Rocking Fairmont credit card free nights and elite benefits

Chase’s Fairmont credit card is no longer available to new applicants, but I know that many readers signed up for the card in January when I posted: The other Chase card you should consider today.  Since my wife and I signed up for the card I’ve had a chance to study up on some of the amazing opportunities that these cards offer.  Presented below are suggestions for getting huge value from the card’s free nights and elite status benefits.

Please note that I have not yet taken advantage of these perks at the time of this writing, so some of what you’ll find below is speculative.  I’ll update this post with new information if/when I learn more.

Background

For review, the Fairmont card had the following signup bonus:

  • Earn 2 free nights after $3K spend in 3 months.  Free nights are good for 1 year from date of issue.
  • First year annual fee waived, then $95

And, even better, the card still offers the following ongoing perks:

  • Automatic Premier elite status, which gives you the following annual benefits:
    • $50 in dining or spa credits
    • 1 room upgrade
    • 1 suite upgrade
    • 1 free 3rd night on a 3 night stay (can’t be used with the card’s 2 free nights)
  • Earn a free night each year when you spend $12,000 on the card.
  • Earn 1 stay credit towards status for every $7,500.  Note that this is limited to 2 stay credits per year and 10 stays (or 30 nights) are required to earn the next level Platinum status.
  • Earn points from spend (worth about 1 cent per point):
    • 5x at Fairmont properties
    • 2x for airfare purchased directly from the airlines, car rental agencies, and transit and commuting
    • 1x everywhere else

I have no idea how long these perks will last before Chase retires the card altogether, but for now it’s a pretty sweet collection of perks.

Earning Free Nights (beyond the signup bonus)

If you signed up for the card and met the minimum spend requirements, you should have received certificates in your account for two free nights.  However, there are additional ways to earn free nights:

Annual free night with $12K spend

Normally I wouldn’t advocate spending much with these cards since you’ll usually earn just 1 point per dollar.  That’s a meager 1% return.  That said, the annual free night can be extremely valuable.  If you use it to offset a $600 room, for example, then your rate of return on that spend jumps up to about 6% (5% from the free night and 1% from the points earned).

Redeem points for free nights in one of two ways

Points can be redeemed for gift cards, including Fairmont gift cards, at a rate of 1 cent gift card value per point.  For example, a $100 gift card costs 10,000 points.

Alternatively, you can exchange points for free nights.  These are called “Ovation Rewards.”  The point cost for the free night Ovation Rewards depends upon which Collection (A,B, C, or D) the hotel is in.  You can find a list of hotels by collection here.

Chase / Fairmont charges the following number of points for a standard room:

  • Collection A: 25,000
  • Collection B: 35,000
  • Collection C: 45,000
  • Collection D: 65,000

Depending upon the room rate when you want to go, you may do better redeeming points for gift cards.  For example, if the hotel is in Collection B (35K point redemption) and the room rate, after taxes, is substantially less than $350, then you might as well redeem points for gift cards and pay for your stay with those…  Unless you want free breakfast:

Ovation Rewards are valid for a one night stay in the indicated room type, and include applicable room taxes, full breakfast for two in the hotel’s all day dining restaurant with related taxes and gratuities only (excludes buffets and alcohol.) Ovation Rewards certificates are redeemable based upon last room availability in the room category purchased (some exceptions may apply.)

Blackout Dates

Free nights earned from the signup bonus and from annual $12K spend are subject to blackout dates which vary by property.  You can find a full list here.  I believe that Ovation Reward free nights (when you redeem points for free nights) do not have blackout dates, but of course the room type must be available.

Stacking Free Nights

It is possible to chain together all of the above free nights types into a single stay (credit card signup bonus, credit card spend bonus, and point redemptions).

Further, if a couple each has Fairmont free nights, then it is simple to book the free nights back to back in order to have a single longer stay.

For example, suppose a couple each signed up for the Fairmont card in January and then spent $12,000 on each card in order to earn two annual free nights.  At the end of their first membership year, there should be a period of time in which the annual free nights and the signup bonus free nights overlap.  This happens because the signup bonus free nights aren’t issued until minimum spend requirements are met and then the certificates are good for 12 months after that.  So, this hypothetical couple could book a completely free 6 night stay.  Of course if they earned enough points for additional free nights, they could use those too.

