The Two Million Mile Honeymoon Luxury Travel at Budget Rates

Best Hotel Credit Cards (other than Club Carlson)

In an earlier post I’ve said that I focus my miles and points earning on only four loyalty programs: United Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, and Club Carlson.  While it is true that I focus primarily on those four programs, I have already burned through a number of offers with all of them and so I have moved on to offers with less favorable programs such as Hyatt, Hilton and Fairmont.

While the hotel chains above have loyalty programs that aren’t very generous, all three have one thing in common: each has a credit card offering two complimentary nights at top tier properties that many people (including Dhara and I) would find prohibitively expensive.  The three cards below will allow us to inject a bit of luxury into our trip that we otherwise would never be able to afford.

Hyatt: Hyatt Visa from Chase

This card gives you two free nights at any Hyatt after spending $1,000 in the first three months.  Cardholders are automatically upgraded to Platinum Status in Hyatt’s Gold Passport Program.  The annual fee is waived for the first year, so you can get the bonus fee-free if you cancel, but if you keep the card (which is what we plan to do) you get a certificate for a free night stay (up to Category 4) each year, which is much more valuable than the $75 annual fee.

Hyatt

Hyatt Visa from Chase

Where we’re using our nights:

We have already booked my two free nights at the Park Hyatt Sydney next year.  It is an amazing property located in a fantastic location between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the famous Opera House.  Room rates start at about $800 per night, so our 2 night stay would have set us back about $1600 – obviously something we could never afford without the card.

Sydney

Park Hyatt Sydney

We haven’t booked Dhara’s nights yet, but the two properties we are considering are the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome (where rates can often exceed $1000 per night in peak season) and the Park Hyatt Tokyo (the luxury hotel made famous in Lost in Translation).

Tokyo

Park Hyatt Tokyo

 

Hilton: Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa from Citibank

This card give you two free weekend nights (Fri, Sat or Sun) at any Hilton (including Conrads and Waldorf Astorias) after spending $2,500 in the first four months.  Cardholders are automatically upgraded to Gold Status in Hilton’s Honors Program.  The annual fee of $95 is NOT waived, but I feel it is worth it for the benefits and will keep this card as long as we’re traveling.  Gold Status gives you free breakfast, free internet, and free room upgrades which (if you stay at even a few Hilton’s a year can easily pay for itself).  For example, we have booked about twenty nights at Hilton properties next year with cash (reasonable places between $100-$150 per night) and now because of our Gold status all of those nights will come with free wifi, free breakfast and possible room upgrades – so the extras are worth much more than the $95 fee.

Hilton

Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa from Citibank

Where we’re using our nights:

We have already booked my two free nights at the Conrad Tokyo, a luxury skyscraper in the heart of Tokyo.  The weekend we are staying standard rooms start at $700 per night, so our two night stay would run us about $1400 – again, something we could never afford.

tokyo2

Conrad Tokyo

We haven’t booked Dhara’s nights yet, but the two properties we are considering are the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai (an historic luxury hotel in a great location) and the Rome Cavalieri by Waldorf Astoria (a spectacular property that goes for as much as $1,000 per night for a standard room).

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund

Hilton

Rome Cavalieri by Waldorf Astoria

 

Fairmont: Fairmont Visa from Chase

This card gives you two free nights at any Fairmont after spending $1,000 in the first three months.  Cardholders are automatically upgraded to Premier Status in Fairmont’s Presidents Club Program.  The annual fee is waived for the first year, so you can get the bonus fee-free if you cancel, and then it’s $95 after that if you keep it.  They do offer you benefits every year for keeping the card such as “third night free”, “room upgrade” and “suite upgrade” certificates but Fairmont ONLY has high end properties with expensive standard room rates so we might not be able to use these benefits, and therefore might cancel this one next year.

Fairmont

Fairmont Visa from Chase

Where we’re using our nights:

We have already booked my free nights at The Plaza, an historic hotel in New York City that I’ve always wanted to stay at since I saw Home Alone 2 as a child.  The nightly rate for the days we are staying start at $900 so, obviously, another stay we could never have afforded on our own.

Hilton

The Plaza

We intend to use Dhara’s nights at the Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac, an historic grand hotel in Old Quebec.

Hilton

Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City

So, between the two of us we applied for 6 cards, paid the $180 in fees, spent the $11,000 on the cards we were going to spend anyway, and we’re getting 12 nights in ultra luxurious hotels we would never normally have been able to stay at.

Where will you spend your free nights?

One Thought on “Best Hotel Credit Cards (other than Club Carlson)

  1. Wonderful. I plan to move onto these cards after I use up a bit more of my airline cards.

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