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  • I was among the first foreigners to enter Vietnam after the country re-opened to tourists.
  • Using an anniversary night from The World Of Hyatt Credit Card , I stayed at the Park Hyatt Saigon for free.
  • My room at this luxury hotel would have cost $300 — much more than the card's annual fee.
  • Read Insider's guide to the best travel rewards credit cards.

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I travel, ultimately, to experience a destination and its people. But I use points and miles to elevate that travel — in ways I never thought imaginable just a few years ago.

Take, for instance, the first-class flight that I booked using 47,000 Amex points en route to Vietnam. The country finally reopened its borders to tourists on March 15, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first foreigners to enter. 

However, getting to Southeast Asia was only part of the fun. The first stop on my mini-tour of the region was Ho Chi Minh City — and the Park Hyatt Saigon there happens to be one of the swankiest hotels in town. 

The Park Hyatt Saigon lobby featuring a table full of beautiful white flowers.

The stunning entryway of the Park Hyatt Saigon exudes old-world charm. Chris Dong

Instead of paying the $300 nightly rate, I was able to stay entirely for free. That's because I leveraged the free night benefit that comes with some hotel credit cards — in this case, The World Of Hyatt Credit Card.

Here's how I did it — and why this perk remains one of the most valuable credit card benefits, especially as the world reopens.

How I earned a Hyatt free night certificate 

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  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent
  • Enjoy complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open.
  • Get 1 free night each year after your Cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort
  • Receive 5 tier qualifying night credits towards status after account opening, and each year after that for as long as your account is open
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card
  • Earn up to 9 points total for Hyatt stays - 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels 5 Base Points per $1 from Hyatt as a World of Hyatt member
  • Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships

The one perk of hotel credit cards that can provide incredible outsized value — way more than a card's annual fee — is a free night certificate each year. 

I keep my hotel cards open for this very reason. Take The World Of Hyatt Credit Card, for instance. While the card charges a $95 annual fee, it also comes with a Category 1-4 free night award after each anniversary year. 

Read more: 9 hotel credit cards that offer free nights after each account anniversary — and 7 alternatives that can save you money on stays each year

Clearly, the math is simple. If I redeem my annual award for a night that exceeds $95 in cash, I'm coming out ahead. 

A guest room at the Park Hyatt Saigon with a king bed in white linens and side chair.

The one king bed room at the Park Hyatt Saigon was free using a World of Hyatt Credit Card anniversary night certificate. Chris Dong

That doesn't even account for the various other Hyatt card perks, such as entry-level Discoverist status which includes priority check-in, 2 p.m. late checkout when available, and 10% bonus points on paid stays. 

I can also earn a second Category 1-4 free night award if I spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. 

Read more: World of Hyatt credit card review

Despite a recent devaluation, I got great value out of my certificate 

The World of Hyatt program uses a fixed award chart, with each of the 950 hotels in the program designated a category, from Category 1 through Category 8. 

In mid-March, the program underwent a not-so-positive change that shifted how certain hotels are categorized. While some hotels went down a category, a number of hotels went up one, too. 

Long story short — there are now fewer premium properties where you can use your Category 1-4 free night certificate. 

Exterior view of The Confidante hotel in Miami, with a palm tree in the foreground.

The Confidante, Miami Beach, has moved to Hyatt Category 5. Chris Dong

For instance, in 2021, I used my annual free night award at The Confidante, an oceanfront Hyatt hotel in Miami Beach. 

Now, after the recent rejiggering in 2022, that property — along with a handful of others — has moved up a level to Category 5. That means I can't use my Category 1-4 free night certificate there anymore. 

Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize Hyatt points

Crystal chandelier and staircase in the Park Hyatt Saigon lobby.

The lobby at the Park Hyatt Saigon features a chandelier and grand staircase. Chris Dong

But there's certainly still lots of value to be had. 

Take the Park Hyatt Saigon as a prime example. As a Category 4 hotel, the property is a true five-star hotel where I can still use a Category 1-4 free night certificate. And with cash rates hovering around $300 per night, it's a fantastic value. 

The pool at the Park Hyatt Saigon as viewed from a lounge chair, with the photographer's holding a cocktail in a coconut.

Relaxing poolside at the Park Hyatt Saigon. Chris Dong

The luxurious, colonial-inspired property is in the heart of historic Ho Chi Minh, and I was offered impeccable service during my short (but very sweet) one-night stay. 

Bottom line

While Asia is one of the last regions to reopen to tourists, it will soon come back with a vengeance. Besides Vietnam, a handful of other Asian nations have opened their doors — from Thailand to Cambodia to the Philippines. 

And since I've been sitting on a stash of points, miles, and free night awards, now was the perfect time to use them. 

My long-awaited return to Asia in mid-March was about reconnecting with a continent where I feel at home. Thanks to points and free night certificates, I'm fortunate enough to be able to have this experience in luxury.

Chris Dong is a freelance travel reporter, writing stories ranging from in-depth features and personal essays to travel news as it relates to loyalty and credit cards.  Chris has been tapped as an expert in his field by The Washington Post, NPR, and TIME. Previously, he was a reporter and newsletter lead at The Points Guy, where he covered the intersection of loyalty and travel, while also managing the site's daily newsletter to over 500,000 subscribers.  You can follow Chris on Twitter and Instagram, or send him an email at 

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