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Maximizing Chase Hyatt Visa Free Night Certificates

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Today, TPG Contributor Nick Ewen offers insight into how (and where) to use the 2 free night certificates that come with the Chase Hyatt Visa card, as well as the anniversary free night at category 1-4 properties.

Last July, I wrote a detailed post about the free nights that you can earn on the Citi Hilton Reserve card (both as a sign-up bonus and an annual spending bonus). Fortunately, this isn’t the only co-branded hotel credit card that offers this type of benefit; it’s also included on the Chase Hyatt Visa, though with some slight differences. Today I’ll go through some tips and strategies for making the most of these Hyatt free night certificates.

Top-tier Hyatt redemptions like the Park Hyatt Sydney can be tremendous values.
Free nights from the sign-up bonus can be used at top-tier properties like the Park Hyatt Sydney.

First, let’s quickly review how you earn these Hyatt free night certificates. The first two are offered as a sign-up bonus on the card after you spend $1,000 in the first three months after opening your account. Unlike their Hilton counterparts, however, these certificates are valid at all Hyatt properties, as well as participating M life resorts in Las Vegas (more about their partnership here). They’re also valid any day of the week, as opposed to the weekend (Friday – Sunday) restrictions on the Hilton certificates. Diamond members are no longer allowed to book directly into a suite, but there’s still tremendously valuable.

You also earn a free night certificate each year on your cardmembership anniversary. This doesn’t require any type of spending in the previous year; all you need to do is pay the annual fee of $75 (which is waived for the first year). Unfortunately, these renewal certificates are only valid at Category 1-4 properties in the Hyatt Gold Passport program, but you can still get a lot out of them.

Both types of certificates expire one year from the date of issuance, so you do have a decent window in which to redeem them. In addition, I’ve read several reports on FlyerTalk of cardholders requesting (and being granted) a 30-day extension to the expiration date. This is critical, since they cannot be used on stays past the expiration date.

As for actually receiving the certificates, the ones from the sign-up bonus should appear in your Hyatt Gold Passport account about 10 days after you meet the minimum spending requirements, and the free anniversary certificate should appear as soon as you’re charged the annual fee. I’ve received e-mail notifications of both, but you’ll want to double check your spam folder as well as your account e-mail notification settings to make sure they show up.

To find the certificates (once issued):

  1. Log in to your Hyatt Gold Passport account
  2. Click on “Account Detail”
  3. Select “MY AWARDS” on the left side of the page

For Diamond members, this section of your account site should be familiar, since it’s also where you’ll find your four Suite Upgrade Awards.

Hyatt Credit card annual night certificate
Free night awards are shown in your Hyatt Gold Passport account online.

In the past, using these awards required calling Gold Passport customer service, but Hyatt recently added the ability to book these online.

However, before you go through the online booking process, I strongly recommend that you check standard award availability at your desired location/property first. This is a very easy process. From the homepage, simply search for your desired date(s) and be sure to check the “Show Hyatt Gold Passport Points” box from the search results page:

Hyatt Savannah search results
Hyatt Savannah search results

 

I was aiming to redeem my anniversary night certificate at the Andaz Savannah, and I was excited to see award availability for an Andaz King room on my desired dates. You may think this step is unnecessary, but it can definitely help (as you’re about to see).

To redeem these certificates online, you’ll simply click on the “RESERVE” icon from the “MY AWARDS” page of your account, and that will take you to the search page:

Hyatt certificate search
Hyatt certificate search

 

When I typed in “Savannah, GA,” I got the following results:

Savannah Hyatt
Savannah Hyatt

Here’s where things get interesting. I’ve found that sometimes availability won’t show up during this process, even if you’ve confirmed that a standard award room is available. When I clicked the “CONTINUE” icon above, I got the following message:

Andaz Savannah no availability
An error message says there’s no availability at the Andaz Savannah.

 

This is strange, considering I already verified award availability, and they also had standard rooms available at the Hyatt Daily Rate of $299. Why is the site trying to push me into the much higher Guaranteed Availability benefit of my Diamond status?

A quick call to the Diamond desk confirmed my suspicions: the website simply wasn’t accurate. They could see the availability and were able to apply my free night certificate with no problems.

A couple of other things to keep in mind:

  • When trying to use the two free nights from the sign-up bonus, if you don’t see award availability (but you’ve verified that it exists), try searching for one night at a time. I’ve read numerous reports indicating that free nights must be booked separately online to properly display the applicable rooms.

So now that the gritty details are out of the way, let’s talk about maximizing these certificates!

