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Hotel elite status is a great way to make your travels more rewarding and less stressful. Each of the major chains offers several perks to loyal members, but just how much are the different tiers worth? Is one program more rewarding than another? And is it even worth pursuing elite status at all?
Today we’ll dive into the status hierarchy of one of the most popular programs for award travelers: World of Hyatt. The goal is simple: assign a specific value to each elite tier to help you determine whether or not to pursue (or maintain) Hyatt elite status in 2021.
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Before getting deep into the numbers, it’s important to note that my analysis represents just one way to decide how much the World of Hyatt elite status program is worth.
You may find some benefits worthless, while you may value others as much more valuable than I do. Also, given Hyatt’s relatively limited worldwide footprint, the program may not even be a feasible option based on your typical travel patterns. Feel free to adjust my calculations based on your individual situation.
The final dollar amounts we landed for each tier represent the value you’d get after reaching that status level and continuing to qualify every year. If you’re starting from scratch, you won’t enjoy any benefits until you reach Discoverist status. For readers in that position, I’ve included a spreadsheet toward the end of the post to give you an idea of how much value you can get during 2021, even if you’re starting with no Hyatt status.
This brings me to the key assumptions we’re making for all in the series:
We’re also assuming that your stays are split evenly between full-service properties (like Andaz and Hyatt Regency) and limited-service properties (Hyatt Place and Hyatt House).
As always, feel free to adjust these assumptions to fit more closely with your typical stay patterns.
Three final notes: First, we’re basing the value of any bonus points earned on TPG’s most recent valuations, which valued Hyatt points at 1.7 cents apiece. Second, we’re also rounding the values to the nearest $5 to make the calculations a bit easier.
Finally, most of the below perks are not provided at the Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) properties currently integrated into the World of Hyatt program. Even though you can earn points and elite night credits for stays at these hotels, the only elite status perk you’ll enjoy is bonus point accrual.
There are a couple of other things to keep in mind before chasing Hyatt (any hotel’s) elite status — let’s take a look.
Hyatt’s footprint is smaller than its main competitors, Marriott and Hilton. This is especially prevalent in Central and Eastern Europe, where Hyatt has no properties in major cities like Prague and Budapest. Thankfully, the company has announced plans to add new properties all over Europe in the coming years.
On the flip side, Hyatt has a solid presence here in the U.S. You’ll find properties in most major cities and even alongside major highways. The coverage isn’t quite as good as Marriott or Hilton, but it should be enough to suffice for most business and leisure travelers here in the States.
All that said, make sure there are Hyatt properties in or around destinations that match your travel style. For example, if you travel to Manchester frequently and stay in luxury hotels, make sure one of Hyatt’s luxury brands has a presence there.
If you find Hyatt doesn’t have your desired type of hotel near the places you travel most, consider pursuing elite status with a program that does.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card makes it easier to earn elite status with your everyday purchases.
The card includes 5 elite status nights per calendar year. Plus, you can earn two additional qualifying nights per $5,000 you spend on the card. You’ll also receive entry-level Discoverist status every year you have the card, giving you base-line benefits without any effort required on your part.
This makes Hyatt elite status easier to earn when compared to earning outright with hotel stays. Keep this in mind as you consider how many stays you’ll need to gain your desired Hyatt elite status tier.
Hyatt elites can earn 1 bonus point per $1 spent on qualifying American flights, while all American elites can earn 1 bonus mile per $1 spent on qualifying Hyatt stays and experiences. Those with status in both programs will earn bonus points on both American flights and Hyatt stays.
Further, American’s invite-only Concierge Key elite members are eligible for a status match to Hyatt Globalist elite status. Other American elites can fast-track to World of Hyatt status at a faster rate than other members. These fast-tracks are usually offered on an invite-only basis and sometimes include outright status matches.
If you’re an American flyer, this could make switching your hotel stays to Hyatt even more rewarding.
You’re going to walk away with a solid stash of World of Hyatt points whether you’re earning status organically or through a credit card. So, you should make sure you value Hyatt points before chasing Hyatt elite status. Otherwise, you could be left with a stash of points you can’t use.
Like Marriott, Hyatt has continued to publish a standard award chart. This means award stays are priced predictably and you won’t be met with any crazy-high dynamically priced hotels when redeeming.
I’ve found that most Hyatt hotels are very reasonably priced too. This has lead TPG to value World of Hyatt points at a high 1.7 cents per point value, which is the highest of any hotel points currency. Regardless, you should find your own cent per point value before choosing to earn Hyatt points or status. After all, you don’t want to be left with points you can’t use.
