Hyatt Will Count Award Stays Towards Status and Improve Short-Expiring Free Night Awards

Hyatt is making two changes to their elite program for 2018, and they’re both positive.

  • All free night awards — whether full award nights on points, or free nights from the credit card, reaching an elite level, or collecting stays across their brands — will count towards status. Hyatt was the only major chain that didn’t count award nights as elite nights.

  • The free nights earned upon reaching Explorist status each year (capped at category 4) and upon reaching Globalist status (valid at any hotel up to category 7) will no longer expire after 120 days.
    They will be valid for 180 days instead.

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Award nights counting towards status is huge. This makes sense for Hyatt for two reasons.

  1. Every one of their major competitors counts award nights towards status

  2. Their new tougher qualification rules were clearly weighing on the number of elites that were renewing, hence the elite fast track for all co-brand credit card holders this year. Adding award stays (including earned free night stays) towards status makes qualification a bit easier and helps preserve their elite pool

Meanwhile it helps customers requalifying easier, and it helps avoid points and earned free night stays feeling like a net negative to the extend they stood in the way of requalification. This removes a pain point for elite members.

And while I don’t like short-expiring free nights in place of points as a check-in amenity of choice. I’d rather build up points that I can use myself any time I want, however I want. But at least using these free nights will count towards status (so they no longer feel like a punishment) and won’t have to be used quite as quickly (so I don’t wind up throwing them away on low value stays).

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

Overall I believe Hyatt has the most valuable hotel loyalty program top tier. There are two major differentiators:

  1. Suites confirmed at booking at least 4 times a year (with additional confirmed suites earned for incremental night thresholds after requalifying). Having to use those suite nights by their expiration is a new annoyance in the program, but none of their competitors currently offer confirmed suite upgrades. Upgrades are the benefit elite members overall value most, and Hyatt is set up to deliver the benefit on the stays where it matters most to members.

  2. An assigned concierge for top elites (similar to Starwood’s Ambassador earned at 100 nights, but intially earned at just 60 nights and renewed at 55). The delivery of this benefit in its first year has been rocky and Hyatt knows it, but it’s a priority for them to invest in. Amy Weinberg tells me,

    “My Hyatt Concierge is designed to serve as a single point of contact within Hyatt to assist members. We understand the value of providing our most frequent and loyal guests with personalized, on-demand care, and in 2018, we are allocating more resources for the delivery of this benefit to our valuable members who’ve achieved it.”

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

I still think there’s a lot of work to be done on the Hyatt program.

  • The level below top tier, Explorist, isn’t competitive with Gold at Hilton or Marriott. They currently offer 4 upgrades to club lounge per year, while Marriott and Hilton offer their mid-tier elites lounge or breakfast on most stays.

  • The credit card is great to get for the signup bonus and annual free night, but there’s no longer a reason to spend on the card. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards products earn points faster and transfer to Hyatt and the card no longer provides nights towards status for spend.

  • There’s no meaningful benefit for elites at limited-service properties, and Hyatt Place and Hyatt House represent half the chain’s portfolio. Without the check-in amenity all I get for my loyalty is a bottle of water.

Chase re-upped its Hyatt deal and told me they’re working on ways to improve the card. I’ve seen some surveys of possible ideas for how they might do so. I’d expect that Hyatt will focus on this, and its uncompetitive upper mid-tier status level, in the year ahead.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What about Guest of Honor stays? Who gets credit… the person booking or the person who is staying and put in their WOH number to earn points on the incidental charges?

  2. The Hyatt Visa is a sad joke
    Who in their right mind would use/spend on it? You lose value every time you even consider using the card.They would have to offer 4 points per dollar to get me off the Chase Sap Reserve
    And 180 days while an improvement it is still sad
    No meaningful amenity or point bonus at check in is pathetic even the poached ex spg execs have to understand this
    Even the stingiest program Priority Club offers amenity points at check in and they automatically post without calling at every category property

  3. I find this to be awesome news! I agree with Dwondermeant that the increased earning seasons on those bonus cert.s is a step in the right direction, but should really be 1 year.
    I was pleased with my earnings on the Chase Hyatt Visa esp. 2 pp$ on dining, air tickets, and car rentals, which is the same rate as the Sapphire Preferred. But now that I have a CSP as an ex-Fairmont Visa cardmember, I don’t need both, so I’m cancelling the Hyatt Visa to enjoy the CSP’s flexibility plus 2 pp$ on non-Hyatt hotels, transit, trains and road tolls. I don’t stay money-paid at enough Hyatts to benefit much from the 3 pp$ of the Hyatt Visa.

