credit card isn’t unique to Hyatt. Marriott offers automatic Gold status with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. Hilton grants its highest level of status, Diamond, to holders of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Terms apply.

But what sets the World of Hyatt Credit Card apart from other hotel credit cards is its ability to earn elite night credits by spending on the card. You’ll earn 5 elite credits automatically each year you hold the card, then 2 elite night credits for every $5,000 you spend on qualifying purchases.

Plus, thanks to Hyatt’s Milestone Rewards program, you can earn extra benefits like club lounge access and suite upgrade awards from elite nights even without reaching the next level of status.

Special cardholder-exclusive offers

Hyatt typically offers several promotions per year, and they’re often even sweeter for those who hold the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

In 2021, cardholders who registered for the various promotions could earn perks like:

  • Extra bonus points for spending on the card.

  • Points rebates on room redemptions.

  • Double elite night credits.

Bottom line

If Hyatt hasn’t been on your hotel radar in the past, it’s worth taking a look. The World of Hyatt Credit Card can help supercharge your World of Hyatt points balance with its generous sign-up bonus and healthy ongoing rewards, plus lucrative extras like automatic elite status and a free night stay each year you hold the card.

NerdWallet values World of Hyatt points at 2.3 cents each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 2.3 cents or more in value from your World of Hyatt points. That makes its points among the most valuable of all travel points and miles, according to NerdWallet valuations.

All information about Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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