Stacking Free Nights with 3rd Night Free

Fairmont Premier status grants a 3rd Night Free certificate each year.  You can use point redemption free nights (Ovation Rewards) to take advantage of this benefit (thanks go to a FTU attendee for this tip!).  For example, if you have enough points to redeem for two free nights, you can then also apply your 3rd Night Free certificate to that stay in order to get a total of 3 free nights.  Or, if you have enough points for only one night, you can use that, then pay for the 2nd night, then apply your certificate for the 3rd night.

Signup bonus free nights and annual $12K spend free nights cannot be used to trigger the 3rd night free benefit, but they can be used within the same stay.  For example, you could pay for two nights, get the 3rd night free, and then add however many additional free nights you have to the stay.  An individual who has earned 2 free nights from the credit card bonus could then get 5 nights for the price of 2.

Stacking 3rd Night Free certificate with promotional rate 3rd Night Free?

Many Fairmont properties offer a third night free promotional rate.  It should be possible to book this rate and then add another free night by applying your 3rd Night Free certificate.  In this way, you’ll get 4 nights for the price of 2.

I talked with a Fairmont rep about this, and unfortunately you can’t directly stack the 3rd Night Free certificate with the 3rd Night Free promotional rate.  The best you could do is book 6 nights for the price of 4 so that the 3rd night is free from the promotional rate and the 6th night is free from the certificate.

Stacking 3rd Night Free with Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts

Most premium credit cards offer some form of luxury hotel booking program.  The one I’m most used to is American Express’ Fine Hotels & Resorts.  If you have a Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card you can book through this website and automatically receive perks such as free breakfast, $100 property credit, early check-in and/or late check-out, etc.  Often the prices are the same or at least not much higher than the best rates you can find elsewhere.

Plus, sometimes these programs have access to 3rd night free benefits themselves.  For example, I found that through Fine Hotels & Resorts, you can book 3 nights for the price of 2 at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar (near San Diego).  If you book this way, you will get valuable perks (such as daily free breakfast and $100 resort credit) and you can also apply your 3rd Night Free certificate or you can apply your 3rd Night Free certificate if that rate isn’t available.  In this way, you would get 3 nights for the price of 2 plus awesome perks!

Stacking 3rd Night Free with Citi Prestige 4th Night Free

The Citi Prestige card offers the 4th Night Free on 4 night or longer stays booked through the Citi Prestige Concierge.  See Complete Guide to Citi Prestige 4th Night Free. By booking four nights this way, you can then apply your 3rd Night Free certificate in order to get 4 nights for the price of 2.

As we mentioned above, many Fairmont properties offer a third night free promotional rate.  Let the Citi Prestige concierge know that you want to book that rate (I recommend providing a link to the offer web page) and you should then be able to get 4 nights for the price of 2 without using a certificate.

If you have free night certificates as well, then of course you can tack those on to this stay too.

Stacking with Upgrades

Your Premier Elite status room and suite upgrade certificates do stack with all types of Fairmont free nights.  Plus, even if you’ve cobbled together extra free nights through various means (as described above), you can apply a single certificate for your entire stay.  If two people combine their free nights into one stay, only one upgrade certificate needs to be used to cover the entire stay.  This leaves free the other person’s upgrade certificate for another stay.  And, don’t forget that the upgrade certificates are renewed each year.

If available, you can turn your extended free stay into an even more luxurious suite stay.  Sweet.

This Fairmont Del Mar Prado Suite is bookable with free nights stacked with a suite upgrade certificate

Finding free night availability

I’m going to take the easy way out here and simply pass along advice from TravelBloggerBuzz (as written in the comments of one of my posts):

Some tips about Fairmont from a Lifetime Platinum…

Call the individual properties directly as the FPC line staff tend to be a little stingy with these Visa nights.

Best to book pay nights and then call in to “oh, look we have the free Visa nights”. If you do leave one paid night ahead of the free nights…even better! You may REALLY want to do this at Lake Louise to ensure you get a lake view room which is WORTH it!

Eat away the food certs and then you can apply the dining certs at check out. Do not try to apply them at the restaurants because not all staff know how to handle it. Or you may get lucky and get some free food if you go that route (as it happened to us).

Lake Louise has a “Breakfast in the lake” activity, so worth the money, go for it!

The hiking around Lake Louise is absolutely fantastic!

Morraine Lake is even more beautiful than Lake Louise!

Interested on the Kenya property and safari…so, how do we get to Kenya with miles? 🙂

For more details, check out my trip report: http://travelbloggerbuzz.com/travel-reports/canadian-rockies-banff-jasper-national-parks-2013/

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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. And you don’t even have to be staying in the hotel to use the dining certificates.

