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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Platinum Card from American Express
Through March 31, 2015, Amex is offering American Express Platinum cardholders a 25% Membership Rewards discount on Hyatt gift cards. With this offer, a $100 gift card will cost 9,000 Membership Rewards points instead of the usual 12,000. You can redeem for hotel stays, dining, spa visits, and more; however, note that these gift cards are only good for use at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts in the US, Canada, or the Caribbean.
Redeeming for gift cards
Gift card redemptions almost universally offer poor value. Generally, I recommend transferring Membership Rewards points to travel partners (particularly airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa), since that’s where you’ll get the most out of them. TPG Special Contributor Eric Rosen recently highlighted the Best American Express Memberships Rewards Redemptions, detailing plenty of more fruitful ways to use your points.
In my most recent monthly valuations, I list Membership Rewards at 1.9 cents apiece. At that rate, 9,000 points is worth $171, but with this promotion you’re only getting $100 of value (about 1.1 cents apiece). Right off the bat you’re sacrificing 0.8 cents from every point you redeem for gift cards. If you want to use points for Hyatt stays, you’re much better off transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards (say, from the Chase Sapphire Preferred) to Hyatt Gold Passport and redeeming for awards.
That said, this promotion might make sense if you don’t have Ultimate Rewards points and you’re staying at a property where the paid rate is low compared to the award rate. For example, the Hyatt Regency Greenwich is a Category 3 property, costing 12,000 Hyatt points per night for an award stay in a standard room. However, the advance purchase rate in July is only $99, so you could instead pay with a single $100 Hyatt gift card purchased from Membership Rewards for 9,000 points.
Furthermore, your stay would count as a paid rate, so you’d actually earn Hyatt points for each dollar spent. That would bring your redemption value to around 1.2 cents per point, which still isn’t good, but isn’t abysmal if you’re light on cash or your Membership Rewards account is burning a hole in your pocket.
These gift cards might also be useful if you have a Hyatt stay coming up and would like to pay for incidentals with points, since points redeemed through a hotel program normally only cover the room itself. If you don’t have immediate plans to use them, I wouldn’t bother.
At higher tier properties, this offer is pretty useless. One night at the Park Hyatt New York would cost you over $1,000, or eleven $100 Hyatt gift cards obtained for 99,000 Membership Rewards. While you’d technically be getting the same redemption value, you’d get more out of your points by transferring to one of the Amex hotel partners and staying elsewhere. Of course, if you did have Ultimate Rewards, you could transfer just 30,000 points to Hyatt for this same room, giving you a return of about 3.4 cents apiece.
Frankly, if you can swing it, you’d get better value just paying cash and using the Fine Hotels and Resorts benefit on your Amex Platinum or The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN.
The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
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