Hyatt Gold Passport has brought back their holiday promotion from last year, offering 10% off the purchase of gift cards and “gift checks” if you use a special promotion code shared with the Flyertalk community. You can buy up to $2,000 in gift cards at a discount, and last year I maxed out this offer because it was such an easy way to save money on upcoming trips. I’m a Diamond member with Gold Passport and stay at a lot of Hyatt hotels. Even if you don’t have status, some of their pricier properties can still make it easy to rack up a bill of a couple thousand dollars. Sometimes saving money on a paid rate is easier and more sensible than trying to book a free night award with points, as I’ll explain below.
Gift Cards vs. Gift Checks
To clarify the offer, you can save 10% on either gift cards or gift checks. Gift cards are only valid at properties in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Gift checks are valid worldwide. It’s a little unusual to see discounts on gift checks, so I recommend you go this route. But be aware that a partially used gift check cannot be saved for another time, so do not buy large denominations that may be larger than the cost of your trip. Multiple $100 gift checks might be wise.
I have a stack that I save for trips to international properties and will probably buy more for next year. To take advantage of this year’s promotion, use offer code GPGIFT14 and purchase by December 31, 2014. Note that a shipping and handling charge of $6 applies, although Hyatt is talking about a free shipping option coming soon.
In addition to gift checks, I bought about $3,000 in gift cards through a separate promotion this year that I used at U.S. properties. Milepoint was selling premium memberships that included a 10% discount on up to $5,000. That promo allowed much larger purchases but is only for gift cards. The $50 membership was well worth saving $300. (Remember that if you purchased on of these memberships you still have the rest of the year to take advantage of it.)
You can see a list of which properties accept gift cards and which accept gift checks on the Hyatt website.
Save an Extra 5% with Amex OPEN
I purchased my gift cards and gift checks using my Amex SPG Business Card. Even though it’s branded with Starwood, it is part of the American Express OPEN small business network and includes 5% back at select Hyatt brands in the U.S. Fortunately for us, Amex classifies Hyatt gift card and gift check purchases as a participating “property.” So in addition to saving 10% from Hyatt, I get another 5% back from Amex on my statement. The SPG Starpoints from the purchase are reasonably valuable, too.
If you don’t have this particular card, you can use another Amex business card that’s part of the OPEN network. But I would much rather earn 1 Starpoint per dollar vs. 1 Membership Rewards point if I had used, say, the Amex Business Platinum Card.
How to Use Gift Cards and Gift Checks
As I mentioned above, you should definitely confirm that the properties you want to stay at will except one or both payment options. This has never been a problem for me in the past, but I do carry both gift cards and gift checks to provide me with some flexibility.
The bigger problem is that some properties are unfamiliar with applying these credits to your folio. At the Park Hyatt Siem Reap, the front desk didn’t know what a gift check was and asked to hold on to one to show their manager in the morning. (It was quickly cleared up. The general manager sought me out at breakfast to confirm they were accepted there.) At the Grand Hyatt Kauai, I paid with gift cards and while they knew what they were doing it was one of the longest check-out experiences ever. At the Andaz Maui, there was no delay.
I recommend informing the front desk of your payment method when you check in to reduce delays later. You may want to carry a photocopy of your gift checks in case they ask to hold on to one — I’m not skittish, but others are. But overall, it’s an easy way to save a bunch on your next stay.
Combining Gift Cards and Gift Checks with other Discounts
Even though you’re paying with a discounted gift card or gift check, it works the same as cash and doesn’t prevent you from using other discounts. I regularly book AAA rates or use the discount code COSTCO (I’m a Costco member) to save 10-20% on a refundable rate. You can also use these cards to pay the cash portion of a Points + Cash award. This award type can be a great value because the rate remains eligible for earning elite status and for applying Diamond suite upgrade awards.