An update: The card has been officially discontinued.
My mission with this blog is to cut the fat, so to speak, when it comes to industry information, and focus only on offers applicable to a normal, middle-class family in America. Do I do a decent job at it ? I honestly don’t know. I hope so!
Regardless, this is my approach to “miles and points” news items. If you go to my affiliate site, you will find about 150 credit cards listed, if not more. All of them pay me referral. Yet, I only recommend maybe 15. The same goes for non-affiliate offers.
I’ve said before that I don’t list all of them, but focus on the most worthwhile ones. This blog is based on my own personal opinions, which some bloggers disagree with (totally cool). Diversity is always a good thing.
Sometimes, though, it’s a bit of a tough call to make. Such is the case with Chase Fairmont Signature Visa, pays me no referral. I couldn’t find this card on Chase.com, but it’s still listed on Fairmont website.
I’m not sure if it means it will be discontinued soon, though, it’s possible. One of my long-time readers has mentioned it last week and said she was planning on getting the card. First, here are the details on this offer:
The annual fee is $95, not waived. Update: It now comes with a waived annual fee.
Still, sounds like a decent bonus, no? I debated on whether to include it in my list of best hotel loyalty cards, and ultimately decided to leave it out. Here is why:
1) Even though there are some very nice Fairmont hotels, there are SO few of them. See the map with all the properties. Sure, if you already plan to go to one of those cities anyway, it’s worth the look. We’ve toured Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and it’s a gorgeous property. Just a side note: Here is a short trip report of this vacation, with some tips on the area.
If you plan to come here, absolutely look into getting this bonus. It appears that standard rooms come with 2 queen beds, so you should be able to fit 4. The rates can run as much as $500 or more per night. Here is the view from the hotel’s restaurant:
You won’t regret staying here, I promise. That is if you find availability, which brings me to my second point.
2) I’ve seen reports on Flyertalk that the nicest properties have blackout dates, or have very limited availability when using certificates. That’s bad news for families who need to plan around kids’ schedule.
As a rule of thumb, I recommend you always have a Plan B for your hotel certificates. For example, if at some point we end up getting Chase Hyatt Visa for their Vendome property in Paris, I will be happy knowing that we can use the certs in Hyatt Clearwater if things don’t go as planned. It’s located within driving distance and looks like a nice property. A beach is always a hit with my kids!
Unfortunately, there aren’t any Fairmont properties in Florida. In fact, look at the list of hotels in US:
That’s it. Interestingly, this particular reader lives near Dallas, which does happen to have a Fairmont. That’s my rule of thumb: Have a backup plan and have a hotel in mind that happens to be located within driving distance. You don’t want to be stuck with expiring certificates that can’t be used for your upcoming trip and end up scrambling to plan another vacation.
Don’t get me wrong, more travel is a good thing, but not if you end up getting in debt because of it. When you are talking airfare for 4 – 6 people, car rental etc., the costs can add up very quickly.
3) Another drawback is that quite a few Fairmont hotels have double or triple occupancy for their rooms. So, if both spouses get the card, a typical family would only get a 2 night-stay out of the sign-up bonus.
Considering the fact that you need to spend $3,000 per card, you are looking at putting $6,000 towards this bonus. That’s a significant outlay for low spenders. Sure, you will get Fairmont points for it, but at the minimum, you would earn $120 with a 2% cash back card or 30,000 Club Carlson points.
Plus, don’t forget, you’ve paid $95 annual fee per card to get your 2 “free” nights. I suggest you factor this in when deciding on whether to go for it or not. Will you be better off focusing on another bonus instead?
4) Another reason I hesitate to recommend this card is due to the fact that you may end up foregoing other lucrative offers from Chase. Of course, this goes for any bonuses you get from any card issuer. Still, I recommend you tread carefully with Chase. It has most of the best offers among banks, so choose wisely.
This card can be a good fit for your family, as long as you understand its limitations and drawbacks. Always try to investigate alternatives and see if they would be a better fit. I also encourage you to email me because that way I’ll be able to give you tailored advice and suggest cards that might not be listed in my blog. Oh, and if you plan to visit Lake Louise, get the darn card (X 2) if you can manage the spend. Just do it!
Readers, does this bonus look appealing to you?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.