Hyatt, SPG, Marriott, IHG, and Fairmont offer (or will offer by next month) free internet in their hotels worldwide.

Hyatt announced free wifi in lobbies and guest rooms worldwide, starting February 1, 2015. This applies no matter how you book your room–yes even if you use Priceline–and even if you are not a member of the Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program. Hyatt operates the Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Andaz, GrandHyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Zilara, Hyatt Ziva, Hyatt Residences, and Hyatt Residence Club brands.

SPG announced free internet access, starting February 2, 2015. The free internet is only available to SPG members who book their stay through or other SPG owned channels (ie the SPG app or Join SPG for free here. SPG operates the following brands.

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Marriott announced free internet access, starting January 15, 2015. The free internet is only available to Marriott Rewards members who book their stay through or other Marriott owned channels (ie by phone or directly with the hotel.) Join Marriott Rewards for free here. Marriott operates the following brands.

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IHG already offers free internet to IHG Rewards club members no matter how their stay is booked. Join IHG Rewards for free here. IHG operates the following brands.

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Fairmont already offers free internet to Fairmont President’s Club members no matter how their stay is booked. Join Fairmont President’s Club for free here. Fairmont operates the following brands.

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Finally the great hotels of the world are catching up with a standard benefit of hostels for the last decade. ;)

Seriously though, this is great news for travelers. In the United States, I never bought internet from hotels anymore, opting to tether my laptop to my phone, but abroad I was often stuck paying 10 to 15 euros per day at hotels. I look forward to free internet at hotels worldwide for the rest of my life.

The one noticeable absence from this post is Hilton. Hilton has not announced free internet to match its rivals. (I expect it will.) In the meantime, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card comes with Two Free Nights worldwide at top tier Hiltons after spending $2,500 in four months on the card.

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card also comes with Hilton Gold Status as long as you hold the card, which means free internet on your Hilton stays.

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Until December 10, 2014, you can purchase Hyatt Gold Passport points for 1.85 cents each.

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The sale offers a 30% bonus on the number of miles you receive for all purchases of at least 5,000 points, and you can purchase up to 55,000 points per calendar year. (If you purchases 55,000 points, you’d receive 71,500 points after the bonus.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.17.22 AMSince the bonus is constant, and the price of Gold Passport points is constant at 2.4 cents each, you pay 1.85 cents each for any purchase of at least 5,000 points (6,500 after bonus.)

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In general, I’d value Hyatt points at 1.2 cents, so as usual, this sale is not the time to stock up on points. However, there are a lot of uses, for which buying points now and then immediately redeeming them makes great sense.

  • Under what circumstances, should you buy Hyatt points for 1.85 cents?

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Today is the third day of the third week of five weeks of discounted travel packages sponsored by the US Travel Association and American Express called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will usually sell out in a few minutes. I’m writing about all the awesome ones

Today’s deals are discounted stay packages of Hyatt Gold Passport Points:

These will be the toughest hotel-point packages to get get, since the quantities are miniscule. I’d guess you have a second or two right at 1 PM ET to snap them up.

  • How good are the deals?
  • What are the best ways to use Hyatt points?
  • What hotels are covered?

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I love staying at Hyatt properties. One of my recent favorites is the Andaz Maui at Wailea. (See my review here.) So I got to thinking about which are the best credit cards to get more free stays at Hyatts worldwide.

Sunset at the Andaz

The surprising answer is that the best card for most people is not the Hyatt Card.

The best cards for most people are actually the The Ink Plus and The Ink Bold, which are both business cards. The best personal card is either the Hyatt Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred, depending on your goals.

I’ll break down the best cards to earn Hyatt stays by sign up bonus, spending bonuses, best card for paying Hyatt bills, and flexibility.


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This is the fifth installment of a round-the-world trip report that started here. We pick up in Macau, China.

