Have The Chase Freedom Cards Rendered The World of Hyatt Card Worthless?

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Photo of the glass sliding doors opening to a balcony with 2 chairs and small table, looking over the ocean and beach
Looks like a good place for a debate!

Is The World Of Hyatt Card Worth It?

If you have read my work regularly then you know I have been a huge fan of the World of Hyatt card. When it was first launched I called it the king of hotel cards. That was true unless you throw premium cards in the mix and then the Aspire takes the crown.  Having said that, I am starting to question if the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited have diminished the value of the World of Hyatt card.

I have discussed this in regards to the Sapphire cards but I started thinking about the Hyatt card as well. Disclaimer, if you spend your way to World of Hyatt status with the credit card then you can stop reading right now because the card still has immense value there.  But, for people like me that put $15K of spend on the Hyatt card every year for the free night certificate, and then sock drawer it, I think we are left with an interesting dilemma. Is the World of Hyatt card worth it any more?

World Of Hyatt Card Worth It

How I Have Used My World of Hyatt Card In The Past

Each and every year I put $15,000 worth of spend on my, and my wife’s, World of Hyatt card to earn the category 1-4 free night.  The free night is like adding an additional point per dollar in earning on top of the card’s normal earn rates. That is true if you use the certificate at a category 4 property (15,000 points a night) at least. Adding the normal earn rate and the free night together make this a great option for $15,000 of non bonus spend each year.

I would often use this card as my restaurant card until I hit the $15K in spend and then would shift to my wife’s card (I am an authorized user).  When adding in the value of the certificate that was like getting 3X per dollar at restaurants, equal to the earn rate on the premium Chase Sapphire Reserve.

My $15K in spend would normally be a mix of non bonus spend and restaurant spend but with the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited earning 3X on dining, which can be turned into Ultimate Rewards points, should I just move my restaurant spend there?

How The Freedom Cards Have Changed Things

Chase did a Freedom Unlimited refresh a little over a year ago and launched the Freedom Flex at the same time.  They have a lot of overlapping features which include:

  • 5% on Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, including vacation and car rentals.
  • 3% on Dining purchases, including take out or eligible delivery services.
  • 3% on Drugstore purchases on daily essentials like medicine, toiletries, diapers and other items.

Where they differentiate is the Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% back on all other purchases. The Freedom Flex earns 1% on all other purchases but also earns 5% back in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1500 in spend each quarter.

The categories I want to focus on is the 3% back on dining & pharmacies.  If you have a premium card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, then that turns your Freedom cash back into transferrable Ultimate Rewards points.

World Of Hyatt Card Worth It

Why I Am Struggling With This

Like I said above, if you use your World of Hyatt card to earn status then the card is a no brainer. Holding the card gets you 5 nights in elite credit right off the bat and then the $15K in spend each year earns you another 6. That is because you earn 2 elite nights for every $5,000 in spend you put on the card.

If you carry the card and spend the $15K that is 11 nights, or close to halfway to semi meaningful Explorist status. A status I am perfectly happy rolling with going forward and a reason I am okay with letting my Globalist status expire.

Ask Yourself, Do You Need 6 More Nights?

You need to ask yourself, do you need those 11 nights though? Or, heck, we could even say 6 nights since the annual free night certificate outweighs the annual fee of the World of Hyatt card for most. So, let’s say you will gladly take a free night certificate and 5 elite night credits for $95. That leaves us wondering if 6 elite nights and a free night certificate are worth $15K in spend.

Maybe you don’t care about status at all or you routinely finish the year at 36, or 66 nights+ each year. At those two numbers and above the 6 nights are not needed to earn Globalist or Explorist status. If that is the case, does it diminish what you earn from spending on the World of Hyatt card at all? How much do the elite nights play a roll into your equation?

This is all assuming that you don’t continue to spend to earn more elite nights of course.

World Of Hyatt Card Worth It

Pharmacy Spend Is Dead

If we are in agreement that you don’t need those 6 free night credits then should we just shift our spending to the Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cards instead? In the past I have done some of my World of Hyatt card spend at CVS. It was an easy place to rack up spend in bunches and I was essentially earning 2 World of Hyatt points per dollar there when including the free night certificate. Well, now I can earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar with the Freedom cards. Pharmacies have now become a poor option for my World of Hyatt credit card spend.

Dining Isn’t Any Better

For dining purchases it made sense to use our World of Hyatt cards because I earned 2 World of Hyatt points plus an additional point from the free night. Now though? Isn’t 3X Ultimate Reward points way better since it isn’t tied to an expiring certificate?  Not to mention Hyatt has been torpedoing the value of their certs lately, removing most of the premier redemption options.

