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Hyatt Adds Milestone Bonuses, Accelerates Upgrade and Lounge Certificates

Dec. 18, 2018
9 min read
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The World of Hyatt program has undergone some significant changes this year, from the addition of Small Luxury Hotels as a partner to the devaluation of Points & Cash awards. Today it's announcing yet another update and the news is almost entirely positive. Starting Mar 1, 2019, the program is adding new milestone bonuses and adjusting the timing of when you'll earn upgrade and club lounge awards. It's also previewing some tweaks to existing benefits that'll kick in for 2020.

There are quite a few nuances here, so let's dive in.

Current Milestones

Under the current World of Hyatt program, your milestones are limited to the three elite status levels in the program (Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist) plus additional qualification thresholds and perks beyond the 60 nights it takes to earn Globalist:

  • 10 nights or 25,000 base points: Discoverist status
  • 30 nights or 50,000 base points: Explorist status
  • 60 nights or 100,000 base points: Globalist status
  • 70, 80, 90 and 100 nights: 10,000 bonus points or an additional suite upgrade award at each threshold

The good news is that these qualification thresholds are not changing. However, as of Mar. 1, 2019, the program is changing how upgrade awards are granted during the year and will also be adding a new choice benefit for reaching 40 nights.

New Milestones

Here's a quick table that summarizes how these new milestones will play out in comparison to the current scheme:

Qualification ThresholdCurrent ProgramNew Program (as of Mar. 1, 2019)
20 nights or 35k base pointsNothingTwo Club Upgrade Awards
30 nights or 50k base pointsExplorist status, four Club Upgrade AwardsExplorist status, two additional Club Upgrade Awards
40 nights or 65k base pointsNothingChoice of 5,000 bonus points, $100 Hyatt gift card or 10,000 points off a FIND experience redemption
50 nights or 80k base pointsNothingTwo Suite Upgrade Awards
60 nights or 100k base pointsGlobalist status, four Suite Upgrade AwardsGlobalist status, two additional Suite Upgrade Awards
70, 80, 90 and 100 nights10,000 bonus points or one additional Suite Upgrade Award10,000 bonus points or one additional Suite Upgrade Award

As you can see, these changes are almost universally positive. The 40-night choice benefit is brand new, so anyone who typically surpasses this threshold will take home at least $90 of additional value (how much the 5,000 bonus points are worth based on TPG's most recent valuations). In addition, the quantity of upgrade awards remains the same, but you'll now be earning two of them earlier in the year.

These new milestones will benefit two distinct groups of individuals:

  1. Elites who'll already qualify for Explorist/Globalist: If you typically qualify for Explorist or Globalist status based on nights each year, these changes should be a boon for you. Instead of waiting to earn new Club Upgrade Awards or Suite Upgrade Awards at 30 or 60 nights (respectively), you'll now receive those earlier in the calendar year. Since these certificates are tied to the validity period of your status (as opposed to when they are awarded), you won't have to worry about the "early" ones expiring before the "later" ones. And the milestone bonus at 40 nights is a new perk that wasn't previously available to anyone.
  2. Travelers who can't quite reach Explorist/Globalist: If you're a traveler who can't always complete the requirements to earn Explorist or Globalist status, this change will also benefit you. A member with 20 or 22 qualifying nights in a calendar year previously received Discoverist status without many tangible perks; now that individual will enjoy a pair of Club Upgrade Awards. And if you can't get to Globalist, but can reach 40 or even 50 nights, you'll now be awarded for that incremental activity.

In addition, I confirmed that elite nights earned through spending on The World of Hyatt Credit Card will count as qualifying activity towards these milestone bonuses, giving cardholders an added incentive to spend money on the card to reach the above thresholds.

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It's Not All Good News (in 2020)

The juice bar at China Grill's breakfast buffet.
It'll be slightly harder for some members to requalify for Globalist status starting in 2020.

With any changes, there are bound to be some members that come out behind, and that is the case here. There are a few aspects of these updates that may negatively impact select travelers, though none of them will be implemented until 2020, giving you time to rethink your strategy.

Club Upgrade Awards will be based solely on activity

The first negative change involves Club Upgrade Awards. Starting Mar. 1, 2019, these upgrades will only be awarded based on nights stayed or base points earned through qualifying activity. In other words, they will no longer be granted solely with Explorist status. There are a few groups that stand to lose from this change:

  • Members downgrading with a "soft landing" from Globalist: If you're a Globalist member who doesn't requalify for any status, the World of Hyatt program will generally offer you a "soft landing" to Explorist status. On Mar. 1, 2019, Globalists downgrading to Explorist will receive four Club Upgrade Awards. Starting in 2020, you must reach the thresholds above (20 and 30 nights) to earn these upgrades.
  • Legacy Hyatt credit card holders: If you chose not to upgrade your old Hyatt credit card to the new one when it launched earlier this year, you could still earn Explorist status by spending $50,000 on the card in a calendar year. In 2019, this will include four Club Upgrade Awards. Starting in 2020, you can still earn Explorist status with this level of spend; it just won't come with the upgrades.
  • Those who match to Explorist status (from Mlife or elsewhere): For years, you have been able to match from Mlife to World of Hyatt (and back again) and enjoy perks in both programs. That isn't totally going away, but if you were matching Mlife NOIR, Platinum or Gold status to Hyatt Explorist status and enjoying the four club lounge access certificates, that specific perk will be ending, as the awards will be given based on activity in the World of Hyatt program starting Mar. 1, 2019. As a result, these Mlife elites will want to match their status before Mar. 1, 2019 in order to receive four Club Upgrade Awards before the changes take effect. It's also likely that this will impact those who status match to Explorist from other programs, though we've reached out to Hyatt to confirm this.

Note that if you fall into the second category, it may be time to upgrade to the new World of Hyatt Credit Card. By spending $50,000 on that card instead of the legacy card, you'd take home 25 elite-qualifying night credits (five for having the card and another 20 based on spending). This would get you two Club Upgrade Awards and put you just five nights away from the remaining two.

Club lounge access benefits start earlier

There will be no "discounted" Globalist re-qualification

Another important change in 2020 will impact some current Globalist members. Under the existing elite status program, you qualify for Globalist status by completing 60 nights or earning 100,000 base points in a calendar year. However, if you already have Globalist status, you only need to complete 55 nights to re-qualify. This perk is remaining in 2019, but starting in 2020, you must complete 60 nights (or earn 100k base points) in a calendar year to earn Globalist status, regardless of your current elite tier.

With Hyatt's limited footprint, this may have been an appealing perk to loyal members who struggle to get all the way to that 60-night threshold each year. That being said, the program has added over 50 Small Luxury Hotels of the World to its portfolio this year and plans to add more over the coming months. It's also hoping to integrate 85+ properties from Two Roads Hospitality in 2019. And if you don't currently have The World of Hyatt Credit Card and are concerned about covering the additional five elite nights you'll need to re-qualify in 2019, you should grab the card now, since it automatically includes five elite night credits (plus two more for every $5,000 you spend each year).

There's one other small wrinkle to this change. Since the new milestone bonuses kick in starting Mar. 1, 2019 but the 55-night re-qualification criteria won't be phased out until 2020, an existing Globalist member from 2018 who completes 55 - 59 nights in 2019 will still re-qualify for Globalist status but will only earn two Suite Upgrade Awards (since the remaining two will only be granted by completing 60+ nights). As a result, it would be in your best interest to push for the 60-night threshold in 2019 to make sure you grab the full number of upgrade certificates (four) to which you've become accustomed.

Bottom Line

It's great to see Hyatt add incremental perks to reward its members throughout the year, not just for reaching the different tiers of elite status. While there are a few minor drawbacks to these changes, most won't impact anything until 2020, so I think it's safe to assume that the majority of members with activity in the World of Hyatt program will see this as a net positive. Those who match from elsewhere to enjoy some mid-level perks will not enjoy these changes as much.

It's also worth noting that the Hilton Honors program added milestone bonuses in its 2018 program changes, so I certainly hope this is a trend that'll expand to other programs in 2019.

Featured image by The Pool Suite at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. (Image courtesy of hotel)

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