Consider using the sign-up bonus certificates at a Category 7 property like the stunning Park Hyatt Maldives
Consider using the sign-up bonus certificates at a Category 7 property like the stunning Park Hyatt Maldives.

Sign-up bonus

We’ll start with the two free nights earned from the sign-up bonus, since those can be used at any Hyatt location worldwide on any day of the week (again, as long as there is standard award availability). The first (and most obvious) way to get the most out of this bonus is to look at the eight Category 7 properties:

  • Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (rates in February start at $799/night)
  • Park Hyatt New York (rates in February start at $675/night)
  • Park Hyatt Sydney (rates in February start at AU$980/night, or $776)
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo (rates in February start at ¥49,000/night, or $416)
  • Park Hyatt Maldives (rates in February start at $1,270/night)
  • Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome (rates in February start at €600/night, or $673.50)
  • Park Hyatt Milan (rates in February start at €490/night, or $550)
  • Park Hyatt Zurich (rates in February start at 560 CHF/night, or $638)

All eight have at least some award availability for the month of February, so even on the low end of the spectrum, you’re still getting over $800 of value out of the sign-up bonus.

Properties in big cities, like the Andaz 5th Avenue, tend to have high revenue rates and are thus a great redemption option as well.
Properties in big cities (like the Andaz 5th Avenue) tend to have high revenue rates, making them great redemption options.

Another great option is to look at properties in big cities, as these tend to be more expensive than properties elsewhere. This is an even better option around special events. For example, at the time of writing, the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York still has standard award rooms available for December 30th and 31st, giving you a prime NYC location for New Year’s Eve. Revenue rates for those nights are a whopping $925! Even though this property is “only” a Category 6 location, with the right redemption, it can easily surpass the value offered by some Category 7 hotels.

Another strategy that may help you utilize these certificates is good for when you’re afraid of availability disappearing at your desired property. While this isn’t foolproof and may vary from one hotel to another, I’ve read reports of booking a reservation with points to “hold” the standard award while you’re waiting for the sign-up bonus certificates to appear. Then, once you’ve hit the minimum spending requirement, you call the hotel (or Gold Passport customer service) and ask that the stay be switched to the certificate. Again, this may not work for all locations, but it could be a good way to guarantee availability when it comes time to use the certificate!

Finally, to extend your stay, consider signing up for the card along with a traveling companion, be it a spouse, family member, or friend. You can book two back-to-back stays of two nights each, and call the hotel (or Hyatt Gold Passport customer service) to request that the reservations be merged or linked so you don’t have to check out and then back in after the first two nights.

The Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City is a great redemption spot for your anniversary certificate, even in the summer!
The Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City is a great redemption spot for your anniversary certificate, even in the summer!

Anniversary certificate

As stated above, the anniversary certificate is a little more restrictive, in that it only applies to Category 1-4 properties. Thus, the best uses tend to be at the higher-end Category 4 locations. You’ll often see rates of $250 or more at these hotels; as you saw earlier, I booked a reservation for my anniversary certificate at the Andaz Savannah over Easter weekend, when revenue rates were $299 per night. That’s not a bad use considering it only cost me the $75 annual fee!

Other desirable Category 4 locations include:

  • Hyatt Escala Lodge in Park City, UT
  • Park Hyatt Toronto
  • Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort (Costa Rica)
  • MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, and New York-New York (Las Vegas)

The same strategies apply to this certificate as to those from the sign-up bonus: you can book a room on points to “hold” a reservation, and use certificates back to back when traveling with a companion who also has the card.

Here's hoping my plan for a "suite" stay at the Andaz Savannah works!
Here’s hoping my plan for a “suite” stay at the Andaz Savannah works!

A final strategy that I’m hoping to use for my Savannah stay in April is available to Diamond Gold Passport members: combining a paid stay of one or more nights (upgraded using a Suite Upgrade Award) with a one-night stay booked with my anniversary certificate. My hope is that since the first night is confirmed in a suite, the hotel will allow us to keep the room for both nights. This same strategy could also be used with the sign-up bonus certificates, though paid rates for the higher category properties will likely be much higher.

Bottom line

This credit card has a permanent spot in my wallet, and the free night certificate is a big part of that. With an annual fee of just $75, it’s easy to more than make up for that fee, as even the cheapest Category 1-4 properties almost always cost more than that. Add in the complimentary Platinum status, 3x points at Hyatt properties, and no foreign transaction fees, and this card should be a no-brainer to just about anyone who travels.

Where would you use the Chase Hyatt Visa free night certificates?

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