I Hate Using Hyatt Free Nights

When the World of Hyatt program replaced Hyatt Gold Passport, expiring free nights became the currency of the realm instead of a check-in amenity of bonus points or food and beverage item. You earn them,

  • Annually with The World Of Hyatt Credit Card (category 1-4)

  • After $15,000 spend on The World Of Hyatt Credit Card each calendar year (category 1-4)

  • After 30 elite qualifying nights in a year (category 1-4)

  • After 60 elite qualifying nights in a year (category 1-7)

  • For each 5 participating brands you stay in for the first time (category 1-4)

The 30 and 60 night free nights were described as a ‘celebration’ to be used quickly. They’re easy to use, bookable whenever there are free nights available on points (when a standard room is available at a qualifying property). Yet I’m finding them difficult to use, so much so as to be annoying rather than rewarding.

On the Hyatt website it’s not obvious which free nights are for category 1-7 versus category 1-4, and the source of a free night. You can see the expiration date, but not where it’s from, and how long you had to use it. (Some free nights expire faster than others.)

Unlike points redemptions for free stays, free night certificates cannot be upgraded – using confirmed suite upgrades or points.

  • When I’m traveling for work, I don’t want to use my free nights, I want to use my free nights on vacation stays. On work trips by myself I don’t much care about the upgrade.

  • On vacation stays with my wife and daughter I want more space. The best benefit of Globalist status is being able to confirm a suite at booking. But you cannot use this benefit in conjunction with the so-called reward of a free night.

  • I’d love to use the free night certificate for a second room, but unlike Hilton, Hyatt doesn’t offer the ability to confirm a connecting room. (In practice this can be tougher with Hilton than advertised, however.)

I’ve found the best use, for me, of Hyatt category 1-7 nights is the Park Hyatt Sydney, because they don’t offer confirmed upgrades anyway. But I haven’t been allowed to enter Australia for the past year and a half and Hyatt isn’t extending expiration dates of these certificates at this point. The same strategy holds for the Park Hyatt Maldives. Historically though they’ve been willing to credit points in lieu of an expired credit card (category 1-4) certificate at least.

There’s no question that Hyatt free nights are valuable, they’re free nights! But the rules around them make them exactly what I don’t want to use on the trips I could use them. I suppose I should be gifting them.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. First world problems.

    A suggestion for Hyatt: allow Cat 1-4 certs to be used for higher categories by paying the points increment.

  2. Hyatt really needs to increase the validity of the 30 and 60 night free night certificates to 12 months.
    No other hotel chain gives only 6 months to use any kind of FNA…this is just ridiculous.

  3. I find suite upgrades are almost never available at top properties as they screw around with the naming of the suite to make it not eligible and thus this is not a problem for me.

  4. So contrary to popular belief, the free night awards are actually separate inventory from points awards. I have been looking to burn some expiring certificates before they expire on January 1st, and I’ve run into an availability issue with this. Some rooms that are bookable on points aren’t available as a “free night” with a certificate. The customer service rep even confirmed that for me. Big disappointment and not how I thought the program worked.

  5. I used 5 FNAs this year and found the whole process rather easy. One can search for the availability and book those awards online – no need to call the service desk like for Hilton certificates. I have redeemed 4 of these certificates for nights at Park Hyatt Zanzibar in October where we were upgraded to a huge suite on two floors. Typically, rooms at that hotel go for $400/nigh so that was a very good redemption. Redeeming FNAs from Bonvoy, Hilton, or IHG is the whole other and a more frustrating story.

  6. I agree with JL, the 30-day and 60-day free night certificates should be good for 12 months, not six months. That said, those pursuing Globalist status with the World of Hyatt Visa can easily earn four free nights a year just with certificates (not including points redemptions), which is pretty sweet.

  7. First world problems, you can’t even redeem hilton free nights online and until very recently couldn’t even see them online haha.

  8. Hyatt absolutely can confirm connecting rooms. If you call and book by phone. I do this all the time. In fact, I am told that corporate policy is guaranteed connecting rooms when traveling with children under 13. So you just need to pick up the phone.

  9. Used 3 of my cat 1-4 award certificates at The Confidante in Miami Beach this year. Upgraded to room with partial ocean view & balcony. Given International travel was not an option for my family, this was a reasonable redemption option.

  10. They are pretty useless in my limited traveling. Once in a while I could crash at a hotel in Phoenix with them but back east, I don’t see a use for them. The conveniences at my place greatly out weight spending a night in a Level 1-4 hotel, especially with the current cutbacks.

    Mine are expiring. The Hyatt card was canceled a while ago due to its limited use.

  11. Upgrades on free night certs aren’t a guarantee but are reliant on the property. Each time I’ve requested an upgrade I’ve been denied with the hotel telling me I can’t upgrade from a cert night.

    Adjoining rooms the same thing for me, even with kids younger than 12. The hotel tells me they’re doing their best yet I’ve been rooms away from my kids, even a different floor once

  12. @gary – my employer is good reimbursing me the going nightly rate when I use a free night cert on business travel. You should ask about it. When I book my paid nights I price the stay for one additional night and then submit that amount.

  13. Every time I’ve booked a night with the free night and booked adjacent nights with points, Hyatt has consolidated the reservations. This includes the time I paid to upgrade to a club-level room at the Grand Hyatt in Berlin. (Interestingly, the hotel blocked reservations for base-level rooms for 1 + 2 nights but would have allowed me to reserve 3 nights consecutively in a single reservation over the same nights. I had to upgrade the two nights to book my 1 + 2 reservation at all).

  14. Agree with Sam. No trouble requesting and receiving adjoining rooms in Boston, the OC or any Hyatt property. Of course that means you lose a shot at a suite upgrade but those must all go to the bloggers. The Cat4 certs are great as they are easily used at many properties compared with the (normally) useless Marriott 35k certs. And you get free parking and waived fraudulent resort fees.

    The biggest minus was Hyatt failure to further extend Cat4 certs beyond Jan 2022. Marriott extended my certs to June 2022 and Hilton to August 2022.

  15. You should take up skiing. Just tonight I redeemed a Cat 1-7 for a night (in sequence with 5 award nights using points) for the Grand Hyatt Vail in January which is currently going for $600-$700/night. And I redeemed 2 Cat 1-4 (in sequence with 4 award nights using points) for the Hyatt Place Park City in January which is currently going for $300-$350/night. Very pleased with these redemptions and values of both certs and points.

  16. Agree about not using them for business travel or travel with the family.

    I’ve gotten really lucky and used all of mine on golf trips. 3 times playing Pebble I stayed at the Category 4 Hyatt Del Monte.

    Two times playing SD/LA courses I stayed at the Andaz San Diego.

    But yeah, the way they’re set up is a bit lacking.

  17. I use my Cat1-4 free night certs all the time. Mainly at Hyatt Place locations in Tier 2 cities where other family members reside. I recently used them at HR Etoile in Paris for two rooms, each a 1 night stay. Delta moved our flight up by one day and I couldn’t add a day to my Hotel du Louvre reservation using a suite upgrade so I chose to book 1-night with two separate rooms at the HR. This was an excellent value for me. I do forget that I can’t use a suite upgrade with the certs but that is ok because HP don’t have suites. I like the free night certs and use them up all the time.

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