Act Now: What Families Need to Book Before Hyatt’s Points + Cash Changes
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The “leak” of a forthcoming 8th award category is not the only news of the week when it comes to the World of Hyatt program. More importantly for traveling families in the near term is that beginning Thursday, Nov. 1, the way that Points + Cash nights are priced is changing across all category levels.
What Is Happening To Hyatt Points + Cash Awards?
Until Nov. 1, Hyatt Points + Cash awards are priced with a flat amount of points and cash required per night that increases as you head north on the award chart. Just like with World of Hyatt award nights that are booked solely on points, the Points + Cash rate does not fluctuate based on the selling price of the hotel room. But, that is soon to change as the cash surcharge on Points + Cash nights will become 50% of the standard room rate, instead of a fixed amount. The number of points required will be a constant amount determined by the property’s category in the World of Hyatt program.
For reference, here is the current Hyatt Points + Cash award chart in effect until Nov. 1:
Just How Bad Are The Changes?
As you can see, the points component of Points + Cash is not changing (it is 50% of the number required for a full points award), but let’s look at how the cash portion may change significantly as it becomes a number that is tied to 50% of the room’s Standard Rate. Note that all rates would be plus taxes and fees, which can be substantial at some properties.
Hyatt Regency Waikiki – June 2
- Current Points + Cash rate: 10,000 points + $125
- New Points + Cash rate: 10,000 points + 50% of $329 ($164.50) – for room with one king bed
- Increase of $39.50 (plus taxes and fees)
Grand Hyatt Kauai – June 15
- Current Points + Cash rate: 12,500 points + $150
- New Points + Cash rate: 12,500 points + 50% of $719 ($359.50) – for room with two queen beds
- Increase of $209.50 (plus taxes and fees)
Hyatt Olive 8 (Seattle) – Nov. 25
- Current Points + Cash rate: 7,500 points + $100
- New Points + Cash rate: 7,500 points + 50% of $159 ($79.50) – for room with one king bed
- Decrease of $20.50 (plus taxes and fees)
These are just three of thousands of potential examples, but they paint a pretty good picture of what this coming change will mean. It can either be sort of bad, really bad or seemingly good. The trick is the last example where the change results in a decrease in the cash copay is a little misleading. It is misleading because a paid rate that night at the Hyatt Olive 8 is just $159 on the standard rate, or $152 for the member rate (even less for a nonrefundable rate). At those prices, using Hyatt points isn’t a great decision as you are getting just a tiny bit over 1 cent per point in value, which is far too low for World of Hyatt points.
TPG values World of Hyatt points at 1.8 cents each, and my own redemption threshold for Hyatt points with my family is closer to 2+ cents each. When your return per Hyatt points is around 1 cent each, you are probably better off paying for that stay either with cash or fixed value points from a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Discover it® Miles or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.
The time to use Hyatt points is typically when rates are high, and those are exactly the type of redemptions that are being gutted with the upcoming Points + Cash changes. Families are hit extra hard by this change as properties commonly charge more for rooms with two beds, which means that the Standard Rate is likely to be even higher for two queen beds than one king bed.
Focus On Booking These Type Of Points + Cash Stays
If you are reading this before Nov. 1, it is not too late to lock in some Hyatt Points + Cash reservations at the current fixed pricing structure. If you already know your travel plans through late 2019, obviously check when/where you want to go to see if Points + Cash make sense. Note that these rates are not always available, so you may not find what you are looking for. If your World of Hyatt balance is running low, remember that you can transfer Chase Ultimate Reward points to the World of Hyatt from the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card at a 1:1 ratio.
To help narrow your searches, focus first on Hyatt Points + Cash awards for these types of family hotel stays:
- No Resort Fees: Know that Points + Cash are a better overall value when you are staying at a property without resort fees as you will pay them on Hyatt Points + Cash bookings, but not on full award bookings. The exception to this rule is if you have Hyatt Globalist status as those top-tier elites do not pay resort fees on any eligible Hyatt bookings, including Points + Cash.
- Focus on Hyatt Category 2–6 Properties: Currently, the fixed Hyatt Points + Cash award chart is best for Category 2 – 6 redemptions as Category 1 and 7 properties have a higher fixed proportionate cash charge than the middle tiers.
- Book Where Cash Rates Are High: The biggest blow to Hyatt Points + Cash redemptions will be at those properties where cash rates spike during school holidays, big events, peak times, etc. Focus your efforts on locking in Points + Cash awards during those timeframes now as they will become much more expensive on Nov. 1.
Families who like to stretch their Hyatt points by combining some cash with points in order to stay at nice Hyatt hotels and resorts are on the precipice of losing this very rewarding way to make aspirational travel fit into their budget. Spending 12,500 Hyatt points + $150 per night to stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai was realistic for those in the miles and points game as you could pull a four-night stay off with the up to 60,000 point welcome bonus from the World of Hyatt Credit Card + $600 in cash (along with taxes/fees). However, spending 12,500 points + $359 per night for the same stay on some example June dates quickly tacks on another $1,000 to the cost of a four- or five-night family vacation without gaining anything in return.
That is great for the hotel that pockets that cash, but not great for the family who may have just been priced out of their dream trip. Or at the very least, that dream trip may need to wait until you have enough points to make a full award booking.
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