How I'm earning two years of rewarding top-tier Hyatt elite status after just 11 nights
Warning: Hyatt's terms and conditions state that guests must actually stay at a hotel to earn points and elite-qualifying nights. It reads in part: "The Member must actually check-in and complete the stay for his or her reservation at a Point Property to earn points."
If Hyatt finds out that you are not actually completing a stay, or otherwise violating its agreement, the points and night credits could be clawed back after your stay.
My only travel thus-far in 2021 was a 30-mile drive to an airport Hyatt Place hotel where I checked into a sparse lobby, largely scaled back with pandemic precautions, spent very little time in the room and was automatically checked out 11 days later. This left me just one night away from having top-tier Hyatt Globalist status for two years.
Why in the world would someone check into an airport hotel, pay for 11 nights and only spend so little time in the room? The answer lies in the value of the status it unlocks ... and the hope in future travel that it represents.
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Globalist status in the World of Hyatt program is arguably the most valuable hotel elite status tier out there. When fully maximized, TPG has that status level valued at over $5,000 per year. While I think the true value for most travelers these days will be a few notches lower than that number, the value is still massive because of waived resort and parking fees, free (full) breakfast for up to two adults and two children per room, lounge access, suite upgrades and more.
I've had top-tier Hyatt status in the past and can confidently say it is a not only valuable but immensely enjoyable status level to hold. But staying at World of Hyatt properties 60 nights per year to earn the coveted Globalist status has been out of range for me over the past couple of years. Until now.
Here's how I'm earning Hyatt Globalist status that's valid all the way through Feb. 2023 with just 11 paid nights in a Hyatt property ... and why it's worth it for me.
Related: Hyatt makes it easier to earn elite status in 2021 and extends lucrative promotions
Qualification rules cut in half
Because life and travel are still not normal, Hyatt has cut the normal elite qualification thresholds in half for 2021. For Globalist status, that means you can earn it with 30 eligible nights spent at Hyatt properties in 2021, instead of the usual 60 nights.
Not only that, but nights stayed under the Bonus Journeys promotion from Oct. 1 - Dec. 31 counted both toward 2020 elite status earnings and 2021 status earnings. So, not only are the requirements halved in 2021, but you may already have a running head start on status this year with stays from late last year.
Additional shortcuts to status
That same Bonus Journeys promotion that began in October 2020 has now been extended through the end of February 2021 (though new registration is now closed). That means that eligible stays made from Jan. 1 - Feb. 28, 2021, count double toward 2021 status qualifications for those registered for the promotion. For every one night you spend during the first two months of the year, you can earn two night credits toward 2021 elite qualification. This means just 15 eligible nights spent at Hyatt properties during that timeframe could shoot you from zero to Hyatt Globalist hero.
But -- it gets better than that.
Having the World of Hyatt Credit Card normally confers five elite-qualifying nights per year. That drops the number of nights cardholders need to hit Globalist status in 2021 to 25 — or just 13 if you do them all in the first two months of the year. However, those who got approved for a new World of Hyatt card account toward the end of 2020 actually got 10 elite-qualifying nights in both 2020 and again in 2021.
That leaves those lucky cardholders needing just 20 nights in 2021, or 10 if the nights are completed in January or February, while stays count double toward elite status.
Finally, bear in mind that the World of Hyatt card also awards two additional elite-qualifying nights for every $5,000 you spend on the card. And this fits nicely with the current welcome bonus: Earn 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.
Related: How I saved 50,000 points and $400 in fees with this ongoing hotel promotion
Stacking the opportunities
But wait, there's more.
Spending that few nights at a Hyatt to earn top-tier status is insane in all the best ways. However, you can stack on another promotion to log those nights without spending any of your precious cash. Another deal now running through Feb. 28 gives 15 - 25% of your redeemed Hyatt points back for those who registered in time (registration is currently closed). Award nights at a Category 1 Hyatt, of which there are many across the country, are just 5,000 points per night.
That amount effectively drops the true cost to 3,750 points per night for World of Hyatt credit cardholders if you wanted to complete these stays using Hyatt points — though remember that this is a rebate after the stay, not a discount at the time of booking (so you'd need to the full number of points when making the reservation).
Related: 10 surprising ways Hyatt loyalists can earn more points
You can probably see where this stacking is all going. Here's what I did.
(Though I'm not advocating you do exactly what I did, re-read and remember the terms and conditions at the top.)
I had two World of Hyatt night credits from late in 2020 (from a weekend stay booked on points at the Miraval Austin) count towards my 2021 account activity since they fell under that promotion that counted stays in late 2020 and toward 2021.
Next, my World of Hyatt credit card gave me five nights toward 2021 elite status, putting me at seven out of a needed 30 nights before I even started trying.
While I've seen stories of people getting stays for $30 - $40 per night in places like Mexico or India, I'm not in those countries at the moment and won't be making a trip to check-in anytime soon. I searched for the cheapest Hyatt within an easy driving distance in the Houston area and found a pretty good Hyatt Place deal at $60 per night plus taxes and fees.
When I checked into the Hyatt Place in Houston in early-January, I told the check-in agent I really wouldn't be there much, so feel free to assign me the worst room available. (To say I wouldn't be there much may have been an understatement, but it was also true.) This was not her first rodeo.
She quickly deduced I was doing this for the elite status.
In fact, she told me the hotel was actually quite full, with others doing similar stays for status. She seemed pretty happy with the level of business at the moment...even if a sizeable portion of it was due to crazies like me chasing status.
Once my check-out automatically posted after 11-days, I wiped out the entire all-in $772 stay with fixed-value credit card points. This resulted in no cash out-of-pocket cost to my checking account, and a little over 10,000 World of Hyatt points banked at a value of around $170.
The 11 nights earned from the stay posted within a couple of days of check-out. About a week later, the 11 bonus nights posted to my Hyatt account, bringing me to 29 total night credits in 2021.
That means just one night to go to unlock Globalist status through Feb. 2023.
Since we are still mostly sitting tight at home at the moment, the earliest I may use want to my Globalist perks at the moment is for a potential mid-March ski trip, so I'm not rushing yet to book that final needed night right now in case I end up with a real use for it. Alternatively, I very well may unlock it just through spending on my World of Hyatt credit card since you can earn two nights toward status for every $5,000 put on that card. (You can also unlock a second Hyatt category 1 - 4 award with $15,000 in spending on the card each year, making that a pretty solid goal for the year anyway.)
Related: 6 ways to redeem points with the World of Hyatt program
Since losing Hyatt Globalist status a couple of years ago after the threshold to earn it went up, I have really wanted this status back. Hotel status understandably doesn't matter to some. But I know from experience how useful the free full breakfasts (sometimes even available via room service), lounge access, resort and parking fee waivers, the space-available upgrades and more, are for my family. Hyatt Globalist status unquestionably sits at the top of the hotel loyalty program food chain and I'm very much looking forward to once again living the good life at Hyatt hotels in the coming years with Globalist.
The opportunity to earn Globalist status after checking into a hotel for 11 nights -- an admittedly strange endeavor -- was a deal too good to pass up. I know (or at least very strongly hope) I'll more than recoup that investment of $772 worth of fixed-value points I redeemed to wipe out the charge by the time the status expires in Feb. 2023.
Note that the thresholds for Hyatt's milestone awards, such as free nights and confirmed suite upgrades, have not been reduced, so while you can early Hyatt Globalist status with a very small number of nights if you stack opportunities, that doesn't change when you earn the milestone awards along the way. That said, if you are doing a stay under a double night promo, then you will unlock those awards twice as quickly as normal.