Non Bonus Spend Is A Would You Rather

The same question goes for non bonus spend. Would you rather have 1.5 Ultimate Rewards or 1 World of Hyatt point plus another point tied up in an expiring free night certificate? Tough call there. Plus, I am not sure if I have $15K (or $30K for both cards) of non bonus spend I would want to devote to this each year. Especially when including other welcome offers, or spending offers etc., where that spend could go and earn me more.

Is The World of Hyatt Card Worth It: Final Thoughts

What was once an easy decision is no longer so simple. My go to plans for the last few years no longer make sense for my situation. I would be better off putting my dining and pharmacy spend on the Chase Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited instead of our World of Hyatt card. Non bonus spend still probably makes sense to pursue but I am not sure I have enough to cover it. When you include other welcome offers we are always working on, and the fact that I could earn 1.5 Ultimate Rewards with the Freedom Unlimited, I don’t know if it is worth it.

Always Be Re-evaluating

Take all of the above and throw in the fact that World of Hyatt has devalued their points recently, and made category 4 free night certificates harder to use, should I even bother with it any more? I am leaning towards focusing on racking up Ultimate Rewards instead. I’ll keep my World of Hyatt card for the $95 stay every year plus the 5 nights in credit. I am unlikely to need the 6 I earned via spend to reach Explorist status.

My wife’s card is even less valuable since she can’t use the 5 elite nights at all. The free night certificate is worth more than $95 to us but do we really need it? If we have enough points to cover our travel is it worth throwing $95 into the fire to keep some points on the sideline a bit longer? That will take some more thinking on my part.

All of this goes to prove a point I have been making for weeks about always be re-evaluating. What worked in the past doesn’t mean it still makes sense now. Things are always changing so don’t get stuck in a rut with your blinders up.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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16 COMMENTS

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16 COMMENTS

  1. This is good, original content, something I appreciate with travel blogs. I haven’t seen this covered anywhere else, way to peel back the layers.

  2. Where I disagree with you is Hyatt Place Las Vegas.

    There are two Hyatt Place Las Vegas hotels in Las Vegas that have no parking fees and no resort fees and include a continental breakfast and free coffee.

    You can book free nights using your Hyatt points for as low as 6,500 points, including Friday and Saturday nights.

    Or you can spend $400 to $500 a night for a hotel on the Strip.

  3. I’ve been holding a 5/24 slot open for the WOH card when the time comes that they roll out a new SUB. However, my go-to has been the Chase Freedom Unlimited coupled with a Chase ink Preferred that I transfer the Freedom points to. 1.5 on all purchases and 3 on dining and drugstores makes this my go-to card to rack up UR points that I transfer to WOH when needed. While I can try to justify spending my way to Globalist on the WOH card, I just don’t see the value of losing the extra half of point (Freedom Unlimited) unless I have dozens of stays a year at Hyatt, which I do not.

  4. Yes this is my first year holding the card that I might not spend to get the $15K FNC. It will depend on available extra bandwidth toward the end of the year. The FNC sitting in my account expiring in a month (and not having any vacation time before then) has a way of making me revalue the FNC worth downward. It will always be a keeper card, and I’ll put my 2x fitness spend on it, but that’s it.

  5. Interesting analysis and worth pondering over. There is however a major point you’re overlooking. Holding the WOH card gives you lots of times 25% back on points or extra points on purchases. On point rebates from award stays, you’ll definitely want to hold the card. Now I agree with the 15k spend- if you’re not spending to status, just hold it in order to get a night for $95 and put spend elsewhere.

    • Yeah I was more talking about spending on it. I’ll hold it for the free night cert, promos and the 5 elite nights. My wife’s is a tougher call but we usually come out $100 or so ahead on the annual free night so will probably keep hers too.

    • 2021 alone these were just some of the card promos on one, or both, of our cards. In total we did very well with spend on our cards:
      1. You’ll earn 1,000 Bonus Points per month when you spend $1,000 on purchases per month on your World of Hyatt Card between October 1 and December 31, 2021

      2. From 5/15/21 to 8/15/21, you’ll earn 8 total Bonus Points on purchases at all Hyatt hotels and 5 total Bonus Points for every $1 you spend on other travel purchases and at gas stations on up to $1,500 in total combined purchases with your World of Hyatt Credit Card

      3. Use your World of Hyatt Credit Card from February 1 through February 28, 2021 and you could earn up to 5,000 Bonus Points (enough for 1 free night at a Category 1 hotel). This offer is on top of the points you already earn with your Card.

      • Promo spend also counts towards the $15k spend, so I wait towards the end of the year to see how much more is needed & then decide if it’s worth it (rather than right out of the chute at the beginning of the year).

  6. Having the WoH card to achieve status is pretty much the only reason to have it. Paying an AF for a FN cert is so pre-Covid.

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