Saturday, November 1, 2014

What can you do with Hyatt points?

As a non-status'd member of the Hyatt loyalty program, you earn 5 points per dollar spent; as a Diamond member, that rate jumps to 6.5 points per dollar. On a $150 stay at a Hyatt as a Diamond member, you could earn (6.5 * $150) = 975 points, plus another 1,000 points as a check-in amenity. So what does one do with all these Hyatt points?

Free nights
Redeeming points for free nights at Hyatt properties is one of the best money-value uses for the points. The number of points required for a redemption varies based on how Hyatt categorizes the property.

Hyatt classifies its properties into Categories 1 through 7. Category 7 is the top tier - almost all of these are luxurious Park Hyatts in first-tier cities such as New York, Paris, and Tokyo. Category 1 includes many properties in not-exactly-glamorous cities such as Pensacola and Corpus Christi, but also includes non-luxury properties in major cities such as Dallas and Atlanta.

The redemption rates for standard rooms by category, according to Hyatt.com:

Source:  Hyatt.com

And for suites:

Source:  Hyatt.com


Suite redemptions are a bit more complicated - you have to redeem for at least three nights and some properties are blacked out.

A room at the Park Hyatt Paris (Category 7) might go for 760 Euro (about 950 USD).  That same room can be had for 30,000 Hyatt points, giving an imputed valuation of about 3.17 cents per point.

Source:  Hyatt.com

These redemptions are often a good deal even at less aspirational properties.  For example, the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque (Category 1) might go for $144 a night, or you could redeem 5,000 Hyatt points for the same room.  That gives an imputed valuation of 2.88 cents per point.

Source:  Hyatt.com

The downside to these redemptions is that you don't earn points for your stay and they don't count toward earning elite status in the Hyatt loyalty program.


Points and Cash
Points and Cash is the other great-money-value redemption option for Hyatt points.  The redemption rates, in comparison to the pure point-redemption rates:

Source:  Hyatt.com

Observant readers will notice that the point-per-dollar ratios change based on the hotel's category:
  • Category 1: $50 saves 2,500 points (2.0 cents per point)
  • Category 2: $55 saves 4,000 points (1.375 cents per point)
  • Category 3: $75 saves 6,000 points (1.25 cents per point)
  • Category 4: $100 saves 7,500 points (1.33 cents per point)
  • Category 5: $125 saves 10,000 points (1.25 cents per point)
  • Category 6: $150 saves 12,500 points (1.2 cents per point)
  • Category 7: $300 saves 15,000 points (2.0 cents per point).
Category 1 and 7 are the sweet spots in the Points and Cash redemption world. On this trip, I used Points and Cash redemptions at the Hyatt Regencies in Tulsa and Wichita (both Category 1).

Points and Cash redemptions are particularly attractive because you still earn points for your spend and the nights count toward elite qualification.  They also count as paid nights for the Hyatt Diamond Challenge.

The remaining redemption options are not as attractive to me, but others might find a use for them:

Upgrades
3,000 points to upgrade to the club level, or 6,000 points to upgrade to a suite.

Unfortunately, you have to book a higher-end room at many properties to qualify for the upgrade. Nevertheless, this is probably the next-best use of Hyatt points after the pure points and Points and Cash redemptions.

Airline Miles
You can transfer to an airline partner at a 2.5 points : 1 mile ratio (with 5,000 bonus miles when you transfer 50,000 points). Although Hyatt allows transfers to most major airlines, the transfer rate is terrible.  Hyatt points are worth roughly the same (or more) as a mile in most airline loyalty programs, so a 2.5:1 transfer rate is almost never a good idea.

Dining / Spa / Parking credit
The dining / spa redemption rate is terrible, ranging from 0.5 cents per point to 0.83 cents per point.

Source:  Hyatt.com

Rental Car
For 6,000 points, you can rent an intermediate-sized car from Avis for one day. That can be a reasonable redemption rate. But the redemption isn't instantaneous; you have to wait for a redemption certificate to arrive in the mail (the website says this takes 4 to 6 weeks).

Conclusion
It's true that redeeming Hyatt points outside of Hyatt hotels isn't a very good value. But that's not the bread and butter of the program. Using Hyatt points for award nights using points (or the Points and Cash program) provides excellent value.

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