A week ago Hyatt released information about their new award chart as well as the list of hotels that will be going up and down in categories beginning January 7, 2014. Most of the information included in that announcement was pretty crummy for Hyatt Gold Passport fans, though in truth it wasn’t as bad as some other recent loyalty program devaluations. I do give them a thumbs up not only for giving decent advanced notice so travelers can lock in reservations at the current rates (book by January 6th!), but they also didn’t try to sugar-coat the devaluation by announcing some modest program improvements at the same time and trying to spin it all as a positive.
Instead, they have waited a week to release the good news that includes a 20% discount off the daily rate for elite members, a new points and cash award chart, and increasing the amount of time that a Hyatt Gold Passport account remains active without any activity before it is closed and the points forfeited. Go here to see some of the details directly from Hyatt.com. All of these enhancements will go into effect on January 7, 2014.
New Points + Cash Option:
If I had a Christmas Wish List for Hyatt it would have included two things…award stays count toward elite status and a cash and points option similar to the Starwood Preferred Guest program. Sadly, they aren’t announcing that award stays count toward status, but they do now have a cash and points option for award stays (and cash and points stays will count toward status)! These awards are subject to availability, and as you will see in the chart below, the cash and points stays charge half of the normal points price and then include a cash component that essentially ranges from 1.2 – 2 cents per point for the other half of the points that aren’t required. Obviously this means that some of the cash and points categories are more lucrative than others.
This new cash and points option strikes me as potentially interesting in categories 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 where the cash component essentially amounts to 1.2 – 1.3 cents per point. Categories 1 and 7 represent 2 cents per point for the cash component of the chart. While I like to get 2 cents value from my Hyatt points, that doesn’t mean I want to buy them at 2 cents each, which is basically what this amounts to. In fact, you can buy Hyatt points right now for as low as 1.85 cents each directly from Hyatt.
If you make a cash and points reservation, the points are immediately deducted from your account and you owe the cash portion when the stay occurs, payable directly to the hotel. Unfortunately, you have to make points and cash reservations over the phone at 1-800-228-3360. Not only will you earn elite status from cash and points stays, but you will also earn points on the cash portion of the cash/points amount.
If you are curious about how this lines up with the SPG cash and points chart, the cash co-pay portion on the SPG award chart ranges from $30 for Category 1 hotels to $275 for Category 7 hotels, and the Hyatt cash co-pay ranges from $50 for Category 1 hotels to $300 for category 7 hotels. As you can likely tell, the cash co-pay portion is a bit lower on average with SPG than Hyatt. With SPG that cash component is essentially a range of 1.5 cents – 2 cents per point for the cash that is making up for the “missing” points in the categories, as opposed to 1.2 – 2 cents per point on the Hyatt chart. In other words, the charts are more or less similar, given that SPG points are generally regarded as a bit more valuable than Hyatt points.
I don’t yet have a definite answer on whether cash and points award stays will be subject to resort charges (award stays purely on points are not subject to resort fees), but I will update when I know for sure. It also remains to be seen how readily available Hyatt cash and point stays will be!
20% Discount off Daily Rate for Elites:
Platinum and Diamond elite members can get 20% off the daily rate on any standard room in 2014 (subject to availability) via the new My Elite Rate. I’ve recently been making good use of a 15% discount thanks to their recent promotion, and that has been a nice discount to have on my reservations, so 20% will be even better!
Once you’re logged in to your Hyatt Gold Passport, look for the My Elite Rate or simply request it when you book a reservation through a Hyatt Worldwide Reservation Center. The My Elite Rate must be booked at the time of reservation. When you stack this with other discounts such as 3% cash rebate via TopCashBack, 5% statement credit on select Hyatts via the Amex OPEN Program, and a 10% discount on purchased Hyatt gift card via MilePoint premium, there are tons of ways to save on Hyatt stays!
Hyatt Accounts Valid for Longer Period of Time with No Activity:
Currently, Hyatt accounts can be closed and the points forfeited when there is no earning or redeeming activity for 12 months. However, Hyatt Gold Passport is increasing the number of months that an account may have no activity before being closed from twelve (12) to twenty-four (24) months. Starting January 7, 2014, an account that accrues no activity for 24 consecutive months will be closed and all Hyatt Gold Passport points in that account will be forfeited. The earliest that an account can be closed under this new policy is January 7, 2016.
This is irrelevant for Hyatt junkies like myself who earn and redeem with regularity, but it will help out some more infrequent Hyatt travelers.
I’m pretty happy about 20% off the daily rate with the My Elite Rate, but since I was already getting 15% off due to the recent Chase promo, this won’t be a huge difference, but it will still help some! The cash and points chart is a nice addition for those running low on points or that are interested in essentially buying points at 1.2 – 2 cents each depending on the category, with categories 2-6 resulting in the best value.
All in all, this round of news is certainly better than the news that Hyatt brought us last week! How does this news stack up for your family?