Hotel loyalty programs reward you for sticking with their brands, so it pays to figure out which hotel chain deserves your repeat business. It’s not always an easy choice. Hotel room prices, geographic location of hotels, program perks, hotel benefits and ease of redeeming points for free nights are a few of the things to consider when comparing brands.
Whether you’re an infrequent budget traveler or a business road warrior, two of the most popular brands, Hyatt and Marriott, could be contenders for your loyalty. Here’s a breakdown of these two popular hotel programs to help you decide which is better for you.
Best for location and brand selection
Where to find Hyatts
With over 1,000 hotels, Hyatt isn’t the largest chain, but it has a global presence with hotels in 68 countries. Hyatt has been adding hotels in recent years through acquisitions and partnerships, including the addition of Miraval and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Here are the brands in the portfolio of World of Hyatt, the hotel's loyalty program:
Hyatt’s hotel roster features several popular luxury all-inclusive hotels, including the Hyatt Ziva and Zilara, located in Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico. The all-inclusive Miraval Resorts are in Austin, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; and Lenox, Massachusetts.
Where to find Marriotts
Marriott is one of the largest hotel brands in the world, with 30 brands and more than 7,000 properties in over 130 countries and territories, which means you’re likely to find at least one Marriott hotel wherever you’re traveling. Here’s a list of hotel brands under the umbrella of Marriott Bonvoy, the hotel's loyalty program:
With so many brands, you’ll find multiple Marriott hotels to choose from in popular travel destinations. As just one example: California’s Santa Monica beachfront is home to three Marriott brand hotels: a Courtyard by Marriott, a JW Marriott and Le Méridien.
Winner for most options: Marriott
Best co-branded credit card
Hyatt credit cards
The World of Hyatt Credit Card is the only Hyatt co-branded credit card. Here's what you need to know about this credit card.
Welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.
Annual fee: $95.
Perks: One free night each year after your cardmember anniversary at any Category 1 through 4 World of Hyatt property. Cardholders also receive complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist status.
Hyatt is a Chase Ultimate Rewards® transfer partner, which means that if you have an eligible Chase credit card, like Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can move your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to your World of Hyatt loyalty account.
Marriott credit cards
Marriott offers potential cardholders a variety of price points and value, plus larger welcome bonuses. Though, it's worth considering NerdWallet's recent hotel points valuation, which paints a more complex picture. Our analysis determined that World of Hyatt points are worth an impressive 1.9 cents a piece, whereas Marriott Bonvoy points are worth 0.7 cent each. That means that the potential value of the welcome bonuses varies significantly.
Even so, the current travel credit card offerings from Marriott are too good to pass up, whether you want the middle of the road or high-priced card option.
Winner for best hotel credit card: Marriott
Best for using points
World of Hyatt
World of Hyatt is one of the most popular hotel loyalty programs because it offers several sweet spots, plus no blackout dates and the ability to redeem points at their all-inclusive hotels. Plus, you don’t pay resort fees when you use points to book a stay.
The cost of a free night in a standard Hyatt room depends on the property. Award night prices range from 5,000 points per night at a Category 1 World of Hyatt hotel to 40,000 points per night at a Category 8 hotel. NerdWallet values Hyatt points at 1.9 cents each.
Starting in mid-October 2021 (for stays in March 2022 and beyond), Hyatt will introduce peak/off-peak pricing for points redemptions, which will make certain award stays more expensive.
It’s easy to earn Hyatt points with its co-branded credit card, on eligible paid stays or by transferring points from an eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards® credit card. Note, Hyatt elite members can accumulate points more quickly with bonuses on eligible purchases.
The World of Hyatt program has three elite membership tiers: Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist. Earning the first status tier, Discoverist, requires just five qualifying nights or earning 12,500 base points in 2021.
Marriott has eight hotel categories, ranging from 7,500 to 85,000 points per night for a standard award booking.
You can earn Marriott Bonvoy points for eligible stays in participating hotels. You can also earn points with one of the chain’s co-branded credit cards mentioned above. Additionally, Marriott is a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards® and American Express Membership Rewards.
The Marriott Bonvoy program has five elite levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador. Becoming a Silver Elite requires 10 nights in a year, and the next status level, Gold, requires 25 nights in a year.
NerdWallet values Marriott points at 0.7 cent each, but it’s possible to get more for your points depending on the redemption.
Winner for ease of points: Hyatt
Best for family travel
How Hyatt caters to families
Hyatt has lots of family-friendly Category 1 and Category 2 Hyatt Place hotels around the world. Standard award stays at these hotels cost 5,000 to 8,000 points per night, and budget-conscious families can find great deals at these lower-cost hotels. Plus, World of Hyatt members will get free breakfast at Hyatt Place hotels when booking through Hyatt, including award stays.
Families who use points to book getaways to resort-style Hyatt hotels won’t have to worry about paying resort fees, potentially saving a good deal on daily charges that otherwise add up fast.
Plus, Hyatt offers myriad hotels with bunk beds you can book with points — which can be handy for families.
How Marriott caters to families
Amenities like pools and free breakfasts can be appealing to large groups of travelers (like a family). Marriott has more than 2,500 hotels with free breakfast in the U.S. alone, found at the following brands:
Fairfield Inn and Suites.
Marriott also offers Stay for 5, Pay for 4 redemptions: You'll receive a complimentary fifth night when you redeem points for consecutive nights. This can save you a significant number of points during a five-night getaway. However, the challenge remains that you’ll have to find consecutive night award availability, which can be challenging, especially during peak travel times.
Best hotel for family travel: Hyatt
Best for business travel
How Hyatt caters to business travelers
Hyatt brands appealing to business travelers include Caption by Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Centric and Hyatt Regency. For business travelers who aren’t on a strict budget, you might consider splurging on luxury stays at Park Hyatt branded hotels. Business travelers will need to factor in that Hyatt simply doesn't have as many hotel locations as Marriott.
How Marriott caters to business travelers
With 30 brands, Marriott has numerous hotels designed for corporate travelers, whether you’re focused on luxury or cost. Plus, given the density of Marriott hotels in many travel destinations, you’ll typically have multiple options when deciding which property to book. Business travelers on extended stays may prefer Residence Inn hotels, which have larger accommodations.
If cost isn’t a concern, business travelers can enjoy luxury accommodations at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton branded hotels.
Best hotel for business travel: Marriott
» Learn more: Best hotels for business travel
Hyatt vs. Marriott: The results
Is Hyatt better than Marriott? Though Marriott is attractive to business travelers, has more locations and more credit card options, there's still a clear winner: Hyatt.
No blackout dates and no resort fees on award stays are two extremely valuable benefits of the World of Hyatt program. Plus, a standard award night starts at just 5,000 points and tops out at 40,000 points, which makes it easy to get terrific value from its already valuable 1.9 cents a piece points.
To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, see this page.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card