I like Las Vegas in small doses, so I’ve always wanted to check out Macau, one of China’s two special autonomous regions (the other is Hong Kong). Macau is famous for being the biggest gambling destination in the world with revenues about seven times larger than the Las Vegas Strip’s in 2013.

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Macau and Hong Kong, 37 Miles Apart

I had heard that comparing Macau to Vegas was a mistake because while there’s a lot to do in Vegas from shopping to shows to just people watching, Macau is just gambling. I had even heard you could see Macau and get sick of it in a day.

That meant this was the perfect trip for me to go to Macau because I only had 20 hours in Hong Kong as part of an American Airlines award, and Macau is a short ferry ride away from Hong Kong International Airport.

I still haven’t spent time in Hong Kong itself, and I want to save it for a trip when I have several days to explore.

The day before heading to Macau, I had booked myself one night at the Grand Hyatt Macau, which usually goes for around $300 per night. The hotel is a Category 4 property, so I booked my night for free with 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points, the majority of which I had transferred instantly from Ultimate Rewards.

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I landed at 2:20 PM in Hong Kong, and I was feeling pretty good since I had slept eight hours on my flight from JFK in Cathay Pacific First Class.

I headed toward the ferry counters, which are well signed and before immigration. There are two ferry terminals in Macau, both of which are served from HKG for about $40. One terminal is called Macau on the north end (the Macau Peninsula) and the other, Taipa, is on the south end (on the island of Taipa.) Taipa was closer to my hotel, but I would have taken the first ferry to either because a cab from one ferry terminal to the other is only about $10.

I booked my ferry ticket for a 4 PM departure and boarded the one hour ferry to Taipa Ferry Terminal on Macau.


How was the Grand Hyatt Macau? Is Macau worth a visit?

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I just got back home from two nights at the Andaz Maui at Wailea.

It’s a beautiful, luxurious, attentive resort with breathtaking sunset views.


It’s also very expensive, poorly located for the activities that interested me on Maui, and charges a $30 mandatory valet fee per day if you come with a car.


What are my thoughts on the service, food, room, value, and more (with tons of pictures)?

2013 was a year of several major devaluation announcements including:

  • United (kicks in February 1, 2014)
  • Southwest (kicks in March 31, 2014)
  • Delta (already kicked in on current award bookings for travel that starts February 1, 2014 or later)
  • Hyatt (kicks in January 7, 2014)
  • Ultimate Rewards (with three major transfer partners devaluing–United, Southwest, and Hyatt–the program took a major hit through no fault of its own)

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’re still getting outsized value from our miles and points and traveling the world in style for next to nothing.

What’s my outlook for 2014 and what’s my strategy for earning and burning the major points’ currencies?

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Hyatt has announced its new 2014 award chart for bookings made January 7, 2014 or later. Categories 1-4 maintain their prices. Categories 5-6 go up in price, and a new, more expensive, Category 7 is introduced. Some hotels are going up or down one category.

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What are the changes to Hyatt award chart for 2014? How can you beat the changes? What credit card is made more valuable by the announcement? Which are made less valuable?

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The Chase Hyatt Credit Card no longer has an annual fee the first year, a $75 savings.

The Hyatt card has my 11th favorite sign up bonus from Chase, but it’s a solid card to hold forever, and one that I have. The big draw is the sign up bonus of two free nights at almost any Hyatt worldwide after spending $1,000 in the first three months. In fact, I just booked my two free nights today.

What 10 Chase cards have better sign up bonuses? What are the other perks and drawbacks of the card? Where did I use my free nights?

I am a lodging cheapskate. My ideal trip length is four weeks, so hotel bills would add up quickly. Right now I haven’t been in the US since February, so I’ve had to come up with creative ways to sleep cheaply.

But just because I’m a cheapskate doesn’t mean I don’t want to stay at fancy hotels sometimes too. I’m jealous that Rookie Alli has two nights at any Hilton worldwide. I have my own two free nights at Hyatts worldwide that I’ll be sure to use somewhere way outside my price range.

