Hyatt has long been known for offering the best value on point redemptions of any of the major hotel chains. Beginning in March, they are implementing peak and off-peak pricing for free night awards. While the changes aren’t drastic, all Hyatt loyalists need to be aware of them.
The Hyatt award chart will still offer the same eight categories, depending on the class of the hotel (unlike Hilton and IHG, who have moved to a dynamic pricing schedule, Hyatt at least gives members a fixed idea of what award nights will cost). The chain will lay out peak and off-peak dates 13 months in advance—compared to Marriott, which changes them every month to take advantage of consumer demand for rooms. In addition to award nights, the fluctuating pricing will also apply to other redemptions such as standard and premium suites, club level rooms and points and cash bookings.
Here is the new award chart for free nights starting in March:
Category 1: Off-Peak (3500) Standard (5000) Peak (6500)
Category 2: Off-Peak (6500) Standard (8000) Peak (9500)
Category 3: Off-Peak (9000) Standard (12000) Peak (15000)
Category 4: Off-Peak (12000) Standard (15000) Peak (18000)
Category 5: Off-Peak (17000) Standard (20000) Peak (23000)
Category 6: Off-Peak (21000) Standard (25000) Peak (29000)
Category 7: Off-Peak (25000) Standard (30000) Peak (35000)
Category 8: Off-Peak (35000) Standard (40000) Peak (45000)
Depending on the category, peak pricing will cost between 1,500 and 5,000 more points per night, while off-peak pricing will offer discounts in the same range. The point differential for Regency Club and Standard Suite awards is similar, although the rates are higher:
Category 1: Off-Peak (6500) Standard (8000) Peak (9500)
Category 2: Off-Peak (11500) Standard (13000) Peak (14500)
Category 3: Off-Peak (17000) Standard (20000) Peak (23000)
Category 4: Off-Peak (21000) Standard (24000) Peak (27000)
Category 5: Off-Peak (29000) Standard (32000) Peak (35000)
Category 6: Off-Peak (36000) Standard (40000) Peak (44000)
Category 7: Off-Peak (43000) Standard (48000) Peak (53000)
Category 8: Off-Peak (56000) Standard (61000) Peak (66000)
The rates (and point differentials) for Premium Suite awards are higher still:
Category 1: Off-Peak (7000) Standard (10000) Peak (13000)
Category 2: Off-Peak (13000) Standard (16000) Peak (19000)
Category 3: Off-Peak (18000) Standard (24000) Peak (30000)
Category 4: Off-Peak (24000) Standard (30000) Peak (36000)
Category 5: Off-Peak (34000) Standard (40000) Peak (46000)
Category 6: Off-Peak (42000) Standard (50000) Peak (58000)
Category 7: Off-Peak (50000) Standard (60000) Peak (70000)
Category 8: Off-Peak (70000) Standard (80000) Peak (90000)
If you’re using points to upgrade a paid room to Club, Standard or Premium Suite, the point requirements don’t change. Points and cash redemptions also remain simple across the board: half the room rate in dollars plus half the points needed for a free night, regardless of the category.
It’s unlikely that any die-hard Hyatt fans will be celebrating these changes, since they seem to mark the first step toward a revenue-based redemption system. On the positive, side, though, the terms are completely transparent, which is something you can’t say for Hilton, IHG or Marriott. Hyatt has assured members that the majority of days each year will be set to Standard, rather than Peak or Off-Peak.
In addition, there are two sweet spots in the changing Hyatt scenario. Since 2011 the chain has allowed members to earn and redeem points at restaurants and spas even when they were not guests at the hotel. Beginning at the end of January, the value of points for those redemptions will double—for example, a $100 credit for dining, spa treatments or room service will cost 10,000 points rather than 20,000. A sliding scale applies: the higher the dollar credit, the more points are worth.
The second loophole is potentially more valuable. Members who hold the World of Hyatt card receive a free anniversary night each year, good for Category 1-4 hotels; additional free nights can be earned at the $15,000 spending threshold, after 30 and 60 elite nights, and after staying in five different Hyatt brands. The good news is that these award certificates are valid whenever reward rooms are available, and even during periods when peak pricing applies. In other words: rather than redeeming your free night for a Category 4 hotel at 15,000 points, you can use it during a peak period when it would normally cost 18,000 points.
While things are constantly changing in the world of points and miles (as it is everywhere else), Hyatt points remain extremely valuable and still offer more flexibility toward redemptions than other major hotel chains.
A word of caution: Because of that constant change, you’re advised to earn and burn rather than hoard points. The next Hyatt devaluation, when it comes, is likely to be more serious.
Source: frugal travel guy