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Disclaimer: I do not receive any compensation or referral credit for the Chase Fairmont Visa Signature card. The link used is the public offer, which is the best of which I am aware.
My wife and I both got the Chase Fairmont Visa Signature cards last year for one of the best credit card sign-ups going: 2 nights plus breakfast at any Fairmont property worldwide, subject to some blackout dates. Free upgrade to Fairmont President’s Club Premier status that comes with annual 2 x $25 in dining/spa certificates, a 3rd night free certificate (not combinable with free nights) and a suite upgrade (combinable with free nights at most hotels). We just used mine at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, Switzerland, by far the best hotel I have ever stayed at.
It being Switzerland, I forgave the absurd breakfast prices that required not only all 4 of our $25 breakfast certs, plus my 2 $25 dining certs, plus $14 – and one day I only got the continental breakfast (“Bread table and juice only.” No cheese, no fruit, no, no, no, no).
The card and Premier status have other benefits that are attractive for frequent guests, but relatively little to offer infrequent guests for the $95 annual fee. The $50 in dining/spa from Premier stats can help rationalize the annual fee, as can the 2 annual airport lounge passes from Lounge Club, however earning a free night requires $12,000 spend each year. That free night is good at any Fairmont hotel worldwidem, and these are not generic chain hotels, so I would go for it if it were easy for me to generate spend.
The rewards chart for spend on the card is daunting, too. Even high-flyer Lucky at One Mile at a Time finds the prices exorbitant, and he will do a lot for luxury digs. The rewards chart is specific to the card, as President’s Club only awards airline miles for stays, so stays won’t help except in terms of paying for them with the card.
That leaves me looking to cancel the card as the annual fee approaches. I’ve got just over 1,000 points from meeting my minimum spend and that Swiss breakfast. I have exactly one rewards option: a Starbuck’s $10 gift card. Even the charity options are 2,500 points and up. But heck, $10 is $10 and I will make sure to cash out before bidding adieu to a card that I wish got me more nights at such incredible hotels.