Yesterday, Hyatt confirmed what had been rumored for more than a week – the fantastic Points+Cash redemption awards were changing. This was something that many (myself included) were dreading and it was actually what we had hoped it would not be. At the same time, they opened the doors for many other redemptions that were not previously available so let’s look at it all.
Who are the Winners and Losers with the New Hyatt Awards?
These changes will be coming November 1, 2018!
Before we jump into it, there is one big asterisk with some of this. There are some Hyatt hotels that have been known to play with suite classifications in the past. Will they do that even more now that you can use points to book into premium suites? Like throw an extra chair in a room or a different view and call it premium? That remains to be seen.
The Losers with the New Hyatt Awards
Basic Points+Cash Redemption Users
Hyatt took the fixed rate Points+Cash chart and just ruined it for basic redemptions – no other way to say that. Instead of a Category 3 costing 6,000 points and $75, it will now cost that same 6,000 points and 50% of whatever the standard rate is. For many hotels that had great value with the Points+Cash chart, this is going to be terrible.
For example, the Hyatt Place Washington DC/White House (category 3) will go from costing you 6,000 points and $75 to 6,000 points and $190 for a randomly selected night (since that is half the cost of the standard rate).
If you used your Hyatt points with Points+Cash redemptions to stretch them out (like I did), we are really big time losers with this new change.
Mini Rant: While I really don’t like it, I understand Hyatt making this change because it was a great way to get exceptional value from the Hyatt points. However, why in the world would Hyatt continue charging 50% of the points needed for a regular award? To me, that is just extremely greedy. That should have been a more fixed rate across all categories similar to Wyndham or SPG had for their Rack Rate (though I am thankful that Hyatt went for the Standard Rate and not Rack!).
Travelers Who Book and Forget
Back to the point above, since you will pay 50% of the standard rate at the time of booking, you will now need to keep checking your reservation over time to see if the rates have dropped so you can save money. For me, I love booking a hotel for when I need it and just not checking on it anymore. Now, I will need to check from time to time to see if the price came down so I can rebook and save.
Globalists Who Valued the United Club Passes
Hyatt took the opportunity yesterday to also announce that they will no longer be sending Globalist members their 2 United Club passes each year. Since you can purchase them on eBay for around $25, that is about $50 in value if you were able to use them. While I am sure that change will not dissuade a Globalist member from re-qualifying, it does seem like a somewhat petty change. At the same time, it never was really a match to offer a hotel’s most frequent guests a specific airline club pass.
Possibly Globalist Members?
We will dive into this in the next section but one of the changes was now allowing any member to redeem points for suites or to upgrade on paid nights to suites without having a minimum night stay.
I could see this as being a problem for some Globalist members at hotels with a poor ratio of suites to standard rooms. Because Globalist members are only upgraded at the time of checkin (unless using one of their 4 suite upgrade coupons), people who want to secure those suites ahead of time with points could make those upgrades harder to come by.
This will remain to be seen. I would think it shouldn’t be a problem at larger hotels or convention-focused hotels but at the smaller properties or hotels with low suite-to-room ratio, I think it could be.
The Winners with the New Hyatt Awards
The Individual Hotels
I list them first because there is no doubt in my mind that this Points+Cash change was the product of many dissatisfied hotels with how little they were getting from this redemption method. If their regular rates were over $400 and they were only getting $75 plus what Hyatt paid them for 6,000 points, they were really losing out.
Families (that have points!)
One of the things I enjoyed most about being a Hyatt Diamond (and then Globalist) member were the suites, especially the ones I could confirm at the time of booking. I would typically do this when I was traveling with my family and we wanted space for everyone.
Now, any member can redeem points for standard suites or premium suites. They can do this with outright points or as a Points+Cash mix. It will not be cheap! However, if a family is going on holiday somewhere, it is nice to know they can book a suite big enough to hold them all.
So, you could redeem 24,000 points per night at a Category 4 for a Standard Suite (what a Globalist would receive) which is an increase of 9,000 points per night over a regular room. That certainly beats using 30,000 points per night for 2 rooms (in fact, you could book a premium suite for the same amount that 2 rooms would cost).
Travelers Staying Less Than 3 Nights
Most of my hotel stays in a year are under 3 nights. In the past, if I wanted to use points to stay in a suite, I would have to book for a minimum of 3 nights. With these new Hyatt award changes, that minimum is gone!
Travelers on Paid Nights
With the new awards, travelers that normally pay for their rooms can now use points to upgrade, again without a minimum stay requirement. This can be great if someone is traveling for work and they want a larger room or the room rates are just really cheap.
Travelers Doing Off-Peak Travel
This is the one way that the new Points+Cash scheme could work out pretty nicely for travelers that like to travel during off-peak times (for the location they are visiting).
Let’s check out a couple of examples.
Park Hyatt Mallorca
Under the new Hyatt award changes, this would switch to 10,000 points and 50% of the standard rate. For much of the off-peak season, standard night rates are actually less than $250. This means you will pay less for each night than you would under the current Points+Cash.
With some rates even coming in at under $200 per night, you could even do a paid stay and then use 6,000 or 9,000 points to upgrade to a suite or premium suite. That means that for $80 more per night and 1,000 fewer points, the new program could let you get a premium suite for what the current program would just give a basic room! Not bad!
Grand Hyatt Athens
This is a brand new Grand Hyatt that opened this summer and it is a Category 3. This would require 12,000 points for a free night or 6,000 points and $75 under the current Points+Cash rules.
For many of the off-peak season dates, it is actually possible to pay less than $150 for a standard night. This means that you would be paying less each night than you would with the current P+C rates.
Or, you could pay the $100+ per night and use either 6,000 points or 9,000 points to upgrade to a suite or premium suite that would cost over $340 per night. Either way, this makes the new change much more friendly to a property like this under the new system.
Those are just a couple of examples that I am most familiar with but you could probably find many similar examples at hotels around the world during off-peak season.
Like everything else in this miles and points world, changes come. We can either cut up our loyalty cards and swear we will never use a particular hotel or airline again or we can try to adapt and find a way to still achieve value under the new system. I would venture that very few people are as disappointed with the loss of the current Points+Cash system than I am (most of my annual hotel nights are booked using them). At the same time, I am going to try and find ways to still get great value out of my Hyatt points and to put these new award possibilities to the test.