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Last week Hyatt announced a devaluation to its award chart by creating a new top-tier category and making award nights more expensive in certain categories and for premium rooms that will all go into effect January 7, 2014, and in a year where all the major points and miles news has been about devaluations, that was no surprise.
But Hyatt has now followed that up with some good news – it has created a whole new system of cash and points redemptions, will be discounting room rates for elites, and has revamped its points expiration policy to be more lenient, all of which will also go into effect January 7, 2014. Here are the details.
Points + Cash Awards
Following the lead of other major hotel chains like Starwood, who have had Cash & Points awards for years, Hyatt is introducing a new hybrid award scale where you pay a portion of your award night using points and the rest in cash. Here’s how it breaks down.
Category 1: 5,000 points or 2,500 points + $50 – valuation at 2 cents per point
Category 2: 8,000 points or 4,000 points + $55 – valuation at 1.375 cents per point
Category 3: 12,000 points or 6,000 points + $75 – valuation at 1.25 cents per point
Category 4: 15,000 points or 7,500 points + $100 – valuation at 1.33 cents per point
Category 5: 20,000 points or 10,000 points + $125 – valuation at 1.25 cents per point
Category 6: 25,000 points or 12,500 points + $150 – valuation at 1.2 cents per point
Category 7: 30,000 points or 15,000 points + $300 – valuation at 2 cents per point
So with Points + Cash awards, you’re paying half the normal award night in points and paying the rest in cash – which goes up in increments of about $25 per category, with a few notable exceptions like Category 2 and Category 7, and depending on the category you redeem for, you’re basically “buying back” your points (or paying a co-pay to keep them) at a rate of between 1.2 cents – 2 cents each.
In those terms, Category 1 and 7 are not the best deal – especially with that mammoth $300 co-pay in Category 7 (by contrast, Starwood’s top-tier Category 7 co-pay is $275), and your sweet spots are in Category 5 and 6.
Like Starwood, Points + Cash awards will be capacity controlled, so it’ll be interesting to see how much space is released and when.
An even better bit of news is that, also like Starwood, Points + Cash awards will count towards elite status (though award stays still will not), so you can use your points and still keep earning your way towards status, and you will also still earn points on the cash portion of your co-pay. (By comparison, Hilton and Starwood count award stays toward elite qualification).
The downside is that you’ll have to call Gold Passport to make these reservations at 1-800-228-3360 in the U.S. or Canada, and your points will be deducted immediately, and you’ll pay the cash portion when you check out – just like Starwood’s system works.
20% Elite Discount Rates
Hyatt Platinum and Diamond members logged into their accounts should also see a new “My Elite Rate” when searching for reservations that will be 20% off the daily rate on any standard room in 2014 (subject to availability).
Once you’re logged in to your Hyatt Gold Passport account on hyatt.com, look for the My Elite Rate or simply request it when you book a reservation through a Hyatt Worldwide Reservation Center. The My Elite Rate must be booked at the time of reservation. These rates will count towards elite status and points accrual.
Extended Points Expiration
Perhaps the least exciting bit of news, though still good, is that Hyatt’s points expiration policy will be extended from having any activity within 12 months to activity within 24 months. To keep your points active, all you have to do is one of the following:
- Earn or redeem points for stays at Hyatt hotels and resorts, on dining and spa treatments, and for stays at participating M life properties
- Purchase or combine points, transfer Free Night Awards or convert points to miles
- Maintain a Hyatt Credit Card account
- Earn credits with a Travel Partner or M life Tier Credits for stays at a Hyatt property
I think all of these are net positives. The Extended Points Expiration isn’t really a big deal since it’s so easy to keep your points active – even just by converting Ultimate Rewards points if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus.
The Elite Rate is interesting, but I actually don’t think this will make a big difference since there are usually a few different rates that beat out the Hyatt Daily Rate in terms of plain cost or value of add-ons – like AAA rates, senior discounts and corporate rates – so we’ll see how good this ends up being.
The real value here lies in those Points + Cash awards, where you’re paying as little as 1.2 cents per point to keep your extra points – and it works out to be even less if you are an elite and are earning bonus points on the cash co-pay, so I definitely regard this as good news. I do wish Hyatt would figure out a way to streamline the booking process so you can just do it online and see availability, like you can with Starwood, but hopefully that will come soon so we’re not all stuck calling Gold Passport to check on dates all the time.
All in all, good news and a nice little way to offset some of the bad news from their devaluation announcement, but we’ll just have to wait until January to see how good this news is based on how discounted elite rates end up being and how much availability there is on Points + Cash awards.