You can do this by finding the cent per point value of these redemptions and then averaging them out. To do this, first find the points and cash cost of a hotel stay. For example, a one-night stay at the Grand Hyatt New York costs 20,000 points per night.
The same night costs $382.49 after tax in mid-August. Simply divide the cash price by the number of points required and multiply that number by 100 to get the cent per point value. In this case, you’d get 1.91 cents per point in value from your redemption.
The math looks like this: 382.49/20,000 x 100 = 1.91.
Doing this for multiple stays will give you a better look at how much World of Hyatt points are worth based on your travel habits. If this number is lower than TPG’s valuation, you may want to choose another program.
It’s hard to discuss travel in 2021 without mentioning the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected how most of us travel. Travel demand is slowly recovering, but many of us are still spending fewer nights in hotels than in 2019.
If you’re traveling less — and using your elite status benefits less — you’re likely getting smaller value from your hotel elite status.
That said, it’s impossible to know how much you’re traveling during the pandemic. Likewise, the coronavirus vaccine is starting to roll out worldwide, which will hopefully help us get back on the road before the end of the year.
These reasons are why I haven’t cut the value of elite status tiers in response to the pandemic. I’m also not taking reduced qualification requirements into account throughout this article since we’ll eventually be subject to the standard qualification requirements. For reference, Hyatt has cut the number of nights needed to earn World of Hyatt status in half for 2021.
That said, you should take your coronavirus travel habits and optimism for the immediate future of travel into account when deciding whether or not to earn Hyatt elite status this year.
This is a key part of determining whether it’s worth chasing elite status as we continue to move through the pandemic.
With all that in mind, how much value does the World of Hyatt program provide to its elite members? Here are the numbers we found.
The lowest tier in the World of Hyatt program is Discoverist status, typically earned after 10 nights or 25,000 base points ($5,000 in spending). Remember, It’s also included as an automatic benefit on the World of Hyatt Credit Card. For this analysis, I’ll assume that you complete 12 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service Hyatt properties.
Discoverist members will earn a 10% point bonus when staying at Hyatt properties, resulting in an additional 0.5 points per dollar spent. Given my assumptions above (12 nights at $150 per night), you’d spend a total of $1,800, earning you 900 extra Hyatt points, worth $15.30.
Another perk for Discoverist members is space-available upgrades to preferred rooms within the same category, including ones with a preferred view or location. Since this is restricted to the same type of room initially booked and doesn’t apply to Hyatt Place or Hyatt House locations, I’ll assume a conservative value of $10 per night at full-service properties.
You’ll also enjoy a complimentary bottle of water each day of your stay as a Discoverist member. Since you can find water fountains at virtually every hotel these days, I’ll value this at just $5.
Hyatt gives all guests complimentary internet, but Discoverist members can access premium internet for free. I’ve personally not seen a huge difference in speeds between the two, so I’ll keep this at a conservative $1 per night.
Discoverist travelers will also enjoy a 2 p.m. late checkout upon request, though it’s subject to availability at Hyatt resorts and not available at Hyatt Residence Club or M life resorts. As a result, I’ll value this at $25.
You can also call an elite reservation phone line as a Discoverist member, though I’ve rarely found a need to do so in my years of traveling, so I’ll assign just $10 of value.
In 2013, Hyatt launched a partnership with MGM Resorts, which included reciprocal elite status. Under the World of Hyatt program, Discoverist members will be granted Pearl status in the M life Rewards program when you match your Hyatt status. This gives you a number of benefits when staying at M life properties, including buffet line passes and complimentary self-parking. You could get a lot of value out of these benefits if you frequently visit Las Vegas (or other MGM locations), but I’ll keep this at just $25.
In 2019, the World of Hyatt and American AAdvantage programs announced a new partnership. As a Hyatt elite member, you’ll earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on qualifying American Airlines flights when you link your two loyalty accounts. If you frequently fly American, this can be a fantastic way to earn Hyatt points, but I’ll assume a relatively conservative value of $500 worth of flights, which equates to 500 bonus Hyatt points, worth $8.50.
Explorist status is the second tier in the World of Hyatt program and is typically earned after 30 nights or 50,000 base points ($10,000 in spending).
Since the World of Hyatt Credit Card awards cardholders 5 elite night credits and another 2 for every $5,000 you spend on the card in a calendar year, you can effectively “buy” Explorist status without any stays by simply spending $65,000 in a year on the card. However, I assume that most travelers would qualify with a combination of the two.
