It’s been about a year and a half now since Chase introduced a co-branded Hyatt Visa. This was much anticipated, because Hyatt Gold Passport points were pretty difficult to earn, not a lot of partners, so earning was overwhelmingly done through stays and without supplement.
Jeff Zidell, Hyatt’s Vice President of Gold Passport, explained at the Randy Petersen Travel Executive Summit last April that their Chase partnership was part and parcel of their overall strategy of using the loyalty program to ‘put heads in beds’ rather than a move to sell points, the goal was to put the piece of plastic into their guests’ wallets so that they would have an ongoing relationship with Hyatt every day, as they used their credit cards, and as they integrated the goal of staying at Hyatts with their routines.
And the card was a good one — a generous signup bonus of two free nights (which were nights confirmed in Suites for Diamond members, and existing Platinums would get the two free nights plus confirmed suite upgrades on paid stays), plus Platinum status for all cardholders which means free internet and avoiding the room over the HVAC generally. In addition to earning one point per dollar on all spend, it earns 3 points per dollar on Hyatt spend, and waives foreign currency transaction fees.
My immediate reaction, though, was that while a good card — it’s one to get for the bonus, and then once you have it to use on foreign spend and at Hyatts, but would’t become my everyday card. And no incentives were built into the card for hitting spend levels, you just earn the points for each dollar of spend.
After several months Hyatt and Chase added an annual free night benefit, posting to your account on your cardmember anniversary. It’s valid up to category 4, which is somewhat limiting, but does cover the new Hyatt 48Lex in New York so is a pretty good value.
Chase is also sending out new cards with new chip technology, one of a handful of cards in the US that have adopted standards prevalent in Europe and which makes the card easier to use abroad — though I’m not personally a fan, the actual chip and PIN technology winds up offering fewer consumer protections as banks will argue that PIN transactions not made by you were the result of your failure to safeguard your PIN and thus you rather than they have the liability for those transactions.
Still, it’s very much worth getting the card for the signup bonus (though I’d have preferred points!) and worth keeping even with the annual fee for the annual free night. But not really worth putting spending on, except for Hyatt stays, and even there it’s arguably been trumped.
See, not long after Chase introduced the co-branded Hyatt card they began making a huge investment in their Chase Sapphire Preferred card. And it trumps the Hyatt card in almost all cases, Sapphire Preferred has become probably the killer app for credit card spend.
- Sapphire Preferred has a better signup bonus — 50,000 points, which transfer to various programs including Hyatt, and which is more than enough for 2 nights at any Hyatt property in the world (the signup bonus for existing Hyatt Diamond members is two nights in a suite which arguably trumps, though the Sapphire points are more flexible)
- It also waives foreign currency transaction fees.
- It earns a 7% annual bonus on all points earned (including the signup bonus)
- It earns double points on all travel and restaurant spend.
- Points transfer to United, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Southwest, Amtrak, Hyatt, Marriott, and Priority Club.
This means that everyday, non-bonused spending earns 1.07 points per dollar which transfer to Hyatt to other programs, you get to pick later, and you can even choose whose points account you want to transfer to. That clearly trumps spending on the Hyatt Visa where you earn 1 Hyatt point per dollar into your Gold Passport account.
And even Hyatt spending earns 2.14 points from the Sapphire Preferred card which can be transferred to Hyatt, or to United. So the relevant question for whether to put spend on the Sapphire Preferred or Hyatt Visa for stays at a Hyatt is a tough one, do you value 2.14 United miles more than 3 Hyatt points? Generally, I do find the United miles more valuable. But I’ve been using the Hyatt Visa at Hyatts anyway because I have plenty of United miles and am much poorer in my Gold Passport balance. Plus I happen to try to use those Gold Passport points where they offer exceptional value, such as the Park Hyatt Maldives and I’m intending a trip to the Park Hyatt in Paris.
It seems that Hyatt and Chase recognize these limitations — while they’ve built a good card they haven’t quite built a go-to card, even for Hyatt’s most loyal members. My contacts tell me that they’re currently cooking up some improved benefits, but what those benefits are haven’t been finalized yet.
Here are some of the ideas that have been in the hopper, though I have no idea which ones are more realistic for actual implementation.
- 10-15% point rebate on award stays. Chase offers this on their (very low value) Priority Club Visa, I would find it valuable, I could easily see this as worth 10,000 Hyatt points or more to me each year. This would incentivize keeping the card, but it won’t incentivize incremental spend.
- Guaranteed 9am early check-in.Wow. I would love this. Starwood is offering this to Platinums staying 75 nights, Intercontinental offers this to Royal Ambassadors, it’s a huge benefit and one of my biggest wishes for the Gold Passport program, it’s reasonable to tie it to cardmembership.
- No expiration for earned free nights for spending $1,000 or more each month.This would be the signup nights, annual free night for the credit card, and potentially Faster Free Nights if those were to come back. I like this a lot, I admit I got less than optimal use out of my signup suite nights, burning them at the Grand Hyatt Singapore as part of a longer stay because they were expiring.
- 15% discount on price of hotel room when booking using credit card.Good, but presumably these will be advance purchase rates, and those usually yield a 10% discount. I’d still probably book AAA rates where available which are cancellable and often around the same price as an advance purchase night.
- 5 nights credit toward status for $15,000 in annual spend, also mentioned as one night per $3000 spend. This is something they need to do, making spending on the card integrated with elite status, every other major program lets you earn credit towards status through spend. Although I think they need to offer stays and not just nights.
- Airline lounge access twice a year, also mentioned as every time you travel.I’m not sure how they’d handle this, bulk purchase of lounge passes or Priority Pass basic membership that throws in two visits or unlimited visits?
- Transfer Gold Passport points to airlines at 1:1. This would be a huge increase in the value of Gold Passport points, it strikes me as too big of an increase. It would put the Hyatt Visa on comparable terms with the Starwood Amex (Hyatt and Starwood have different airline partners though lots of overlap, so depending on your airline preference would determine which card worked better for you). This seems too valuableand I don’t expect it to come to fruition.
- Bonuses for additional spending categories.Probably 2 points per dollar for restaurants and groceries or similar.
- $75 folio credit on any 2-night stay. If this was once a year, well, I’ll take it and it covers the annual fee. But it’s not superior value. Now, a $75 credit on every 2-night stay would be huge.
- Existing Diamonds can retain status for $4000 monthly average spend. I’d love this, most Diamonds would feel this makes the status too diluted, though it’s interesting that where Hilton offers their Diamond status for $40,000 in spend on their Amex Surpass card this is described as retaining that status — meaning that guests would have to first earn Diamond through stays.
Lots of ideas out there, and they’ve been surveying members on them.
Apparently the 15% discount on room rate is very possible, though I think folks are missing that it’s only a modest incremental discount beyond other publicly available rates, I hope this isn’t where they go. The rebate on award stays is also popular, along with the $75 folio credit, bonus points for ‘everyday spend’, and improved points transfer to airline mileage programs. The most popular airline lounge choice is United — which seems doable considering the role that Chase plays with United.
Me, I’d love to see something not on the list, probably the single most frequent request from the Gold Passport program is using Diamond confirmed suite upgrades on award stays, I think it would be reasonable to pair this benefit with holding the co-branded credit card. But I don’t ever really expect this to happen because the benefit itself is already so valuable — it’s the benefit in all of hotel loyalty in my mind — that making it even more valuable seems difficult and I imagine they’d have pushback from properties who would be giving out their suites on what are in effect deep-discount rates most of the time (since Gold Passport buys room nights from the hotels at a significant discount, at least on nights when properties aren’t full).
I do believe though that what they need is improved earning such as bonusable spend, and incentives to spend at higher levels like earning credit towards elite status or earning additional benefits at specific spend levels.
I don’t have any special knowledge about when any changes or improvements would be announced, but they’re certainly thinking about them.
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