When booking hotels, you can pay outright for a room or use points for an award/reward night. Plus, there is a wonderful middle ground – the points and cash mixture. The different hotels handle this in different ways but for the most part, it involves a set amount of points per category and a set cash component to go with it (though some hotels allow the property to dictate the cash component).
Hyatt’s Points+Cash Program
One of my favorites is with Hyatt and their Points+Cash system. This rolled out a couple of years ago and I have found it to be very helpful. One of my favorite parts about it is that it counts for qualifying nights/stays towards status and it allows you to use Diamond Suite Upgrades on those reservations – two things that pure point rewards do not allow you to do.
With the Points+Cash system, you are basically paying for the other half of points you are not using. So, a Category 4 costs 15,000 points per night – a Points+Cash reservation costs 7,500 points and $100. In that example, that $100 is essentially paying for 7,500 points. That gives those points a cost of 1.3 cents each – a pretty good price for buying Hyatt points and so a very good redemption.
The Not So Good Values
Category 1 & 7 properties typically present the worst value for the Points+Cash combination. Category 1 hotels are normally cheap enough or a small enough point for a complete reward (5,000 points per night) that it mostly does not make sense to pay the $50 cash component to go along with the 2,500 points for Points+Cash. At the other end of the spectrum, you have Category 7 hotels requiring 15,000 points and a high $300 cash component (instead of paying 30,000 points total). In that case, you are basically paying 2 cents per point for those other 15,000 points. Since many of the Category 7 hotels are costing quite a bit more than $600 per night, you can still get value but it will cost you.
Upsides Of Points+Cash Reservations
Most of my Hyatt reservations end up being Points+Cash reservations. Not only do they count for my status but it is a fixed amount that I always know it is going to cost me and I have never not had availability for a Points+Cash reservation.
It is important to know that Points+Cash rates are not from the same pool as reward nights and the hotels can allocate a certain number of rooms at that particular rate so what you see online is not going to be the best indicator of availability. Even with that, I have always been able to get the night(s) I wanted using Points+Cash. I like it because no matter what the cash cost is for a room, I know it is only going to cost me the cash portion of the category requirement.
Downside Of Points+Cash Bookings
The only bad thing about the whole Points+Cash system is that you cannot book it online yourself. While the reservations team is great (both on the phone and on Twitter) in being able to let you know of availability, I still wish it was something I could see online and book online. If you are in a situation where you cannot find availability on a particular night, that leaves you with calling often to see if it has opened up.
Missed My First Points+Cash Reservation!
And that is what happened with me. I had a trip to a new city for me and really wanted to give the Park Hyatt there a try. Of course, the one night I needed it is the one night in the whole month that it did not have Points+Cash availability! I was so used to always getting my preferred night that I was a bit taken aback by it – what did they mean no availability?! 🙂 To make matters worse, I had already booked my flight and I really had my heart set on staying at this property while there.
It turns out that I will be able to hit a different city for the first night (and will be trying a brand new property that I do not see reviews on yet so stay tuned for that!) and will hit this Hyatt on the following night – which, of course, had Points+Cash availability.
Points+Cash Still Great!
I booked another Points+Cash for New Year’s Eve at a very popular hotel because of the large fireworks show there and they not only had great Points+Cash availability but also suite availability for my Diamond Suite Upgrade and a generous cancellation policy of just 24 hours before. So, now I am back to enjoying my “expected” Points+Cash availability being there when I need it! 🙂
How about you? How has availability been for you with Hyatt’s Points+Cash program?