What Credit Card Should You Use to Pay for a Hyatt Stay? It’s Not the One You Think

I love the Hyatt Gold Passport program largely because

  • They have some great high-end aspirational properties, and their award chart makes those affordable — the Park Hyatts in Paris, Sydney, and the Maldives cost no more points than the Grand Hyatt in New York.
  • Their suite awards are only 50% more points than a standard room, and upgrades with points are reasonable, making better rooms on awards within reach of all members — not just elites.
  • Their upgrade benefit (confirmed at booking 4 times a year), and their breakfast benefit (full, not continental when lounge is not available) are the best in the industry for top tier elites

As a result I stay with Hyatt often, I’m currently sitting at 24 stays (so need one more this year to re-qualify as Diamond) and will wind up with about 50 nights including award nights (which do not count towards status, so I will requalify on stays).

And each time I check out of a Hyatt I’m faced with a decision of what card to pay my bill with?

The two logical choices for me would normally be:

  • Hyatt Visa which earns 3 points per dollar on Hyatt spend. Also no foreign currency transaction fees, so this works as one of the most rewarding options outside the U.S. as well.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Ink Cards. These earn 2 ‘Ultimate Rewards’ points per dollar, which transfer to Hyatt (2 Hyatt points per dollar is obviously not as good as 3) but also transfer to United among other airlines (United miles generally worth more than Hyatt points, and flexibility is valuable too).

BUT neither one is actually the best choice, at least for a U.S. Hyatt property.

Because American Express business cards come with ‘OPEN savings‘. Spend at a participating merchant and you get a rebate applied to your card, in addition to the points you earn.

The Business Gold Rewards card, for instance, generates a rebate on Hyatt stays and earns Membership Rewards points. I say that this is good only in the US though because the card doesn’t waive foreign currency transaction fees.

Outside the U.S., the Business Platinum card offers both OPEN savings and no foreign currency transaction fees. Making that the hands down winner for non-US Hyatt stays — cash rebate on your stay and American Express Membership Rewards points.

OPEN savings earns rebates (automatically) with FedEx Office, Hertz, HPdirect, OfficeMax, FedEx, 1-800-Flowers, Barnes & Noble, Microsoft Store, five different Marriott brands, and Hyatt.

And the rebate on Hyatt spend is going up January 1, from 3% to 5%.

You’re limited to $500 in rebates on Hyatt spend, which means that this applies only to your first $10,000 in spend. Somehow I think most of us can manage to keep our Hyatt spend under $10,000 in a year. Which makes American Express business cards the most lucrative way to pay for Hyatt stays — 5% cash back and points beats 2 Ultimate Rewards points in my book.

I suppose the only exception to this advice would be — at a US Hyatt — to use an Ink card, buy Amex or Visa gift cards at an office supply store, and pay for your stay with those in order to earn 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on your stay.

(HT: Jett Rink on Milepoint)

Update: It appears that I was merely lucky in receiving this rebate outside of the U.S., the terms and conditions do say that it applies to U.S. properties only (and wouldn’t even consider doing this outside the US without a Business Platinum in any case).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] View From the Wing detailed a strategy last year where you can earn 5% cash back at Hyatts.  It involves an American Express Business Gold or Platinum card.  I don’t have this card, and don’t actually carry any cards that currently earn Membership Rewards points from AMEX.  I love my Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX, but haven’t had a “regular” AMEX in over a decade.  So, not really an option for me, but definitely an option for others. […]


  1. The terms say OPEN savings is Hyatts in the US only. Is that not true in practice? I have a foreign Hyatt stay coming up and this would effect which card I for.

  2. Thanks. This is helpful to for me to think through as I am now moving in to hotel cards. I don’t stay in SPG or Hyatt enough to make status (I prefer boutique hotels) but I do like the points accumulation when I do. Signed up for the Hyatt card this weekend I like that it has chip and pin (I travel to Europe frequently) and other features. SPG I’ve not been so enthusiastic about – though I just booked 5 nights for price of 4 in the French quarter for Madi Gras. My wife is happy so I am happy.

  3. So the best card for international hyatt’s without the Amex Business Platinum would be the Hyatt CC from Chase, right?

  4. Is it even worth the bother of keeping the Hyatt Chase Visa? Yes, I get one annual cat 4 night, but it doesn’t count toward Diamond requalification. Wouldn’t I be better off using the $95 to purchase a room for a night?

  5. Freedom Card quarterly promotion currently pays 5X points on hotel stays through Dec 31. Freedom does have a foreign transaction fee so good for US.

  6. @Carl – I keep the Hyatt Visa because the free night is worth more to me than the annual fee, but yes I would get the Hilton Reserve over the Hyatt Visa

  7. @Gary I get that we should get value from the free room night, but depending on how it is used, that’s a missed stay credit! As well as points missed. If you do a single mattress run it may be counterproductive. I’m thinking about it. I currently have the HHonors Surpass card which is pretty similar to the new Citi card.

  8. @Carl – With Hilton, award nights count as stays for elite status. And my argument is with Hilton Reserve there’s no reason to chase their status anyway. Amex Surpass card requires spend for Gold, citi card does not

  9. @thumbelina — I agree about the Costco card. Likewise, using the SPG AmEx would give you one Starpoint + 5% Cash Back OPEN Savings.

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