New Sign-Up Bonus for Hyatt Credit Card: Good News or Bad News?

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The Hyatt Credit Card from Chase is a solid hotel travel-rewards card, a no-brainer addition to the wallet of any traveler who actively participates in Hyatt's World of Hyatt loyalty program. Among the card's features:

  • Earn 1 World of Hyatt point per $1 for most spend; 2 points per $1 at restaurants, on airline tickets, and for car rental; 3 points per $1 at Hyatt hotels
  • One free night at a Category 1-4 hotel annually, on cardholder's anniversary
  • Automatic Discoverist elite status
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $75...

For a credit card linked to a hotel loyalty program, that's a pretty standard profile. What gave the Hyatt card an extra bit of cachet was its new cardmember bonus: two free nights at any Hyatt property, after spending $2,000 within the first three months. By any standard, that's a potentially high-value incentive. Accordingly, the card could be recommended both for its short-term bonus value and for its ongoing utility in maximizing the day-to-day value of World of Hyatt participation.

But on June 29, the two-free-nights offer was replaced by a different bonus for new cardholders: 40,000 World of Hyatt points after spending $2,000 within the first three months.

The long-term value remains the same, as the card's fundamentals haven't changed. But how does the new bonus affect the card's attractiveness in the short term? In short, how do two free nights compare, value-wise, with 40,000 bonus points?

In random test-bookings, a standard room at the Park Hyatt in New York ranged between $595 and $825 a night, depending on the month and day. At those rates, two free nights would be worth $1,190 and $1,650.

Standard rooms are priced between 5,000 and 30,000 points per night for award stays. The Park Hyatt New York is a Category 7 hotel, the most expensive category. There, an award night costs 30,000 points.

So while the two free nights at the Hyatt Park New York might have been worth as much as $1,650, using the 40,000 bonus points to book one night at that same hotel, priced at 30,000 points and worth $825, plus two nights at Category 1 hotels (priced at 5,000 points each, and worth around $150 a night) would only have a value of $1,125. That's a $525 advantage for the two free nights over the points.

Other combinations of hotels, rates, and award prices will generate different comparisons between the nights and the points, but clearly the most potential value is to be derived from the free nights option.

But dollar value isn't the sole criterion here; there is a flexibility consideration as well. Whereas the two free nights had to be used within a year, the bonus points can be used anytime—as long as they're kept from expiring, of course.

There is also the opportunity to use the points for multiple stays at cheaper Hyatts, which is not an option with the two free nights.

In the end, the two free nights have the greatest potential value. Travelers whose focus is on maximizing the return-on-investment from credit-card use may wish to kick themselves for missing that opportunity. But they shouldn't kick too hard. There's still solid value to be had from the new 40,000 bonus points offer, and a flexibility upgrade as well.

And there's a bigger-picture aspect to this tale of two bonuses as well. New cardmember sign-up incentives come and go. Sometimes there's a published end date to an offer, sometimes not. But no offer, especially an extra-generous offer, lasts forever. If it looks good, and you have no reason to expect it to get appreciably better, jump on it. Because it might just get worse.

Editor's note: The information related to The Hyatt Credit Card has been collected independently by Airfarewatchdog. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. This content is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the aforementioned entities.

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