  4. These are the specific types of improvements which led me to driving to the finish line on the fast track. Got the email that I requalified in the fast track just before reading this. Good day for my Hyatt status!

  5. To clarify the above, my point is that the difference between CSP vs. Hyatt Visa is much smaller than it is for Dwondermeant, esp. because I transfer most of my CSP points to Hyatt anyway. The normal earning rates at which I laugh are those of the Chase IHG & Marriott Visas!

  6. Another thing that would really give WOH a boost would be giving credit for multiple rooms during a stay.

  7. @Gary – Did you get clarification on whether this new policy will apply to *** Existing *** free night certificates or new certs issued starting in 2018?

    I have three free night award certs burning a hole in my Hyatt iOS app, and I’d really love to use them AND earn re-qualification nights before they expire in Feb. 2018.


  8. This really stinks…I’d have qualified for Globalist this year if award stays had counted…sounds like it’s time to make a phone call

  9. I don’t bother staying at Hyatt’s in general anymore but continue to stay at two of them in resort areas that I love. I have found that these two hotels will look up and see that I stay once or twice every year with them and give me elite privileges. But done with Hyatt loyalty. Also dropping the card of many years. Better to simply churn card and get 40,000 pts approx every two years than get lousy cat 4 every year and paying annual fee. The elite nights gone so cards are total shi* as keepers now.

  10. Thank you for this good news Gary. I am very pleased. My feelings reflect yours on all points. The extended days of use for award nights makes a big difference to me. Six months is a lot better than four months. However, if they were going to make a change I wish they would have made it a full year. Credit for award stays is a nice plus. The short expiration of award nights has been my biggest gripe. The second most important complaint is the lack of amenity on check-in. If they fixed that I would be quite content with the program. Currently being Platinum for Life at Marriott/Starwood and having been elite at Hilton, I feel comfortable is saying that the Hyatt program, even watered down, is the best program for me. Looking forward to an upgraded-to-suite award stay at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme. Now that’s real value. Incidentally, I’ve had a personal concierge from the beginning of that program. It has been a great benefit.

  11. The Hyatt Credit Card is still the best to use for Hyatt charges. Beyond that, I wouldn’t use it for purchases at other merchants without an incentive (like the one we saw earlier this year at WFM). One benefit not mentioned is that one can gain Explorist status after spending $50k on the card annually. Not saying that’s a great idea, but it may be a useful option for some. I’m not sure why people wouldn’t keep this card long term even without paid stays, as the annual free night is worth far more than $75.

    As for the program changes themselves, I like them, but I would still prefer they simply revert to HGP (which could perhaps happen anyway with some of the litigation asserting that they didn’t provide enough notice to be able to end that program). Last night was my 60th Hyatt night (and also 10th brand), but I’m burned out on WoH and am not sure I’ll even hit 30 nights in 2018. At least with award nights counting, I stand closer to hitting that mark. Then I can earn another expiring certificate…that now lasts only 60 days longer. :groan:

  12. That the free nights we have recently earned will not count in 2018, but new ones will, is a crime if you ask me. And silly. Deflates the announcement I got today into an annoyance.

  13. @Gary – what exactly does “Free Nights Recently Earned” mean? Is there a date range where Hyatt will allow Free Night certs to earn elite status after (and I don’t mean 1/1/2018).

    It would be a shame for Globalists (like myself) who renewed our status in late 2017 to not earn credit for our free night certs earned ** after we made our 60 nights ** – this would essentially guarantee that 2018 Globalists will not be able to earn elite credit for the certs we earned because these were issued in late 2017.

    This needs to be brought to the attention of WoH decision-makers. Perhaps they should reissue these certs on 1/1 instead?

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