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World of Hyatt: Hacking Hyatt’s New Rewards Program

Say that three times fast. Yesterday, Hyatt introduced a new rewards program called World of Hyatt, which will go into effect on March 1, 2017. The changes are negative for most people, especially those who earn elite status via mattress running or credit card spending. In addition to eliminating the ability to earn elite credit through spending on the Chase Hyatt Visa, Hyatt is implementing new elite status requirements:

Discoverist  10 Qualifying Nights or 25,000 Base Points ($5,000 spent)

Explorist      30 Qualifying Nights or 50,000 Base Points ($10,000 spent)

Globalist      60 Qualifying Nights or 100,000 Base Points ($20,000 spent)

Hotel entrance

Gone are the previous Platinum and Diamond membership levels. Going forward, members can aim for Discoverist, Explorist, and Globalist status. The names are already annoying me to death because they keep getting autocorrected to “discoveries” and exploits.” What’s worse is that under this new elite status system, members have to stay 60 nights or spend $20,000 to earn top-tier status. What does this new elite status get you? Not much, considering what you have to spend to earn it!

Globalist Members (60 nights or 100,000 Base Points)

  • 30% point bonus
  • Free parking and no resort fee on award stays
  • Club lounge access
  • Free night at a Category 1 – 4 hotel, plus a free night at a Category 1-7 hotel
  • Free bottle of water
  • Best room available (including standard suites). 
  • No rest fee on award nights and eligible paid rates

The inclusion of suites for room upgrades is an improvement, but in the two years I was a Hyatt Diamond member, I hardly ever got upgraded to a room not facing a brick wall, let alone a suite. I wouldn’t take “room upgrade upon availability” too seriously. 

On the plus side, suite upgrades can now be applied to award stays, which is great…for those who can continue earning elite status under the new scheme. I don’t want to be too harsh on the new World of Hyatt Rewards program though. Here are a few more positive changes:

Explorist Members (30 Nights or 50,000 Base Points)

  • 20% point bonus
  • Club lounge access 4 times annually
  • Best room available, excluding club rooms and suites.
  • Free night at a  Category 1 – 4 hotel
  • No resort fees on award nights
  • Free bottle of water

Discoverist Members (10 Nights or 25,000 Points)

  • 10% point bonus
  • No resort fee on award nights
  • Upgrade to a higher floor or larger room, based on availability
  • Free bottle of water

Standard Members

  • No resort fee on award nights

Once again, the first two levels of Hyatt’s elite status offer nothing worthwhile. Is “higher floor” really an upgrade? Because I’ve been put in “higher floor” rooms where the window faced a brick wall, so it’s not really an upgrade if the view is bad.

Hacking Top-Tier Status With World of Hyatt

Under the new World of Hyatt rewards program, earning top-tier Globalist elite status is going to be costly and probably unattainable for most people. You’ll need to spend $20,000 to qualify based on points. Earning status via 60 nights might be slightly cheaper if earned via low-category hotels. Completing 60 nights at a Category 1 Hyatt hotel could work out as cheaply as $6,000 but that’s pushing it. It’s definitely not worth mattress running for.

My strategy going forward is to just pay for what I want, whether that’s a certain room type or breakfast at the hotel. It will certain work out cheaper than trying to get those benefits by earning elite status.

Alternatives to World of Hyatt Top-Tier Elite Status

These changes to Hyatt’s elite status benefits affirm my decision to switch loyalty over to Hilton HHonors. Top-tier Hilton HHonors Diamond status is still attainable via the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, which allows members to maintain top-tier status through $40,000 worth of credit card spending. This is a very easy feat for me, but more importantly, I find Hilton treats their Diamond members better than Hyatt. 

As a Hyatt Diamond member, I hardly ever got a better room – not so much as a non-crappy view. There are Hyatt hotels where I stay 6-10 nights a year and not even that gets me a “welcome back.” However, at Hilton I have consistently gotten upgraded to both suites and rooms with better views. Even when I stayed at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District on a $25 mistake rate, they upgraded me to the executive floor with a very nice view of Coit Tower.

At the Conrad Bali, I got upgraded to the Penthouse Suite when the Pool Suite wasn’t available on the last night, and at the Hilton Sydney the agent checking me in not only upgraded me to an Executive Floor room with club lounge access, but she also threw in free breakfast for two at Glass Brasserie – a $100 value! So for me, these changes are more reason to switch over to Hilton. After all, it is one of the most generous rewards programs in terms of earning free nights on paid stays or via credit card spending.

I imagine Hyatt, with its small portfolio of ~600 hotels, had way more top-tier elites than reasonable and decided to make these changes in order to even things out. For folks who travel a great for travel, these changes may be preferable to Hyatt’s previous set-up.

How does the new World of Hyatt rewards program affect your loyalty?

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Ariana Arghandewal

7 Comments

    • Hacking is in the title to get you read this article. Hacking is the word to draw website traffic.

  1. Ariana: My experience Hilton vs. Hyatt is exactly the reverse of yours. My stay at the Conrad Bali was in a tiny, ground floor room; I seldom have gotten a meaningful upgrade at a Hilton hotel without asking or arguing for it; and Hyatts have many times given me upgrades to junior suites without even asking, despite that being wholly optional for them. I like Hilton’s wide variety of hotels, and the W=A and Conrads are some of the nicest hotels in the world (Maldives, Cavalia, Hong Kong, Singapore, NYC, Koh Samui), but really: A typical Hyatt almost always beats a typical tired Hilton, Hampton etc.

    I am disappointed in Hyatt big-time: I will be top tier the first year, and then can’t possibly do 55 nights due to my business stay pattern (there’s just not enough Hyatts in enough places with rates that make sense). So quite likely it’s back to Hilton for me as the secondary; I will always place SPG as the prime chain due to their meaningful program and benefits, and the way I am treated by their hotels (please, Marriott: Don’t screw this up).

    • Marriott/SPG is a good alternative right now thanks to the generous status match program and the ability to earn top-tier Platinum status by spending $75k on the Ritz Carlton Card.

  2. One thing to note: the top tier gets lounge access or free breakfast. (Your bullet point only says lounge access)

    It looks like Hyatt is really going after the Hyatt Place/ House, Summerfield suites, as before as a top tier Diamond you really only got 500 points, now you get upgraded to a suite which I could see being huge for those people who generally stay at Hyatt Houses for example, and those who probably have longer term stays or contracts.

    For me this will probably cause me to leave Hyatt after almost 20 years of diamond status. I generally stay just one or two nights in any given city. I struggle to make 25 stays even as often there is no Hyatt in my destination cities.

    I really don’t care much for the Hyatt Place/Summerfield suites, will probably look at moving to virtuoso potentially for my stays. Not sure.

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