THE UNDISCOVERED GEM OF CHASE CREDIT CARDS
We’re always on the lookout for great rewards-based cards, and today we introduce a new RLB favorite: The Chase Fairmont Visa.
Chase is the largest issuer of U.S. credit cards and in our opinion, also the best. From airline and hotel rewards, to cash back and more – Chase offers a wide-ranging lineup that is the most impressive in the industry.
They also keep things interesting by creating credit cards linked to new rewards programs and offering new cards that improve already existing programs.
However with such a large selection of cards on offer, consumers need to be savvy. You can’t have every Chase card after all, and applying for too many – even if you can afford it – can harm your credit score.
When it comes to picking a credit card, we always advise to not only look for good value ie. large signups bonuses and generous rewards, but also to choose a card that suits your lifestyle. For example, if you love travel but hate to fly, you’ll be more suited to a hotel-branded credit card as opposed to an airline-branded one, and vice versa.
We’ve already reviewed the Chase Hyatt Visa
, and it remains one of our favorites. That said the Chase Fairmont Visa is a worthy alternative and depending on your travel needs, may offer even more value, as we’re about to show you.
Pool at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Fairmont: Small Footprint, Heavy Hitter
First thing’s first. What is Fairmont?
Fairmont is a Canadian-based luxury hotels and resorts company boasting an impressive lineup of 82 properties, including storied locations such as The Plaza – New York, The Savoy – London, Le Chateau Frontenac – Quebec City, and The Fairmont – Banff Springs, Alberta – an historic landmark to any golfer. If you aren’t familiar with Fairmont, check out their properties here
Fairmont has some brand recognition in North America but with only 82 properties worldwide, it is one of the smaller hotel chains, a far cry from the U.S. “Big Four” of Starwood, Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt.
Though small in size, Fairmont is nonetheless a heavyweight. Most Fairmont properties are five-star luxury establishments in outstanding locations, offering stellar customer service and fine dining options on premises, with standard room rates well over $500 a night and suite rates well into the thousands.
And you can stay for FREE. Here’s how:
The Chase Fairmont Visa Review: Outstanding Value with Complimentary Elite Status
The current signup bonus and minimum spending requirement for this credit card are nothing short of amazing. Upon enrollment and spending $3000 in the first three months, cardholders are given two free nights in any Fairmont property worldwide. Furthermore, the annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.Note: Availability in New York (The Plaza) and London (The Savoy) is extremely limited with current wait times of up to 11 months.However, this card gets you far more than two free nights in a luxury hotel. Like most major chains, Fairmont has its own elite status program for frequent guests – Fairmont President’s Club – and once enrolled, cardholders are automatically given Premier status (mid-level elite status). This is where the real fun begins.
Suite at Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui
Upgrades and ‘Stacking’ Rewards
Premier status in the President’s Club gives you one free room upgrade and one suite upgrade. A room upgrade allows you to move one room level up from whatever room you booked ie. a regular room to a deluxe room. This is usually just an upgrade to a larger room with higher square footage, with a nicer view and perhaps some extra furniture.
A suite upgrade, however, can offer tremendous value. One night in a Fairmont suite can cost well over a thousand dollars. But you can get it by either purchasing a standard room for one night and upgrading from there, or entirely for free with the shortcut option of ‘stacking’ your rewards.
A thousand dollar suite… for free?
Yes. Here’s how:
The upgrade process at Fairmont is extremely consumer-friendly. Unlike most rewards programs, Fairmont will allow you to “stack” your rewards. In other words, you can use one upgrade certificate on top of another. So, you can use a free night you received from enrolling in the card, and then use a suite upgrade to upgrade that particular room. Essentially, you’re using a free reward to upgrade a free reward.
Horizon Deck at the Fairmont Monte Carlo
Upon acquiring Premier status, members are given $100 in free breakfast certificates (not continental breakfasts – we’re talking fine restaurant breakfasts/brunches cooked to order or a gourmet buffet with a full spread), and $50 in lunch/dinner certificates to spend on any Fairmont property. So that’s $150 in free food at excellent restaurants.
The card comes with the standard benefits you would expect in a major offering from Chase: no foreign transaction fees, one Fairmont point for every dollar spent, 2x points on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, and 5x points for paid Fairmont stays.
Cardholders are also given an annual ‘3rd night free’ option whereupon booking two nights in any Fairmont property, a third night stay is complimentary.
As an added travel benefit, cardholders are also given two free visits to Lounge Club
Surprisingly, the card does not offer smart chip technology
. We find this strange since many Fairmont guests are regular global travelers, and also because Fairmont owns 19 properties in Europe and Asia, where smartchip is commonly accepted. Regardless, this is a small flaw for such a powerful card.
Add up the rewards (free rooms, suite upgrades, free dining, lounge passes etc) and you could be looking at thousands of dollars worth of travel/entertainment value – all for spending $1000 on a credit card with no annual fee.
In terms of sheer dollar value, this is the best card offer we’ve seen for quite some time.
The major airlines and hotels can be tempting with their loyalty programs and their respective credit cards. But sometimes it pays to look beyond the big brands for a diamond in the rough. The next time you’re looking to add a card to your travel portfolio, consider the Fairmont Visa. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the generous rewards on offer.
The famed Savoy in London, part of the Fairmont collection
Note: Top photos courtesy of Bookit