For this analysis, I’ll assume that you complete 36 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service Hyatt properties.
Explorist members will earn 20% more points than a regular member, resulting in an additional 1 point per dollar spent. With the above assumptions (36 nights at $150 per night), you’d spend a total of $5,400, earning you 5,400 extra Hyatt points, worth $91.80.
In late 2018, Hyatt announced changes to the way it will award upgrade certificates. In the past, you simply needed to qualify for Explorist status to earn four Club Upgrade Awards. This is accelerated under the new system: you’ll earn two at 20 elite-qualifying nights (or 35,000 base points) and the remaining two when you reach 30 nights (or 50,000 base points) and qualify for Explorist status. These Club Upgrade certificates are valid for the same period of time that your applicable status is valid.
A single Club Upgrade can be used on a stay of up to seven nights, and they are valid on eligible paid room rates and rooms booked using points. Unfortunately, they can’t be used on free night awards like the Category 1-4 certificates offered to Hyatt credit cardholders. Depending on the property (and the length of your stay), this could be very valuable, as these lounges typically serve continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres. However, they only apply to full-service properties with a lounge, so you can’t use them everywhere. I’ll thus assume a conservative valuation of $25 per award.
Unlike Discoverist members, Explorist travelers are eligible for upgrades to the best available room at check-in, up to but excluding suites and rooms with lounge access. This is also not applicable at Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Residence Club and M life resorts. I’ll assume a valuation of $20 per night at the full-service locations.
Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
Explorist members are guaranteed a room when making a paid reservation at least 72 hours before arrival. Like with the comparable benefits offered by other chains, Hyatt places a host of restrictions on this, including blackout dates and periods of “extraordinary room demand.” These rates also tend to be exorbitant, so I’ll value this at just $20.
Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
Explorist members can match their Hyatt status to M life Gold status, adding several other perks like room upgrades, VIP line access to nightclubs and complimentary valet parking in Las Vegas. This can be valuable for frequent visitors to Sin City, but I’ll keep it at a conservative $75.
When you reach the 30-night threshold during the year and officially qualify for Explorist status, you’ll earn a free night award in a Category 1-4 Hyatt property. Unfortunately, your reservation must be booked and completed within 120 days of issuance, so it’s much more restrictive than the similar certificates that can be earned by holders of the World of Hyatt Credit Card. While some of these hotels can easily cost over $200 per night, I’ll value this at a more conservative $150 given the limited window of time you have to use it.
Note you won’t earn this if you earn Globalist with reduced status requirements as this still requires 30 nights to earn.
Explorist members earn an extra point for every dollar spent on American-operated flights. Given the additional travel required to reach this middle tier, we’ll assume triple the amount of spending, which results in 1,500 bonus Hyatt points. Those are worth $25.50, based on TPG’s valuation.
In addition to bonus points on flights, the Hyatt-American partnership also includes the chance for targeted, fast-track opportunities to earn AAdvantage elite status. This isn’t a guarantee, but snagging American status more quickly than the standard requirements could be valuable to some, so I’ll value this at $25.
The top tier in the World of Hyatt program is Globalist status, typically earned after 60 nights or 100,000 base points ($20,000 in spending).
In the past, Hyatt offered a “discounted” requalification threshold of 55 nights for those who already have Globalist status. That has now gone away, but qualification is still halved in 2021 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the future, Globalist members will need to reach the 60-night mark to earn this top tier.
Again, as noted above, you earn 5 elite night credits just for holding the World of Hyatt Credit Card and can earn additional elite-qualifying nights through spending, so this may allow you to close the gap.
For this analysis, I’ll assume that you complete 72 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service Hyatt properties.
Globalist members will earn a 30% bonus on stays, giving you an additional 1.5 points per dollar spent. Given the above assumptions (72 nights at $150 per night), you’d spend a total of $10,800, earning you 16,200 additional Hyatt points, worth $275.40.
Like Discoverist and Explorist members, you’re eligible for room upgrades at check-in as a Globalist traveler, and this includes standard suites. Like the similar perks mentioned earlier, this isn’t available at Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Residence Club and M life resorts. I’ll value this perk at $35 per night for the full-service locations.
