Report: Hyatt Gutting Cash and Points Awards, Adding Premium Suite Redemption

Richard Kerr is reporting that Hyatt will soon be announcing two changes to its program.

  1. Gutting cash and points awards Instead of redeeming points and a fixed cash price, you would redeem points for half off a hotel’s paid rate.

  2. Introducing premium suite upgrades and awards Currently Hyatt — like Marriott, and Starwood before it — allows redemption and upgrades to standard suites only. There’s been no way for elites to use points to redeem or upgrade into ‘premium’ suites such as a hotel’s ocean view suites, or named suites like Ambassador, Diplomatic, Presidential and Chairamns. That could be changing.

Reported Changes Coming to Cash and Points

Currently Hyatt cash and points awards work on a fixed chart basis. You pay half the usual number of points along with a fixed cash co-pay to book a cash and points award if it’s available. It’s a great value at category 2 through 6 hotels, and not very good for categories 1 and 7:

Kerr writes that this is going to change to fixed points and 50% of the published room rate.

Beginning November 1, it appears that Points + Cash awards will still require the same number of points, but the paid portion will be changing to 50% of the nightly standard rate for the property. In other words, if a Category 5 hotel is going for $400/night (not a rare occurrence by any means), you’ll have to pay 10,000 points + $200 instead of the previous $125.

Most hotels only make cash and points awards available when rates are low.

Today hotels receive the cash portion of a cash and points award, plus about a third of the hotel’s average daily rate from Hyatt. However unlike standard awards when a hotel is considered full they do not get extra compensation for the room. Perhaps this change will coincide with ‘always available’ cash and points options, that may be hoping for too much.

In June Hyatt said they were working to introduce cash and points awards at MGM M life hotel properties. Hopefully that will be part of any change.

Cash and points awards used to be especially important for Hyatt elite members because they counted towards elite status earning and promotional points-earning, while standard award nights did not. That changed for 2018 and award nights now count on par with paid stays, a huge improvement.

Getting Access to the Best Suites Through World of Hyatt

Hyatt lets you spend about 60% more points than a standard room award to book into a suite. That’s the best value for getting into a suite on points that any hotel chain offers.

They also let you spend 6000 points per night to upgrade a paid booking into a suite, although there are rate and room type requirements to use this benefit. (It wasn’t that long ago that 6000 points covered a stay in a suite — back then I almost never had a regular room.)

In addition top tier elite members (‘Globalists’) earn confirmed suite upgrades that can be applied to paid or award stays of up to 7 nights.

In all of these cases members receive a ‘standard’ suite, as defined by each hotel. Some are more generous than others in what is considered standard. But once it’s defined, any time it’s available to book with cash that suite should be available for upgrade.

What Kerr reports Hyatt is doing is introducing premium suites to World of Hyatt members.

  1. Redeem double points for a premium suite (remember, a standard suite is a 60% premium over a regular room).

  2. Spend 9000 points per night to upgrade a paid reservation into a premium, subject to the same restrictions as upgrade awards have now.

There’s no word on changes to Globalist earned suite upgrades. I’ve long suggested that Hyatt make premium suites available to members, for instance allowing redemption of two suite upgrades for a premium suite.

Could We Redeem for an Overwater Villa at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives?

We do not know how Hyatt would define a premium suite for this purpose. I assume it would be done at the hotel level, and which suites are available will vary tremendously.

A change like this could also have a meaningful effect at properties like the Andaz Maui which severely restrict the rooms that are available for redemption, and the upgrade pool of suites to a handful of ground floor rooms which get little sunlight. Extra points there could get us back to the basic suites we used to have, albeit for additional points.

Andaz Maui

Controversial Changes, But Good May Outweigh Bad Here — Even By a Lot

Members are going to have different views of these reported changes, which have not been confirmed by Hyatt. My own view is that while I like the value cash and points offers now at the category 2-6 level, now that full points redemptions earn elite night credit (and the credit card lets you spend for elite night credit too) cash and points is no longer as crucial a part of my arsenal. Making those less useful is much less of a big deal than it would have been in 2017.

Meanwhile the major constraint on my travel is time rather than points. Since I’m not working hard to stretch each point I’d rather use them for the best experience possible. Just as I prefer business class awards to coach, and first class airline awards to business, I prefer suites on vacation. And I enjoy really nice suites even more.

Perhaps the Park Hyatt Sydney — Which Has No “Standard Suites” — Could Finally Allow Confirmed Upgrades

For a short stay in a city, or a business stay on my own, within certain parameters the room I get doesn’t matter. But if Hyatt allows us the ability to secure top flight suites at their best properties as part of the program they’ll have done a lot to secure my loyalty.

Of course what final changes Hyatt actually makes and how any of this works out in practice remains to be seen.

