Editorial Policy

New Chase Hyatt Card Aims to Give Amex a Run for Its Money

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By Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D.
October 11, 2010

In conjunction with Hyatt Hotels, JP Morgan Chase recently launched a new affinity hotel credit card, targeting high-spending consumers. With lucrative rewards and member benefits, Chase is hoping to gain market share among affluent cardholders, who have historically flocked to rival card issuer American Express.

For Chase, the launch of the Hyatt affinity card is part of a broader attempt to develop new partnerships that will help Chase to make inroads in the lucrative business travel market. Credit card lenders reap larger profits from affinity cards issued in partnership with airlines and hotels, because cardholders typically are great spenders, more loyal, and willing to pay annual fees for the benefits of premium rewards earnings.

The Chase Hyatt Visa card is just one of several recent travel rewards credit cards unveiled by Chase. Earlier this year, Chase introduced new affinity travel cards with Continental Airlines, and a new Priority Club Select Visa hotel rewards card issued conjunction with the InterContinental Hotels Group.

So, is the new Chase Hyatt Visa worth a look? For frequent Hyatt customers the card may well be worthwhile: For the $75 annual fee, cardholders get 3 Gold Passport points per dollar awarded on all stays at Hyatt properties. On all other purchases, cardholders earn one point per dollar spent. In addition, platinum members receive an extra 15 percent bonus points per stay, as well as the best available room in their booking category.

Additional benefits include perks like free internet service, expedited check-in, and 72 hour guarantee on room availability. The frequent traveler will also appreciate the fact that the card does not charge foreign transaction fees, which can otherwise run as high as 3 percent of purchases made overseas. Cardholders also enjoy the travel protection and concierge service offered by Visa Signature cards.

The main benefit of the card is the lucrative sign-up bonus currently offered. For the time being, people who apply for the new Chase Hyatt Visa credit card will automatically receive a bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt, anywhere in the world. This offer stands out in comparison to the industry standard; most hotel rewards cards only offer sign-up points redeemable for two night-stays at their lower-end hotels. Hyatt Gold Card holders, in contrast, can redeem their two free nights at any of the chains 445 properties in 45 different countries worldwide.

While these are decent benefits, they may not be sufficient to win over cardholders from main competitors like the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest card and Hilton HHonors program. The Hyatt rewards firstly doesn’t offer more attractive rewards than e.g. the Amex Starwood card; and the usage options for rewards earnings are less flexible. Secondly, the $75 annual fee tops the $45 of the Amex Starwood. Lastly, prospective cardholders may find it a drawback that Hyatt Hotels, as the 10th largest hotel chain worldwide, has less than half the capacity of Starwood hotels.

Nonetheless, for frequent Hyatt guests, the card will no doubt be a welcome addition to the existing Hyatt rewards program. Chase and Hyatt worked closely with the hotel chain’s visitors when designing the card to most suit the needs of Hyatt guests.