The aforementioned changes to upgrade certificates also apply to one of Globalist members’ favorite perks: Suite Upgrade Awards. You’ll now earn two of these at 50 elite-qualifying nights (or 80,000 base points) and another two upon reaching 60 nights (or 100,000 base points) and earning Globalist status. Rather than hoping for an upgrade at check-in, these certificates allow you to confirm a suite at booking.
Each one covers a stay of up to seven nights. Like the club upgrade awards, they can be used on paid stays and standard award stays (including Points + Cash reservations) but don’t apply to awards booked with free night certificates. They are valid through the end of the year in which they were earned, plus an additional 14 months.
Keep in mind that you must redeem them and complete your stay before the expiration date. While you may not be able to get a full 28 nights out of these, you can score a fantastically large suite in some cases, so I’ll value these at $200 apiece.
Globalist members also enjoy access to Club lounges, where available. At properties without a Club lounge, they receive complimentary full breakfast for each registered guest (up to 2 adults and 2 children) in the hotel’s restaurant. As a Diamond member (the precursor to Globalist), I found that this even included room service at a handful of properties like the Andaz Amsterdam and Park Hyatt Zurich. Given that it extends to a family of four and includes club access, I’ll value this perk at $25 per night at the full-service properties.
Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
One unique perk of Globalist status is priority access to available rooms when checking in early. I typically never had any problem arriving before the designated check-in time as a top-tier elite, but having the policy in writing is a nice improvement. I’ll value this benefit at $50.
Hyatt also allows Globalist members late checkout privileges but extends it to 4 p.m., offering some valuable flexibility if you need to depart later in the afternoon.
World of Hyatt members (including those without elite status) don’t have to pay those pesky resort fees on award stays. However, the program waives resort fees for Globalist members on all stays (excluding Residence Club properties and M life resorts). This can save you quite a bit of money if you frequently visit locations like Hawaii or the Caribbean, where these fees are very prevalent. Given that these seem to be expanding quite a bit, I’ll assume that five of your nights are spent at applicable properties with an average fee of $25 per night.
Another nice perk for Globalist members is complimentary parking at hotels that run their own paid parking service (a.k.a. can be charged to the room) on award stays. These fees can be quite high at resorts or big-city properties, and you often have no choice but to use these facilities, as I experienced at the Andaz Maui. I’ll assume that you utilize this four nights per year with a daily parking rate of $25.
Globalist members have the same guaranteed availability benefit offered to Explorist members but a shorter timeframe to invoke it (48 hours instead of 72). The same restrictions apply, so I’ll add just $5.
Same benefit, but I can’t see Globalist members using this more frequently.
In addition to the elite reservation line, Globalist members can utilize a more tailored concierge service, assisting with not only reservations but any special request. If you frequently need this type of dedicated agent, it can be quite valuable, but I’ll assume a conservative $50 valuation.
Hyatt’s Guest of Honor benefit allows Globalist members to redeem points for a friend or family member and “transfer” their elite status privileges to that traveler. I asked a colleague to utilize this perk for me on an upcoming trip to Asia, which will get me complimentary breakfast at the Park Hyatt Saigon for me, my wife and my daughter for four nights. This can be a great way to make a loved one’s trip more rewarding, but I’ll value this at a conservative $25.
Globalist travelers receive the same Gold status in the M life Rewards program as Explorist members. I’ll add another $25 due to the extra travel and resulting added likelihood of visiting these properties during the year.
Same benefit as Discoverist.
In addition to earning a free Category 1-4 night when surpassing the requirements for Explorist status, you’ll also earn a free night in any Hyatt property when reaching Globalist. This free night valid for 120 days from the date of issuance and can be redeemed at any Hyatt hotel with standard award inventory. You’d get especially great value from top-tier properties like the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, but I’ll keep this at a somewhat conservative valuation of $300.
You won’t earn this if you earn Globalist with reduced status requirements.
When you reach 40 elite-qualifying nights (or 65,000 base points), you’re eligible for a milestone bonus: either 5,000 Hyatt points, a $100 Hyatt gift card or a 10,000-point discount on a FIND Experience redemption. I’ll assume you select the Hyatt gift card here, as the bonus points aren’t quite as valuable and the FIND Experiences aren’t the best use of points.
Again, you won’t earn this if you earn Globalist with reduced status requirements.
Another perk for Globalist members is provided by going above and beyond the 60-night threshold for qualification. For every ten additional nights you complete in a calendar year (up to 100 total nights), you can select either 10,000 bonus points (worth $170) or an additional suite upgrade award. Since I’m assuming 72 nights, you’ll surpass the first of these thresholds, so I’ll tack on an additional $200.
