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Hyatt Gold Passport is the most valuable hotel program that flexible bank points can be transferred into. That’s true because while a single Starpoint is worth more than a single Hyatt point, it takes 3 American Express Membership Rewards points to get one Starwood point and Chase points actually transfer one-to-one into Hyatt Gold Passport. That makes Hyatt an extremely useful partner.
With loyalty programs regularly offering less value for their points, I’m putting together this series with background, tips, and tricks for frequent flyer programs programs whose points:
- can be very useful to you
- that you can earn easily by transferring in from bank rewards currencies.
I love flexible points far more than earning points in a single frequent flyer or frequent guest program. That helps me to diversify so I don’t get hurt as badly when one program devalues and that gives me the points I need, when I need them with the program that has availability for the award that I want.
As a chain, Hyatt focuses more on full service and upscale than their competitors, and unquestionably so once Starwood is gobbled up by Marriott. As a result they have a preponderance of nice properties where you can use your points. Here are my tips for the outstanding Hyatt Gold Passport program.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives
My Biggest Flexible Points Balance is With Chase Ultimate Rewards
A real go-to for the past 5 years has been the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It’s been reliably the most rewarding card for spend.
There’s a 50,000 point signup bonus (after $4000 spend within 3 months). The card earns double points on travel and dining. So they start you off quickly with points, and you accumulate points quickly for your spending.
Chase points transfer to:
- Airlines: United, Korean, Singapore, Air France KLM, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways
- Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton
Hyatt Gold Passport is clearly the best hotel transfer partner.
Important Tips, Tricks, and Cautions Using Hyatt Gold Passport Points
Here are 14 things a frequent flyer should know about the Hyatt Gold Passport program:
- Hyatt Gold Passport makes it easier to get into suites than any other program. Diamond members get to confirm a suite at time of booking four times per year for stays of up to 7 nights each on paid stays (and this includes cash and points award stays). But suites aren’t restricted to Diamonds.
I consider Starwood Preferred Guest the second best program for suites, and they let you spend points for suites on a paid stay on certain rates within 5 days of checkin or spend double points for a free night suite redemption.
In contrast, Hyatt Gold Passport lets you redeem ~ 60% more points (rather than double points) for a suite on a free night. And Hyatt Gold Passport lets you spend 6000 points per night on a qualifying paid rate stay to upgrade to a suite — at booking. And that 6000 point price is the same regardless of the price level of a hotel.
You do have to pay the standard or Hyatt daily rate to use points to upgrade a paid reservation to a suite, and at a resort you have to book at least a deluxe room to be eligible to use points for upgrades.
The major limitation of redeeming points for free nights in a suite is that you must reserve a minimum of a 3 night stay. This limitation does not apply to using points to upgrade paid stays, however.
There are 10 specific hotels where suite upgrades aren’t permitted: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort, Park Hyatt Sydney, Andaz Tokyo, Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort, Hyatt Regency Tulsa, Hyatt Regency Wichita, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa, Hyatt Manila City of Dreams, Hyatt Santa Barbara, Hyatt Paris Madeline. Suite upgrades also aren’t offered at timeshare properties or Hyatt Place properties.
- Getting a club room requires fewer points. Hyatt Diamonds are entitled to club access, but others can have club rooms by spending points — either more points on an award night (as detailed in the above chart), or 3000 points per night on a paid stay as long as you’re reserving a qualifying rate which is the same for a club room as it is for a suite.
- Hyatt Gold Passport points are worth about 1.4 cents apiece. So use that valuation when considering whether to pay cash for a room or book on points. It also helps to see that you can get a suite for ~ $84 a night more than the Hyatt Daily Rate since you can confirm a suite for 6000 points per night.
- Cash and points awards are great for category 2-6 hotels. Cash and points award nights count towards elite status and towards promotional points-earning. They’re a great value for category 2 through 6 hotels, but are a bit too expensive for category 1 and category 7 hotels. That’s because in the former case you’re ‘buying back’ the extra points for 1.4 cents apiece or less, but in the latter case you’re paying 2 cents per point you don’t spend.
- You can transfer Hyatt points to anyone, for free. The only stipulation is that it’s supposed to be so that they have enough points for a specific redemption, though I haven’t found this to be a binding constraint in practice.
Both members just have to fill out a form and submit it to Gold Passport. You can only do this once every 30 days, and that makes it easy to use points from more than one account for a specific award, or to transfer points from your Hyatt account to someone else’s airline miles account (because you’d first transfer to their Hyatt account).
- Hyatt lets Diamond members redeem awards for friends and ‘gift’ their Diamond status for that stay. Hyatt’s 2 year old Guest of Honor benefit lets a Diamond extend their benefits of an upgrade, if available; lounge access or full breakfast if no lounge is available; high speed internet, rather than base-level internet that is free to all guests; 4 p.m. late check-out; and a check-in amenity when making a points redemption in someone else’s name.
