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Hyatt Credit Card Review: Lavish Benefits at a Reasonable Cost

Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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The Hyatt Credit Card will make you feel like a VIP, without the VIP-size price tag. Its $75 — a relative bargain, considering its potential value.

This hotel credit card features an opulent sign-up bonus, complimentary stays for your account anniversary, rich rewards and automatic elite status, which gets you free upgrades and other benefits. Hyatt points are also worth an average of 2.2 cents each, according to NerdWallet valuations. This trounces the value of points in most competing hotel loyalty programs.

The Hyatt Credit Card is a blue-ribbon choice for frequent Hyatt customers. But its rich benefits and manageable annual fee can also make it a good pick for people who spend only a few nights per year at the hotel chain.

To apply

This card is available only by applying directly through the issuer. Visit Chase’s page for this card.

When you should get The Hyatt Credit Card

If you’re already a loyal Hyatt customer. The Hyatt Credit Card, like other co-branded cards, offers beaucoup rewards in exchange for brand loyalty. In addition to the 5 base points per dollar spent on eligible Hyatt purchases you already earn as a member of the hotel’s rewards program, the card gets you:

  • 3 bonus points per dollar spent on Hyatt purchases
  • 2 bonus points per dollar spent at restaurants, car rental agencies and on airfare purchased directly through airlines
  • 1 bonus point per dollar spent on everything else

Together, that means you could potentially earn as much as 8 points per dollar spent on certain Hyatt purchases. (Only the base points count toward moving up in status, but both types of points can be redeemed for hotel stays.) After taking into account the value of these points, that amounts to a supersized 17.6% effective rewards rate. It’s nearly impossible to find such a rewards rate on other consumer hotel credit cards.

If you want automatic elite status. Earning elite status with airlines or hotel chains typically means spending a lot of money on flights or stays. The Hyatt Credit Card gives you a shortcut.

The Hyatt Credit Card gives you automatic “Discoverist” status — Hyatt’s name for the status that’s a step up from basic membership. According to the Hyatt website, Discoverist status comes with a veritable smorgasbord of treats:

  • Complimentary premium internet
  • Free upgrades to a “preferred room” based on availability at check-in
  • Expedited check-in at an area reserved for “elite members”
  • Ability to extend stay until 2 p.m. upon request
  • Waived resort fees when redeeming “free night” awards
  • A 10% discount rate at participating Hyatt hotels and resorts
  • An exclusive reservation line for booking a stay
  • Automatic Pearl status with M life Rewards, the loyalty program of MGM Resorts International
  • A free night after staying at five different Hyatt brands
  • A free bottle of water for every day of a stay

That last benefit sounds a little ridiculous. But considering that hotels often charge $6 for a bottle of water from the minibar, hey, maybe it’s more valuable than it seems.

If you’re looking for a big sign-up bonus and free anniversary nights. Often, maximizing a hotel card’s bonus means asking, “How many nights can I squeeze out of these points?” With The Hyatt Credit Card, you can ask a question that’s much more fun to answer: “How much luxury can I squeeze out of these nights?”

The card comes with a sign-up bonus denominated in nights rather than points: Earn 2 free nights at any Hyatt hotel or resort worldwide after you make $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. These nights can be redeemed for at any standard room at a Hyatt hotel or resort, as well as certain M life resorts. Make the most of them by redeeming them for otherwise pricey rooms — say, those over $500 a night.

In addition to that posh sign-up bonus, you’ll also get one free night every year you hold the card. These can be redeemed only for a standard stay in a Category 1 to 4 hotel. (Hyatt sorts its hotels into seven categories; Category 1 is generally the most affordable, while Category 7 is the most expensive.) Redeem for a Category 4 hotel, the most expensive option, to maximize this benefit. By doing so, you’ll more than make up for the card’s annual fee. That’s what makes this card a valuable choice, even for infrequent travelers who favor Hyatt.

When you’re better off with another card

If you’re a budget traveler. When you’re planning a low-cost trip, loyalty programs for mid- to upscale hotels can feel like a trap, rather than a good deal. The average daily rate for full-service Hyatt hotels in the Americas was $200 in 2016, according to the company’s annual report. Even when you add on all the benefits the credit card offers, it’s not exactly a steal.

If you prefer hotel rooms in a lower price range, consider a card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card instead. This card offers 2 miles per dollar spent anywhere. Miles can be redeemed at 1 cent apiece for all types of travel, from airfare and hotels to time-shares. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

If you travel off the beaten path. Hyatt is relatively small compared with other major hotel chains. It has just 700 properties internationally. If you’re not always staying in major cities, consider aligning yourself with a hotel chain with more properties.

In this case, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card might be a better pick. Marriott offers more than 6,000 properties, including about 4,000 in the U.S. as of this writing. Many of these hotels are in smaller cities, making it relatively easy to redeem points. This card also comes with a big sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Its annual fee is $85.

Is The Hyatt Credit Card right for you?

The Hyatt Credit Card isn’t the best card for travelers heading to small towns or sticking to tight budgets. But if you travel to larger cities and prefer Hyatt, it’s an excellent choice. The card’s benefits far outstrip its costs, even for once-a-year vacationers who regularly stay at the hotel chain.

Information related to the The Hyatt Credit Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.