Note: Hyatt devalued their program in January 2014. This post has not yet been updated to reflect these changes.
Hyatt Gold Passport is one of the favorite hotel programs among points and miles enthusiasts. Points can easily be transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards to your Hyatt account at a 1:1 ratio, plus there’s a Chase Hyatt Card that gives two free nights at any Hyatt as the sign-up bonus in addition to mid-tier Platinum status. Hyatt also entered into a new partnership with MGM Resorts in Las Vegas to provide reciprocal elite benefits, which could be very useful. I’ll discuss all this and more below to ensure you have a solid understanding of Hyatt by the end of this post.
Hyatt has about 500 hotels worldwide, so they don’t have a huge footprint. They do, however, have hotels around the US and in some popular vacation spots, including in Sydney, the Maldives, and many cities in Europe. Their hotels range from super upscale down to more basic accommodations. Here’s a list of Hyatt’s highest-end (expensive) to lower-end (budget) hotels: Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, and Hyatt House.
Gold Passport Program
Hyatt’s loyalty program is called Hyatt Gold Passport, which is free to sign up for. There are 3 tiers to Hyatt’s loyalty program: Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. You’re Gold as soon as you sign up, and you can earn Platinum just by having the credit card. Otherwise, Platinum status is granted after 5 stays or 15 nights, while Diamond status can be achieved after 25 stays or 50 nights. The key benefits of each tier is listed below.
- Five points per dollar spent
- 15% point bonus on eligible spend
- Complimentary Internet access
- 30% point bonus on eligible spend
- Complimentary Internet access
- Access to hotel lounges. When lounges are unavailable, free full breakfast is provided instead.
- Four suite upgrades annually
Other perks like room upgrades and late check-out are also provided. Check the links above for a full list of benefits.
Hyatt Diamond “Challenge”
If you have a lot of stays or nights planned at a Hyatt in the future, it may be worth looking into the Hyatt Diamond Challenge. To be eligible for this challenge, you’ll need to currently have one of the following statuses: SPG Platinum, Marriott Gold/Platinum, Hilton Gold/Platinum, or Priority Club Platinum. Note that Hilton Gold can be obtained by just having the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, while Priority Club Platinum status comes with the Chase Priority Club card.
You can email Hyatt at firstname.lastname@example.org to request the Diamond Trial Offer (the official phrase). The cool part is they will give you Diamond status immediately, but in order to maintain it beyond 60 days you’ll have to have 12 paid stays in those 2 months. If you meet this requirement, you’ll keep Diamond status for at least the rest of the year.
The best time to start a Diamond challenge is June 1st or afterwards because it will ensure you get at least 1.5 years of Diamond status. For example, if you start your Diamond Challenge on January 1, 2013 and qualify, then you’ll have Diamond status until February 2014 – a total of 13 months. However, if you start your Diamond Challenge on June 1, 2013 and qualify, then you’ll have Diamond status until February 2015 – a total of at least 19 months. The latter is clearly more favorable.
Redeeming Award Nights
In my opinion, Hyatt has one of the most generous award charts for hotels, especially for top-end properties. It takes just 5K points on the lower end and just 22K points to redeem for top-end hotels. Hyatt also lets you redeem for suites at a very small premium compared to other hotel programs – just 33K points per night at the top-end.
There are two main ways to earn Hyatt points through credit card spend: accruing Chase Ultimate Rewards by using your Sapphire Preferred or Ink cards, or by using your Hyatt card directly. I’ve written about the amazing value you can get by manufacturing spend on your Ink cards before – I recommend reading this post if you’re interested in earning points that way.
Note that award stays do not give stay credits for the purposes of earning elite status.
Chase Hyatt Credit Card
There’s only one credit card for the Hyatt Program, and it’s issued by Chase. The sign-up bonus is two free nights at any Hyatt hotel, and the spend requirement is usually just $1K in 3 months. The annual fee of $75 is usually not waived, though there are sometimes tricks that will allow you to get a statement credit to recoup some of that fee. There are also anecdotal reports that calling Chase and asking for the annual fee to be waived can result in something favorable (a friend got 5K points instead, worth $100 in my book).
There are several key benefits to having the card. The card grants you mid-tier Platinum status for as long as you hold the card, and the key benefit for me is free internet access, which can cost upwards of 20 Euros a day when staying in Europe. An occasional room upgrade and bonus points when paying cash also make the Platinum status valuable.