    Me and the wife had a date night at the restaurant here in the Fairmont Washinton DC, and used each of our $50 credits on the same $100 dinner bill. It covered foot and drink, and they didn’t even care that we weren’t hotel guests.

    The other thing I learned is that the certificates always expire and new ones generate in March, so we had a small window of time to use them after our card opening in Jan. We already have new ones up that we plan to use during our free night stay, so this first year has been more profitable than expected.

    Lastly, you didn’t mention the room and suite upgrades that you get with the card. They work in conjunction with all of the free nigh stays, so make sure you use them when you book, no matter how you book.

    • it gets even better – the person who owns the cert doesn’t have to be present for dining. I applied a family member’s certs in addition to my own towards the bill. YMMV.

      • Now THAT I didn’t know!

        But I can see how it would work since all they asked me for at the restaurant for each of us was the account number and name.

        Might make a good gift if I hold the card another year.

        Or, you know, if any kind souls on here can’t make it to the Fairmont restaurant before it expires.. I’ll take it off your hands for you.

  2. Wow, thanks for mentioning that points can be redeemed for gift cards! I just grabbed a $25 BP and $10 Starbucks with my 3,500 points earned from minimum spend. It’s a paltry 1:1 rate, but what would I do with 3,500 Fairmont points otherwise?

  3. Do you have the link to the 2018 blackout dates?

    Does Fairmont do status matches? I’m redeeming my cert after my AF posts, which I plan to cancel so I won’t be able to take advantage of the card perks you mentioned above right?

  4. PS is the suite upgrade per night or per stay? So say I’m redeeming my certs for nights 1 and 2. My mom will redeem her certs for nights 3 and 4. Can one suite upgrade be used? Thanks.

    • Per stay, per person. You would redeem one certificate for your 2 night stay, and your mom would redeem one for her 2 night stay.

      It’s because they can only apply your certificate to a stay associated with your account. But rest assured, you will get new certificates each year.

      • Michael, are you sure they would take both certs? I booked back to back nights with my and my wife’s free nights and applied a suite upgrade. The phone rep seemed to indicate that she only pulled my certificate for all 4 nights. I don’t see any way to know for sure though until after the stay.

        • The rep made me use both, one for my certificates and one for my wifes.

          It stood out because I specifically asked if it could be done using just one, and the rep explained that the upgrade certificates could only apply to the suite certificates used from my account.

          My stay is in July in Barcelona. I can look at the bill and the redemption dates in the accounts to verify, however, since we all know two different reps can very easily say two different things.

        • To clarify, since I made a mistake in the last post and there is no edit button.

          My wife and I each had to use our own certificates from our own accounts even though they combined the nights into a single “stay”.

        • I only had to use 1 cert for the suite upgrade even though my wife and I combined our 2 nights to make a 4-night stay. This was for the Kea Lani.

        • When I called Fairmont this morning, they also told me that they would need to pull the suite upgrade certificate from both accounts. They also made 2 separate 2-night reservations. Were you able to get them to make a single 4-night reservation using free night certs from both accounts? Did you book with the Fairmont call center or directly with the property?

        • Tried again but this time I called the number for the property(although they might have transferred me back to central reservations). This rep was able to combine the 2 reservations into a single reservation with all 4 free nights and then use a single suite upgrade certificate. The suite offered by this rep was also much better than what was offered by the original rep. HUCA!

  5. Was one of my favorite cards….had a 2 night stay complete with suite and amazing breakfast at Fairmont Chateau Frontenac this year and a 2 night stay with great meals and nice view at Fairmont Mont Tremblant the year before. Love cards that give free nights at any property rather than points….no guilt about staying at primo place instead of more nights at cheap place!

  6. Good stuff Greg, I knew most of the perks but somehow I didn’t think of 3rd night free when I used Ovation certs.

  7. ive had this card for 4 years now. Ive not been able to stack suite upgrade with the free night you get with the 12k spend. You can however stack room upgrade with free night so that will at least get you a nicer room. The suite upgrade stacks only on top of paid nights but with the ideas posted here using stacking promos it could be a very good result.

    One thing I will add about the use of fairmont points to get gift cards vs using them to buy ovation certs. I got ovation certs for the jr suite D collection because I wanted to be able to use them at the Fairmont Pacific rim this summer after our alaskan cruise. The Ovation suite certificate also opens the path for a paid upgrade to higher category suites. Each room type you book is given only specific levels which it can then be upgraded to. That is why free nights only can be upgraded one level up from basically standard room to deluxe room and not higher to standard suite. The upgrade from the standard suite to the Stanley park suite was what I got and it was 75CAD cost per night x 2 nights. The Stanley park suite was $1300 CAD per night during our slated stay so we essentially used 100k fairmont pts and 150CAD to get about 2800CAD in value out of the points which for me was a much better value than buying Fairmont gift cards. YMMV

    • I was able to use both a room upgrade to get a better level room, and then a suite upgrade on top of that to get a suite while using my free nights.

