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When World of Hyatt was launched, there were significant changes to the Hyatt loyalty program. Requirements to earn top-level status increased from 25 stays to 60 nights and plenty of other benefits also changed. One thing that stayed the same, however, was the cash portion of the Cash and Points stays. That is, it stayed the same until now.
Effective November 1, 2018, World of Hyatt has changed the cash portion of these awards from a fixed dollar amount to a percentage of the standard room rate. I’ll explain why this is a huge devaluation for Hyatt loyalists.
What are Cash and Points?
Several hotel loyalty programs offer the ability to use a combination of cash and points to book hotel rooms. This provides a couple of great opportunities for travelers:
- the ability to book a room if you don’t have enough points
- the ability to stretch points across multiple trips by paying a little cash each time
Cash and Points reservations are booked just a like a normal award reservation. Go online to Hyatt.com, search for your hotel and the dates you want to travel, then click on Cash and Points. Voila! Room booked.
4 ways to earn World of Hyatt points
There are many ways to earn World of Hyatt points, such as staying at a Hyatt property, using the credit card, or booking reservations with partners. Here are four of the most common ways to earn World of Hyatt points.
Paid Hyatt stays
The first method is to earn points when you stay at any Hyatt property when you provide your World of Hyatt loyalty number.
Chase World of Hyatt Visa
The Chase World of Hyatt Visa credit card offers a nice sign-up bonus and the ability to earn 4x points when paying for stays and meals at Hyatt. Cardholders also earn 2x points on dining, airline tickets, local transit, and gym memberships. Plus, this card earns one point per dollar spent on everyday expenses.
Transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards
Hyatt is also a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards. This means that you can earn Ultimate Rewards from the Chase Sapphire and Chase Ink credit cards, then transfer them on a 1:1 basis to World of Hyatt. Points earned from Chase Freedom cards can also be pooled and transferred to World of Hyatt if you also have a Sapphire or Ink card.
Rental car partners
Rental car partners like Avis allow you to earn World of Hyatt points with every rental. Some promotions allow you to earn even more points.
Hyatt changes to Cash and Points
Before this Cash and Points devaluation, it was possible to receive tremendous value from Cash and Points reservations. With rates as low as 2,500 points and $50 for a room, it was possible to stretch out your stash of points for a fraction of a hotel’s room rate.
With the Cash and Points devaluation, World of Hyatt members must now pay 50% of the Standard Room rate instead of a flat amount.
Luckily, the points required to book a room has not changed, but that could happen in the next round or two of “enhancements” to the World of Hyatt loyalty program.
Why this matters
Nobody likes paying more for something that doesn’t offer additional value. If these changes meant the elimination of blackout dates for Cash and Points stays or that these stays earned Night/Stay Credits towards status, that might be a worthwhile trade-off. However, that’s not the case.
Anyone looking to book a Cash and Points reservation will be paying a higher rate for a room with no added benefits. Hyatt is simply increasing prices because they can.
For people that have access to discount codes for hotels, this is also a punch to the gut. Popular discount codes include AAA, AARP, and corporate-negotiated rates. Instead of paying 50% of the room rate you are eligible for, you’ll be paying 50% of the highest rate for that room. Not cool.
With the increase in cash required to book these new Cash and Points rates, this change could mean the difference between going on vacation or not for some people. To stay within a travel budget, paying this additional cash per night could require booking a lower category hotel or cutting the vacation short by a day or two.
Examples of how this affects travelers
To put these changes into practice, I priced out a sample hotel booking. Say you want to book a weekend trip to visit Disneyland over the weekend of January 18-20, 2019. There are plenty of hotels to pick, but I picked the Hyatt Regency Orange County because I know it is just down the street from Disneyland.
The Hyatt Regency Orange County is a category 3 World of Hyatt hotel. Points redemptions are 12,000 points per night and the standard room rate is $209 per night. The AAA member rate is $199 and some government rates are as low as $150.
Under the old rules, a two-night reservation would have been 6,000 points + $75 per night. Effective November 1st, 2018, the price is now 6,000 points and $105 per night. The cash portion is 50% of the Standard Room rate, even though there are several lower rates.
The Cash and Points traveler is now paying $30 per night more for this hotel than they used to. If you book a lot of Cash and Points reservations, the extra money will really add up over the course of a year.
Booking strategy going forward
Because Cash and Points reservations do not earn stay credits, but full-point stays do, I would focus on full-point stays.
If you don’t have enough points for your entire vacation, you have a few options:
- Downgrade to a lower category World of Hyatt hotel.
- Use points at another hotel chain like Marriott or Hilton for the remainder of your trip.
- Use points from a credit card like Capital One Venture or Barclays Arrival to pay the cash rate for the additional nights at your preferred Hyatt hotel.
Overall, nobody (except Hyatt) likes these changes, but we don’t have much of a choice. Consolidation within the hotel industry means fewer loyalty programs to choose from. The new Cash and Points award chart will soon become the new normal. When the eventual next round of changes occurs, we’ll wish that the new Cash and Points chart was as good as this latest one.
In the meantime, before you book your next World of Hyatt Cash and Points reservation, evaluate your options and do the math to determine which option works best for you.