The other key benefit is that you earn a free night at a Category 4 or lower hotel every year on your account anniversary. If you use this certificate properly, you can easily get better than $75 value for it. To me, it makes the annual fee worth paying, and it’s a card that I plan to keep in my wallet for the foreseeable future because of these perks.
Hyatt Stay Certificates
One of the lesser-known features of Hyatt program is that they offer “stay certificates” that could potentially be very valuable if you have an upcoming paid stay. These certificates are sold at fixed prices at various redemption levels:
- Choice – $152.22 (code: HSCHN1)
- Premier – $188.89 (code: HSPRN1)
- Elite – $260.00 (code: HSELN1)
- Inspire – $325.55 (code: HSINN1)
To find out which category your hotel falls under, simply search for it on this page (note that not all hotels are listed). There isn’t exactly a sweet spot on this chart, but if you’re forced to pay for a stay, it would be to your benefit to check out these certificates to see if you can get a cheaper rate.
The one caveat is that availability isn’t guaranteed, meaning that just because rooms are available doesn’t mean that a hotel will accept one of these certificates. Fortunately you can search availability online, though you’ll have to call in to actually book the room. To search, go to Hyatt.com and click “Offers and Gift Certificates”, then enter the appropriate code for the hotel you’re choosing.
You’ll be taken to a results page that will either say that there’s no availability on the dates you selected or it will say something similar to “Ultimate – One Night” and it will say “Rate is Confidential.” If you see this, that means the room is available that night.
The example above is one where it would be a bad value to use the stay certificate. The certificate for the Grand Hyatt Singapore costs $461.11 but there are rooms available for $351.81, meaning it’s cheaper to just pay cash.
Note that elite benefits apply on stays with certificates but you don’t earn points or elite credit for these stays.
Hyatt and Mlife in Las Vegas
Hyatt and MGM recently announced a new partnership that allows Hyatt Gold Passport members to use points to redeem nights at 12 MGM properties in Las Vegas. Additionally, Hyatt status will map to MGM’s Mlife loyalty program. That means having Platinum status with Hyatt will give you Gold with Mlife, or Diamond status with Hyatt gives Platinum Mlife status. You can sign up here.
The Mlife benefits you receive are not that great in my opinion, but it’s definitely better than getting nothing. Check your Mlife account for special offers on show tickets and hotel rooms.
Below are the hotels and redemptions you can make in Las Vegas using Hyatt points. Note that these can be booked directly from the Hyatt website.
- Category 2 (8K points): Excalibur
- Category 3 (12K points): Luxor
- Category 4 (15K points): Monte Carlo, New York New York
- Category 5 (18K points): MGM Grand, Signature at MGM Grand, Vdara, Mirage
- Category 6 (22K points): Aria, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay
Las Vegas is an interesting market. They sometimes have some extremely cheap hotel rates, while other times the prices are ridiculously high. In my opinion, I don’t think using Hyatt points for redemptions in Vegas is a good deal on most occasions. With that being said, any partnership that gives us more options is a good thing, and it may very well work out to your benefit.
Best Rate Guarantee
If you find yourself in a situation where points or stay certificates just wont work, your only other choice is paying for a night. It would be in your best interest to secure a best rate guarantee (BRG) if you have to go this route, and thankfully Hyatt has a pretty good one. If you find a lower rate on another website, Hyatt will give you 20% off the lower rate.
Let’s say you have a 3 night stay in Hawaii and Hyatt’s website shows a rate of $400/night, but through Kayak (or some other travel search engine) you find that Hotels.com shows a rate of only $300/night. You can simply call Hyatt’s BRG team before booking and have them confirm the rate. If they see the same rate you do, you’ll get 20% off $300 for each of the 3 nights. A successful claim would give you a rate of $240/night, saving you $60/night and $180 overall.
The reason Hyatt’s BRG process is so valuable is not only because of the 20% discount, which is great, but also because you don’t have to book the hotel before filing a claim – you can just call and confirm before making any booking. That means you won’t have any money on the line if for some reason something goes wrong and your BRG claim is denied.
You now know the basics of Hyatt and how you can use the program to your advantage. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section or by emailing me. I’m always checking for comments and will try my best to answer your questions.
Part 4: Starwood Preferred Guest
Part 5: Hilton Honors