Back in November Hyatt announced some pretty major changes to their Gold Passport program, which kicked in January 7, 2014. The changes began with an award chart devaluation, and the following week they announced some positive changes like Points + Cash awards and special elite rates. There’s no doubt that if there’s one word that could describe the past six months in the travel loyalty program industry it would be “devalued.”

The Gold Passport changes finally kicked in this past Tuesday, and frankly I’m kind of surprised to say this, but as a Gold Passport Diamond member I think the changes may have actually been positive, all things considered.

To recap, the negative Gold Passport changes included:

  • Hyatt introduced six new hotels that fall in Category 7, which cost 30,000 points per night. Previously Category 6 was the most expensive, and those hotels cost 22,000 points per night.
  • Hyatt increased the cost of redemptions for standard rooms at Category 5-6 properties.
  • Hyatt increased the cost of premium room redemptions (club and suite) at most categories of hotels.
  • Hyatt hugely increased the number of points required for suite upgrades. Previously 6,000 points would get you a suite upgrade for up to four nights, while now they’re charging 6,000 points per night.

Meanwhile the positive Gold Passport changes included:

Hyatt-Cash-Points1

Typically when loyalty programs make changes they’re negative on the whole, though for my personal travel patterns I actually think these changes may be positive, which is a refreshing change.

Changes for Diamond members

All things considered I’d argue as a Diamond member these changes are positive. For my personal travel the biggest hit are the new Category 7 properties, which went up in cost by 8,000 points per night, and are also the least lucrative options through Points + Cash. At the same time, there are only six hotels in this new category (the Park Hyatts in Beaver Creek, Milan, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, and Zurich), so it could have been much worse. And while it sucks not to be able to redeem points for those properties at an attractive rate anymore, hopefully most managed to book at least some of those properties pre-devaluation.

But for the other properties I’d say the changes are positive. While Category 4-6 properties went up slightly in price for award night redemptions, almost across the board Points + Cash is a better value than the previous outright redemption costs. Beyond that you can now apply suite upgrades and earn points/stay credits for these stays.

Not being able to apply suite upgrades to award stays used to be one of my biggest frustrations with Hyatt, actually. Hyatt has some spectacular properties, and for the more expensive ones I prefer to redeem points. Those are the stays that mattered most to me, but also the stays that I couldn’t upgrade to a suite with my Diamond suite upgrades (though I could pay 50% more points for a suite, which is a reasonable premium). To be clear, I don’t blame Hyatt for that, but the new policy is super-generous.

Now there are so many great Category 5-6 properties that you can book using Points + Cash and even apply a Diamond suite upgrade to. Here are just a few examples:

  • Andaz Maui
  • Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
  • Park Hyatt Beijing
  • Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
  • Park Hyatt Dubai
  • Park Hyatt Moscow
  • Park Hyatt Shanghai

Changes for non-Diamond members

So for non-Diamond members I’d say the changes are probably negative on the whole. The cost of suite upgrades using points is going up significantly, and for non-Diamond members the fact that Points + Cash stays are now eligible for points accrual, elite stay/night credit, and Diamond suite upgrades is probably less important. At the same time I think many non-Diamonds will appreciate the new Points + Cash option, and many Platinum members will appreciate the “My Elite Rate” option.

What do you think? For your personal travel patterns were the Hyatt Gold Passport changes positive, negative, or a wash?

  1. January 11th, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Gary said,

    For me the increase in suite upgrades on points hurts the most. Even after the increase Hyatt is the most generous program for this so I really can’t *blame* them.

  2. January 11th, 2014 at 7:32 am

    SS said,

    They finally got rid of option to get suites at several top properties of the world for reasonable amount of points.

    Now only oneS left is IC Bora Bora, with their 50K points, but with your and Gary’s heavy promotion of it, it’s sure to be disabled this year.
    I am also pretty sure Park Hyatt Maldives will be bumped to Cat 7 – all suites property during next devaluation.

  3. January 11th, 2014 at 8:11 am

    iTravelBuzz said,

    Andaz Maui… I’m glad you mentioned. Another blogger highly praised it. Will look into it for my upcoming HI trip in 2015.

  4. January 11th, 2014 at 8:17 am

    sfmom said,

    We upgraded to a suite at the Park Hyatt Aviara pre-devaluation, but post-devaluation we booked the Hyatt Incline Village, which is charging $439 a night in high season, for $125/night+10,000 points. I’m a newbie but I think that’s 3.14 cents a point, which I’m very happy with.

  5. January 11th, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Pat said,

    I like them as a Diamond. On Day 1, I booked p+c at Andaz Maui and switched an award reservation to p+c at GH HKG. Both suite upgrades cleared.

  6. January 11th, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Ken Y. said,

    I rarely pay more than $200 a night at Hyatt properties. Points and cash is NOT a good value for anyone savvy.

  7. January 11th, 2014 at 9:07 am

    mileswhore said,

    Ken Y:

    Then you rarely stay in the suites at Grand Hyatts and Park Hyatts. NOT good value you say? 12,500 points and $150 a night for a $1,500 room IS value.

  8. January 11th, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Izz said,

    I was going to redeem 24k points for the Hyatt Place in Seattle but decided to use 6k pts + $75/nt cash instead and then use the same 6k pts + $75/nt for the Vancouver Hyatt Regency for two nights. I don’t think I’m going to find a nicer hotel than the VHR for the $300 in cash I’m going to pay for two nights. Did I do the right thing?

  9. January 11th, 2014 at 9:59 am

    lucky said,

    @ Izz — Sounds like it to me!

  10. January 11th, 2014 at 10:27 am

    jpgisbd said,

    Agree, Lucky. I think the devaluation would sting a little less if I was a Diamond and may be somewhat beneficial if trying to obtain Diamond status. Diamond is just to expensive for me to obtain with just leisure travel, but enjoyed it for one year after a Diamond trial. Any chance they would offer me that again in a few years?

  11. January 11th, 2014 at 11:37 am

    lucky said,

    @ jpgisbd — Unfortunately it’s generally once in a lifetime, though it can’t hurt to ask in a few years, I suppose!

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