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The Secret Upside To Hotel Credit Cards

By September 10, 2012 December 10th, 2013 No Comments

2 weeks ago, I started a guide on How To Have A Honyemoon For Free which focused on the hotel aspect and turned out to be extremely popular. 

In researching Hotel Credit Cards for the post and looking at all their benefits, I came to an interesting conclusion.

It literally pays to have a Hotel Credit Card.

The Annual Fee Dilemma

When it comes to Airline Credit Cards, I think the general consensus is Earn, Burn, Cancel.

This means that most of us only get Airline Credit Cards to get miles, and once the annual fee comes due or we have used up all the miles, the Card gets canceled and we simply move on to the next Card.

As long as Banks allow this and keep approving people for new Credit Cards, I don’t see anything wrong with this strategy. 

For example, it is hard for me to justify the Annual Fee on my United MileagePlus Explorer Card when there are no real incentives for keeping the Card after the 1st year.

While earning United miles with the Card is nice, it would take $25,000 in spend on the Card for me to earn a free Domestic Economy Saver.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if I can earn United miles with the Card because it is far easier just to sign up for a new Credit Card rather than spend $25,000.

What is interesting with many of the new Hotel Credit Cards that Chase offers, is that there is actually a real incentive to pay the Annual Fee and keep the Card open.

Almost all Chase Hotel Credit Cards now offer an Annual Free Night Award when you pay your Annual Fee every year.

In all of the cases, the value of the Free Night Award is worth far more than the Credit Card’s Annual Fee.

Why this is important is because it is essentially like you are a getting a new Sign Up Bonus every year, without having to re-sign up for a new Credit Card!

Just think about that!

It is like if you had an Airline Credit Card like the MileagePlus Explorer Card and every year you paid the $95 Annual Fee, you got a Free Domestic Flight!

Who would be dumb enough to cancel their Card then?

What is absolutely amazing about Chase’s Hotel Credit Cards is that almost all of them have NO MINIMUM SPENDING REQUIREMENT.

As soon as you make your 1st purchase, you get the Sign On Bonus!

Even better is that if you “Double Down” (aka you and your Travel Partner both get a Card), every year after you pay the Annual Fee you will get a total of 2 Free Nights.

This is great because 2 Free Nights is perfect if you ever want to do a short weekend getaway!

A Few Examples

Instead of me writing what a great deal this is, here are a few real life examples of how keeping a Hotel Credit Card can actually be beneficial over the long run!

Hyatt Visa

The Hyatt Visa is one of the best Hotel Credit Cards out there because you get 2 Free Nights at any Hyatt worldwide just for signing up. The Free Nights have no limitations so depending on where you use them, they can be worth thousands of dollars!

Link To Hyatt Visa

The main benefits of the Hyatt Visa are:

  • 2 Free Nights At Any Hyatt Worldwide After 1st Purchase
  • Free Platinum Status
  • $75 Annual Fee
  • Yearly Category 1-4 Free Night Award After Paying Annual Fee

While the $75 Annual Fee is not waived on the Hyatt Card for the first year, the insane Sign Up Bonus of 2 Free Nights more than makes up for the small Annual Fee.

Additionally, every year you keep the Card and pay the $75 Annual Fee, you receive a Free Night Award at a Category 1-4 Hyatt Property.

What is nice is that Hyatt’s Hotel Categorization only goes up to Category 6, so Category 4 properties are actually pretty awesome.

A full list of Category 4 Properties can be found here.

Randomly I selected the Andaz West Hollywood (Category 4) and it is a whopping $325 a night.

So by paying an $75 Annual Fee, you would get 1 night free at the Andaz West Hollywood effectively saving you save $250 ($325 – $75)!

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

The Marriott Rewards Card is interesting because it offers a mix of 50,000 Marriott Points & 1 Free Night for signing up and spending $1,000 in 3 months after opening your account.

Unlike the Hyatt Card, the Annual Fee is waived for the 1st year on the Marriott Card so it literally cost nothing to get. 