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. This is a BIG negative as far as I am concerned. Being only explorist I would not pay up for a superior suite. Points are precious and to be able to use points and cash to book an expensive room is a big benefit being taken away

  2. Hi Gary;

    I often stay 3 weeks in Hyatt’s on awards per year. That’s 420k points.

    No way I’d be able to do that without cash and points.

    And of course for even number of nights, you can just redeem half the nights for points and the other nights for cash. So it is removing the option altogether as far as Im concerned.

    So while I appreciate the personal view, it’s out of touch with your readers.

  3. The sub-heading of “good outweighing the bag” seemed to be general, not personal

    I did not see the “doesn’t apply to most people”, thanks for pointing it out, I’ll re-read the article.

  4. I agree with beachfan. Not to long ago Gary, you went into detail about how you wouldn’t think Hyatt would devalue. That’s exactly what this is. Now you’re trying to put a positive spin on this…

  5. The Points and Cash WOH massive devaluation is big news and very, very bad. Not every hotel has Points and Cash every night now… that is a lot better than the situation with C&P situation at Marriott/SPG and certainly Hilton. Better to get a deal sometime than robbed most of the time this rumored WOH P&C scheme. Way to go WOH.

    Points and Cash at Vegas MGM will rarely make sense under this rumored scheme as rates on for MGM properties don’t often make sense to book now as there are various MGM promos out there to book that are often lots cheaper and often come with resort credit etc on top of the cheaper room rate. It’s like lighting your points on fire to use them under such a scheme on Points and Cash for MGM.

    Frankly I could care less about the proposed premium suite changes in light of these P&C changes. I have these confirmed suite upgrades that I can’t get to clear already so the notion of getting in to a better suite probably isn’t going to happen and certainly not for more points. (I’d like to use two of them in January 2019 but they expire in December as I qualified for globalist ‘too early’ as in Dec 10th.).

    The days of plump WOH accounts are long gone for most anyways—even for many globalists—as promos are rare and stink when there is one and diamond welcome amentity points are long gone. I’ll be using more points to do full points redemptions as it will rarely make sense to save points by doing a Points and Cash redemption. Premium suites? Yah right. I’ll be lucky to be at a Hyatt period not to mention in a premium suite.

    Was about to pull the trigger on the new WOH credit card but the brakes are on that now as I’ve got enough sock drawer cards already and that is what this would be without a realistic Points and Cash.

  6. View from the wing, you are so wrong on this. Loyal Hyatt people all don’t like this. Don’t be so naive. Not one positive comment. This is a stupid and negative change. Shame on Hyatt.

  7. Gary, we’ve gone back and forth on this before: you value Hyatt points as if your readers have an endless amount, and can base their redemptions on that. Most WoH members have only a few points. Killing P+C is a big hit.

    Since P+C is optional for the franchisees, and most only allow it during off peak times, what is Hyatt really accomplishing here, other than pissing off their most loyal guests?

    This also has another bad effect. As you have written, there are sweet spots in the WoH categories. Haven’t you noticed that the sweet spots in the P+C redemptions are in the opposite spots? I’ve always assumed that Hyatt did that deliberately to try and spread around the redemptions to all the hotels.

    And I don’t give a damn about suite rewards. I already have a pile of suite upgrades that I can never find a use for. This new suite award sounds more like Hyatt caving in to the recalcitrant franchisees who Hyatt refused to crack down on.

  8. @John – I was really talking about their award chart, not specifically cash and points. This would definitely be a devaluation of cash and points. I am simply saying that personally I care more about the improved suite possibilities more.

  9. One thing I loved about Hyatt was their P&C option. The old program was better. I was shifting my loyalty from Marriott but too many negatives from all angles.

  10. @Gary What folks seem to be saying is that your greater concern about the suites is more the exception than the rule. The top 1-5% are delighted with the suite changes. I wish I were too. I don’t have the luxury to care–especially in light of the P&C devaluation.
    Everyone else is horrified by the P&C rumored changes. We don’t have an unlimited pool of points. We struggle to earn points under the new WOH program. We wait in anticipation for the next promotion only to be disappointed. We don’t (anymore) have unlimited MS options and bundles of time to MS. We don’t have tens of thousands of spend on ‘other people’s money’ to spend on credit cards.

  11. I have a few P&C reservations for after Nov. I hope the honor the current cas portion. They are throwing a bone to the hotels and should throw us bone too like making all room charges (e.g. resort fee, parking, etc) earn points.

  12. JBP pretty much OWNS Hyatt.

    JBP is running as a Democrat for governor in Illinois this November. Very EXPENSIVE campaign !! BIG $$ being spent on this.

    JBP does not want to spend his money on his campaign. He wants to spend YOUR money on his campaign. He didn’t get to be a BILLIONAIRE by spending his money on media advertising !!

    He probably goes to bed every night thinking: “Hahaha, Suckers !!”.

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