Is the World of Hyatt Credit Card Worth Its Annual Fee?

The World of Hyatt's co-branded credit card packs in more value than its annual fee.
Aug 2, 2021
Is the World of Hyatt Credit Card worth its annual fee?

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Is the World of Hyatt Credit Card worth its $95 annual fee? We'll get straight to the point: as long as you'd otherwise stay at a Hyatt hotel at least one night per year (and that hotel would cost you $95 or more, than that stay alone justifies the annual fee.

It's all thanks to a delightful benefit on the card that gives you a free night award every year at a Category 4 or lower Hyatt property. Pretty swell perk considering its annual fee, eh?

But that's not all. Even if you're not sold on that single perk, here are a few other ways to justify the annual fee on Hyatt's credit card:

Welcome bonus

Within just a few months of holding the card, you could already have a trove of points worth enough to book multiple free award stays at a Hyatt hotel. That's because the World of Hyatt Credit Card offers a two-tiered sign-up 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..

You won’t be eligible to earn these bonus points if you’ve received a welcome bonus from any Hyatt card in the last 24 months.

Because award nights in the World of Hyatt program start as low as 5,000 points per night, this welcome bonus could get you multiple free award nights.

Free night awards

You'll automatically receive one free Hyatt award night by holding this card every year after your cardmember anniversary. And, there's potential to earn a second free night too.

  • One free night every year: One of the best benefits of this card is the free annual award night. Every year, starting on your first cardmember anniversary, you will automatically receive a free night stay at a Category 4 or lower Hyatt property. That's a pretty valuable deal, considering even a Category 1 hotel will likely cost you more than $95 per night, which is the card's annual fee.

  • One additional free night: Earn a second free night at a Category 4 or lower Hyatt property after spending $15,000 in an anniversary year. This is less of a good deal, considering the card earns just 1 point per dollar on most purchases. Factor in the opportunity cost of earning points on another credit card, and you might be better off putting those purchases on something like a straight cash-back credit card, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which has a combined 2% rewards rate (1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay it off ). If you spent $15,000 on that card, you'd earn $300 as cash back. Considering Category 4 or lower hotels rarely exceed $300 in cash price (though some do!) you might be better off going for the significantly more flexible cash back via a different card.

The card does earn 2 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, cafes and coffee shops; airline tickets purchased through the airline; fitness club and gym memberships; and local transit and commuting including rideshare services, so it could be smart to charge those purchases to the Hyatt card if you don't already have a higher-earning rewards card. But consider whether you'll really spend $15,000 annually on travel, dining and gyms.

Automatic elite status

There are three tiers of Hyatt elite status beyond their entry-level Member designation: Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist. New cardholders will automatically climb to Discoverist status, which is Hyatt's lowest tier beyond the entry-level, free-to-earn Member tier. Earning Discoverist status usually requires 10 tier-qualifying nights or 25,000 base points per calendar year to achieve.

Discoverist perks aren't spectacular (there's not even a free coffee or muffin throw in for breakfast aside from at a small handful of properties). But, you might find value in some benefits, which include:

  • Earn 10% bonus points on eligible purchases.

  • Preferred room upgrade at time of check-in (when available).

  • Complimentary premium in-room internet access.

  • Elite check-in area at participating properties.

  • 2 p.m. late checkout (when available).

  • Complimentary bottled water daily.

  • Waived resort fees on free night awards at participating properties.

  • Save up to 10% with Member Rates at participating locations.

  • Receive Pearl status with M life Rewards, the loyalty program of MGM Resorts International.

  • Complimentary continental breakfast for two at Small Luxury Hotels.

Earning points

The card does serve big-time value for spending at Hyatt properties. You'll earn a combined 9 bonus points per $1 spent (that’s 4x points as a cardholder and 5x points as a World of Hyatt member). on most purchases at Hyatt properties.

That includes:

  • Hyatt hotel and resort stays

  • Experiences on property (such as spas)

  • Dining at participating onsite restaurants

For your non-Hyatt spending, you'll earn 2 bonus points per $1 spent for:

  • Local transit, commuting and ride-sharing.

  • Dining out at restaurants, cafes and coffee shops.

  • Flights purchased directly from the airline.

  • Fitness club or gym membership.

You'll earn 1 bonus point per $1 spent for all other purchases made with your card.

Additional benefits

The World of Hyatt Credit Card comes with some other good perks, including no foreign transaction fees, purchase protection, extended warranty protection and zero liability protection.

Do the perks outweigh the annual fee?

If you’re a fan of staying at Hyatt hotels and resorts, the Hyatt credit card is easily worth it. Sure, Discoverist status is decidedly meh. And you won't earn a great points rate on general spending rewards. But that's not why you're holding this card. You're holding it for that eye-popping intro offer, the high earning rate on actual Hyatt stays and — perhaps most importantly — that free night certificate.

One more note: these credit card rewards come in the form of World of Hyatt points, so they’re most valuable when used to stay at Hyatt hotels.  (There are Hyatt transfer partners so you can use your points on other purchases such as airfare, but they're generally a bad deal). What's more, Hyatt is relatively small compared to competitors like Marriott and Hilton, so if your adventures typically take you to places without World of Hyatt properties, it may be a better option to rack up points with a general travel rewards credit card.

However, when you factor in that the annual award night alone offsets the $95 annual fee, even if you stay with Hyatt only once a year, owning the World of Hyatt Credit Card is worth it.


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:

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.