This month of November has been a challenging one for loyal Chase credit card holders. They have seen their two big players, United and Hyatt both devalue their programs, after all of this hard work to build up those Ultimate Reward points they are throwing your dedicated loyalty in your face, as if you mean nothing to them.
Loyalty is a thing that is built upon mutual respect, trust, honesty, sacrifice and time. The instant that it is traded as a commodity it loses all integrity. You cannot buy loyalty, but that is exactly what is happening within the Airline Oligopoly and the small handful of major hotel chains that have partnered with card companies, either directly as co-branded credit cards, or indirectly as transfer partners, or as both.
This subject struck me quite clearly recently whilst on vacation in San Juan, PR. I was staying at the Radisson Ambassador, in their club level rooms (because I own the Club Carlson Card I am one of their most honored guests..) little did I know that the Radisson was close to the beach, but had no actual property there, so if I did want to enjoy the sand and ocean I would need to visit another nearby hotel.
Just up the street from my hotel was the Conrad San Juan, on the Condado. It had a nice beach, and one of the hippest lounges in the neighborhood. I thought to myself, what would happen if I was to walk up to this hotel, announce my Hilton Honors Gold Status and ask for a beach chair and towel set. They would likely laugh, or at best politely inform me that such things are for hotel residents only.
My Gold status is worth exactly what I paid for it, $95 when I picked up the Citi Reserve Visa. And although I get a lovely ‘thank you for being a Gold member’ when I check into Hilton family hotels, the limits of the relationship are very clearly drawn. I will get: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast (sometimes…) and that is about it. It is a pure exchange of money for reward, a purchase, not a recognition of loyalty. I am nothing to Hilton, and likewise they are nothing to me.
The instant that loyalty is sold, a company devalues the only real relationships they should be fostering, those of the people who are passionate about Hyatt’s, or flying on United, but whom never reach top tier status. Instead these companies dilute the respect due to these real customers when they sell me their perks for cash.
As such, if they decide to devalue, they also change the rules of the exchange, I cannot counter by reducing what I pay for this status, but I can counter by cancelling my credit card and moving on. This is something that I did this week with my United card from Chase, and what I will do a little further down the line when my Hyatt Card annual payment is due. It will not stop me flying United, or visiting a Hyatt because I am not emotional about this prostituted relationship. All I will do is pull a little more of my money off the table, and use them even more as I see fit, with not even the premise of loyalty.
I’m not mad at you United, nor am I you Hyatt, in fact I would like to thank you for partnering with Chase (who I give no money to in terms of banking nor card balance interest) for in doing so you have allowed me to experience fantastic flights and hotels for free, and now, I’ll just have to shop around a bit more to find out the next bargain, maybe it will be with you, maybe someone else, but as long as you sell your loyalty you can never earn mine.