How to Pick a Hotel Rewards Program: Hyatt Gold Passport

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This week I got an email from a reader newer to the miles and points world who is starting the planning process for some vacations before deciding which hotel programs they are going to focus their earnings in.  For the record, this is the right way to start your miles and points journey.  You will come out better if you decide how you want to use your points before you get too far into earning them, at least in the beginning.

Anyway this reader wanted to know how I pick which hotel rewards programs to focus on for my family.  I thought this was a great question and I started to answer it all in one post, only to realize the post was turning into an epic novel.  Instead, I am going to devote a series to the topic by focusing on the pros and cons of one hotel program at at time.  I’ll then do a wrap-up post at the end for those who might not need quite as much info on the programs.  What better program to start with than Hyatt Gold Passport, so here we go.

Hyatt Gold Passport Excels for Top Tier Redemptions, Family Centered Resorts:

Hyatt is one of my very favorite hotel chains and award programs in large part due to the redemptions we are able to make for their top-end properties in great locations, as well as for their family-centered resorts.  I have been able to use a reasonable number of points to stay in amazing hotels like the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, Andaz Maui, Park Hyatt Tokyo, and other pretty high end and amazing properties that I would not be able to afford with cash.  I think this is an area where Hyatt excels thanks to the two free nights with the Hyatt Visa, as well as the award chart topping out at 25,000 and 30,000 points for Category 6 and 7 hotels.

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Suite at Andaz Maui

The other type of Hyatt redemption that we think is very strong are their family oriented resorts.  Properties such as Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, Hyatt Hyatt Grand Cypress, Ziva Los Cabos, and Hyatt Regency Aruba cater to various members of the family in gorgeous settings and with activities and amenities that are pretty high end as far as resorts go.  Since these are all locations that are popular with families, the cash prices during school breaks can get crazy…and that is exactly when we use points.  Assuming there is a standard room available for sale, you can book it with points for the same points price, regardless of demand periods.  These Hyatt resorts are usually in the Category 5-6 range for 20,000 – 25,000 Hyatt points per night.  Many of them also have Regency Clubs that you can visit to get snacks and drinks thanks to either having Diamond status, or via spending some additional points or cash to upgrade.

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Grand Hyatt Kauai is a family paradise

Hyatt Okay for Mid-Range Properties at Fair Point Prices:

I think Hyatt’s real strength is at the top end and their resorts, but they are a decent option in the mid-range or even for their family friendly Hyatt Place/Hyatt House properties.  Some of their Hyatt Regency type properties in medium-sized cities can be a little sterile, but that’s okay if all you are looking for is a clean and affordable place to sleep at night.  Category 1 properties start at just 5,000 points per night, and they can be totally decent properties such as the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

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HR Wichita is not bad for 5k points per night

Hyatt’s footprint is relatively small compared to other major chains, so you won’t find a Hyatt everywhere (especially in small towns or outside the United States), but if there is a Hyatt, it is likely to be priced for a fair number of points.  For example, the Hyatt Regency Austin in downtown Austin is 15,000 points per night whereas the W Austin a few blocks away is 20,000 – 25,000 SPG points per night.  The Hyatt may not be as “stylish or hip” as the W, but it is a much more reasonable number of easier to obtain points.

 Hyatt Diamond Status is Very Rewarding:

If you travel pretty frequently, it is worth noting that Hyatt Diamond status is very rewarding, even when you are traveling on points.  Earning Diamond status requires 25 annual eligible stays or 50 annual eligible nights.  Starting this year cash + points nights will count toward elite status qualification, but pure award stays still do not.  If you are fortunate enough to achieve Diamond status you will: earn 30% more on base points, get a choice of 1,000 points or a food/beverage amenity at full service Hyatt hotels on each stay, earn four confirmed suite upgrades per year (you can even use them on cash + points reservation), and get club access or full breakfast for all registered members of the room each day.

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Room service breakfast at Park Hyatt Paris Vendome = free for Diamond guests

Hyatt Diamond status is by far the most rewarding hotel elite status for families thanks to the breakfast/club access benefit and the confirmed suite upgrades.  It makes family vacations more comfortable and enjoyable thanks to being able to have some extra room to spread out, and be able to eat breakfast on property without spending any extra money.  Hyatt even offers a “Diamond Challenge” that gives you temporary Hyatt Diamond Status (complete with the four suite upgrades) for 60 days.  You  get to keep the status if you complete 12 eligible nights in those 60 days.  You do need to have elite status with a competitor such as Hilton (Gold or Platinum), SPG (Platinum), Marriott (Gold or Platinum), or IHG Rewards (Platinum) to request the challenge.  You can send an email to goldpassport at hyatt.com to request the challenge.