      My reservation was a standard room, and now says Fairmont suite king at no cost.

  8. How would you go about stacking a 3rd night free certificate with a 3rd night free rate? Would the certificate technically take the 3rd paid night off (in this case the 4th night) off?

    • I haven’t tried it but yes I expect that the certificate would give you the 4th night free. If booking somewhere other than through Fairmont, then book the 3 nights first and then call Fairmont to see if you can apply the certificate

      • This doesn’t work. I booked a 3rd night free rate through Visa Signature because it was the same price as the Fairmont site but with free breakfast and the F&B credit. Two agents have now told me that it isn’t possible to add my 3rd free night certificate to the reservation. If anyone can provide insight on how to get this done, I would appreciate it. Thanks!

  9. I looked into the Kenya property and don’t forget the fine print:

    **Please note that certificate use at Fairmont Mara Safari Club does not include meals, game drives, and compulsory park fees of $81 USD per person, per day, subject to change without notice.

    I did the math and paying for each of those items a la carte would come out to $420/night for 2 people. This property runs about $550-$650 a night, so that would leave you with $130-$230/night value for your free night certificate. Not a good value.

  10. I have question around stacking 3rd night free with citi prestige 4th night free. Can you explain how its 5 nights for the price of 3 nights? Wouldn’t this work out to book 4 nights and then only pay for the first two nights?

    • I haven’t tried it, but this is how I expect it to work:

      If you start by booking 4 nights through Citi Prestige, then you’ll get 4 nights for the price of 3. Then call Fairmont to tack on another night using your certificate. That then would be 5 nights for the price of 3.

      If the hotel also has a 3rd night free rate, then book that rate through Citi Prestige so that you get 4 nights for the price of 2. Then call Fairmont to add on your additional free night through your certificate. Now you’ll get 5 nights for the price of 2.

      • From reading the T&C, it looks like it doesn’t allow you to add on a free night but rather just reduces the 3rd night’s rate to 0 on a paid 3+ night stay.

        • Ooh, very interesting. I wonder if it’s possible to pay for just 1 night and get 4 nights?

          1. Book 4 nights w/ Prestige using Fairmont 3rd night free promo (not certificate)
          2. Apply 3rd night free certificate to make another night free

        • The way I’ve seen it play out with the Fairmont promos (not the certs) is that they reduce each night’s cost instead of simply granting a free night. In that case, you could use their promo, the 4th night free with Prestige, and the 3rd night free certificate.

  11. Can you find any dates with the 3rd night free at Grand Del Mar? Every date I have searched for says “We were unable to find rates that matched the Rate Type you requested. Alternate rates for your selected dates are below.” So while it’s nice in theory, I can’t seem to duplicate it.

  12. Greg I am contemplating whether to go for that $12k spend or not, esp since I am already $3k in and I have an upcoming stay at a Fairmont where I expect the bill to be a couple grand. Anyway, if chase / Accor does away w fairmont loyalty program do you think they will screw me on the $12k free night cert? I’m worried that I am $1k away from $12k and the dreadful announcement gets made.

  13. My hubby, sister, and I (along with 3 little ones) were able to apply 3 suite upgrades to our 4-night free stay at the Fairmont Orchid. We used mine and my husband’s free Chase card nights to book a standard room. Then we used a room upgrade cert to upgrade our standard to a deluxe, a suite upgrade to an Executive Garden suite, another suite upgrade to an Executive Ocean suite, and my sister’s suite upgrade to get a ground floor, one-bedroom Oceanfront suite right off of Pauoa Bay. It was more than large enough to accommodate 2 cribs for our twins and allowed them to crawl from the room right to the beach!

  14. Anyone know how quickly the Free Night cert posts after meeting the $12k spend? I have a stay coming up in a few months and would like to add this night on top, but I’m afraid they won’t add it until I’ve had the card for a year. Any DPs?

  15. UPDATE:
    I just called Fairmont and (assuming the rep I spoke with is correct) you cannot combine promotional 3rd night free deals with the 3rd night free certificate. If you wanted to use both, you would have to book 6 nights: 2 paid + 1 free + 2 paid + 1 free.

    I’ll update this post accordingly. Sorry about that!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *