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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hyatt Gold Passport: latest program to jump on the devaluation bandwagon


United, Delta, Hilton, Aeroplan, you name it, many popular airline and hotel programs have been updating, enhancing, devaluing their reward offerings over the past 10 months and it hasn't stopped as last Friday news came out that Hyatt was also changing their reward requirements. The news of the changes came out on Friday, we actually got a Hyatt email yesterday outlining the changes yesterday and while in general some of the changes aren't so bad there are some that really are! For Canadians it is both not so bad and really bad. First it is not so bad as Hyatt has a very small presence in Canada with only 5 hotels so the Gold Passport program doesn't hold as much weight as others for travel within Canada however the really bad part is that for Canadians who travel abroad (and also to the Hyatt's within Canada) the primary source for earning Gold Passport points in on hotel stays. We don't have a dedicated Hyatt credit card like the United States which you can earn tons of Gold Passport points with. In fact the only card that you can collect Gold Passport points with is the Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard which unfortunately is closed to new applications and the conversion ratio for it isn't great (2,250 Club Rewards points = 750 Gold Passport Points).

Now on to the actual devaluation!

Here are the new and old award charts for Gold Passport redemptions:

As you can see there is a new category, Category 7. At this time only the 6 most premier Hyatt Hotels are being moved in Category 7. They are Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, Park Hyatt Milan, Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, Park Hyatt Sydne,y Park Hyatt Tokyo and the Park Hyatt Zurich. This new category costs 30,000 points per night for a standard award. Previously they were in Category 6 which used to be (well is until January 6th) only 22,000 points. The Category 6 redemption level of 22,000 points has been one of the if not the best high end redemptions available out of all hotel loyalty programs due based on value. There has been a lot of speculation coming about this redemption level since it has been such a great value for stays at places like the 6 Park Hyatts mentioned and other high end Hyatt properties.

According to the email from Hyatt Gold Passport, an additional 38 hotels are changing categories. 21 are moving to a higher category while 17 are moving down. None of the Hyatt properties in Canada are included in the category changes. They will simply be affected by the new award night redemption changes. Overall there are no changes for Category 1-4 hotels which of course is a good thing. Category 5 hotels go from 18,000 points to 20,000 points and Category 6 go from 22,000 to 25,000 points. From the charts above you can also see that Regency Club/Grand Club and Suite award night redemptions are all increasing for Category 2-6 hotels. It goes without saying that the six Category 7 hotels also have new redemption rates for those premium room award nights and this is where it hurts most, 15,000 more points per night for a suite in one of these hotels!

Another big devaluation comes in the points for suite or points for club room upgrade options. Up until January 6th the suite upgrade remains at only 6,000 points per stay for up to four nights on the best flexible rate. After that it will 6,000 points per night. All in all this isn't a bad deal for short stays when compared to other programs but if you have a four night stay that is a huge increase to go from 6,000 points to 24,000 points! For club room upgrades it is 3,000 points per stay until January 6th after which it will also be on a per night basis.

Overall it is never a good thing to see a devaluation but even with these increased rates the Hyatt Gold Passport program is still very valuable. The worst part is the new Category 7 introduction, no doubt more hotels will be moved into this category over time and those redemption rates for suites are a sore spot. 30,000 points for a standard room at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome? That's actually not too bad in the grand scheme of things even if it is a 36% increase from the previous rate. In a nutshell I believe these changes affect us Canucks much less than the United changes we discussed last week but I do feel for you if you are a major user of the Gold Passport program!

You can find all the details as to which hotels are changing and complete charts here.

What are your thoughts on the changes? Are you going to continue using Hyatt Gold Passport or will you switch programs? We'd love to hear from by commenting below!

(Is there irony in this that it is being posted from the Hyatt Regency Vancouver?!?)

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