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Back in November, Hyatt announced some major changes to its Gold Passport loyalty points program that will take effect on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.
You can find out all the official details here, but here are the specifics:
Hyatt is introducing a Category 7 redemption (30,000 points per night, up from 22,000) that includes six Park Hyatts:
Here is the rest of the new award chart:
As you can see, standard award night requirements are also getting more expensive for Category 5 and 6 properties. Category 5 will jump from 18,000 points per night to 20,000 points per night and those in Category 6 will now be 25,000 points per night instead of 22,000 points per night.
So here are the increases in points on standard room award nights by category:
Categories 1-4: No change
Category 5: 2,000 points
Category 6: 3,000 points
Category 7: New, but 8,000 points from what the hotels that are included would previously require.
In terms of premium rooms and suites, those in categories 2-6 will also now require many more points for award nights – in some cases just 1,000 more points per night, but in others, up to 7,000 points per night as in the case of Category 6 suites.
Hyatt also announced that 38 hotels are shifting categories. 21 hotels moving to a higher category and 17 hotels are moving to a lower category.
One other major change: the points required to upgrade a paid stay to a Regency/Grand Club room or suite will now be on a per-night basis. Until Tuesday, you can get up to 4 nights in a Regency/Grand Club room for just 3,000 points and a suite for just 6,000 points for the whole stay. After Tuesday, Hyatt will require 3,000 points per night for Club rooms and 6,000 points per night for suites – a devaluation of up to 75%!
It wasn’t all bad news, though. The following week, Hyatt issued another announcement that it would be adding Points + Cash awards that would count towards elite status, extending points expiration and instituting elite discounts of 20% off the Hyatt Daily Rate. Here are the new Points + Cash rates:
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 count towards elite status (though award stays still will not), and you will also still earn points on the cash portion of your co-pay.
To make these reservations you have to call Hyatt 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.
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).
Pre-Devaluation Booking Strategy
So with all those changes coming down the pike in the next few days, I’ve been getting a lot of reader questions about what it means for their Hyatt points as well as their Chase Ultimate Rewards points since if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold and/or Ink Plus, you can transfer those Ultimate Rewards points at an instant 1:1 ratio to Hyatt Gold Passport and you might want to think about doing so in order to book awards soon. I wouldn’t per-emptively transfer all of your Chase points to Hyatt, because I still think there is great value in the United program even after they devalue on February 1. It really all depends on how many points you have any what you want out of them.
You have until January 6, 2014 to book at the current rates, and I’d encourage you to do so since, if your hotel moves down a category, you’ll be credited with a refund of the point difference, whereas if the hotel moves up a category you will have to book at the new point level after January 6. However, in that case, if you do book before January 6 at the current rates, you can change your reservation at the current rate (so no point increase) until February 15, so there’s a little bit of breathing room there.
The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is the only category 7 I haven’t stayed in (after my upcoming trip to Sydney), so I’m looking at booking that property, but you can only book until January 3, 2015 and there is limited availability. Also note that this property seems to have a 30 day cancellation policy- even on points stays, so if you book in advance, make sure you cancel within that period to get your points back with no penalty.
Credit Card Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
If you have the Hyatt Visa from Chase, you get 2 free nights as a sign-up bonus and you should still be able to use those at any Hyatt including the new Category 7 ones, but that has not been definitively confirmed. Your cardholder anniversary Category 1-4 free night will remain the same, but if you’re thinking of booking booking a current Category 4 hotel that’s going to move up to Category 5, like the Andaz West Hollywood or Park Hyatt Melbourne – do so before January 7 since after that they will not be eligible properties.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.