Hyatt free nights got a ton of talk when affiliate commission got involved, and there’s been so little talk about the Fairmont card, which is in some ways better.
As Stefan (from Rapid Travel Chai) and I discussed, they have so many awesome and historic hotels, that it’s an opportunity, every bit as much as the Hyatt card.
So I want to discuss some details and benefits of the card, and then talk about the best Fairmont Hotels. Also, there have been some misconceptions of how some of the benefits work, especially around the certificates. This post is about understanding and getting the most from the Fairmont card.
Card / Free Night Details
2 free nights after spending $3,000 in 3 months.
The free nights can only be used at “Fairmont” brand hotels, and not partners in the chain (like Raffles and Swissotel).
“Earn 1 Complimentary Night each anniversary year that you make $12,000 in purchases with your card”
This is a killer benefit, and to some is worth keeping the card year after year and paying the $95. Either way, I would be aiming to spend $12,000 before the anniversary date to get the extra free night.
But I’m not sure it’s worth keeping the $95 annual fee. This is a time where the phrase “opportunity cost” would actually make sense. Meaning, that spending $12,000 on this card, means that you won’t spend it on a 2% cash back card. So if you have a 2% card, you could be missing out on an additional $120 cashback, and paying the $95. That may or may not be worth the $95 fee for you. Maybe it depends on the hotel.
For me, I don’t like paying annual fees for “benefits”, as you can go broke saving money. It adds up.
More card details:
- $0 annual fee the first year
- $95 annual fee starting the second year
- Premier Status
- No foreign transaction fee
- Get an extra “stay” towards status after spending $7,500 (up to two “stays”)
Premier Status benefits
- 1 upgrade certificate
- 1 suite upgrade certificate
- $50 Dining/Spa e-certificates
- 3rd night free
If you get the card and you already have status, you get a few extra benefits.
Existing members with Premier / Platinum status also get:
- Upgrade from Deluxe to “Gold Floor” (like Club Floor), with lounge
- $50/$100 in dining credits for Premier/Platinum members
Understand that these benefits are in addition to the ones you already got as part of your status. So without status already, you would get Premier status upon card approval, which would give you $50 in certificates. If you already had the status, you would get an additional $50 in dining certificates.
Pro tip: Combine suite upgrade & free nights
Room and suite upgrades can be applied to these free nights!
Right from the card’s terms and conditions:
Certificate may also be used in conjunction with an FPC Room or Suite Upgrade Certificates and with any other certificates offered in connection with this program.
Great award availability!
Another amazing thing about these free nights, is that they aren’t capacity controlled like most reward programs’ availability. This means that if there is a standard room cash rate, you can use your free night.
The only exception is the Savoy, which has some sort of capacity control. Which would be less annoying if you could search what that availability is online… but you just have to call back to search.
What the heck are Fairmont points good for?
Fairmont points seem to be more or less handled by Chase, at Chase.com/FairmontRewards.
Don’t get hung up on it being related to Fairmont because it’s not, as they don’t have a points system at all. Really, it’s Chase giving you 1%. There is a travel section and a gift card section, where you can redeem points for 1 point for 1 cent of travel/gift card. If you had 10,000 points, you could get a $100 flight, or a $100 gift card.
Although there is one Fairmont related option, which is to redeem your points for their Fairmont Ovation Collection Certificates. It’s a bit of a rip off. 25,000 to 75,000 points for these certificates, when it’s $250 to $750 worth of points via the travel booking portal. 99.99% of the time, you’ll end up paying more via the certificates, than booking the same hotel via the portal.
Use the points for travel bookings or gift cards you’d use.
Best Fairmont Hotels To Use Free Nights
Let me share with you some of the awesome Fairmont hotels.
The Plaza, New York – $900
A very famous hotel (on the Top 500 hotel list), and one of Fairmont’s prized hotels.
However, the terms and conditions only allow one night on a reservation. Here’s what it says in the T&C:
Only one Certificate may be redeemed per stay at The Plaza Hotel, New York City, USA. In addition, a Certificate redeemed at The Plaza Hotel may not be combined with any other room-type certificates (suite upgrade, room upgrade, etc.).
The Savoy, London – $800
Another Travel & Leisure Top 500 hotel that brings in some really expensive rates (often over $1,000) in a very expensive city.
As mentioned above, there is some capacity control at this hotel that requires calling.
The Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados – $600
The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, Hawaii – $600
On the Travel & Leisure Top 500 Hotels list, and on the beautiful island of Maui. Not a bad place to spend 2 nights.
Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston – $400+
Another T&L Top 500, in the heart of Boston.
Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Kenya – $500
It is right outside the northwest entrance of Maasai Mara National Park (which is amazing), and the hotel is a “luxury camping” style tent. It’s a long ways from Nairobi, so it’s still going to have some high costs, but a great experience.
San Diego Fairmont Grand Del Mar – $600
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – $250
Fairmont Banff Springs – $350
Fairmont Washington DC – $400
There are so many others, that it can go on and on:
- Vancouver Pacific Rim
- Vancouver Waterfront
- The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle
- The Fairmonts in San Francisco
- Fairmont Singapore
- Fairmont Shanghai
There are just too many high quality Fairmont hotels around the world to list them all.