Hyatt Gold Passport announces a devaluation, and kills the ‘6000 points for a suite’ upgrade

The reward chart at Hyatt Gold Passport has seemed a little unsupportable for a while.  Park Hyatt – the most luxurious brand in the portfolio – operates some extremely fine hotels, such as the Park Hyatt Tokyo seen in ‘Lost In Translation’.  And 22,000 points for a free night felt cheap.

(Although, of course, it depends where you live.  US residents can earn a huge number of Hyatt points without even leaving their seat, as Gold Passport partners with the Chase credit card rewards programme.  Hyatt also has its own credit card.

Outside the US, Hyatt points are VERY hard to earn – fundamentally, there is no alternative to actually staying with them.  Even then, racking up points is not easy.  We have a weekend stay at Park Hyatt Zurich next month which will run to £1,500 – this is Switzerland we’re talking about – but even that will only get me half a free night.)

In a nutshell, this is what Hyatt announced on Sunday:

New Category 7 and some realignment of other categories

Here is the new award chart:

Hyatt award chart

The old chart ended at Category 6, which cost 22,000 points for a free night.

The new chart sees Category 6 properties rise to 25,000 points per nightA new Category 7 is also introduced, costing 30,000 points per night.  Initially, only six hotels will be in Category 7 – the Park Hyatt properties in Beaver Creek, Tokyo, Sydney, Milan, Paris and Zurich.  Over time, though, you can expect ‘category creep’ to expand this list.

Some hotel have also moved category.  The Andaz at Liverpool Street, for example, moves from Category 5 to Category 6, which means an increase from 18,000 points to 25,000 points.

Changes to the 6,000 point suite upgrade award

I have posted before about this ‘sweet spot’ in the Hyatt award chart.  Basically, for just 6,000 points (which you could buy from them, you didn’t even need to stay) you could upgrade your room to a suite for up to four nights.

The only ‘catch’ was that you paid the ‘best flexible rate’ for your room.  However, in many places – especially the luxury Hyatt properties in Asia – this usually wasn’t much more than the cheapest advertised rate anyway.  I have had some fantastic suites via this deal in the past, in particular at the Grand Hyatt in Shanghai.

Going forward, a suite upgrade will cost 6,000 points per night.  This is still a decent deal, and I would rather upgrade four nights of a paid stay to a suite than get one free night in a standard room.  On a 4-night stay, though, they have increased the cost by 400%!

And of course Hyatt Gift Certificates got restricted

I posted recently about the changes to Hyatt Gift Certificates.  These used to be a great way to use Hyatt’s gift vouchers to make big savings on cash room bookings, but recent changes made them relatively useless in most cases.

At least customers get ample warning

Hyatt, as usual, wins points for giving ample warning.  These new rates do not go into effect until 7th January.  Even then, if you have an existing booking and want to change the date, you will be able to do so without paying any extra points until 15th February.

Even better, Hyatt will automatically refund points to you if you have a reward booking for one of the hotels which is dropping in price (there are a few) after 6th January.

Conclusion

None of these changes will wreck Hyatt Gold Passport.  Apart from the six hotels in Category 7, the changes in the number of points needed is not huge.  However, as those six hotels offered the best ‘£ per point’ redemption value, it does have a disproportionate impact.

Further details and a Q&A can be found on the Hyatt website here.

What does annoy me, though, is the fact that I feel non-US Hyatt Gold Passport members are being punished for the ‘points inflation’ caused by Hyatt’s credit card activities in the US.

(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Dannyrado says:

    Oh no. Shame. Such a fabulous hotel chain and it was a fabulous program too.

    • I don’t think the programme is hugely worse. However, for a UK resident, it was already a pretty pointless one to focus on without the ability to top up points from a credit card. Their properties are just great, though. Park Hyatt Hamburg, which my wife uses on business as they have an office there, is probably one of the 10 best city hotels in Europe – and another couple of Park Hyatts would probably appear on such a list, eg Zurich, Paris.

  2. It appears to be open season on devaluations. Given that and lawsuit against BA, 100k avios bonuses in USA, and frequent references to forthcoming changes in BAs own emails it is looking inevitable they will follow soon. I get feeling another IHG devaluation is possible too as they are looking increasing attractive compared to competition. Perhaps it is time for a post on strategies to hedge against such changes? I know Raffles has given some stellar advice on approaches to keep options open, right redemption at right time in many posts but in current devaluation climate it might be useful to have a specific post and associated comments on the issue despite the inevitable element of stargazing it would entail.

    • The only ‘hedge’ is to use cards like an Amex Gold or Starwood Amex where you have various options as to where your transfer your points, and you can leave them in Amex or SPG until the last possible minute.

      Although, of course, you then run a (admittedly small) risk that Amex or SPG devalue their conversion rates!

      The best advice always remains ‘earn and burn’ – in general (although there are exceptions, eg the launch of Reward Flight Saver by BA) your points will only get less valuable over time.

      My guess is that the current ‘pressure point’ is InterContinental redemptions at 50,000 IHG points. Its ludicrous that a dumpy Holiday Inn Express in London is 35,000 points whilst the IC on Park Lane is capped at 50,000.

      • Similar IHG examples for Hong Kong which I am looking at currently. HIE Causeway Bay is 35,000 points, Crowne Plaza is 45,000 points whilst the IC Hong Kong, which is often listed as one of the 10 best 5 star hotels in world is 45,000 points. Does seem there is an imbalance.

    • The only strategy suitable if you’re worried about further devaluation (which is clearly certain, whatever the particulars) is to burn through your points…..they will only become worth less over time

      And agree with Raffles that this Hyatt devaluation is a shame, but doesn’t change the quality of the hotels or the treatment you get as a Diamond (which is outstanding). For me it’s a shame but I will continue to stay at hyatts, even with the poor geographic footprint, because I love how they look after me when I’m there.

      Raffles, Hamburg is great but I actually think Mainz is even better!

  3. Do you know if you can upgrade an Amex FHR booking to a suite? If so, can I book now for January and would it still be 6000 points? Assume so…

    • Not sure – you’d need to check the rules. If you’re paying less than the Best Flex rate, it won’t work. If you’ve booked into the lowest room category, it is unlikely to work as you normally need to book 2-3 rungs up the room ladder. No harm ringing Gold Passport to check though.