Hyatt Hotels is overhauling its co-branded Chase credit card, less than a month after United Airlines made a similar move.
Like United’s product, the new World of Hyatt credit card, which launched Thursday morning, puts a greater emphasis on earning points on parallel travel experiences rather than simply focusing on giving bonuses for hotel bookings.
Clearly the focus seems to be on a younger traveler. Ride sharing services, public transit, tolls and taxis all now earn two points per dollar spent — up from one dollar before (restaurants still earn double points). Additionally, gym and fitness club memberships have also been added to the double points category.
On the other side of that equation, car rentals are no longer in the double points category, though that suggests that Hyatt may be focusing on a younger, more urban demographic than with the previous card. Price protection has also been dropped, a move reflective of United’s changes earlier this month. When asked about that, Luc Bondar, United’s vice president of loyalty, suggested that price protection had less utility for the common traveler than features like double points for dining.
The annual fee for the World of Hyatt credit card has also gone up from $75 to $95.
It’s clear from Hyatt’s positioning that it’s trying to turn the card into more of an everyday tool – especially for urban – consumers rather than a payment method only used occasionally for hotel stays. But for those who do plan to use the card within the Hyatt network, there are some additional benefits.
Beyond the current Hyatt card benefits, which gives members free low-level elite status, the new WoH card will annually give five nights of qualifying night credits to the member’s balance to help accelerate that person through the elite ranks. And for every $5,000 spent on the card, an additional two nights of qualifying credits will be added to the member’s elite balance.That’s a big change from earlier, when a member automatically earned Explorist status (typically 30 nights) after spending $50,000 on the card; now, low-level spenders can earn free nights but it takes more churning to reach the upper echelons of elite status.
On top of the bonuses, the number of points earned when spending at Hyatt properties has gone up from 3 to 4 points per dollar spent.
Many of Hyatt’s changes appear to be leveled directly at Starwood Preferred Guest and its co-branded AmEx credit card. Both cards now give members five nights towards further status each year in addition to automatic low-level elite status. The annual fee on each card has also equalized at $95. On top of that, Hyatt is further allocating free stay credit for every $5,000 spent on the card, something that may balance out the fact that Starwood has numerous transfer partners and a relatively stronger hotel network.
It’s also worth pointing out that though Hyatt now gives a stronger point bonus for in-house purchases over Starwood (4 times vs. 2 times), its points are widely regarded as less valuable.
Overall, however, the new credit card should put Hyatt and World of Hyatt on a better competitive playing field against both the Chase Sapphire Reserve, a more day-to-day spending card with some similar benefits, and the Starwood Preferred AmEx, another popular business card with a cult following. And with decent targeting towards younger travelers, the card should find an audience.