There is a third way, though, between the extremes of free ultra-luxury and cheap adequate accommodation: under-categorized hotels are a fantastic value play.

Free nights at hotels cost a certain number of points that are decided by which category a hotel places the hotel into. For instance, a Category 1 Hilton costs 5,000 points for a free night. A Category 10 Hilton costs up to 95,000 points for a free night.

The number of points needed generally tracks the quality, location, and price of the hotel, but some hotels are under-categorized and represent fantastic value with points.

Last night I stayed in one such hotel, the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur, which is a Hilton Category 2 property that costs only 10k Hilton points per night.

Continue for my review with photos of the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur and a rundown of all the freebies I got. What hotel award charts might have sweet spots? What are the best value free nights you’ve gotten?

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Update at 1:02 PM ET: I had two computers and a smartphone ready on three different-sized packages (69k, 36k, and 24k), but all got the “on hold for other customers” message within seconds of 1 PM. This is the first deal I failed to get in on. Congrats to those with faster fingers.

Today is the penultimate day of five weeks of discounted travel packages sponsored by the US Travel Association and American Express called Daily Getaways. And it’s the last one that I’m going to take part in personally.

Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will sell out in a few minutes. Some of the offers will be awesome; some will be duds. Today’s offer is fantastic.

Today’s deal is discounted Hyatt Gold Passport points in 24k, 30k, 36k, and 69k packages for under one cent per point.

How can you get the deal?

From now until June 22, Chase is increasing the sign up bonus on the Ink Bold and Ink Plus to 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in three months.

These are two of my absolute favorite cards. I’ve gotten the Ink Bold for two of my businesses and the Ink Plus for one, earning about 200,000 Ultimate Rewards in the process that I’ve used to book Rookie Alli on her first flat bed business class experience, my United Global First flight to Australia to see the Aussie Open, and my upcoming trip in Thai First Class on an A380 with an hourlong massage on the ground.

What’s the full deal, how can you use 60k Ultimate Rewards, and what has my experience been with the Ink Bold and Plus?

Sometimes I want luxury, and sometimes I want quantity.

Last week I talked about the Three Best Credit Cards for Free Nights in Luxury Hotels.

But what about going to the other end of the award chart? A lot of times when I am traveling I just need a pillow and a roof, since I plan to be out exploring the city all day. What credit card sign up would net me the most free hotel nights? (20 in all!)

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For me, first class flights would be out of reach without miles. I can’t spend $10,000 for a first class flight on an airline like Emirates.

Luckily I don’t need to because I have plenty of miles, and I could fly economy class in a pinch.

Fancy hotels are similar. I can’t pay $1,000 a night for a hotel like the Park Hyatt Sydney.

And luckily I don’t ever need to stay in fancy hotels. When I travel, all I need is a roof and a pillow. But for those special occasions when I want to indulge in absolute luxury, I can by opening a single credit card.

What are the three best credit cards for luxury hotel experiences?

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According to this thread on FlyerTalk, Hyatt has tweaked the award chart category for 17 of its properties. Hyatt’s complete award chart can be found here for reference. These changes will go into effect on February 7th. Room reservations booked prior to this date will still be at the previously published award level.

The complete list of changes:

At first glance, none of these changes stick out as drastic. The Hyatt 48 Lex in New York City changing from a category 4 to a category 5 might be disappointing to Chase Hyatt Visa cardholders. Cardmembers receive a voucher for one free night at a category 1-4 Hyatt hotel each year. The Hyatt 48 Lex was definitely a great use of the voucher, especially during the holidays when hotel rates are outrageous. Now that it’s a category 5 hotel, you won’t be able to redeem the voucher at the property after February 6th.

The Grand Hyatt Tokyo also jumps from a category 5 hotel to the highest category 6. It will now require 22,000 Gold Passport points to book a standard room. This change aligns the property with the exclusive Park Hyatt Tokyo, another category 6 hotel.

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