Link To Marriott Premier Credit Card

  • 50,000 Marriott Points For Signing Up & Spending $1,000 In 3 Months
  • 1 Free Night Certificate At Category 1-4 Property After Signing Up
  • $85 Annual Fee Waived For 1st Year
  • Yearly Category 1-5 Free Night Certificate After You Pay The Annual Fee

What is most interesting about this Card is that the Free Night Certificate (Category 1 -5) you get every year after paying your Annual Fee is actually better than the Free Night Certificate (Category 1-4) you get when signing up.

Marriott’s Hotel Categorization goes up to Category 8, so Category 5 properties are decent.

A full list of Marriott Properties by categorization can be found here.

I was surprised that a few JW Marriott’s were categorized as Category 5, so I randomly picked the JW Marriott Miami (Category 5) and it is $284 a night.

So by simply keeping the Marriott Premier Card for 1 year and paying the $85 annual fee, you would get 1 night free at the JW Marriott Miami and save $199 ($284 – $85)!

Priority Club Select Visa

While Priority Club properties (with the exception of Intercontinental) aren’t as nice compared to Marriott and Hyatt, you can always find a Holiday Inn almost anywhere you are going which is nice.

Also unlike the Hyatt and Marriott Card, the Annual Fee is only $49!

Link To Sign Up For Priority Club Select Visa

  • 60,000 Bonus Points After Signing Up
  • $49 Annual Fee Waived For 1st Year
  • Platinum Elite Status
  • Annual Free Night e-Certificate Worldwide

With the Priority Club Select Visa, you get 60,000 Points for signing up and then after you pay your $49 Annual Fee, you get a Free Night Certificate which can be used Worldwide.

I don’t have this Card, so I can’t access the restrictions on the Certificate, but conservatively if you wanted to use the certificate at Holiday Inn Express in New York City, it would save you almost $249 ($298-$49).

Recap

If I had to guess, I suspect that all Chase Travel Credit Cards including Airline Cards will soon have some kind of annual incentive for keeping the Card and paying the Annual Fee.

Of all the Credit Cards I have ever had, I can’t remember paying an Annual Fee to keep a Card open for more than 1 year, and I suspect I am not alone.

I would actually encourage Chase to implement an on-going annual incentive for their other Travel Credit Cards like the Sapphire Preferred or MileagePlus Explorer because I think Customers would be happy to pay the Annual Fee if they got something beneficial out of it. 

In terms of Hotel Credit Cards, it still amazes me that there are no Minimum Spend Requirements to get any of these Sign On Bonuses.

Hypothetically, over the span on 1 year, it would be pretty easy to sign up for all 3 of the above Hotel Credit Cards.

By signing up for the above 3 Hotel Credit Cards you would get:

  • 2 Free Nights At Hyatt
  • 50,000 Marriott Points
  • 1 Free Category 1-4 Night At Marriott
  • 60,000 Priority Club Points

You would receive all that for only $75, since all the Cards except Hyatt have the Annual Fee waived for the 1st year.

Then going forward, every year on your Card Membership anniversary, you would get: 

  • 1 Free Night At Hyatt
  • 1 Free Night At Marriott (Category 1-5)
  • 1 Free Night At Priority Club Hotels

All that for only $75 + $85 + $49 = $209 in Annual Fees!

When was the last time you got 3 nights at Hyatt, Marriott, or Priority Club for under $209?

Typically a single night at any of the above Hotels costs over $209 a night!

I just stayed 3 nights at Motel 6 in Moses Lake, WA and needless to say it was a dump, however even at Motel 6 the total for 3 nights was $225!

As always if you “Double Down” by having your Travel Partner also get and keep all the above Cards, you could get 6 nights annually for only $418 in Annual Fees!

And if it isn’t clear, this isn’t just a one time thing. Every year going forward, as long as you pay the Annual Fee, you will get a Free Night!

Although I have shunned away from Hotel Credit Cards in the past, after reading all the benefits and calculating the value of the Free Night Certificates, I certainly will be signing up for a few Hotels Cards in my next App-O-Rama in December!

-Parag

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