Book Now before Hyatt Award Chart Changes on January 7

Hyatt made several changes to its Gold Passport program last year, most of which kick in on January 7. These include the usual category shifts as some hotels move higher or lower but also more dramatic changes like a new Category 7 award rate and new Points + Cash awards.

I advise that you consider your travel plans for the next year and book now using the old award chart. If you change your mind, you can still move some dates around through February 15 or outright cancel the award.

New Category 7 Properties

This has the potential to be the most expensive change. Six hotels, plus the new Park Hyatt New York (which has yet to open) will be part of the new Category 7 and will cost 30,000 points per night instead of the current 22,000 points. I don’t personally consider this a great loss since I haven’t stayed at any and don’t plan to in the near future, but those who do should act soon. The affected properties are:

  • Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
  • Park Hyatt Milan
  • Park Hyatt Paris Vendome
  • Park Hyatt Sydney
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo
  • Park Hyatt Zurich

Changes to Category 4

Beyond the new Category 7, several hotels are moving up or down. The changes don’t matter too much except for those that are moving in and out of Category 4. Everyone who holds the Hyatt Visa credit card receives a free night each year that can be used at a Category 4 or lesser hotel. I like to use mine for New Year’s Eve. If you plan to use your free night at any of these hotels moving to Category 5, book it now. Two other hotels are moving down to Category 4, but they aren’t likely to be on most people’s radar.

Leaving Category 4

  • Andaz West Hollywood
  • Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile
  • Hyatt Place New York/Midtown South
  • Park Hyatt Melbourne

Moving to Category 4

  • Hyatt Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi
  • Hyatt Regency Changbaishan

A much larger list of properties remaining in Category 4 (including, for the moment, the ones leaving Category 4) can be found on Hyatt’s website. You can also find a list of all other hotels changing in and out of other categories.

Smaller Increases for Most Other Categories

If you plan to book a room in one of the hotels remaining in Categories 1-6, then I don’t think you have much to worry about. The increases are smaller than what you find for hotels moving to Category 7, and for Categories 1-4 there is no increase at all for standard free night awards. But Category 5 will move from 18,000 to 20,000 points per night, and Category 6 will move from 22,000 to 25,000 points per night. Other changes will increase the number of points required for free night awards on club floors or in suites.

Hyatt Award Chart Changes

The people who should worry about this change are those who know they have upcoming travel plans. Book now and save a few thousand points rather than waiting and paying more. For example, I have plans to take my family to the Andaz Maui for a week. Duh! I should book this Category 6 hotel now and save 3,000 points per night. I know the exact week, and if I need to shuffle dates after pinning down flights I can still do that through February 15.

Points + Cash Awards

Hyatt is introducing some other changes, but these are program enhancements and won’t be available to you right now. I bring them up so you can incorporate them into your greater plans.

New Points + Cash awards will save you money by letting you pay half in points and half with cash. Unlike traditional free night awards, these will be treated for most intents and purposes as traditional revenue rates. This means you can:

  • Earn credit toward elite status
  • Earn credit toward promotions
  • Redeem Diamond suite upgrades

But we don’t really know how much availability there is going to be or how that will be affected by other award bookings.

The best value for Points + Cash awards depends on which you value more: elite status or points? In the example of a Category 7 award for 15,000 points and $300, you could view it as a cost of 2 cents per point not redeemed. If you value your points at 1.5 cents each, this is a bad deal because you “pay” more than they’re worth. But if I redeem a free night award, I don’t earn status, which is very important to me, and I can’t redeem one of my suite upgrades, which is particularly valuable at such an exclusive property.

Hyatt Points + Cash Award Chart

The “cost per point” ranges from 1.2 to 2 cents depending on the award level. Given points are worth somewhere around the 1.5 cents range, it would seem to be a bad deal to book Points + Cash awards at for Categories 1 and 7. But I prefer to look at this as a way to pay only $300 a night for a suite at a very nice hotel and use some of the points and suite upgrades that tend to accumulate in my account. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

My Elite Rates

Not nearly as exciting, but still worth noting, is a new 20% discount provided with My Elite rates to Platinum and Diamond members. These will also be capacity controlled, and my guess is that they will be non-refundable. You may decide that it is more worthwhile to use other discounts, such as corporate discounts or AAA and Costco rates, to book refundable rates even if it means smaller savings.

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  • jim

    Love your posts as always. Can you teach me how to book Hyatt club or suite room with points? Many Hyatt online sites only show standard room bookable with points and very few shows club room. For example, when trying to book club or suite room with points at the Andaz Maui , it is only showing standard room. But the Hyatt Regency in Maui shows the option to book standard and club room with points. Thanks for your advice.

    • jim

      I can’t afford Club or suite room with cash and I don’t have status with Hyatt. I just have lots of Hyatt points that I wanted to use for club or suite room when I stay at Hyatts. Thanks

      • mileswhore

        So if you want to book at lets say, the Andaz Maui, and you do the points and cash option, you are saying that you can use the Diamond Suite upgrade? Are you sure? How do you know? Do we still get the Diamond Suite upgrades (4 of them) on a Diamond challenge and if they are still given on a challenge, how long before they are dropped into the account? How do you go about redeeming them? Thanks

        • Scottrick

          (1) Yes, you can upgrade Points + Cash Awards.
          (2) Yes, I’m sure.
          (3) Because a Hyatt representative told me so.
          (4) Yes, Diamond suite upgrades still come with a Diamond trial.
          (5) I’m not sure what happens to suite upgrades if you don’t complete the trial, which lasts 60 days. I assume that if you don’t complete the trial, you will lose the upgrades when you lose your status.
          (6) Diamond suite upgrades can be redeemed by calling Gold Passport and asking to apply one to an existing reservation.

    • Scottrick

      You would need to call Hyatt to book those rooms on the phone if they’re not available online. Club rooms should be displayed; many hotels do not show suites because of limited inventory and concerns about property damage.

      I don’t recommend a standard room at the Hyatt Regency Maui. There is significant construction on north side for a new Hyatt timeshare, and most of the award rooms are booked into an “obstructed view” category on that side. Without status or a suite upgrade, you’re likely to stay there. If you still plan to book at the HR Maui, wait until after the new changes go into effect. They will be dropping from Category 6 to 5, so the award cost will actually go down by 2,000 points per night.

      • Jim

        so i can still book club or suite room with points but it is just that we have to call? Have you done that yourself?

        • Scottrick

          I’m saying that if you don’t see availability, there are other reasons besides the room being sold out. The hotel may choose not to display availability for other reasons.

          I’ve regularly called Hyatt to book rooms. The number for reservations is (800) 228-3360.

  • DWG

    Scott, can someone use their Chase Hyatt Visa certificates to book a room, and then upgrade the room with points? For example, Cattegory 7 rooms will now cost 30,000 points, or 39,000 points for a Club Level room. Could someone book a room at a Park Hyatt, using certificates, then pay an extra 9,000 pts a night to get upgraded to the larger Deluxe room?. I’m hoping this would include free breakfast since (I believe) Park Hyatts don’t have Club Level rooms. Thanks.

    • Scottrick

      No, free nights awarded through the Hyatt Visa credit card can only be used to book a standard room. However, you may be able to contact the hotel directly after booking to ask about opportunities to pay cash for an upgrade. And if an elite member, sometimes complimentary upgrades may be provided.

      Benefits such as club access are provided to Diamond members regardless of paid or award night status.