One thing that Hyatt has done differently from other major hotel programs like Hilton, Marriott, and SPG is that they have not allowed free nights to count towards elite status. So, for example, when you burn 20,000 Hyatt points for a stay, that stay would not count towards elite status. This was a major bummer with Hyatt since they were the one outlier who didn’t allow this and because Hyatt requires 60 nights for its top tier Globalist status, which is not an easy feat for many people.
The new changes to World of Hyatt
However, Hyatt just announced that beginning on January 1, 2018, Hyatt will allow free nights to count towards elite status.
This applies to all free nights, which covers:
- Nights booked with points,
- Free night certificates from the Hyatt Credit Card,
- Free nights from reaching elite levels (Explorist and Globalist), and
- Free nights from staying at five different Hyatt brands (available to earn twice).
In addition, they are extending the validity dates for the following free night awards so that you can use them up to 180 days from issuance (up from 120 days):
- Free night in a Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort when you stay 30 qualifying nights or earn 50,000 Base Points in a calendar year
- Free night in a Category 1-7 Hyatt hotel or resort when you stay 60 qualifying nights or earn 100,000 Base Points in a calendar year
I’m not a huge Hyatt loyalist so these changes don’t do much for me. I find it much easier to obtain top-tier status with Marriott/SPG/Hilton than I do with Hyatt and the limited footprint of Hyatt makes it a lot tougher to find properties at times. I’m also not very crazy about their mid-tier elite levels. Discoverist, which comes with the Chase Hyatt Card, doesn’t do you much good (changes are supposedly on the way for the card) and Explorist doesn’t guarantee club lounge access (beyond 4 times) like you can get with Marriott Gold or even Hilton Gold (the difference is often a matter of getting a free breakfast or not).
I do really like the four suite confirmed upgrades that come with Globalist status, however. Being able to confirm a suite upgrade at the time of reservation is a major plus in my book. And Hyatt has some great all-inclusive properties like the Hyatt Ziva and Zilara which can be a great use of points in places like the Caribbean.
Overall, these are obviously positive changes for the World of Hyatt program but they don’t exactly help Hyatt differentiate itself from the other programs since they already offered these “new” benefits.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.