Fairmont Visa Signature Card: Worth the $95?

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Hotel cards are a relatively new phenomenon in the credit card world, and the Fairmont Visa Signature card is the first and only card offered by Fairmont hotels and resorts. This card is a Visa signature card, obviously, handled by Chase, who seems to hold the market on hotel credit cards. The Marriot, Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt, Disney, and Priority Club hotel cards are all also Chase run. All that experience seems to have paid off too, because the Fairmont Visa Signature card boasts a pretty good deal—if you stay at Fairmont properties often.

What do you get with your the Fairmont Visa Signature card?

The Fairmont Visa Signature card has a points-based reward system that is annoyingly category specific. You get 5 points for every dollar spent at Fairmont properties, 3 points for every dollar spent on travel and  1 point per dollar for general purchases. The Fairmont bonus is easy to ensure, but the travel bonus is a bit trickier. For example, if you buy airline tickets from a secondary source, such as an online travel website, you won’t get your bonus. The tickets would have to be bought directly from the airline with your card. the Fairmont Visa Signature card’s 1 point return is something, but not something great, so unless you stay at Fairmont properties a lot, this rewards system is kind of sub-par. There is no limit to the number of points you can earn, however the Chase website is very vague on how these points are used, being they don’t say and rather can be quoted, “See Rewards Program Rules and Regulations which will be mailed after your account is established.”

Outside the points system, you’ll also received several other card perks including:

-Automatic Premier status in the President’s Club at Fairmont

Usually to become a Premier member you must have 10 room nights or five stays a year, but you gain this status instantly with your card. Premiere status gains you perks which by proxy become perks of having a Fairmont Visa Signature card. Club perks at the premier level  include 750 airline miles per stay, complimentary room or suite upgrades,  $50 in dining or spa credit, free third night stays, free in-room internet, free health club access, free shoe shines, two rounds free mini-golf, free newspapers, discounts at the spa and shop, and exclusive offers. Your card also helps you gain the next tier of benefits in the President’s Club, Platinum, faster by awarding you 1 stay credit per $7,500 spent on your card (with a maximum of two credits per year). Platinum status requires 30 room nights and 10 stays a year.

-Two free nights

Those who spend over $1,000 in the first three months of opening their account receive a free two night stay for two at Fairmont including breakfast. This stay may be upgraded with your premier status, but cannot be used to gain a third night free with premier.

-One more free night

Yearly, if you spend at least $12,000 on your Fairmont Visa Signature card you will receive one free night, but no breakfast this round. Many current card holders have also complained that blackout dates for this offer are extensive and that they had great difficulty using their certificate. Certificates are also only good for “standard” room types.

-To free Lounge Club passes a year

Don’t make the mistake of assuming this means you get into any airport lounge in the country, you gain access to 350 lounges in 200 cities—not all of them. You also only get two free passes a year, after that it’ll run you $27.

You also get all the perks associated with any Visa signature card, being the Fairmont Visa Signature card is a visa signature card.

How much does the Fairmont Visa Signature card cost?

The Fairmont Visa Signature card card has an annual fee of $95, though the fee is waived in the first year as an introductory offer (Jan, 2014). Unlike many cards, the Fairmont Visa Signature card also has a set interest rate, and one that’s not too bad at 15.24 percent. This rate applies to balance transfers as well with come with the standard 3 percent fee. It is noted that not all card members are eligible for balance transfers. Cash advances carry a 19.24 percent rate and a 5 percent fee.

Late fees for this card follow Chase’s unique balance-based fee system. If you balance is under $100, you pay a $15 fee, $100 to $250 is a $25 fee, and above $250 is a $35 fee. Late payments do, however, also incur a penalty APR of 29.99 percent indefinitely, so folks, don’t be late. $15 may seem like nothing, but a 15 percent interest rate increase and a stain on your credit aren’t nothing.

There is no foreign transaction fee with this card. This is, of course, a perk for travelers, but arguably one that has become standard for most travel oriented cards. As hotels are clearly something travelers use, I would consider them travel oriented in nature.

Who could benefit from a Fairmont Visa Signature card?

Obviously, this card is best for those who frequent Fairmont properties; in fact, it’s not a very good offer for anyone else being the return on general purchases is only 1 point. I couldn’t tell you what kind of value those points have or even how you’d redeem them, because Fairmont has seen fit not to include that information on their website to non-card holders. To me that seems like a poor business practice.

The Premier club offer definitely sweetens the deal, but again, only if you frequent Fairmont. If you don’t, you’re getting an ok interest rate so long as you pay on time and very little reward for your $95 a year. If you can claim the free nights stay, you have recouped your cost, but only if you can redeem it.

In short, this is a decent card with a huge IF-statement attached, and if you don’t meet the “IF” you’re better off with a general travel card with a more impressive and less location specific rewards program.

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