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Hyatt is a fan favorite among award travelers thanks to its well-priced award chart, but the World of Hyatt loyalty program also offers some very valuable elite status benefits. One area where Hyatt is significantly more generous than its competition is with upgrade certificates, both to posh suites and club-level rooms. Today we’ll take a look at the ins and outs of Hyatt upgrades, including the different types you can earn and when to use them.

Types of Upgrade Certificates

Hyatt actually differentiates its upgrade certificates by eligible room types, meaning that club upgrades and suite upgrades are treated separately. While you used to simply earn four club upgrade awards upon qualifying for Hyatt Explorist status (which requires 30 nights or 50,000 base points a year), Hyatt accelerated the earnings in March 2019. You’ll now earn your first two club upgrades at 20 nights or 35,000 base points and the remaining two at 30 nights or 50,000 points. This benefit can be especially valuable at properties with well-stocked club lounges, as Hyatt Explorist elites are not normally eligible for complimentary upgrades to club rooms.

The same acceleration scheme was applied to the four suite night upgrades that Hyatt awards its top-tier Globalist members. You’ll earn the first two upgrades at 50 elite qualifying nights or 80,000 base points and the last two at 60 nights or 100,000 base points, at which point you’d officially qualify for Globalist status.

Everything else about these awards, other than which room they upgrade you to, is identical:

  • Each one is valid for a single stay of up to 7 nights.
  • The upgrades will automatically appear in your Hyatt account after you earn them.
  • Each one expires 14 months after the end of the year in which it was earned and must be attached to a stay that is completed before its expiration date.
  • When applied, they confirm you into an upgraded room immediately.

These upgrades can only book you into a regular club level room or standard suite, as designated by the property, meaning you aren’t going to end up in a two-story penthouse suite this way.

The Park Hyatt Milan. Photo courtesy of the hotel.
Don’t expect these upgrades to score you a room like the Duomo Suite at the Park Hyatt Milan. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

In addition, club upgrades are (naturally) only available at properties that have club-level rooms. Suite upgrades, meanwhile, are subject to the same list of excluded properties as regular suite awards:

“No Suite Free Night Award is valid at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, Park Hyatt Sydney, Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, Hyatt Regency Kyoto, Hyatt Regency Wichita, Hyatt Paris Madeleine, Hyatt Herald Square New York, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa, Hyatt City of Dreams Manila, Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami, Spirit Ridge at NK’MIP Resort, Hyatt Rosemont, Hyatt Regency Suites Atlanta Northwest, Hyatt Regency Lisle near Naperville, Hyatt Regency John Wayne Airport Newport Beach, Thompson Seattle, or Hyatt Place hotels.”

The last caveat deals with how you book your stay. You must pay for the room in cash, redeem points for an award stay or book a cash+points reservation in order to use these upgrades. Other types of free night awards (including those from The World of Hyatt Credit Card) aren’t eligible.

How to Use These Upgrades

Unfortunately, the only way to use Hyatt’s club and suite upgrade certificates is to call World of Hyatt customer service. As noted above, you must have an existing reservation with an eligible rate (paid, award or Points + Cash) before you can even think about using them. It’s also a good idea to search for rooms at the property where you’re hoping to use the certificates, as that can give you a good idea of availability.

For example, let’s say you wanted to take a trip to the Grand Hyatt Berlin. This is a property with both a club lounge and standard suites, so you could use either Club Upgrade Awards or Suite Upgrade Awards to confirm a better room right after booking. However, the hotel must have rooms available at each level. The club room question is easy, as you’d be looking for a standard room with club access:

For suites, you’ll want to find the phrase “This is a standard suite” in the room description. At this particular property, there are two options: the Grand Suite and the Grand Suite View.

If you’re looking to use a Globalist suite upgrade (or even redeem points for a standard suite), you should be able select either one of these rooms. However, if they weren’t available and the only suites listed for your dates include “This is a premium suite” in the description, you’re out of luck for your certificate.

Once you’ve confirmed availability and your preferred room type, call customer service at 1-800-544-9288. Have your confirmation number and World of Hyatt account number handy, as the agent will need both of those to confirm your upgrade. You should then receive an updated confirmation email showing that you’re confirmed in a suite.

Remember, these need to be attached to a reservation with a checkout date on or before their expiration dates. If you earn these in 2019, they’ll be valid through the end of February 2021, so you should have plenty of time to put them to good use.

Maximizing Your Upgrades

As noted above, Hyatt is incredibly generous with these certificates, as a one-night stay is treated the same as a week-long trip for the purpose of its upgrades. This is in stark contrast to a program like Marriott Bonvoy; it requires top-tier Platinum and Titanium elites to redeem one Suite Night Award for each night of your stay. Obviously this means you should try and save your upgrades for the longest stays you have. While you might not take four week-long trips in a year to get a full 28 nights in a club room or suite, a short overnight or weekend getaway may not be the best time to burn your hard-earned awards.

Another good strategy — especially for the club level upgrades — is to save them for when you’re traveling with family or friends. Free breakfast, drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and even the extra space of a suite is a lot more valuable when you have another guest (or two or three) with which to share it. Especially if you’re already booking plane tickets for multiple people, this is a great way to squeeze even more value out of your hotel stay.

Last but not least, you should try and combine this with other benefits such as the fourth night free on the Citi Prestige Card or luxury hotel programs like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts with The Platinum Card® from American Express. Reservations made through these booking channels should be eligible for upgrade certificates, and this ties into the general idea that you should also save upgrades for use at more luxurious properties. A suite at the Park Hyatt New York is likely a much more memorable experience than a suite at an airport hotel and will give you a better value both on paper and in real life.

Bottom Line

Hyatt makes it relatively easy to qualify for mid- and top-tier elite status in the World of Hyatt program through organic stays and spending on cobranded Hyatt credit cards. If you find yourself coming into some well-deserved Hyatt upgrade certificates this year, make sure to use these tips to maximize your value.

Featured photo by Daniel Hank/The Points Guy.

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