Globalist members also earn an additional bonus point for every $1 spent on American flights. Given the additional travel required for this top-tier status, we’ll double the amount of spending you’d have with AA to $3,000 (or 3,000 bonus points, worth $51).
Finally, the new Hyatt and American partnership offers the potential for shortcuts to elite status for Globalist members — including a match to Executive Platinum status for some in late 2019. Incredibly enough, this even included the Systemwide Upgrades that Executive Platinum flyers earn when qualifying the hard way.
While this doesn’t appear to be a universally-available perk of Globalist status (and I’d be surprised if it were repeated in the future), I’ll still value these offers at $200 as it may be offered as a future targeted perk.
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, all of the numbers above represent values for those of you who have already earned these status levels.
However, many may be starting from scratch. If this is the case, you won’t enjoy any benefits until you have completed 10 nights and earned Discoverist status. After that, you won’t enjoy additional benefits until you hit 30 nights to earn Explorist status. So, how can you quantify this climb up the ranks?
Just like I did for my airline elite status series, I’ve attempted to answer this by converting the above calculations into a value per night, as follows:
I then created an Excel spreadsheet that uses these numbers to calculate the value you’d get from the program as you move up the Hyatt elite status ladder. All you need to do is input the total number of nights you complete and the numbers will adjust automatically. You’ll notice that I included the additional threshold bonuses as you go above and beyond the “standard” qualification level for Globalist status.
To make this as realistic as possible, I made additional changes to the total values I got for Explorist and Globalist status:
For example, you’ll see that I have pre-loaded 75 nights into the spreadsheet. With these numbers, you’d get no benefits for the first 10 nights, enjoy Discoverist benefits for the next 20 nights (at a rate of $13.33 per night), then enjoy Explorist benefits for the next 30 nights (at a rate of $20.69 per night), and finally enjoy Globalist perks for the remaining 15 nights (at a rate of $47.77 per night).
In addition, you’d gain access to multiple additional perks like upgrade certificates and free night awards as you progressed up this elite status ladder. As a result, if you’re starting with no status and plan to complete 75 nights in 2021, you’d be able to get $3,254.17 in value from the World of Hyatt program.
Again, feel free to update the numbers in the “Base Data” tab of the spreadsheet to include your own valuations of the perks.
Given these values, is it worth pursuing elite status (or the next tier of elite status) with World of Hyatt? As with any analysis we undertake here at TPG, there isn’t an easy answer to this, as it depends entirely on your individual situation. However, here are a few over-arching questions that can help you arrive at a decision:
When you’re pursuing elite status, it’s critical to think about how much you’ll be traveling in the future. If you push hard to earn Explorist status, for example, the valuable perks outlined above only apply when you actually travel.
Many of you may wind up within striking distance of the next tier, so be sure to consider whether the benefits are worth pushing for it. There’s no sense in going out of your way for perks that don’t matter to you.
There’s really no point in pursuing elite status with a hotel chain if you can’t feasibly stay at one (or more) of its properties regularly. Be sure to consider Hyatt’s hotels in and around your common destinations. While the program is expanding its footprint with the SLH partnership, it’s still a far cry from the several thousand properties that Hilton and Marriott boast.
There are many tradeoffs in this hobby, and one of the most common is deciding whether to use your preferred airline or hotel chain when it’s not the most convenient or cheapest. Would you stay at a Hyatt Regency if there was another brand that was cheaper and/or more convenient to where you need to be? If the answer is no, it may not be worth going out of your way to earn elite status with Hyatt (or elite status with any hotel chain, for that matter).
As mentioned above, the World of Hyatt Credit Card offers automatic Discoverist status and the ability to earn additional elite night credits through spending. As a result, you may be better off applying for this card and utilizing the benefits or supplementing qualifying stays with spending rather than worrying about qualifying (or requalifying) the hard way.
These questions are also not easy to answer, as many different factors come into play with each of them. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile exercise to evaluate your own situation as you decide to determine if Hyatt elite status is for you.
The World of Hyatt program is a favorite of many travelers. However, given the limited footprint of Hyatt’s various brands, it may not be a viable option for everyone, even though the program provides some significant value to its loyal members. That being said, all signs are pointing to a significant expansion of the program’s portfolio of properties, so I hope this analysis has helped you decide whether to pursue Hyatt elite status in 2021.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about World of Hyatt elite status, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for the latest information. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to outdated information below.
Featured photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh
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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