American and Hyatt Announce Reciprocal Benefits for Elite Members

Mar 5, 2019

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Though it depends on who you ask, many readers will posit that 2019 has been a year of devaluations in many aspects of the points and miles world. From changes to airline award charts to the implementation of new, higher award pricing at hotels, the barrage of less-than-positive changes has left many an award traveler’s head spinning.

Well today, we’ve learned details on a new enhancement that goes in the exact opposite direction. If you’re loyal to American Airlines, the World of Hyatt program or both, listen up, as your 2019 is about to kick into high gear.

The two companies have announced a new set of reciprocal perks for each program’s respective elite members. Most similar to the (now defunct) Crossover Rewards partnership between SPG and Delta, the agreement has several interesting aspects. I had a chance to speak with executives from both programs prior to this announcement, and while all of the details aren’t fully available at this point, there are some notable pieces of information to share.

Earning Rates

If you’re a Hyatt elite member, you’ll soon be able to earn bonus Hyatt points when you fly American. Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.

Once the program launches, elite members in the AAdvantage program and the World of Hyatt program will have additional earning opportunities when they stay in Hyatt properties or book American flights (respectively). Here are the full details:

  • AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey members will be able to earn one AAdvantage bonus mile for every eligible dollar spent at qualifying Hyatt properties (“eligible” dollars spent are on base price of the room plus additional qualifying expenses).
  • World of Hyatt Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist members will be able to earn one World of Hyatt bonus point for every eligible dollar spent on qualifying American flights (“eligible” dollars spent are on the base fare of tickets and exclude taxes, fees and surcharges).

Note that all of these earnings will be in addition to the standard earning rates you’d enjoy as a member of the respective programs.

For example, let’s say that you were an AAdvantage Gold member with no Hyatt status and booked a stay in an Andaz property for $200 per night. In addition to earning your standard 5 Hyatt points per dollar spent, you’d also take home an extra 200 AAdvantage miles for the stay. This would be even higher if you then charged any eligible expenses to your room during the stay.

On the other hand, if you’re a Hyatt Explorist member and book an American flight with a $200 base fare, you’d earn an extra 200 World of Hyatt points for the trip.

During my conversation with Amy Weinberg, Senior Vice President, World of Hyatt and Bridget Blaise-Shamai, President of AAdvantage, I confirmed that these bonuses will be earned on American’s Basic Economy fares and will extend to Hyatt’s newly-integrated Small Luxury Hotels of the World locations. Both executives stressed that the goal was to provide earning schemes that weren’t complicated and contained few loopholes, and at first glance, it appears that this goal was accomplished. It’s a simple rate (one Hyatt point or one AAdvantage mile per dollar spent), and the fact that it extends to all elite levels in both programs is fantastic.

Remember too that you can pick up Hyatt Discoverist status simply by holding The World of Hyatt Credit Card, so cardholders will soon be able to earn additional Hyatt points every time they fly American, making this card even more lucrative.

Speaking of elite status …

Reciprocal Elite Status

Select American elites will soon enjoy perks at Hyatt properties like the Park Hyatt Maldives. (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

In addition to the earning side of the equation, the enhanced partnership will allow many of the programs’ respective elite members with an opportunity to enjoy reciprocal elite status benefits during their stays or flights. This has a couple of different layers, but the simplest is for American ConciergeKey travelers. When the program launches, you’ll receive Hyatt Globalist status, a phenomenal addition to your suite of benefits. Hyatt’s comparatively small global footprint can make it challenging to hit 60 elite-qualifying nights in a calendar year, even with spending on The World of Hyatt Credit Card. If you’re a ConciergeKey member with American, you now have automatic top-tier status with a very valuable program.

However, most other elite tiers from the two programs will not be left out, as these members will “have the opportunity to participate in limited-time status challenges” according to the press release. This will include the opportunity for members to “immediately enjoy their new loyalty benefits in the reciprocal program tier as they work to maintain that elite tier status.” I pressed for additional information during my conversation and was told the following:

  • AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum travelers would be able to work towards accelerated status in the World of Hyatt program.
  • World of Hyatt Explorist and Globalist members will be afforded the opportunity earn all the way up to top-tier elite status in the AAdvantage program.

That being said, it’s unclear exactly what this will entail. How do the tiers map to one another? How long will status last initially? What are the requirements to maintain that status, and how long will it then last? Answers to these questions aren’t currently available, but when we get them, it’ll go a long way towards determining the value of this enhanced partnership.

I also asked whether these challenges would be a one-time deal to coincide with the launch or whether they’d be offered again in the future. I was told they are definitely not a one-time offer, though the executives weren’t able to confirm the frequency that they’d be offered in subsequent years.

Timing for Launch

Of course, I’m sure your biggest question is when this all will go live, and as of now, there’s no exact date or even month to get this up and running. However, I did press for even a rough timeline and was told “later this year.” That could (naturally) mean a variety of things, but it’s all the team was able to share at this time.

My Thoughts

(Photo via Shutterstock)
This new collaboration is a nice development, especially with similar programs cutting back on benefits or disappearing entirely. (Photo via Shutterstock)

It’s always great to see loyalty programs innovate, and I think this new agreement between American and Hyatt is perfectly timed. There are many disillusioned guests from a certain program looking for alternatives, and the World of Hyatt might appeal to many. Though it’s long had a limited global footprint, the program has added over 150 properties to its portfolio over the last few months thanks to its partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and with the integration of Two Roads Hospitality expected to happen sometime this year, Hyatt is taking steps to address this limitation.

We’ve also seen similar partnerships devalued or discontinued entirely over the last several months. As noted above, the Crossover Rewards partnership between SPG and Delta ended in July 2018, and while the RewardsPlus program between Marriott and United still exists, it doesn’t allow for reciprocal earning, and lower-tier elites are excluded from status matches. It also now offers new Marriott Gold to eligible United Premier travelers, a significant step down from the legacy Marriott Rewards Gold status it used to confer. This left a large void that American and Hyatt are (naturally) anxious to fill.

It’ll be interesting to see how the other major programs respond to this announcement. Will United and Marriott further enhance RewardsPlus? Will Delta launch a new partnership with a program like Hilton Honors? I certainly hope this is just the first act in a series of escalating enhancements that’ll provide new or expanded opportunities for members to be rewarded for their combined loyalty to an airline and a hotel program.

Bottom Line

We don’t yet know everything there is to know about this new American-Hyatt collaboration, but on the surface, it sounds exciting. All elites in both programs will enjoy more lucrative and rewarding travel experiences across the two, while ConciergeKey members can utilize an automatic upgrade to Hyatt Globalist. The exact terms of the promised status challenges will be key in determining just how valuable this is, but as a current Hyatt elite, I’ll certainly be more inclined to book American once the program launches to earn additional World of Hyatt points for those flights.

Once we have additional details, including a launch date for the new partnership, we’ll be sure to share.

Featured photo by Hyatt, Getty Images.

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