Fast elite status, sweet spots: Why I’m sticking with Hyatt in 2021

Jan 8, 2021

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They aren’t the easiest to earn, but World of Hyatt points are my favorite points currency to use.

This isn’t just my opinion, either. Hyatt is one of the smallest among the major hotel chains, but it’s the way to go for value-seeking award travelers. World of Hyatt remains one of the most valuable loyalty programs on the market. In fact, TPG values World of Hyatt points at a whopping 1.7 cents per point, among the highest of hotel programs.

Here’s why I prefer the World of Hyatt chain — and points — over other hotels.

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Elite status goes a long way

(Photo by Jamie Oppenheim/The Points Guy)

 

I went into 2020 as a Marriott Bonvoy loyalist, with occasional stays at Hilton Honors chains. 

You might have read my story last month about how my brother’s long-term hotel stay earned him top-tier Marriott elite status. After nearly 100 nights in 2020, he’s now all-in on the Marriott Bonvoy brand, enjoying complimentary upgrades, welcome gifts and more. I have Gold status with Marriott and Hilton through credit cards, but I haven’t gotten much value from holding either status, save for free breakfast at Hilton and late checkout at Marriott. 

After deciding to commit to the Hyatt brand, I decided to switch all of my hotel stays to the chain. Even without top-tier status, I was able to extract a ton of value versus what I’d get at lower tiers with other chains. 

Like several other chains, Hyatt announced it would reduce elite status requirements by 50% for the 2021 qualification year. This makes it much easier to earn, as status earned in 2021 is valid all the way through Feb. 28, 2023.

Just as a reminder, here’s how the 2021 tier requirements break down:

  • Discoverist: Stay five tier-qualifying nights or earn 12,500 base points ($2,500 in spending)
  • Explorist: Stay 15 tier-qualifying nights or earn 25,000 base points ($5,000 in spending)
  • Globalist: Stay 30 tier-qualifying nights or earn 50,000 base points ($10,000 in spending)

We’re just days into the new year, and I’m already an Explorist and on track to Globalist status. I earned Hyatt status in 2020 through a combination of cash and points stays and taking advantage of numerous promotions. Here’s how I did it:

  • A one-night stay at a Hyatt property in January 2020
  • A three-night stay at a Hyatt property in March 2020
  • A five-night stay at a Hyatt resort in October 2020
  • I also opened the World of Hyatt Credit Card to earn 10 nights in December 2020

That gives me enough nights for Explorist status with the reduced qualifications. I’m looking forward to earning perks like 20% bonus points, upgraded room (except suites and club rooms), guaranteed room availability and a status match to M life Gold.

Related: How to earn two years of top-tier Hyatt elite status after just 9 nights

I don’t plan to stop there, however. Hyatt members who register by Jan. 15, 2021, for stays through Feb. 28, 2021, will earn 3x points for qualifying stays (up to 150,000 points). World of Hyatt credit cardmembers earn 4x points on all resort stays (up to 75,000 points). 

Nights booked through this promotion will also count toward elite status and Milestone Rewards in 2020 and 2021. I have a staycation planned in February to knock out the remaining nights needed for Globalist. We consider Globalist the most valuable hotel elite status level out there when fully maximized with perks like Suite Upgrade Awards and access to Club lounges where available (complimentary full breakfast when unavailable).

And remember, all Hyatt members also get waived resort fees on award nights, which is an exciting perk, especially if you book award nights frequently.

Sweet spots with Hyatt points

The infinity pool at Calala Island. (Photo by Carissa Rawson).

Category 1 hotels

Forget Category 7 and 8 hotels for a minute. 

One of my favorite sweet spots in the World of Hyatt program is Category 1 hotels. Now hear me out for a second because I’m not talking about Category 1 hotels in the U.S., though many of those properties are acceptable. I’m talking about booking Category 1 hotels worldwide, especially in the Middle East and Asia. 

Category 1 properties start at just 5,000 points a night, which means you can get steals at luxury properties such as the Hyatt Regency Oryx, a new property in Doha, or the Studios at Alila Seminyak in Bali for just 5,000 points a night. I earned a whopping 64,000 Hyatt points during a stay in October, so I’m looking forward to using some of those points to book Category 1 resorts at a steep discount.

Comparable hotel chains in the same locations can cost you thousands more in points per night, so this is one of my favorite ways to use Hyatt points.

Related: The best international Category 1 Hyatt properties

Top-tier World of Hyatt hotels

Let’s come back to top-tier hotels. Hyatt’s reasonable redemption rates mean that you can stay at its Category 7 and 8 hotels, some of its best properties, starting at 30,000 to 40,000 points a night. 

You’ll find some of Hyatt’s best in these categories, like the Ventana Big Sur (Category 7), Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome (Category 7), ABBA Resorts Izu (Category 8) and Calala Island (Category 8). Calala Island, for instance, is a real steal, and it’s my top redemption to take advantage of after the pandemic.

Dates in June at the all-inclusive resort in Nicaragua start at $2,350 per night. At just 40,000 points per night, I can get nearly 6 cents in value for each of my points, far more than our 1.7-cent valuation for Hyatt points or the 2-cent valuation for Ultimate Rewards points (a Hyatt transfer partner).

Related: Maximizing redemptions with World of Hyatt

Bottom line

Hyatt doesn’t have a large footprint like Marriott or Hilton, but the ease of earning status and burning points more than makes up for that. And while there are fewer ways to earn points than other programs, credit card spending, paid stays and promotions should get you a free room (or suite) around the world.

Featured photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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