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Many hotel co-branded credit cards received makeovers in 2018, and Chase added the Hyatt card to the list in June. The newly revamped The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers many of the same perks as the previous iteration plus some nice added benefits.
One of my favorite perks on the card is the annual free night certificate awarded to cardholders, valid at Category 1-4 properties. The updated version of the card actually allows you to earn an additional one each year through spending, so today I want to go through how to maximize these certificates.
Overview of Certificates
Let’s start off 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, and this applies to both the new and old versions of the card (the latter of which is no longer open to new applicants). 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:
Note that this section of your account will include suite upgrades for Globalist members, club upgrades for Explorist members and additional free night certificates (like the “Brand Explorer” award in the above screen shot).
How to Use the 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:
Since these certificates are only valid at Category 1-4 properties, you’re looking for hotels on the results page that are at most 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:
Note that the property at which you want to book must have standard award rooms available in order to redeem the free night certificate. If you can’t redeem points for the stay, you won’t be able to redeem the certificate.
Once you’ve chosen the room you want, click Select and review the reservation details on the final page, which will indicate that you’re “paying” for the room with your free night award:
When you’re ready, click the Book My Stay icon to finalize the reservation.
It’s worth noting that if you have more than one of these awards in your account, you aren’t able to use both in a single reservation online. If you search for two nights, the option to use the free night awards no longer appears:
If you’re trying to book a two-night stay with these awards, you have a couple of options. The first would be to call World of Hyatt customer service to request that both certificates be applied to a single reservation. If that doesn’t work, book two separate one-night stays and call either World of Hyatt or the actual property to link the reservations and prevent the need to check out and check back in to the hotel.
In addition, 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 the 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 maximizing them is an entirely different proposition. Here are some of my suggestions for making the most of these free nights:
1. Redeem Them at Category 4 Properties
One of the first ways to maximize the awards is to look at Category 4 properties. This is the top end of the spectrum of eligible properties for the certificates, and they normally require 15,000 points for a free night (worth $255 based on TPG’s most recent valuations). At the time of writing, there are 83 properties in this tier 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
- Grand Hyatt Seattle
- The Bellvue Hotel (Philadelphia, PA)
- Thompson Chicago
I’ve personally redeemed certificates from prior years at the top two properties, getting at least $200 of value each time.
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. To be honest, given the annual fees on the new and old versions of the card ($95 and $75, respectively), 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 as opposed to $150 per night.
Take the above example of the Hyatt Regency in Miami. The paid rate for a one night stay arriving Saturday December 22 is $242.52 (including taxes and fees). This is a solid redemption but can be even better. Less than a month later, I’m seeing all-in rates at the same hotel of $397.56. This is a spectacular value; you’re paying (at most) a $95 annual fee and getting over four times that amount worth of a hotel stay. All this at a Category 3 property!
3. Combine With Other Reservations
As noted above, you aren’t able to use multiple free nights in a single reservation when booking online, and it’s also not possible to use one of these free nights as part of a multi-night pair or award reservation. However, if you have a need for a longer stay, consider redeeming a certificate for either the first or last night and then make a separate reservation using points, cash or a combination for the remaining nights. This has a few possible benefits:
- It allows you to redeem an award for the more expensive night. If you’re booking a paid stay where the first or last night is more expensive than the others, you could apply the certificate to the pricier night and then pay for the rest.
- It can be combined 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 through The Platinum Card® from American Express.
- You can extend elite status perks. If you’re an Explorist or Globalist member with World of Hyatt, 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 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 discretion of the property, but it can’t hurt to at least ask. (That being said, 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 carefully plan your spending during the year. 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 3 months and an additional $3,000 in the second three months to earn the full welcome bonus.
- Spend an additional $9,000 over the remaining 6 months of your first year, being careful to hit $15,000 in total spending late in the year.
- 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 $3,000 by January 14 and earn the full welcome bonus. You then cross the $15,000 spending threshold next July 10. 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 24 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 that 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 3 free nights and a single free night.
Earning “free nights” through hotel co-branded 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. I hope this article has given you some strategies for maximizing these Hyatt free night certificates!
Featured photo courtesy of Andaz Papagayo, Costa Rica.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page on Hyatt free night certificates. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to old sign-up bonuses that are no longer available.
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