How to earn, use and make the most of your Hyatt free-night certificates

Jun 21, 2021

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There are many ways to earn free-night certificates by leveraging hotel cobranded credit cards, and one option is the World of Hyatt Credit Card from Chase. For an annual fee of just $95, you earn a free night every year, valid at Category 1-4 properties across the entire collection of brands under the World of Hyatt umbrella. You can also earn a second one each year through spending.

Earlier this year, all legacy Hyatt cardholders were converted to the new version of the card. Since the World of Hyatt program has extended the validity of these certificates multiple times — most recently last fall — you may currently be sitting on a handful of them.

Today, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about earning, using and maximizing these Hyatt free nights.

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Overview of Certificates

Let’s start with the basics. As noted above, the free-night certificates you can earn on the Hyatt card are each valid for a free night at Category 1-4 properties. However, the exact timing of how they are awarded differs:

  • Anniversary free night: You will automatically earn one free night each year after your cardmember anniversary. According to the terms and conditions, it may take up to 10 weeks to appear, though my most recent one arrived just two days after my official anniversary in September.
  • Additional free night: The second free night is awarded when you spend $15,000 on the card in your cardmembership year. However, it may take 2-3 weeks for the certificate to appear in your World of Hyatt account.

Once each one is issued, you have 12 months from that date to book and complete a reservation with the certificate.

The certificates will appear in your World of Hyatt account once they’ve been issued. To find them, log in and go to the My Account section, then click on the My Awards tab to see all awards you’ve earned.

Hyatt free-night awards in your online account

Note that the “Free nights” section of your account will also include other certificates you have earned. For example, the two Promotion Awards in the above screenshot are a Brand Explorer award I earned for visiting my fifth Hyatt brand in February and the milestone award I earned for reaching 30 elite-qualifying nights — both of which happened on the same road trip to Savannah.

Related: What is World of Hyatt elite status worth in 2021?

How to use Hyatt free-night certificates

When you’re ready to book a free night using a certificate, the process is relatively straightforward. Once you’ve logged in to your World of Hyatt account, enter your search criteria, check the box for Use Points and click Find Hotels.

Search from Hyatt.com for award stays

Since these certificates are only valid at Category 1-4 properties, you’re looking for hotels on the results page that are up to 15,000 points per night. When you find one and click Select, the next page should automatically indicate which room type(s) are eligible for the certificate — like these three options at The Confidante South Beach in Miami, FL.

Standard award room choices at The Confidante Miami Beach

Be sure to select the tab at the top labeled “Free Night” and not the one using points. Otherwise, you’ll have points deducted from your account.

Note that the property you want to book must have standard award rooms available to redeem the free night certificate. If you can’t redeem points for the stay, you won’t be able to redeem the certificate.

In addition, if you search for a stay with a check-out date after the certificate expires, it won’t appear as an option. Instead, it’ll only show standard awards using points.

Once you’ve chosen the room you want, click Book Now and review the reservation details on the final page. Then, click Book My Stay to confirm.

Final booking page when redeeming a free night on Hyatt.com

Ignore the “Rate is Confidential” verbiage — that’s how the platform displays these awards during the booking process.

Can you combine certificates with other forms of payment?

In the past, using a certificate for one night of a longer stay was a bit challenging, as you needed to book separate reservations. Now, however, thanks to Hyatt’s new Pay My Way option, it’s exceedingly easy to do so.

For example, let’s say that you were looking at a long weekend stay in The Confidante Miami Beach, arriving Thursday, Aug. 12 and departing Sunday, Aug. 15. In this example, you want to search for the entire stay as if you would be paying cash, then select the Member Rate or Standard Rate tab at the top.

Hyatt standard rate at the Confidante Miami Beach

 

From there, click on Use Pay My Way to see your options — which will allow you to combine free-night certificates, points and/or cash to pay for a single stay with multiple forms of payment.

Hyatt Pay My Way options for a three-night stay at the Confidante Miami Beach

In the above screenshot, I’d be using my certificate for one of the nights and then 15,000 points for each of the other two. The standard rate for this three-night stay would be nearly $1,400, including taxes and fees, so this particular redemption offers quite a bit of value.

Related: 6 ways to redeem Hyatt points as travel rebounds

However, note that you aren’t able to apply upgrade certificates to these awards. Here’s what the terms and conditions of the World of Hyatt program say regarding Explorist club upgrades and Globalist suite upgrades:

“Not valid in connection with any Free Night Award other than those identified above, including, without limitation, Hyatt Credit Card premium and anniversary Free Night Awards, 5-brand Free Night Awards, Category 1-7 Free Night Awards (defined below), or any other promotional Free Night Award.”

However, you are still eligible for space-available upgrades upon check-in for these reservations, based on your elite status tier at the time of your stay. You just can’t confirm them in advance.

How to maximize Hyatt free-night certificates

Understanding how to earn and then redeem the free-night certificates on the World of Hyatt Credit Card is one thing, but making the most of them is an entirely different proposition. Fortunately, the vast majority of Hyatt properties will typically charge nightly rates of at least $100 — so you shouldn’t have many problems covering the card’s annual fee.

Nevertheless, you can do several things to get even more value out of them.

Here are some of my suggestions for making the most of these free nights.

