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Earlier today I wrote about the Fairmont President’s Club, which is one of the more unique loyalty programs out there.
Co-branded hotel credit cards have really stepped up their game lately, as they mostly come with mega-perks that more than justify the annual fees on the cards year after year.
Here are just a few examples of the benefits you get on the cards each year, not factoring in the sign-up bonuses:
- Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card — Gold status for as long as you have the card, Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a year, and an annual free weekend night certificate when you spend $10,000 on the card in a year; $95 annual fee
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card — Silver status for as long as you have the card, annual free night at any category 1-5 property; $85 annual fee
- The Hyatt Credit Card — Platinum status for as long as you have the card, annual free night certificate at any category 1-4 property; $75 annual fee
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card — Platinum status for as long as you have the card, annual free night certificate valid at any IHG property; $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $49
Fairmont Visa Signature Card sign-up bonus
You earn two free nights at any Fairmont worldwide with complimentary breakfast for two after spending $1,000 within your first three months of account opening.
The free night certificates will be electronically deposited into your Fairmont President’s Club account within four to six weeks of reaching the minimum spend, and can be redeemed by phone. Blackout dates do apply, though based on what I’ve heard availability tends to be pretty good.
Fairmont Visa Signature Card annual fee
The annual fee on the card is $95, though waived the first year.
Fairmont Visa Signature Card foreign transaction fees
The card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.
Fairmont Visa Signature Card earnings rates
The card offers the following earnings rates for spend:
- 5x points per dollar spent at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
- 2x points per dollar spent on airline tickets, car rentals, and trains
- 1x point per dollar spent on everything else
Fairmont Visa Signature Card FPC benefits
Regardless of your status with Fairmont, you receive a certificate for one complimentary night at any Fairmont property after spending $12,000 on the card in a calendar year.
In addition to that, there are some other benefits which vary based on which status you have in the Fairmont President’s Club:
For Club members:
Assuming you’re a Club member with Fairmont (meaning you don’t have status with them), you’ll receive the following benefits:
- Fairmont President’s Club Premier status for as long as you have the card (ordinarily takes five stays or ten nights annually), along with all the corresponding benefits including a $50 restaurant/spa certificate, one room upgrade, and one suite upgrade
- One stay credit towards Platinum status for each $7,500 you spend on the card in a calendar year, up to two stay credits
For Premier/Platinum members:
Assuming you’re a Premier or Platinum member with Fairmont, the benefits are slightly different:
- One Gold Floor upgrade certificate annually (these are the only Gold Floor upgrade certificates that Fairmont issues, to the best of my knowledge)
- One $50 restaurant/spa credit for Premier members, or one $100 restaurant/spa credit for Platinum members
Fairmont Visa Signature Card award chart
As I mentioned in my review of the Fairmont President’s Club program, you don’t actually earn points for hotel stays. Instead you just earn airline miles, and if you have top tier status you can earn a free night after every 10 stays.
However, you can earn points towards award redemptions with the Fairmont Visa Card. Here’s the award chart:
At 25,000-65,000 points per night, those are some really hefty award costs, in my opinion. That’s especially the case since you can’t supplement your points balance with points transfers, earning points through stays, etc. You literally have to earn all those points “the hard way” through credit card spend.
Given that Fairmont’s co-branded credit card is issued by Chase, I’m kind of surprised they haven’t added Fairmont President’s Club to the Ultimate Rewards program, so you could transfer points earned through the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Bold® Business Card, Ink Plus® Business Card to Fairmont.
On the plus side, I find the premium for junior suites and Fairmont Gold Floor to be reasonable.
Is it worth signing up for the Fairmont Visa Signature Card?
I’d say yes. Two free nights at a Fairmont with breakfast is a great sign-up bonus. For example, I’ve always wanted to stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs, and the free nights earned through the card could be redeemed there. So the card is definitely worth acquiring… eventually.
Of course as is the case with many credit cards, the question is which you want to acquire first. For example, I have every single one of the above hotel credit cards, but don’t have the Fairmont Card yet. So I guess I just haven’t prioritized it high enough.
Is it worth keeping the Fairmont Visa Signature Card?
The card has a $95 annual fee after the first year, and for that you’ll get Premier status for as long as you have the card, which gets you a $50 dining/spa certificate, one room upgrade, and one suite upgrade.
So if you stay at a Fairmont even once a year I would say it’s a no brainer to keep the card. Between the $50 restaurant/spa certificate and upgrade, you can’t really go wrong. That being said, if you don’t stay at Fairmonts there aren’t any “tangible” benefits to keeping the card, like a complimentary annual free night just for having the card.
Is it worth spending money on the Fairmont Visa Signature Card?
So you get a free night certificate if you spend $12,000 on the card in a calendar year. You also earn 12,000 points for that spend (assuming it’s in a non-bonused category), but given how high redemption rates are, I’m not sure how much to value those points at.
If you put that spend on the Barclays Arrival™ World Mastercard® instead, for example, you’d essentially be earning 2.2% cash back towards travel. So on $12,000 of spend you’d be giving up ~$264 “worth” of travel by using the Fairmont Card. If you don’t value the benefits of the Fairmont Card itself, it also makes sense to factor in the $95 annual fee. So the “free” night does have quite a bit of opportunity cost, though you should factor in the value of the points you earn through spend as well.
As I mentioned above, another benefit is that you get a stay credit towards Platinum status when you spend $7,500 on the card.
Everyone’s number crunching will work out differently here, but for my personal situation, I think it might make sense to put $15,000 of spend on the card per year. Then I’d get the annual “free” night and two stay credits towards Platinum status annually, meaning I’d only need to make eight stays to achieve Platinum status. If I decide I do like Fairmonts, that seems like a good way to go about earning status.
Bottom line on the Fairmont Visa Signature Card
Keeping an IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is a no brainer. The annual fee is $49 after the first year and you get a free night out of it every year, along with Platinum status. That’s worth it for anyone. The same is true for the Hyatt and Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card despite the slightly higher annual fees, in my opinion.
The Fairmont Visa Card isn’t quite as cut-and-dried in terms of the value proposition. Certainly the sign-up bonus is generous, and the card can be worth keeping long term if you stay at Fairmonts with any frequency. It can also be worth putting $12,000-15,000 of spend on the card per year depending on your goals.
So while there are other cards I’d apply for first, this one is definitely worth considering if you have most other hotel credit cards.
Do you have the Fairmont Visa Signature Card, and if so, what do you think of it? Did you get it for the sign-up bonus, or have you put spend on it long term?