Reviews Fairmont Visa Signature card review
Fairmont Visa Signature card review

Fairmont Visa Signature card review

Published: April 24, 2017
Ratings Policy
Hotel Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Rewards Value: 5.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.1
Rewards Flexibility: 2.7
Hotel Options: 1.5
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

If you frequent Fairmont properties, you will absolutely love the perks of the Fairmont Visa Signature card, despite its relatively high annual fee and less-than-generous earning scheme.

Rewards Rate

  • 5:1 Fairmont stays
  • 2:1 directly purchased airline tickets, car rental, transit and commuting
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
2 free nights if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Annual Bonus
1 free night each year that you spend $12,000

Annual Fee
$95, $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$948

APR
16.24-23.24% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire (although free night certificates do)
  • The sign-up and annual bonuses allow free stays at the most expensive Fairmont properties in the world
  • Elite status benefits, including upgrades, are valid on rewards stays
  • 18 airline redemption partners

Cons

  • Expensive rewards redemption scheme
  • Blackout dates and capacity controls may apply at some properties
  • 25,000-point threshold for rewards
  • Poor rate for any redemptions other than hotels
  • No “points plus cash” redemptions

Hotel Options

  • Properties: 60+
  • Countries served: 19

Other Notable Features: Automatic upgrade to premier status, $50 dining certificate, third night is free every hotel stay, free room upgrades, priority wait-list status, 1 night toward platinum elite status after spending $7,500 (up to 2 a year), no foreign-transaction fees, purchase protection, lost luggage insurance, baggage delay insurance, travel and emergency assistance services

Rewards Rating:
4 rating
4 rating
4 / 5
Rewards Value: 5.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.3
Rewards Flexibility: 2.8
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

A great card for fans of luxury hotels and resorts, the Fairmont Visa Signature card makes it easy to earn upscale hotel stays by awarding some of the most generous bonuses available, including two free nights if you spend $3,000 in the card’s first three months and one free night a year if you spend at least $12,000.

Rewards Rate

  • 5:1 Fairmont stays
  • 2:1 directly purchased airline tickets, car rental, transit and commuting
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
2 free nights if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$95, $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$948

APR
16.24-23.24% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire (although free night certificates do)
  • The sign-up and annual bonuses allow free stays at the most expensive Fairmont properties in the world
  • Elite status benefits, including upgrades, are valid on rewards stays
  • 18 airline redemption partners

Cons

  • Expensive rewards redemption scheme
  • Blackout dates and capacity controls may apply at some properties
  • 25,000-point threshold for rewards
  • Poor rate for any redemptions other than hotels
  • No “points plus cash” redemptions

Other Notable Features: Automatic upgrade to premier status, $50 dining certificate, third night is free every hotel stay, free room upgrades, priority wait-list status, 1 night toward platinum elite status after spending $7,500 (up to 2 a year), no foreign-transaction fees, purchase protection, lost luggage insurance, baggage delay insurance, travel and emergency assistance services

Travel Rating:
4 rating
4 rating
4 / 5
Rewards Value: 5.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.9
Rewards Flexibility: 2.8
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

An ideal card for well-heeled travelers, this upscale hotel card makes it easy to snag a luxury vacation for free by offering two complimentary nights in the card’s first year and an additional free night every year you spend at least $12,000.

Rewards Rate

  • 5:1 Fairmont stays
  • 2:1 directly purchased airline tickets, car rental, transit and commuting
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
2 free nights if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$95, $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$948

APR
16.24-23.24% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire (although free night certificates do)
  • The sign-up and annual bonuses allow free stays at the most expensive Fairmont properties in the world
  • Elite status benefits, including upgrades, are valid on rewards stays
  • 18 airline redemption partners

Cons

  • Expensive rewards redemption scheme
  • Blackout dates and capacity controls may apply at some properties
  • 25,000-point threshold for rewards
  • Poor rate for any redemptions other than hotels
  • No “points plus cash” redemptions

Other Notable Features: Automatic upgrade to premier status, $50 dining certificate, third night is free every hotel stay, free room upgrades, priority wait-list status, 1 night toward platinum elite status after spending $7,500 (up to 2 a year), no foreign-transaction fees, purchase protection, lost luggage insurance, baggage delay insurance, travel and emergency assistance services

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Fairmont Hotels and Resorts might be the best hotel chain for people who hate staying in chain hotels. Fairmont hotels are not just about luxury and top-notch service, but also are unique, historic, and often castle-like properties that consistently earn accolades and awards from Condé Nast Traveler, Travel and Leisure, Fortune, and other publications. Members can also earn credits and receive benefits at Raffles Hotels & Resorts and at SwissÔtel Hotels & Resorts.

