TPG tested: Why Hyatt elites should book through MGM when visiting Las Vegas
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Editor’s note: MGM Rewards posted points and tier credits for the Hyatt-booked stay to the author’s account after we published this story. MGM also clarified that stays booked through Hyatt at MGM properties aren’t eligible for waived resort fees. So, we’ve updated the story with this information.
On Feb. 1, MGM Resorts launched its new MGM Rewards program.
Normally, casino loyalty programs don’t get a ton of coverage from TPG. But given the MGM Rewards program’s ties to World of Hyatt, which give Hyatt elite members the opportunity to opt in to a matched MGM Rewards tier level, it’s a program that’s on our radar. World of Hyatt Explorists and Globalists can find great value in matching to MGM Rewards Gold, as this tier of the new program comes with the benefit of waived resort fees.
My ears immediately perked up when I found out about this benefit. With the announcement, though, came a couple of questions: How will the waived-resort-fees benefit work in practice, and how will World of Hyatt and MGM Rewards members earn Hyatt points, MGM points and MGM tier credits on stays and dining?
Eager to learn more, I went to Las Vegas to enjoy a one-night stay at two properties: Excalibur Hotel & Casino (which was booked through MGM Resorts) and the MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (which was reserved via Hyatt). Here’s what I found out during my two stays.
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Getting perks, points and more as a Hyatt elite in Las Vegas
Back in February before I made my bookings, I visited the Hyatt website to match my World of Hyatt status to MGM Rewards. It’s important you do this first to receive the reciprocal perks.
If you’re a Hyatt Discoverist, you will match to MGM Rewards Pearl. As a Pearl member, you’ll enjoy the following benefits:
- Complimentary self-parking (subject to availability).
- Access to a dedicated line at the buffet.
- Complimentary tickets to select exclusive MGM Rewards concerts in Las Vegas (offers will vary based on tier status and spending/gaming activity).
- A 10% discount at participating retail shops.
But for those who are Hyatt Explorists and Globalists, your status will match to MGM Rewards Gold, which comes with the same perks Pearl members receive, plus some additional benefits:
- Waived daily resort fees on up to two rooms per trip (when booking rooms in the member’s name directly with MGM Resorts International).
- Access to a priority check-in line at the front desk.
- A complimentary enhanced room upgrade at check-in (based on availability).
- VIP line access at select nightclubs for you and a guest.
- Access to a dedicated line at participating restaurants.
- Complimentary valet parking at participating MGM Rewards destinations.
When I matched my Hyatt Globalist status, my former MGM Rewards Sapphire status was upgraded to Gold within 24 hours of my request.
Like other MGM Rewards members, I earn MGM Rewards points on the following activities:
- Hotel stays booked directly with MGM Resorts, which earn 1 point per dollar spent.
- Dining at participating food and beverage outlets (excluding select leased outlets), which earns 1 point per dollar spent.
- Playing slots, video lottery terminals and table games, which earn points based on game type, average bet and length of play.
Although some hotel and dining purchases (think: retail, entertainment, spa and salon services, taxes and gratuities) don’t qualify for earning points, you’ll otherwise collect a decent number of points, which are worth a flat 1 cent each, during stays.
You’ll also earn MGM Rewards tier credits, which help you earn status (though they are not needed if you match your Hyatt status every February), for select activities. To earn tier credits on purchases, present your MGM Rewards card at the point of sale or add your MGM Rewards account number to your hotel reservation before charging purchases to your room.
Booking No. 1: Excalibur stay reserved directly with MGM
Once I matched my status and sorted through the fine print, I booked the first of two stays in Las Vegas.
For my first night in Sin City, which fell on a Thursday, I chose the least expensive MGM resort available: Excalibur Hotel & Casino. I booked this night directly through MGM Rewards for $23.75. The $39.68 resort fee was listed as “estimated due at check-in.”
