Chase card face-off: Hyatt vs. Marriott

Hyatt vs Marriott

As I discussed last week, those who regularly “churn” new credit cards for their signup bonuses may soon be cut off from Chase.  To help you decide which credit cards to get, while you still can, let’s compare the Chase’s Hyatt credit card to their Marriott credit card.  If you only want one, which should you choose?

Sign up bonuses head to head

Here are the current signup bonus details for each card (current details can always be found on my Best Offers page):

Hyatt Marriott
Minimum Spend Requirement $1,000 in 3 months $3,000 in 3 months
Bonus 2 free nights (must be used within 1 year) 80,000 points
Additional bonus for adding authorized user 5,000 points 7,500 points
First year fee $0 $85

Signup bonus analysis:

When comparing the signup bonuses, the Hyatt card has the edge in several ways:

  • Much lower minimum spend requirement
  • 2 free nights in any Hyatt property worldwide.  Marriott’s 80K points, meanwhile, are enough for two nights at almost all Marriott properties (their award chart tops out at 45,000 points per night), but only enough for 1 night at top tier Ritz Carlton properties (where they charge as much as 70,000 points per night).
  • The Hyatt card waives its first year fee.

On the other hand, the Marriott offer has some advantages as well:

  • Points can be kept indefinitely as long as you have activity in your account every 2 years. Hyatt’s certs expire after a year.
  • Points have much more flexibility.  For example, instead of using the 90,000 points at a top tier property, you could spend 5 nights at a category 4 property.  Category 4 properties charge 20,000 points per night, but Marriott offers the 5th award night free, so a 5 night stay would cost 80,000 points.
  • Marriott has far more properties than Hyatt, so you may have many more opportunities to use their points than you would with Hyatt.

Overall, I’ll call this one a tie.  If I knew that I would have an opportunity to use the 2 free nights at a spectacular Hyatt, perhaps a Park Hyatt in Sydney, Paris, Tokyo, Vienna, etc., then I would prefer the Hyatt bonus.  Otherwise, I prefer the Marriott bonus because points can be used whenever I need them, and for any purpose (including a travel package).

Card details head to head

Hyatt Marriott
Annual Fee $75 $85
Point Earning Rate 2X restaurants, airlines, car rentals.
3X Hyatt.
1X everywhere else.
2X restaurants, airlines, car rentals.
5X Marriott.
1X everywhere else.
Annual free night certificate Free category 1-4 (worth up to 15,000 points) Free category 1-5 (worth up to 25,000 points)
Automatic Elite Status Platinum Silver, in the form of 15 night credits towards upon approval and every year thereafter.
Additional Elite Status -Spend $20K in calendar year, get 2 stay credits & 5 night credits
-Spend $40K in calendar year, get additional 3 stay credits & 5 night credits towards Diamond status
1 credit towards elite status for every $3,000 in purchases.
# stays / nights needed for meaningful elite status Diamond Status: 25 stays or 50 nights Gold Status: 50 nights

Card details analysis:

The Hyatt card has several advantages:

  • $10 cheaper annually
  • Hyatt earnings are far better.  The credit card point earning structure is nearly identical, but Hyatt points are worth far more.  For example, Hotel Hustle currently shows an average Hyatt point value of 1.9 cents whereas the average Marriott point value is just 0.8 cents.
  • The annual free night is more valuable.  It is easier to find a nice Hyatt category 4 property than a nice Marriott category 5 property.

Marriott advantages:

  • If you earn Marriott elite status (Gold or higher) through paid Marriott nights, the credit card gives you a substantial leg-up with 15 nights per year.
  • With Marriott, it is theoretically possible to manufacture high level elite status through spend whereas the Hyatt card has a strict cap on the number of elite nights you can earn through spend.  That said, if you want to earn Marriott elite status through spend, you’re better off with the Ritz Carlton credit card.  See: How to manufacture Marriott elite status.

Overall, Hyatt has the edge. The key differentiator between the two cards, long term, is the annual free night.  Hyatt has some very nice category 4 resorts, even within the United States.  With Marriott, in my experience, similar hotels tend to be category 6 or higher.

Neither card has a compelling earning structure.  Other than bonus spend at the hotels themselves, you would do just as well or better with the Sapphire Preferred card which offers 2X points for all travel and dining.  You could then transfer those points to Hyatt or Marriott, or elsewhere as needed.

Overall Winner: Hyatt by a Nose

Both cards’ signup bonuses are quite good.  And both cards offer annual free night certificates that can more than offset their annual fee.  I wouldn’t recommend either card as your go-to card for spend, but either one can be worth keeping and potentially using at the hotels themselves.

Personally, I’d rather have the Marriott card for its signup bonus (because I prefer points over soon-to-expire free nights), but I’d rather have the Hyatt card for its annual free night and slightly lower annual fee.  If you feel the same way, then the best card for you may depend on whether you’re looking more for a quick win or long term benefits.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Last Chase application and instant approval was May 2015 for 25CL which I reduced to 5k after several months. I have had 6 hard inquires for the last 6 months. I would like to get the Marriot now and the Hyatt just before the cut off for chase churning rules. Do I have a very good chance if I get one now and one 2 months later?

    • In retrospect, I probably should have included IHG in this comparison. I’m not sure if I’ll do a full write-up or not, but here’s the short answer:

      Signup bonus: IHG is not as good as other two (because points are worth less)
      Long term benefits: IHG card is significantly better than the other two. The free night is good at ANY IHG hotel. 10% point rebate on awards. Platinum status.

    • Basically you’re buying an extra 10,000 points for the not-waived first year fee of $85, or 0.85 cents per point. Greg mentioned above that he values Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, so by that calculation you’re overpaying a bit. But, points valuations aren’t concrete, so it could be a wash or even a good deal for you.

    • Oops, just realized that if you’re able to get the 70K offer without the annual fee, you’re ahead by the 0.8 cents/point calculation.

    • The 70K no annual fee offer makes the Marriott signup bonus slightly better than the 80K option with one exception: if you’re trying to get enough Marriott points for a specific high value award (such as a travel package), then spending $85 for an extra 10K points can be a bargain.

  2. Am I alone in thinking that if we only have time for one or two more cards before the 5/24 rule hits us, then we should stack up on Marriott points? I’m thinking from an SPG loyalist’s point of view. If Marriott points will soon get us access to SPG hotels, and we already have the SPG Amex bonuses, it makes perfect sense to me to grab the Marriott personal and business cards while we can.

  3. I have both the Hyatt and Marriott cards , I have held them both for over 2 years for the free night bonus, Would I qualify for either or both due to the fact I have not applied in over 2 years, or would currently having them negate getting them again

  4. I’ve been loyal to SPG, though don’t have status (have accumulated about 90,000 points and have the PPG Amex Card). However, with the merger (and SPG’s 2016 updates), am looking more closely at Hyatt. You say that the certs expire after one year, as I knew, but am I correct in assuming the points stay in one’s account (at least as long as there is some annual activity or one holds the Hyatt credit card)?

  5. I prefer getting “points” vs. award nights that has to be used-up by a certain date…if the differences in other metrics are close-enough..

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