This applies only to full points reservations and not to cash and points bookings. It means that if you don’t have Diamond status but you have a friend that does, you can transfer your points to them and have them make the redemption you want for you — and voila instant Diamond benefits for your stay.
Welcome chocolates at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Breakfast at the Hyatt Olive8 in Seattle
- Don’t use your points for dining or spa treatments the value is simply too low, but do earn points when you eat at their restaurants while not a hotel guest. There are some restaurants that are actually worth eating at for that purpose for instance the Grand Hyatt Mumbai has the best Chinese restaurant I’ve ever eaten at and Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt Washington has long been a favorite when I was a local.
- The Hyatt Visa is worth having, but not for spending unless you’re looking for help to earn Diamond status. The card’s earning of 3 Gold Passport points per dollar for Hyatt hotel stays is good, but I’d rather earn 3 Citi points or 3 American Express points for air and hotel. Other spending is going to be better on a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and you don’t give up the option of transferring those points to Hyatt Gold Passport.
The Hyatt Visa is worth getting (2 free nights) and keeping (Platinum status which means 2pm late checkout, and an annual free night up to category 4). Spending $20,000 (and again at $40,000) gets 2 stays and 5 nights towards status. I don’t have my own Hyatt Visa referral link, and information abou tthe card doesn’t come from Chase and they neither reviewed nor endorsed what I have to say about it.
- Hyatt’s Diamond status is the best hotel top tier. If the chain’s footprint of about 600 hotels works for you, then it’s the one to focus on — for 4 annual confirmed at booking suite upgrades, guaranteed 4pm late checkout (except at resorts and conference hotels) and the richest breakfast benefit of any chain — full breakfast for up to 4 registered guests in a room when there’s no lounge available.
Diamond room service breakfast at the Park Hyatt Vendome Paris
- Diamonds should visit full service Hyatts on the weekend. Many Hyatt Regency properties with club lounges close those lounges on the weekend when business travel drops. If you stay at a hotel that normally has a lounge, but that lounge is closed, you’ll get restaurant breakfast and 2500 points for the night.
- Lifetime Diamond status is currently earned after 1 million base points. That’s $200,000 spend at their hotels. It also requires 10 years in the program (not 10 years of status). Credit card points used to count, including points transfers in from Chase. Transferring 1 million Chase points to Hyatt would have gotten you lifetime Diamond status but they closed that loophole several years ago. Until and unless Hyatt relaxes the requirement this is out of reach for most members.
View of the Opera House from the Park Hyatt Sydney
- Hyatt Gold Passport status is good for a match each year to MGM M life Rewards. M life’s resorts are mostly casino focused and mostly in Las Vegas. Platinum status gets M life Gold which is good for Gold room upgrades, free self parking, priority check-in and restaurant reservations, and VIP Line Access for nightclubs and pool day clubs. Hyatt’s Diamond gets M life Platinum which lets you skip the valet and taxi queues.
- MGM’s Vegas hotels are great for Hyatt elite status runs. Since you can find several hotels literally on “the Strip” near each other, you can move from one to the other night after night. Each hotel would then count as a separate stay. And midweek rates can be super low at their lower-tier properties, for instance I stayed at the Monte Carlo earlier this year for $33.. while enjoying status benefits.
- Hyatt’s direct booking discount is bigger than many other chains. Hotels want you to ‘book direct’ on the chain’s own website, and have introduced rates that are ostensibly lower than what you’ll see at Expedia or Orbitz. But usually they’re only about 2% lower, and easily beaten by AAA rates. Some Hyatt discounts are that small too but they get as big as 10% off and that’s useful in places like Australia where Hyatt’s AAA discounts aren’t valid.
- There are surprising values at the lowest redemption category. Category 1 hotels which are just 5000 points per night. There are over 160 category 1 hotels representing more than a quarter of all Hyatt properties. Many of them are ‘Hyatt Place’ properties that offer larger rooms and free breakfast for everyone. For instance there are Hyatt Place hotels in category 1 near Washington Dulles airport, Houston Bush Intercontinental, Pittsburgh airport, and the Raleigh Durham airport.
By far the nicest category 1 property is the Park Hyatt Chennai in Southern India, the least expensive Park Hyatt in the world. In my experience Diamond complimentary breakfast there can be taken from room service, and spa treatments run about $40 per hour. As a category 1 hotel, free suite nights here are just 8000 points.
Roof top infinity pool at the Park Hyatt Chennai
There are over 190 category 2 hotels representing over 30% of the Hyatt’s portfolio, and those cost just 8000 points a night or 13,000 points in suites. Hyatt Place properties abound, but one standout worth noting is the Park Hyatt Mendoza in Argentina’s wine country.
At category 3, hotels are 12,000 points per night. The Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is lovely, with great views and a nice club lounge. The Hyatt Arlington — across the river from Washington DC and adjacent to the Rosslyn metro stop — can run over $300 a night. But the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur and the Hyatt Regency Danang are absolute standouts in this category, where I recommend suites for 20,000 points per night.
Sky check-in lobby of the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur