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Source: Hyatt to Devalue Points + Cash, Add Premium Suite Awards

Oct. 19, 2018
7 min read
Grand Hyatt Kauai
Source: Hyatt to Devalue Points + Cash, Add Premium Suite Awards
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Brace yourselves: we've received word that the World of Hyatt program is set to make a few changes next month. Some are decent, but there's one update that's pretty hard to swallow, and a credible source from the TPG community tells us these changes will go info effect beginning on November 1, 2018, giving you just a week and a half to adjust any plans that will be affected.

While these changes have not been confirmed by Hyatt at this point, we're reporting them given the reliability of the source. We reached out to our contacts at Hyatt for comment but hadn't heard back by the time of publication (we'll be sure to add any response once we receive one).

Let's start with the negative change, and it's a fairly substantial one. Our source indicates that World of Hyatt is set to devalue the Points + Cash award chart. This award is currently one of the best redemptions in the program — you pay 50% of the points required for a free night plus a set amount of cash, the latter of which depends on the category of hotel. This what the current chart looks like:

Beginning November 1, it appears that Points + Cash awards will still require the same number of points, but the paid portion will be changing to 50% of the nightly standard rate for the property. In other words, if a Category 5 hotel is going for $400/night (not a rare occurrence by any means), you'll have to pay 10,000 points + $200 instead of the previous $125.

I use Points + Cash bookings all the time, especially in Categories 2-6. Nightly rates at these properties can skyrocket during peak travel times, but because the surcharge is "fixed" under the current chart, these awards can be quite lucrative. Assuming this change is implemented, it drops the value proposition of Points + Cash significantly: come November 1, it'll no longer be an option get outsized value from the program when paid rates are high. The only benefit to the new redemption scheme is that you'll be able to save points.

Let's consider Boston, a city with generally expensive hotels (and thus a great locale for redeeming current Points + Cash awards). Here's the Hyatt Regency:

Under the current chart, you would pay 7,500 points and $100 for a Points + Cash night, since this is a Category 4 property. This is a substantial savings compared to the full price of the room. However, in just a couple of weeks, your cash copay will more than double to ~$240 (the above screenshot shows the member rate; the standard rate, which will be used in the new chart, is $479).

It's a similar situation at the Category 2 Hyatt Place Boston/Medford, where you'd currently pay 4,000 points and $55.

Under the expected changes, your out-of-pocket expense more than doubles on this night to ~$115.

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This also will have a big impact on family travelers given the popularity of the Hyatt House and Hyatt Place brands. I have extensive experience booking rooms through the World of Hyatt program, and I've found that many of these properties in Category 2, 3 and 4 routinely go for $200, $300 or even more per night, especially in larger cities.

For example, you can currently book the Hyatt House Charleston for 6,000 points and $75. On the sample date below (and assuming these changes are implemented), that award will become 6,000 points and ~$210 in just a couple of weeks.

I've found Points + Cash bookings to be an incredibly valuable tool to get my family one of these rooms. Moving forward, this won't have nearly the outsized value it once did.

Premium Suite Redemptions

On the plus side, I've been told we may soon have the ability to confirm a premium suite using World of Hyatt points. Each full-service Hyatt property has a standard category of suites, and Globalist members can use their Suite Upgrade Award certificates to confirm these rooms in advance. If you don't have any more (or would rather take your chances), Globalist members are also entitled to complimentary upgrades to standard suites at check-in. Beyond that, larger or more exclusive suites are designated as premium suites. These upgraded rooms are not currently open to confirm at booking, nor are they part of the published space-available upgrade policy for Globalist members.

That appears to be changing. As of November 1, we've been told that there will be two ways to confirm a premium suite:

  1. Redeem double the number points required for a standard award night.
  2. Redeem 9,000 points per night for an upgrade.

You can currently upgrade to a standard suite for 6,000 points per night, so adding a 50% premium for higher-level suites seems reasonable. It's also worth noting that this new option will apparently use the same eligibility criteria: you must be booked into at least a deluxe room for this to apply at Hyatt resorts (other properties allow upgrades from standard rooms).

Of course, this leads to a few questions:

  • What will be classified as a deluxe room at a resort to become "eligible" for these upgrades?
  • Will only certain, designated premium suites be available for awards?
  • If so, will there now be a third "ultra-premium" category of suites?

Given the proclivity among many Hyatt properties to play games with award availability, I can see this getting really sticky rather quickly.

Bottom Line

Once again, let me stress that these changes are not yet confirmed, but our source has direct knowledge of the World of Hyatt program and is thus a very reliable one. If the Points + Cash devaluation comes to pass, there's no sugarcoating: it's going to sting. My guess is that this change is related to the reimbursement rate properties were receiving from this type of award night. I expect hotels weren't happy with the payment, and this is certainly a way to boost revenue on these bookings.

On the other hand, premium suite redemptions will be a nice addition to the program. I don't see myself paying double the points for a free night, especially as a Globalist member. I've received complimentary upgrades to these rooms on a few occasions, though it'll be interesting to see if that dries up now that there are new avenues for booking them. On the other hand, I believe 9,000 points per night to upgrade is a great deal, especially since these suites can carry a major premium over standard or deluxe rooms. If you're traveling with your family and need the space or have a special occasion coming up, I'd happily part ways with the points to confirm into a premium suite. However, this comes with the major caveat that properties aren't able to complicate or further restrict the process.

If you've been eyeing a Points + Cash reservation for later this year or into 2019, I'd go ahead and pull the trigger. If and when these changes are formally announced, I expect a run on these reservations, so better to lock them in now rather than risk the availability drying up.

Featured image by Grand Hyatt Kauai