1. Redeem them at higher-end properties

The Hyatt Residence Club in Sedona is just one higher-tier property that’s available using your free-night certificates. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

One of the first ways to maximize the awards is to look at properties at the high end of the eligibility range (Category 4). These hotels and resorts normally require 15,000 points for a free night, worth $255 based on TPG’s most recent valuations. There are 157 properties in this tier at the time of writing, with another four slated to open soon. While the full list does have its fair share of less-than-exciting Hyatt Places, there are some great options:

  • Andaz Savannah
  • The Eliza Jane (New Orleans, LA)
  • The Bellvue Hotel (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Thompson Chicago

I’ve personally redeemed certificates from prior years at the top property, getting at least $200 of value each time.

Read more: The 11 hotels where you’ll get the most out of your Hyatt reward night certificate

2. Look for high paid rates

Another way to make the most of these certificates is to redeem them when the revenue rates are high, regardless of the category in which your desired property falls. As noted above, given the low annual fee on the card ($95), you’d be hard-pressed to find an example of a hotel at which you’d get less than those amounts in value. However, you’re better off redeeming them when the paid rates are $300 per night instead of $150 per night.

For example, let’s say you wanted to visit Denver and enjoy the festivities of the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. While some Hyatt properties are sold out around the date of the game (July 13), you could use your certificate for part of a two-night stay at the Grand Hyatt Denver — when the rates are over $400/night. And this is just a Category 3 property!

3. Combine with other reservations

The Park Hyatt Milan. Photo courtesy of the hotel.
You could still utilize suite upgrades at properties like the Park Hyatt Milan if you combine free night certificates with additional reservations. Photo courtesy of the hotel.

As noted above, Hyatt’s Pay My Way feature allows you to combine a free night certificate with other payment methods — something that wasn’t previously possible. However, there are still some scenarios where you may want to book separate reservations.

  • If the rate is cheaper. You may find a situation where you could book one or two nights at a low cash rate and then use a certificate for the higher-priced night (note that this won’t always appear when using the Pay My Way option). In this case, you may want to book separate reservations.
  • If you want to combine it with credit card perks. Many credit cards offer perks for hotel stays, and some of these can be leveraged with the free night. For example, you could book a five-night stay with one free-night certificate and then four paid nights with the Citi Prestige® Card to get your fourth night free. You could also combine a free night with a separate reservation through a program like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, available to holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express.
  • If you want to extend elite status perks. As noted above, you can’t use your club upgrades or suite upgrades (respectively) on these stays. However, if you book a paid or regular award stay to occur immediately before or after the free-night award and apply one of those upgrades, you might have luck convincing the individual property to upgrade you on your entire stay. Of course, this is subject to availability and the property’s discretion, but it can’t hurt to at least ask.
  • If you want to combine it with upgraded rooms. A similar strategy can be utilized to redeem Hyatt points for upgraded rooms (now available online). You can use your certificate for a one-night reservation, then book the remainder of your stay directly into a club room or a suite using your points. Once again, an individual property may be willing to keep you in the same room for the duration of your stay.

The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Just note that these final two tips are subject to the hotel’s discretion — and you may wind up needing to change rooms during the stay. Nevertheless, it may effectively turn your free-night certificate into a free-suite-night certificate.

(As an aside, if you use one of these strategies, I would encourage you to use the free-night award at the beginning of your stay — since you’d hate to get upgraded for the first part of your stay only to get downgraded at the end!)

4. Carefully plan your spending

A fourth (and final) way to maximize the free-night certificates is to plan your spending during the year carefully. If you do this right, you could end up with three certificates valid at the same time partway through your second year of cardmembership. Here’s a step-by-step guide for making that happen:

  • Open the World of Hyatt Credit Card and spend just over $3,000 in the first three months to earn the first 30,000 bonus points as part of the current welcome bonus.
  • Spend an additional $12,000 over the remaining nine months of your first year of cardmembership, being careful to hit $15,000 in total spending just a few weeks before your account anniversary.
  • As soon as your statement closes following your account anniversary date, spend $15,000 as quickly as you can.

This will result in three free night awards with overlapping validity dates.

For example, let’s say that you apply for the card on July 15 (your account anniversary date) and your first statement closes on August 3 (which is when your first year ends and your second year begins). You spend $3,000 by October 14 and another $12,000 over the rest of the cardmembership year — with the final purchase made on June 30. Finally, you spend $15,000 on the card by the following September 30.

This strategy would result in the following:

  • Certificate 1: Issued on (or around) July 15 — 2-3 weeks after reaching $15,000 in spending in year one (expires July 23 the following year)
  • Certificate 2: Issued on (or around) September 30 after renewing your card (expires September 29 the following year)
  • Certificate 3: Issued on (or around) October 14 after reaching $15,000 in spending in year two (expires October 13 the following year)

You thus have three certificates that overlap by over 9 months, giving you a wide window of time to redeem them at the same property for three free nights.

Bear in mind this strategy can’t be replicated year-in and year-out. In future years, you either need to be content with two free nights with overlapping validity or alternate between three free nights and a single free night.

Bottom line

Earning “free nights” through hotel credit cards sounds great on the surface, but virtually every card that offers this type of perk imposes some type of restriction. While the World of Hyatt Credit Card is no exception (free nights are only valid at Category 1-4 properties), there are still some great ways to make the most of this perk. Hopefully, this article has given you some strategies for maximizing these Hyatt free night certificates.

Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy

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