Another relatively new elite perk for both Platinum and Hyatt Diamond members is access to the “My Elite Rate” which is 20% off the daily rate, and is often the lowest rate when it is offered.

Hyatt Points are Relatively Easy to Obtain:

Another thing that makes Hyatt a big winner in my points-obsessed mind is that the points are relatively easy to earn for those of us with access to rewards credit cards.  At Hyatt hotels you earn five Hyatt Gold Passport points for every eligible dollar spent at Hyatt at their spas, in their restaurants, or on your nightly hotel charges.  Platinum members can earn a 15% point bonus and Diamond members a 30% bonus on those amounts.  Diamond members can also get a 500 – 1,000 Diamond amenity bonus per stay.

If you have the Hyatt Visa you earn 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt properties, 2 points per dollar at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies, and 1 point per dollar on most everything else.  This means that if you had a $150 hotel night as a Diamond member with the Hyatt Visa you would earn 750 base points + 225 bonus points + 1,000 bonus points from the Diamond amenity + 450 points for using your Hyatt Visa to pay.  That is a total of 2,425 points for a mid-range stay, and that is before any promotions are considered.  Without any elite status or Hyatt credit cards the earning would just be the 750 base points.  Hyatt usually has a couple of promotions each year that make earning points on eligible stays a bit easier.

The good news is that since Hyatt is a 1:1 transfer partner from Chase Ultimate Rewards you don’t have to have lots of Hyatt stays in order to rack up Hyatt points!  Cards like the  Ink Plus® Business Card,  Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or Ink Bold® Business Card rack up Ultimate Rewards that can be instantly transferred to Gold Passport.  The Chase Freedom®  also earns points that transfer 1:1 to Hyatt as long as you also have one of the above mentioned Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards.  What makes this really handy is when you are taking advantage of the 5x and 2x bonus earning categories on these cards, as that makes the earning add up in a hurry.  For example, just $1,000 in spending a month on a card like the Ink Plus or Ink Bold in their 5x bonus categories such as cell phone expenses, internet, landline, cable, or office supply stores results in 5,000 Ultimate Reward points that can be transferred to Hyatt.  Compare that to the number of points earned for a typical Hyatt stay, and you can see how powerful and relevant these cards are to Hyatt Gold Passport.

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Use points to float the river at Hyatt Lost Pines

Save Money on Hyatt Stays:

In addition to the My Elite Rate for Hyatt elites, you can save money pretty easily on Hyatt stays by booking your reservations by going through Ebates or TopCashBack to get anywhere from 2% – 5% cash back on your reservation.  Note that these don’t always track perfectly or work with all rates, but it is nice when it works!  You can also get 5% back in a statement credit on eligible stays via the American Express OPEN program and when you use cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.  This is valid at select Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency and Hyatt hotels within the U.S.  I will also add that the 5% statement credit is reported to work when buying Hyatt gift cards online…

Using Hyatt Points:

Hyatt has seven categories of hotels that range from 5,000 – 30,000 points per night for a standard room.  You can also use a higher number of points each night to secure a club room or a suite.

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Grand Club at GH Kauai

Category 1:

5,000 points for standard room

7,000 points for a club room

8,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 2,500 points + $50

Category 2:

8,000 points for a standard room

12,000 points for a club room

13,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 4,000 points + $55

Category 3:

12,000 points for a standard room

17,000 points for a club room

20,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 6,000 points + $75

Category 4:

15,000 points for a standard room:

21,000 points for a club room

24,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 7,500 points + $100

Category 5:

20,000 points for a standard room

27,000 points for a club room

32,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 10,000 points + $125

Category 6:

25,000 points for a standard room

33,000 points for a club room

40,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 12,500 points + $150

Category 7:

30,000 points for a standard room

39,000 points for a club room

48,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 15,000 points + $300

The all-inclusive properties and Hyatt Residence Club properties have their own award charts that can be found here.  Another potentially good use of points is paying 3,000 points per night on top of your paid rate to upgrade to a club room or 6,000 points per night on top of a paid rate to upgrade to a suite.  There are some nuisances about eligible rates that can be found here.

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Little C using the “bath phone” to express her happiness with the Andaz 5th Ave Suite Upgrade

Hyatt doesn’t have a 5th night free, discounted weekend point rates, or “nights and flights” option the way that some hotel programs do, but instead they offer fair point prices 365 days a year.  I find their customer service to generally be very good, and the folks running the Gold Passport program seem to be very interested in keeping the program great.  The addition of the cash and points award chart this year has been good, though it will be better when availability can be searched online instead of having to call.  I love that you can use a Diamond Confirmed Suite upgrade on a cash and points reservation – especially for some of the very nice Category 5 and 6 properties.

The exceptional family resorts and high end properties, the ease at which points can be earned (especially through Ultimate Rewards), the customer service, elite status perks, and fair redemption prices make Hyatt Gold Passport a very popular hotel rewards program within my family.

Does your family utilize the Hyatt Gold Passport program?  What features make it a winner (or loser) for your family?

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a rewards credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, thanks for your support.

Comments

  1. A huge fan of HGP and Diamond benefits. Also, your video review of Andaz Maui was very helpful – enjoyed the same suite on a stay a month later. Great hotel. Just IMO, Andaz Maui is more of an adult hotel, especially when considering the other Wailea hotel options – Andaz almost stands out as a adult refuge (vs Fairmont and Grand Wailea)

  2. Hyatt has been our absolute go-to brand. We’ve used points to stay at the PHV(beautiful property wayyy beyond using cash…$900/night?), Andaz Costa Rica, Union Square in NYC and next month Grand Cypress and Clearwater Beach.
    Well run company, very nice properties and point rates that are quite fair, IMO.
    Their co-branded card is a must also, excellent benefits.

  3. It’s not really emphasized in your write-up, but the Hyatt credit card does offer you Platinum status as long as you keep the card. While it is not Diamond, I’ve found they’ve treated me very well as a Platinum. I do enjoy the Hyatt Hotels.

  4. I need to be a decenter on the opening paragraph. Speculative use of points is not always the best way to start the program; rather, realistic ability to earn the points should be considered first. that is, what points do I have access to?
    .
    For instance, I would love to have Hyatt as my go to hotel program. I have 24 nights over twelve stays per year minimum with about $250-300 per stay for work, and would love to qualify Hyatt Diamond and channel my points into this program. However, it isn’t realistic, as the only hotels with range of my work sites are usually IHG, with some Hampton Inns (luckily!) being built. Heck, they don’t even have a proper Hyatt in Portland, OR (my metro home) for stay-cations!
    .
    I still have my Hyatt card from Chase, which is useful for the free night, but for spending, I’d rather put it toward airline miles and use my Hilton points for hotels, since I inherently need to stay at those.
    .
    In the end, I would love to go with Hyatt 100%, but their footprint is just terrible.

  5. TFK, I agree it is more of a “top end hotel” than a family resort…though I could certainly see how families would have a great time, especially if they take advantage of the free kids club for kids 5+! Glad you enjoyed the video review.
    Geoff, totally agree. Jealous you have made it to the new Andaz in Costa Rica!
    Clare, glad Plat has been a good benefit for you!
    Chris, I think we are talking about the same approach, but perhaps in different ways. Basically you need to figure out which program will work best for you for and then focus on it. I would argue that Hyatt is still a good option if they have hotels where you want to vacation thanks to UR making Hyatt points pretty easy to earn outside of actual travel, but you are right their footprint is on the smaller side.

  6. FWIW… Hyatt platinum status gets you the elite rate, which is 20% off, so in a way you do get 1 night free, just not using points. This could make sense for some stays where cash is the better way to go than using points, especially when traveling off-peak.

  7. Great post. One thing that you didn’t mention was Hyatt’s partnership with MGM properties. Anything that you charge to your room in Vegas (ie show tickets) gives you extra Hyatt points in the end. Plus, Platinum status converts to MGM Gold status-good enough for a separate (shorter) line for the restaraunts. Not a huge perk, but nice when things are crowded.

  8. Love Hyatt and they have one of the best programs out there. However, Hyatt’s small footprint of properties really makes it difficult for me as a business user. Most of my hotel stays are for business and it is hard to compete with Marriott and Hilton when you travel to smaller cities in the US. I always try to stay at a Hyatt property but most of the times they don’t have any properties available where I go.

  9. I think one thing that would be useful to remind families is program loyalty does not always make sense for everyone. With the qualifications requirements for each program to reach top tier often one is best served if they base their loyalty on price as the money saved can buy those extras which are only granted at the whim of particular hotels.

    • To be clear I don’t think everyone should be loyal to a program for paid stays…this was more in the context of focusing your points earning for redemptions. You need to know where to focus, especially at first, or you may end up with a few points in a lot of programs, but not enough to do anything useful with.

  10. @mommypoints

    can you do a small post on using points just for upgrades? i heard this was possible if you pay for the room, but i don’t know what rules there are surrounding it. can it be used for any discount rates, like elite rate, AAA, etc? do you need more points to upgrade at a cat 6 hyatt than a cat 4? etc. Would be nice to have a breakdown from someone who knows the game 🙂

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