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As I’ve mentioned on here a few times, I’m planning on visiting London. But not til 2021 because I want to use travel rewards to pay for the bulk of what’s sure to be a pricey trip.
I already chose my American Airlines card to get the 60,000 miles I need for my flight to London. Next up is hotel cards. So over the next few weeks I’m going to take a look at the contenders and evaluate them, both overall and for my own needs.
- 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in three months
- 25,000 points when you spend another $3,000 within the first six months
- Reward night upon account anniversary
- Reward night when you spend $15,000 in a year
- 9 points per $1 at Hyatt properties
- 2 points per $1 at restaurants, airlines, local transit/commuting, fitness memberships
- $95 annual fee
Okay, first of all I like that you can earn two free nights a year. One just for staying a cardholder and one for spending $15,000. I think that most of us could hit that spending goal just charging everything to the card.
I also like that you can get double points per dollar in some categories. The restaurants category is pretty standard. But airlines, transit/commuting (which I believe would include taxis and Uber/Lyft) and fitness memberships? Those are new ones on me, especially for a hotel card!
And of course if you already like Hyatt hotels, this is a great card because you get an impressive nine points per dollar at those properties. Even one night’s stay is already going to be over 900 points toward a free night (and stays start as low as 5,000 points).
The real star
But the most impressive offer is, of course, the welcome bonus. The 50,000-point offer means that you could get as many as 10 free nights. The 5,000-point properties tend to be at Hyatt Place hotels instead of regular Hyatts, but really a hotel is a hotel is a hotel. Most of us aren’t that picky.
That said, I didn’t see any 5,000 point hotels in the two searches of cities (London and Chicago) that I did. The more common floor seems to be 8,000-point places.
Yes, that’s a significant jump, but it’s still at least seven free nights once you’ve spent $6,000 to reach your full welcome bonus (25,000 point bonus + 25,0000 point bonus + a minimum of 6,000 points from spending). And of course, it could be significantly more if you spend a lot on airlines, restaurants, transit/commuting and/or stay at Hyatts much.
There are three caveats I’d stress here:
First of all, your free anniversary and $15,000-spending nights are only good at category 1-4 hotels. This does limit which properties you can stay at, and the categories aren’t stated on the Hyatt website. I had to email some of the properties to ask which category hotel they were.
Second, the annual fee. It ain’t cheap. But look at it this way: It’s keeping you earning benefits. Even if you’re skeptical of that, think of it as paying less than $100 for a night at a Hyatt, which is pretty good from what I understand.
Third, you may be better off not going for the $15,000-spent goal. Remember that you can get 2% cash back with the Citi Double Cash card. So spending $15,000 is the equivalent of $300 cash back. A category 1-4 hotel probably isn’t going to be that expensive. You could switch over to the Citi Double Cash card and save the cash back in your vacation fund instead.
For my purposes
So all in all, this is a great card if you like Hyatt hotels, travel a lot (remember, airlines count for double points!) and plan to stay at category 1-4 hotels.
But how does this card stack up for my needs? After all, I don’t really travel much, don’t generally stay at Hyatts and spend less than $100 a month at restaurants. So I won’t be earning big points in any of those ways.
Is it worthwhile for me?
Well, as I said I couldn’t find any 5,000-point hotels in London. Not surprising given how expensive the city is. But I did find a couple of 8,000-point hotels. That would give me a full week’s stay for free after I spend enough for the welcome bonus.
Alas, those were just outside the city limits. I emailed one of the hotels and verified that it wasn’t convenient to the Tube at all.
There was one super swanky hotel in a great location for a mere 25,000 points a night (to be fair it was something like 400 GBP a night), but it was a category 6 hotel, so my anniversary/$15,000-spent free nights wouldn’t apply. And it’s not worth the hassle of a new credit card just to get two free nights in a hotel.
So, nope, this doesn’t work for my London trip.
Still, I may get this card in the future. I’m thinking about going to Chicago, and there are several 12,000-point properties in useful areas. So the welcome bonus would give me four free nights — or more if I wait for the account anniversary and spend $15,000.
Do you stay at Hyatt hotels? Do you have a hotel credit card?