I felt confident I’d get the resort fee waived at check-in as an MGM Gold member since I made the reservation through MGM Resorts International. I felt even more confident once I clicked on the “resort fee waived” benefit listed on my MGM Rewards page and got the following pop-up:
On-site experience when booking through MGM
Although I could have checked in from the MGM Rewards app and bypassed the Excalibur front desk, I used the priority line to check in with an agent. There were no other guests in the priority line when I arrived just before 7 p.m., so I was quickly greeted by a friendly agent as I approached the counter.
Before I even asked, she offered to waive the resort fee and asked if I’d like a 3 p.m. late checkout. After accepting her offers, I gave her my World of Hyatt number and requested I earn both MGM tier credits and Hyatt points for my stay. She obliged, and we proceeded to chat a little longer about the uptick in interactions she’d had recently with MGM Gold members looking to get the resort fee waived.
I was impressed by the check-in interaction, though I was a bit disappointed that the highest king room she could offer me was on the third floor — an accommodation that, to me, was nowhere close to being an “enhanced room upgrade,” which I was eligible for when checking in as an MGM Gold member.
Despite mentioning my desire to have a good view, if possible, I ended up in a room overlooking a wall and a back-of-house courtyard.
Clearly, luck wasn’t on my side when it came to my room.
Besides the lackluster experience related to our room, my husband and I encountered an additional hiccup during our stay.
When we tried ordering food two different ways at the on-site Johnny Rockets, we had mixed results earning points and tier credits. Charging my meal to the room led to the expected outcome of earning points and tier credits. However, when my husband attempted to pay with a credit card and swipe his MGM Rewards Gold card to earn points and tier credits, the cashier said he couldn’t earn rewards this way since the venue wasn’t an MGM restaurant.
So, if you plan on dining at the property, know that charging meals to your room will likely be the smoother (and more successful) way to go.
How I earned when booking through MGM
As far as earning points for the stay itself, the process was fairly straightforward. I noticed shortly after checking in that MGM points were pending in my account, and these points increased as I charged items to my room.
By the time I was checking out, this is what my Excalibur bill looked like:
Unfortunately, MGM Rewards doesn’t show members how they earn points or tier credits, but based on my earnings, I had $43.91 of eligible spending — the room rate and Johnny Rockets meal, excluding room and food taxes — during this stay. I earned 1 point per dollar spent and 8 tier credits per dollar spent on qualifying items, netting me a total of 43 points and 351 tier credits.
The earnings posted to my account about seven days after checkout.
I also earned 2,308 Hyatt points and a qualifying night on the same $43.91 of eligible spending, which posted to my World of Hyatt account a few days after my stay.
Notably, I didn’t have to do anything other than book directly with MGM Resorts International, ask the agent at check-in to add my Hyatt number to my account and state that I’d like to earn both Hyatt points and MGM tier points.
Sadly, my next stay wasn’t as easy.
Booking No. 2: MGM Grand stay booked through Hyatt
For my second night in Las Vegas, which was on a Friday, I decided to bed down at the MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The one-night reservation made through Hyatt cost $150.80, including $44.22 of resort fees.
I’d booked this stay to see whether the waived resort fees perk of my MGM Gold status would apply when I booked through Hyatt. So, I was curious whether I’d be able to get the resort fee removed at the hotel.
On-site experience when booking through Hyatt
When I arrived at the MGM Grand, I went to the priority room for members with MGM Gold (or higher) status, which was located to the right of the standard check-in area.
Initially, the process went smoothly. The agent offered to upgrade me to a two-queen room on a higher floor of the Grand tower, which I happily accepted. The agent then confirmed that my MGM and Hyatt numbers were on my reservation.
But, the agent noted I’d need to pay the resort fee. I questioned whether I’d need to pay this fee even with the new waived-resort-fees benefit for MGM Gold members. Reacting as if she suddenly remembered that this was indeed a new perk, the agent agreed I shouldn’t have to pay the fee.
Resort fee waived … for now.
