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How a successful status challenge rekindled my love affair with Hyatt

Jan. 18, 2021
9 min read
Park Hyatt Sydney February 2018. (Photo by Clint Henderson:The Points Guy)
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Some of my fondest hotel memories center around Hyatt.

Several years ago, the chain was matching Starwood status (this was before the Marriott merger), and I was able to snag its then-top-tier Diamond status, which led to some of the best hotel stays of my life.

I knew even then, unfortunately, that I wouldn't be able to maintain that top-tier status. And when Hyatt revamped its loyalty program (and renamed it World of Hyatt), I had to let my love affair come to an end. But I didn't know I would come running back sooner than expected.

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A confluence of incredible offers has not only given me top-tier status until 2023, but it's also saved me money along the way. And I think I'll be able to maximize the status even with reduced travel.

Here's how it all came together (and some lessons for those who might be tempted).

Hyatt lowered elite requirements for 2021

Park Hyatt Sydney, March 2018. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Hyatt is one of my absolute favorite hotel groups, but in 2020 the World of Hyatt program became too rich for my blood. Before the coronavirus pandemic, top-tier Globalists had to stay a whopping 60 nights or spend $20,000 to achieve or maintain that level.

But when it became obvious that business travel was largely off the table, and most elites wouldn't be able to requalify, World of Hyatt announced it was lowering its 2021 elite-status requirements. At the same time, it extended lucrative promotions so you could earn points and elite-night credits faster.

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Here's a breakdown of the new requirements, as reported by TPG's Benji Stawski:

  • 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)

Hyatt status challenge

In addition to lower requirements for status, Hyatt was offering a status challenge for a brief period late last year. You could earn Explorist status for staying just 10 nights or Globalist status for 20 nights. Stays needed to be completed by the end of 2020.

Related: What is Hyatt status worth?

I spent 20 nights at Hyatt hotels during the month of December. Because demand is so low right now, I was able to find incredibly compelling rates for mid- and upper-tier Hyatt properties -- not to mention two promotions that helped me save even more cash.

Even though this challenge is no longer active, if you've been thinking at all about pursuing high-level status with Hyatt, this is the year to do it. If you think you can reach Globalist, you won't be disappointed thanks to the generous perks that come along with it.

Credit card bonus nights

In addition to the lower requirements for status and the status challenge, there was a sweet opportunity to get double bonus nights by signing up for the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Related: The ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions

I was approved for the card instantly.

(Screenshot courtesy Chase)

Those with the World of Hyatt Credit Card automatically get five qualifying nights each year just for having the card. Additionally, cardholders earn two elite-qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent on the card.

Related: Best hotel credit cards

Because I wasn't already a Hyatt cardholder, I was able to get the 10 qualifying night credits. Those nights also counted toward earning status in 2021. Sadly, the offer expired on Dec. 31, 2020, but you can still get five bonus nights for holding the card.

I'll also get 30,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spend on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening

Carry-over nights

Incredibly, all the nights I stayed in December 2020 carried over into 2021 as part of World of Hyatt's "Bonus Journeys" promotion, which is still ongoing.

This promotion is probably the most generous hotel offer we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic. If you registered by Jan. 15, you can earn triple points for every qualifying stay (up to 150,000 bonus points), while people with the World of Hyatt Credit Card and the legacy Hyatt card can earn 4x points for resort stays (up to 75,000 bonus points). This promotion remains in effect through Feb. 28, which means there's still time to make a move toward earning status if you're already registered.

(Screenshot courtesy World of Hyatt)

Related: What is World of Hyatt elite status worth?

Since World of Hyatt has cut the qualification thresholds for 2021 in half, top-tier Globalist status could be very much within reach after just a few stays -- especially for those who added the Hyatt card to their wallets in late 2020.

And, any nights completed between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, count toward elite qualification in 2021. So, those 20 nights I stayed in December counted once in 2020 and again in 2021 as part of Bonus Journeys. Because I also got the 10 nights with the card at the end of 2020, that means I started out 2021 as a Globalist — and after 30 nights, I'll retain that status through February of 2023.

AMEX Offers

On top of all the bonus points and nights, American Express was offering a $50 statement credit for spending more than $250 at any Hyatt, which I was able to redeem successfully.

Chase offers

Chase was offering 5% back on one stay if you used a Chase Ultimate Rewards card. I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, so I enrolled. While not nearly as lucrative as the Amex offer, I was able to save $8.28. Hey, I'll take it.

How much did I spend?

All in, I spent about $2,500 for hotels in December. That's a lot of money for status, but since I gave up my New York City apartment when my lease expired in November, I'm not paying rent. That $2,500 is less than I paid per month in Manhattan, and I got almost three weeks of hotel stays for that price.

That doesn't take into account how many points I earned during that period. With all of Hyatt's generous promotions, I ended up with more than 47,000 World of Hyatt points. That doesn't include the up to 60,000 points I'll get for completing spend on the Hyatt card, meaning I'll end up with about 110,000 points. Even if you very conservatively value those points at 1 cent each, that's about $1,000 of points.

In my mind, I'm paying about $1,500 for top-tier Hyatt status for two years. And that's a win in my book.

What's so great about Globalist?

So, why go to all this trouble?

Hyatt top-tier status comes with some great perks, including late checkout, free breakfast, free lounge access, complimentary space-available standard suite upgrades at check in, and bonus points, among other perks.

One of our favorite perks at TPG is the waived resort fees for World of Hyatt Globalists. That can save you as much as $50 a night.

My plans for Globalist status

Park Hyatt Vienna in January 2016. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

So, what am I going to do with my new status? I'm very tempted by the "Work from Hyatt" program. My colleague, Vikkie Walker, has me dreaming of the Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya in Mexico.

Related: Here's what you need to know about Work from Hyatt

If Cambodia opens up more widely to Americans in the later half of 2021, I'm very tempted to check out the Park Hyatt Siem Reap. I've also had my eye on the Park Hyatt St. Kitts since it opened. And though the Park Hyatt Maldives may look a little dated, that sounds just fine to me right now. And, finally, a trip to the Park Hyatt Vienna is always a good idea if border restrictions ease.

Bottom line

No matter which Hyatt(s) I end up in, I'm sure my new status will come in handy. And, despite the status challenge having elapsed, there's a path for those who have been on the fence about pursuing Globalist status this year. If you can effectively leverage credit card night credits with the very generous Bonus Journeys, reasonable nightly rates and various card offers to save even more money, Globalist can be very well within reach by the end of February.

Featured image by Park Hyatt Sydney February 2018. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.