I’ve mentioned repeatedly that I don’t chase after hotel status. Hotels are often more expensive than the flight itself, so I stay with family or friends when I can or just book something cheap on Hotwire or Priceline. Mattress runs are also out of the question where I live. Despite six Hyatt hotels in the Seattle area and a few Starwood properties, these usually start out at $100 a night and can run well over $200. Then there’s the inconvenience of getting to the Bellevue/Redmond area where some of the cheaper properties are located.
But that’s all started to change in recent weeks.
First I got a Hyatt Visa credit card from Chase, which offers free Gold Passport Platinum status, two nights at any Hyatt hotel in the world (including pricey Park Hyatt properties) as a sign-up bonus, and and a free night at a category 1-4 property each subsequent year that makes up for the annual fee. The Platinums status has already saved me at least a $100 on Internet and resort fees, and I get rooms in better locations, too.
I figured that was good enough. No way was I going to reach Diamond status, which requires 25 stays or 50 nights in a year. Hyatt came out with its winter “Possibilities” promotion that runs through April 30, but even that didn’t really grab my attention. (Heads up, you have to register by TODAY! See Deals We Like for a rundown.) The bonus points get better with each subsequent stay, which means I’d have to commit to all those nights before I got anything worthwhile. I registered anyway, as you always should just in case things change.
- Stay 4 nights: Earn 4,000 points + 1,000 bonus for using a Hyatt Visa
- Stay 8 nights: Earn additional 8,000 points + 2,000 bonus
- Stay 12 nights: Earn additional 12,000 points + 3,000 bonus
- Stay 16 nights: Earn additional 20,000 points + 5,000 bonus
Megan and I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Maui for five nights in February, and even though it was a travel agency booking through a third party, it still ended up counting toward elite status and the promotion. We got 4,000 points plus 1,000 for using my Hyatt Visa. Interesting… Three more nights and we’d be able to earn another 10,000 points. Well, we later booked a night at the Hyatt AVIA Napa since we’re heading down to visit my parents, and two more nights in Vancouver since we wanted to cash in some Ultimate Rewards points for Amtrak tickets before they revalued their award chart in April. (Again, transfer and book TODAY!) So we’ll get those next 10,000 points.
Now my mind was racing. With four more nights we would get an additional 15,000. This is actually starting to work in our favor! A few more nights got booked in Irvine and Anaheim during the recent 48 hour sale at 25-30% off since we plan to visit my former research advisor and some college friends. Pretty soon we got to 12 nights, and thanks to sales and Hyatt’s cheaper HYATT House brand, none of these really cost much more than going the Hotwire route. With 35,000 points earned from promos and several nights toward elite status, making Diamond this year actually began to look possible if not exactly probable.
I don’t think I’m going to hit that 16-night threshold to earn the final 25,000 bonus points. Maybe that will be worth a mattress run. Four nights at $100 a night plus taxes is about $450, and it takes 22,000 points to reserve a room at any property, possibly making it worthwhile. I haven’t decided.
Combining Promotions from Different Hotels
But today I noticed Ric’s post at Loyalty Traveler about a 50% bonus on purchased points from IHG’s Priority Club. For $460 you can buy 40,000 points and earn a 20,000 point bonus. The nice thing about Priority Club is that nearly all points count toward elite status, even purchased and bonus points, so those 60,000 points also give you top-tier Platinum status.
Hyatt offers a Gold Passport Diamond challenge that requires 12 nights in 60 days. With another couple nights booked for a future trip to New York during the 48 hour sale, I have all 12 nights already reserved. I just didn’t have top-tier status in any programs that Hyatt would allow me to use for my challenge.
But those 60,000 points would get me Platinum status, and I could use that for a Diamond challenge–one that I was sure to fulfill since the rooms are already booked and paid for. The great thing is that Hyatt extends Diamond privileges during the challenge period and an extra 1,000 points on each of the first six nights of the challenge, so I’ll get even more Gold Passport points plus Diamond benefits like free upgrades to a Regency Club floor and breakfast at the Hyatt Andaz Wall Street, which doesn’t have a club.
And those 60,000 points are still worth quite a bit on their own. It takes 40,000 to redeem for a free night at The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, where I’d like to go this summer (and normally around $200-250 a night), or only 5,000 for occasional Points Breaks hotels that are announced on a quarterly basis. Because I can use Priority Club points for Holiday Inn properties, I think it makes sense to have them in reserve since there are many places that don’t have Hyatt hotels, particularly semi-rural areas in the South and Midwest were Megan’s family lives.
I can probably come close to breaking even on buying the Priority Club points, or at most lose ~$100, but that seems worth it for the Platinum status. While Platinum status is not really worth anything on its own, it does give me an opportunity to do a Hyatt Diamond challenge. And while I ordinarily wouldn’t have been planning to do the Diamond challenge or even attempt anything close to 25 stays in a year, I’ve found keeping my eye out for sales, signing up for a promotion I didn’t think I would use, and getting a lucky break on our vacation have helped make top-tier hotel status with one of my favorite brands begin to seem attainable for the first time.