Once we settled into our room, I headed to an MGM Express kiosk in the hotel’s gaming area to order a couple of to-go drinks. I had previously spotted a little black sign detailing discounts for MGM members, so I was eager to put that offer to the test.
I ordered a flavored hard seltzer plus a drink for my husband, and sure enough, I noticed a 10% discount on my bill after charging the items to my room.
Not too long after, we ventured across the street to New York-New York Hotel & Casino (a sister property) to dine at Beerhaus. I charged my dinner to the room by providing the hotel name, the room number and my driver’s license, and my husband swiped his MGM Gold card and a credit card to pay for his meal.
The next day, I noticed that the resort fee was still on my room bill. Technically, the fine print notes the need to book through MGM Resorts International to get resort fees waived. But, for the sake of this story, I inquired again at check-out whether I’d have to pay the resort fee even though I have MGM Gold status. And without any additional discussion, the agent removed it from my bill.
So, it’s possible (at least, sometimes) to get these added charges waived when booking with Hyatt. Clearly, though, it will depend on the agent you interact with during your stay.
An MGM spokesperson reached out to me after we published this story to note “Waived resort fees apply to all Gold+ MGM Rewards members for direct bookings made through MGM Resorts. Unfortunately, bookings through Hyatt channels are not considered direct bookings and therefore, the waived resort fee benefit does not apply.” So, there’s your official answer.
How I earned when booking through Hyatt
Unlike my stay at the Excalibur, where my points and tier credits posted automatically, nothing from my MGM Grand stay posted automatically to my Hyatt account.
Hyatt’s website and app note that “points earned from your stay should be credited to your member account within 72 hours after checkout,” so once that 72-hour window passed, I submitted a missing stay request on Hyatt’s website. A few days later, I noticed Hyatt had posted my stay as follows:
In total, I earned 868 Hyatt points and one qualifying night on $133.50 of qualifying spending. Based on my MGM Grand bill, the room rate and my Beerhaus order were qualifying items, while the room tax, my MGM Express drink purchases and the taxes and tip for my Beerhaus order were not eligible for points.
Despite Hyatt’s website noting that those who are members of both World of Hyatt and MGM Rewards would receive World of Hyatt points and MGM Rewards tier credits for every eligible purchase at participating properties, I did not automatically receive tier credits for my stay. So, I reached out to MGM Rewards’ member services email on February 14.
I didn’t receive a response until March 25, four days after this story was published. The response didn’t mention this story but noted MGM Rewards had adjusted my account to reflect the eligible spend for my MGM Grand stay. I earned 1 point per dollar spent and 8 tier credits per dollar spent on my eligible spending, for a total of 1,068 tier credits and 133 MGM Rewards points on this stay.
How I’ll book future MGM stays in Las Vegas
Based on my recent experience, I plan on booking future MGM resort stays in Las Vegas directly through MGM. The rates are often less expensive when you reserve rooms through MGM Resorts, and you can sometimes snag lucrative packages that include food and beverage credits when booking this way.
For example, I could have chosen a rate that offered a $30 food and beverage credit for about $15 more than what I spent on my stay at Excalibur.
Plus, my stay and spending posted quickly to MGM and Hyatt when I booked directly with MGM, unlike my stay booked through Hyatt.
You’re also guaranteed you’ll get resort fees waived as an MGM Gold member or higher when you book directly with MGM.
If you have Hyatt Explorist or higher status, you should match your Hyatt status to MGM Rewards. Once you do this, it’s clear which brand you’ll want to book with when visiting Las Vegas.
By opting to go through MGM instead of Hyatt when staying at an MGM Resorts property, you’ll accrue both Hyatt points and nights (so long as your Hyatt number is added to your reservation at check-in) and MGM Rewards points and tier credits.
Even though MGM’s points and tier credits are less valuable than the Hyatt elite qualifying nights and points you’ll earn, you can still use them to cover a stay or dining at a participating property.
Featured photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International.
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