5 Cheap Ways to Complete the Hyatt Diamond Challenge

Update: As of January 2015, Hyatt is no longer offering the MyElite rate. Hyatt has also changed the terms of the Diamond Challenge. The requirements are the same, except elite status benefits don’t kick in until the challenge is complete. 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 cheaply. 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 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.

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  1. Nice post. You are getting better by the day. Too bad you don’t have any affiliate links for credit cards. Any specific recommendations or your favorites for cheap cash and points stays for mattress running from your past experience.

  2. thedealmommy

    I have great luck near airports on weekends. IAD is a great one. For FT4RL this weekend, most guests had rooms in the $60 range at the Hyatt House Dulles, and the Hyatt Dulles and Hyatt Place were similar.

    • That’s a great deal! Definitely better than doing a points + cash redemption. When I need to requalify for Diamond, I’ll definitely keep that one in mind.

  3. 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 points and $600 cash. Charge those stays on your Barclay Arrival Plus card and you can off-set those expenses with 60,000 points/$30,000 in manufactured spending.

    Can you explain this? I don’t get the MS valuation at all..60k points are worth 600 bucks or so. What is the 30k spend?

    • Barclay Arrival Card gives you 2.2x points. So it should really say 660,000 points or $660

    • I changed it a bit – it should be 54k miles/$27k in spend. The Arrival Plus card earns 2 miles per $1 on all spend, so $27k in ms = 54k miles. Miles can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent per point, but since you get 10% of your miles back, you need just 54k miles to redeem for $600 in travel charged to the card.

  4. could you teach me a few phrases to persuade remote check in, the low rates are tempting but fear that it wont check me in remotely and I m not going to be credited. Thanks Ariana

    • I would call them before making a reservation and just tell them, “I’m trying to meet elite night qualifications and don’t need to actually stay at this hotel. Would it be possible for you to check me in and out virtually?” A lot of the cheaper hotels are actually used to this and will go along with it.

  5. Hi Ariana,

    I live in the Sacramento Area and I think you are in the general area. There are two Hyatt cat 1 properties here. Have you completed the diamond challenge in the greater sac area, if so what location was the best for rates and friendliness of ghost check in?


    • I actually did use a Sacramento area property. I don’t want to list the name here, so I’ll just shoot you an email.

  6. Hi Ariana,

    I am currently on a Diamond trial too. Can you shoot me an email with the list of hotels you have been able to virtually check-in too?

  7. Thanks for the post. Very nicely done. Have you done virtual check in for multiple nights?

  8. Hi Ariana,

    I am in the North Bay (recently emailed you regarding the Simon Mall GC) and would appreciate your list of hotels, including Sacramento. TIA.

    • Pretty much any Sacramento area property will work – it’s just a matter of finding the cheapest. While you’re at it, search the cheapest markets throughout the US as well. Most properties will accommodate you.

  9. Hi Ariana , I am currently doing the Hyatt Diamond challenge , I did 9 real nights and still short 3, would you please email to me the list of hotels for remote check in? thanks

    • I’ve had success in Sacramento area hotels, but I would recommend finding the absolute cheapest one across the US and arranging a virtual check-in.

      • Hi Ariana , I am currently doing the Hyatt Diamond challenge. I need several nights to meet the requirement. would you please email to me the list of hotels for remote check in, especially in Atlanta?

  10. Hi Ariana,

    Great post. This is the one I’ve been waiting for. Could you email me the list also? I need to qualify for Diamond again. Thanks.

  11. If we did the Diamond Challenge in Nov. and Dec., would we get the status until Feb. 2015 or 2016?

  12. To get the My Elite Rate to show up, you have to have no other codes entered. You should mention that.

    I think the 2,500 points for a closed lounge is of course only for properties that HAVE lounges and happen to close them on weekends. So mostly this means Hyatt Regencies. Not the cheapest option typically (probably Hyatt Place mostly).

    You should mention that award nights don’t count, though as you say cash + points nights do. Also I can’t remember if M-Life stays in Vegas count or not. I think they don’t, but am not sure.

    • Mlife counts, and it goes without saying that a hotel must have a lounge in order for guests to count on it being closed on weekends – something every person should inquire about before booking their stay. The cheapest options aren’t always Hyatt Place hotels. You can find Regency airport hotels for lower rates than Hyatt Place properties in some markets.

      • I believe Mlife stays count toward status, but not achieving the diamond challenged. There are many 3* Vegas strip properties that are very cheap during the summer, if they would allow remote check-in.

        • Don’t forget about the daily resort fees in Vegas, adding $20-25 to the bill per day.

          This also brings to mind the taxes/fees (in the U.S at least) associated with the cash portion of the bill when you stay on Points+Cash. This increases the out of pocket expenses by about 10%.

        • Remote check-in won’t be possible anywhere in Vegas. All the resorts have a policy that requires the cardholder to be present for check-in. Apparently there has been a lot of credit card fraud and they’re cracking down on it this way.

  13. Could I trouble you as well for the list? I’d looked at SPG, but Hyatt just seems to offer more.

  14. Hello, Can you send me your list as well for Hyatt remote check in locations that have worked for you?

  15. I need to look at doing this Virtual Check-in and Check-out process. Has this been done only in the states? I am living in Singapore where the Grand Hyatt is ridiculously expensive and would love to be able to do this at a neighbouring country (i.e. Indonesia).

  16. Linda VanHoose

    Great advice! Just got accepted for a diamond trial membership and the closest Hyatt property is 2.5 hours away. Could you please share with me your list as well? Thank you!

    • Good luck with the trial, Linda! I don’t have a list, but in general most properties will accommodate you as long as you call and explain to them what you’re looking to do.

  17. Had to use three virtual nights to complete my diamond trial. Thank you for this tip! Found a $70/night rate which will more than make up for the benefits. Glad I got in before they decided to shut it down. Now if you know of any category 1 starwood hotels where this would work, i would be really happy to know that, too. 🙂

    • Nice! I’ve never actually done a mattress run with SPG, so I can’t say. I’d just look at the Category 1 list and pick one that’s semi-local. They’re all bound to have low rates.

  18. Hi, is virtual check in/out method still work at Hyatt? would like to start my Hyatt Diamond Challenge…..if so, can you also email me the Hyatt hotels you have tried virtual check in/out that worked for you before?


    • It works at pretty much every hotel chain, but depends on the hotel/agent you’re dealing with. I would call any Hyatt in your local area and take to a front desk rep. If you just honestly explain what you’re trying to do, they’re very understanding.

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