It’s no surprise that a stay at a Fairmont hotel comes at a price, and this is where the Fairmont Visa Signature card comes in handy. Not only does it offer a terrific sign-up bonus, but you also get elite benefits with real monetary value, which will be yours for as long as you carry the card. And to make it easier to see if the card works for you or not, the annual fee is waived for the first year.

Very valuable sign-up bonus

You get two complimentary nights at any Fairmont in the world after spending $3,000 within the first three months. Since Fairmont hotel rooms come at a premium, we estimate a very high value for this free night certificate – up to 150,000 points, depending on where you book your stay. If you apply for the card together with your spouse or partner, you can turn this bonus into a mini-vacation at some of the most exquisite and luxurious hotels in the world.

Loyal cardholders are also rewarded with a generous bonus at the anniversary of their membership each year. You get one free night anywhere in the world each year that you spend $12,000 for as long as you carry the card.

Average earning scheme

Unfortunately, the Fairmont Visa Signature Card’s earning scheme is only average compared to some other premium hotel cards. You get five points per dollar on Fairmont hotel stays; two points for airline tickets, car rental, transit, and commuting; and one point on everything else. Cardholders who only spend a moderate amount on the card will have a hard time accumulating enough points to redeem for a free night’s stay.

High annual fee

The card comes with a $95 annual fee, which is high for a hotel card, but well worth the price if you take advantage of the free night stay vouchers and the valuable perks that come with the card. As another plus, the fee is waived for the first year. If you don’t like the card, you can cancel it any time before the next year’s fee hits.

High redemption threshold

One major drawback of the Fairmont rewards program is that rewards are not always easy to redeem. Some Fairmount properties enforce capacity controls on rewards rooms and strict calendars of blackout dates when rewards rooms cannot be booked. In addition, the minimum number of points required to redeem for one free night’s stay is very high at 25,000 points. Suffice it to say that the Fairmont rewards program is best suited to a traveler who spends a large amount on credit cards and can afford to stay at luxury hotels. Moderate spenders will have a hard time reaching the threshold for a free room.

Limited hotel footprint

Another drawback is the limited range of Fairmont hotels. While Fairmont offers some luxurious properties, there are a mere 60 of them scattered across 19 countries. If you are looking for a refined experience at one of these unique properties, the Fairmont card may be good fit for you. However, if you are looking for a broad range of travel options, you will probably be better off with another card.

Elite premier benefits

As a cardholder, you are automatically upgraded to premier status in Fairmont’s President’s Club. Although this is only an entry-level elite status, it’s tremendously valuable compared to other hotel chains. You get a number of perks, such as two free room upgrades (one to a suite) that are valid even on a rewards stay. You’re also entitled to a $50 food or spa credit, a free night on a three-night stay, and two-for-one rounds of golf at some golf resorts, among other perks.

Reasons to sign up for it:

  • You stay or plan on staying at Fairmont hotels frequently or on occasion.
  • You want to take advantage of an excellent sign-up bonus combined with a waived first-year annual fee.
  • You charge a large amount on credit cards each year.
  • You frequently stay at luxury hotels.
  • You want to save money on your stay and enhance your Fairmont experience.
  • You want to have a card with Visa Signature benefits.

How to use it:

  • Meet the $3,000 spending requirement in three months to get two free nights.
  • Consider applying with a partner or spouse to turn this bonus into a four-day mini-vacation.
  • Book your stay at some of the most aspirational Fairmont properties to maximize the value.
  • Apply a free suite upgrade to your stay to enhance your Fairmont experience.
  • Try to spend $12,000 a year on the card to qualify for the anniversary bonus night certificate and apply a free suite upgrade to maximize the value.
  • Take advantage of the third free night benefit for your paid stay, which is the part of your premier elite status.

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