Update: as of 10/31/14 the Hyatt Diamond Challenge has been discontinued. For tips on how to get Diamond status without the challenge, check out this post.
After a slew of recent Hyatt-recentric posts, I realized I’ve failed to cover the most fundamental of all Hyatt posts: How to complete the Hyatt Diamond Challenge cheap. Hyatt Diamond is the highest status level within the Gold Passport program. Typically, members are required to complete 25 stays/50 nights to achieve Diamond status. With the Hyatt Diamond challenge, members can earn status after just 12 nights.
The 60 day Hyatt Diamond Challenge is one of the greatest travel hacks out there. It’s an easy way to upgrade your travel and save money with perks like complimentary breakfast, club lounge access, wifi, room upgrades, bonus points and more. In addition, members will get 1,000 bonus points for their first 6 nights, which is a nice bonus.
It’s easy to get and a great starting point for status matching to other programs. The preferred way to get matched to Hyatt Diamond is by picking up a Cit Hilton HHonors Reserve card, which comes with Gold status. Then simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a screenshot displaying your Hilton Gold status and you’ll get confirmation via email about your Diamond challenge start/end date. While most other programs require you to complete a top-tier status challenge before getting access to the perks reserved for elites, those participating in a Hyatt Diamond challenge get those perks during the challenge.
If you find during those 60 days that you’d like to keep your newfound status beyond the trial date, all it takes is 12 nights to cement your status through February of the following year. Whether you decide to mattress run your way through 12 stays or you’ve arranged the challenge so that it lines up with actual travel plans, there are always ways you can reduce your cost. Here are 5 ways you can complete the Hyatt Diamond trial cheaply:
1. Search for Cheap Hotels. This sounds like a no-brainer, but if you’re looking to pay out of pocket for a mattress mattress run, search beyond local hotels. I’ve had tremendous luck getting hotels from a variety of chains (Hyatt, IHG, Club Carlson) to check me in and out of a hotel remotely. The hotel gets the revenue without the guest they have to take care of, extend benefits to, and clean up after.
With location hurdles out of the way, the first step is to find a cheap hotel, taking into account that markets like Orlando, Dallas, and Norfolk (VA) are some of the cheapest. It’s also a good idea to check Hyatt’s Category 1 hotel list for cheap properties.
2. My Elite Rate. When searching for hotels, make sure you are logged into your account as a Diamond member to ensure that the My Elite Rate appears. This can save you an extra 20% on your stay, if you’re paying with cash.
Once you’ve done your due diligence to find a cheap hotel, simply call the front desk, explain that you’re looking to meet elite night requirements, and ask if they’ll check you in and out virtually. I haven’t been turned down by a single hotel so far.
3. Weekend Stays. Weekend stays (especially Sundays) are typically when hotels offer the cheapest rates – the exception being, of course, resorts. Even if you’re staying on a Points + Cash award, a weekend stay can make your mattress run cheaper in the long run. Why? Because if you choose a property that closes it’s lounge on weekends, you earn another 2,500 points per stay. If you can manage this for all 12 nights, you’re looking at off-setting the 30,000 points mentioned above altogether, brining your total out of pocket cost down to $0 if you factor in manufactured spending from the Arrival Plus card (see #2).
4. Get up to 10% Cash Back. A somewhat odd perk of the SPG Business card is 5% cash back at Hyatt hotels through the OPEN savings program. This is a good way to go if you’re booking your stay on cash only. Stack this with a shopping portal and you can get up to 10% cash back in total. As of this writing, the highest cash back amount on Hyatt stays is 3% offered by TopCashBack (referral link). It’s worth noting that My Elite rates do not qualify for cash back.
5. Points + Cash. Completing 12 nights on paid mattress runs can get expensive. Even if you score a low rate of $100 per night, that’s $1,200 of hard earned cash blown on hotels you never stayed at. A better alternative is Hyatt’s Points + Cash option. As I pointed out in a previous post, it’s the cheapest way to earn Hyatt stays via manufactured spending. Translation: It will cost you less overall. Pick a Category 1 Hyatt hotel for all 12 nights and you’re looking at a total of 30,000 Gold Passport points and $600 cash (Category 1 Points + Cash awards cost 2,500 points + $50 cash). Charge those stays on your Barclay Arrival Plus card and you can off-set the cash portion with 54,000 Arrival Miles/$27,000 in manufactured spending.
That’s the Diamond Challenge in a nutshell. What makes it great is that it’s attainable and as the points above demonstrate, you can do it with very little to no out of pocket costs.
Do you have any tips for completing the Hyatt Diamond challenge on a budget? Please share in the comment section.