Savvy Saturday: How to make Hyatt free night certificates more valuable

Sep 11, 2021

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Editor’s note: Some travel cards come with perplexing benefits that are tricky to maximize. This article is part of a series that shows you unique, fun and unintended ways to use your credit card benefits. If you’ve got any questions or have an example of a surprising way to maximize a credit card perk, tweet us @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.


The single greatest benefit of the World of Hyatt Credit Card is its annual free night certificate, valid at Category 1-4 hotels. You’ll receive one of these certificates after every cardmember anniversary, and an additional certificate during each calendar year when you spend $15,000 on the card.

These Hyatt certificates can easily be worth hundreds of dollars, depending on which hotel you choose to redeem them at. For example, you could use one for a night at the Chicago Athletic Association, where room rates regularly run $300+ per night.

There’s a problem, however: Free night certificates from the World of Hyatt Card expire 12 months after they’re issued. Is there anything you can do to prevent losing out on these valuable certificates? The answer is yes — and you may even be able to increase their value.

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Chicago Athletic Association (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

The secret: Ask Hyatt for points

World of Hyatt has become more lenient about pushing the expiration date of free night certificates during the coronavirus pandemic. They know some customers still aren’t traveling as frequently as before.

If you contact Hyatt around the time your free night award is scheduled to expire, a customer service representative may be willing to extend the date for you. With my own certificates set to expire in November, I did some digging around on various online loyalty forums and traveler boards that I frequently check. There, I found several data points of Hyatt members receiving 10,000-15,000 points in exchange for their expiring certificates. If this were a regularly available option, it would be a game-changer in a number of ways.

Category 4 hotels cost 15,000 points per night — so receiving a certificate from your World of Hyatt Card for a free night at a Category 1-4 hotel is like receiving up to 15,000 Hyatt points each year. But only in a way.

You see, we don’t value free night certificates as highly as their points equivalent for two specific reasons:

  1.  It will only cover one night. If you book a Hyatt hotel that costs less than 15,000 points, you’ll lose the certificate’s remaining potential value. That can still be worthwhile, but it is limiting.
  2. You can’t use the certificate for a hotel that costs more than 15,000 points. For example, you can’t book a Hyatt hotel that costs 20,000 points by splitting your payment between certificate and points.

While free night certificates are still great, they’re simply not as versatile as points. The ability to convert Hyatt free night certificates into Hyatt points would be amazing. And World of Hyatt representatives apparently have the power to do it.

To find out what my options are, I contacted my Hyatt Globalist concierge. She’s fantastic and has been extremely helpful with various requests about my Hyatt stays so far this year. I emailed her to see if she could, in fact, convert a certificate into points upon expiration. She was out of the office, but her colleague emailed back with the answer I was hoping for.

My jaw nearly dropped when I read that. Straight from the horse’s mouth, my Hyatt rep confirmed, “…we will be able to provide you with the points for the expired award.”

I wondered, was this some kind of exception for me personally, as an elite with top-tier Globalist status perhaps? I decided to ask a different source — one that any Hyatt member has access to: The @HyattConcierge team on Twitter. They’ve always helped with my requests and queries in the past.

The Hyatt Concierge danced around my question a bit, but the essence of their answer did not contradict my personal concierge. In short, they said they would extend the certificate expiration once. The Twitter rep said, “At this time we are not offering points for awards that are still active.” That was the same info as my concierge, who said I must reach out “after it has expired.”

Concerning exchanging the certificate for points, the Twitter concierge goes on, “[T]hat might be an option, depending on the circumstances and various factors.”

In other words, the answer to my question is “not no,” but also far from a resounding “yes.” This has dramatically changed my view of Hyatt free night certificates. Currently, if I’ve got a certificate expiring, I search for a way to use it so I don’t forfeit its value. But now I just may keep them to convert them into points after they expire since I’m not traveling much nowadays. It’s a gamble, for sure, but one I might be willing to take.

Bottom line

Based on multiple data points online, and even from Hyatt representatives, it’s possible to effectively liquidate your Hyatt free night certificates into 15,000 points after they expire.

As you can see from the above screenshots, your results may vary, but my takeaway is this: Hyatt reps have the power to convert your Category 1-4 free night certificates into points. You might simply have to ask until you find someone who’s willing to do it.

I’ll gladly hang onto a card that offers me potentially 30,000 Hyatt points per year (one every cardmember anniversary and one for spending $15,000 in a calendar year) for a $95 annual fee, so I don’t plan on ditching my World of Hyatt Card anytime soon. Especially if this type of certificate exchange remains possible and I’m able to take advantage of it each year.

Featured photo by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy.

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