We all knew it had to happen sometime. With the variable pricing introduced at Hilton and the peak/off-peak pricing at Marriott, now Hyatt has joined the crowd. As of March 2020 you’ll begin to see peak, standard, and off-peak pricing for free night awards as well as Points + Cash awards from World of Hyatt.
Here’s a comparison of the current “standard” chart, which is not changing, along with the new peak and off-peak rates.
Table 1: Award rates for a free night in a standard room
And here’s a comparison of peak and off-peak pricing for a standard suite. (You can find additional prices for premium suites, all-inclusive resorts, etc. online.)
Table 2: Award rates for a free night in a standard suite
Off-peak awards will start at just 3,500 points per night, or 30% discount to the standard rate. Peak awards will start at 6,500 points per night, or a 30% premium. Hyatt points out that peak pricing is never more than 5,000 points above standard pricing for a free night award. That’s good news when you’re talking about an expensive property. (Because of the larger denominator, a 5,000-point increase is relatively small — just 12.5% — for a Category 8 hotel.)
New Rates Affect All Award Types
The same rules will apply to Points + Cash awards. Previously Hyatt revised this award type, which had variable ratios of points and cash for each award category, to use static pricing instead. Those revisions mean the points portion is always 50% of the standard points rate and the cash portion is always 50% of the standard cash rate.
Table 3: Award rates for a Points + Cash standard room (does not include cash contribution)
Because of the introduction of peak and off-peak awards, the points portion will vary a bit. If it’s peak pricing, we’ll see 50% of the peak free night award rate. If it’s off-peak pricing, we’ll see 50% of the off-peak free night award rate. No change to the cash portion: we would already expect the cash price to vary based on seasonal demand.
Good News, Too
First, anyone who already has an award booking at the standard price, for which off-peak pricing now applies, will get a one-time refund for the difference in points. If your existing booking is now classified as a peak award, no worries. You’ll get to keep the standard award rate.
Second, upgrades on paid rates won’t be changing. Current rates require a nightly fee of 3,000 points for a club upgrade, 6,000 points for a standard suite upgrade, and 9,000 points for a premium suite upgrade. (This is different from redeeming all points for a free night in one of these upgraded rooms.)
Third, the peak/standard/off-peak pricing will not change once awards are posted. This should prevent hotels from fiddling with the rates as events or other news changes demand. Most hotels release award space 13 months before arrival. If it’s listed as off-peak when it’s loaded into the system 13 months in advance, then it will still be off-peak at 12 months, 11 months, even 1 day before arrival.
More information on these and other changes is available on the Hyatt website
I’m not surprised to see this change because, as I said, Hilton and Marriott have already made similar moves. Hyatt has also made great strides in adding lots of new brands to its portfolio, bringing it up to over 1,000 total properties worldwide.
I am generally a shoulder season traveler. I hate crowds, and it’s easier to find award space when you aren’t competing with everyone else. Personally, this news is likely to be good for me.
However, it could be a problem for others. I am glad that Hyatt has this self-imposed cap of a 5,000-point increase for peak awards. Their highest award, Category 8, is 30,000 points per night. That means a 17% increase over standard rates. However, if we were to see the same 5,000-increase on a cheaper 25,000-point free night award in Category 7 then it would be a 20% increase. I’ll update this post as soon as I’m able when the complete chart is published.
I didn’t want to mix this in with the details on peak and off-peak pricing, but Hyatt has said that they’re also changing the redemption value of points when you use them for dining, spa treatments, and in-room purchases. This has been an option for a long time now, but I didn’t always feel it was a great value. Better to use your points for a free night award.
Starting January 29, 2020, you’ll get 100% more value for your points on these room credits. 5,000 points will be worth $50 (instead of $25). I think you can do better than 1 cent per point on the low end, but you can get better value with more points, exchanging up to 65,000 for a $1,000 credit. That yields a return over 1.5 cents each.