Is Hyatt's New Credit Card a Game-Changer?

Members of Hyatt's Gold Passport have waited a long time for a credit card linked to the program. For that and other reasons, I can't recall another card launch that had such outsized expectations surrounding it.

First, Gold Passport has been notably aggressive with its program and promotions (Big Welcome Back, Free Nights Faster). That's necessary and appropriate, given the size disadvantage of Hyatt's hotel portfolio (fewer than 500 properties, versus 4,400 for InterContinental, for example)—they have to work harder. And the expectation was that Hyatt would want a card that boasted a clear competitive advantage.

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It helped that the card is issued by Chase, which is becoming the Big Kahuna of the rewards cards space. In recent months, it issued the new Continental and Priority Club cards. Its Sapphire cards are among the top proprietary rewards cards. And it issues the British Airways credit card that recently featured the most lucrative card sign-up bonus ever offered.

More generally, latecomers always enjoy an advantage over incumbents, having the luxury of familiarity with the competitive landscape and the opportunity to design a product that incorporates and improves upon the best features of the best products. Remember how Starwood leapfrogged other programs when it late-launched its Preferred Guest program?

So, knowing that the card was in the pipeline—it was announced in February—there were high hopes for a breakout product.

With this week's launch of the Hyatt Chase Visa card, the wait is finally over, the questions answered.

Card Details

Here's the bullet-point summary:

  • Fee: $75 per year
  • Sign-up bonus: two free nights after the first charge
  • Earning: one point per dollar spent except for Hyatt charges, which earn three points
  • Value-added benefits: complimentary Platinum elite status; no foreign transaction fees

The free nights can be redeemed at any Hyatt worldwide within one year. And there's no limit to the number of points that may be earned.

Deal or No Deal

Is the Hyatt card a solid rewards card? Sure.

Is the Hyatt card a Starwood-beater? Hardly.

Is the Hyatt card a game-changer? Not even close.

The measure of the new card will reflect the expectations of the beholder. If you're a Hyatt loyalist looking to add points to your Gold Passport account with a program-linked credit card, this will do the trick. But if you're looking for exceptional value or flexibility, the Hyatt card will be a disappointment.

Reader Reality Check

What's your take on the new Hyatt card—winner, loser, or also-ran?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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