Can you game the World of Hyatt with your Citi Prestige card?

Game World of Hyatt Prestige

Beginning March 1 2017, Hyatt will dump their Gold Passport loyalty program in favor of the new World of Hyatt.  To get caught up on the changes, please see:

In a nutshell, top tier Globalist status in the new program will be even better in many ways than the current top tier Diamond status, but it will be harder to achieve.

Top Tier Benefits Won and Lost

My prior posts had complete details, but here’s a summary of the advantages of the new Globalist status over the old Diamond status:

  • Room upgrade upon arrival, up to standard suites (previously suites were excluded).
  • Free parking on free night awards.
  • Suite upgrade awards redeemable on both paid and free nights [editor’s note: this is huge]
  • Priority access to available rooms when checking in early

And here are a few disadvantages:

  • No elite benefits on 3rd party stays (i.e. don’t book your stay through an online travel site other than Hyatt.com)
  • No welcome gift upon arrival (I’ll miss those!)

Overall, I’d say that the advantages of the new top tier status considerably outweigh the disadvantages.

Achieving Top Tier

This is where the new program let us down.  Getting to top tier Hyatt status is harder than before.  Previously it was possible to get to Hyatt Diamond status with 25 stays per calendar year (and you can still do so this year if you complete 25 stays by the end of February).  The new requirements are either 60 nights or 100,000 Base Points (e.g. $20K spend) per calendar year.  You can re-qualify with “only” 55 nights.

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Citi Prestige 4th Night Free

One of the Citi Prestige card’s best benefits is that it offers 4th Night Free hotel stays.  Until July 23rd 2017, Citi will reimburse the entire 4th night hotel rate, including taxes, for 4th Night Free stays booked through Citi’s ConciergeAccording to Doctor of Credit, stays that take place after that date will receive the same benefit as long as they were booked before July 23rd.  Reservations booked July 23rd 2017 or later will be handled differently. Instead of rebating the entire 4th night room rate with taxes, Citi will rebate the average room rate across your stay and will no longer included taxes in the rebate.

Can we use the Prestige card to gain top tier status cheaply?

With the World of Hyatt, it is now possible to earn top tier status through spend rather than stays.  Hyatt requires “only” $20,000 of eligible spend.  That got me to thinking…  Could we use the Prestige benefit to book Hyatt stays in which the 4th night is exorbitantly expensive so as to earn top tier status, but get most of the money back?

The idea would be to find situations where the first three nights of a stay are cheap and the fourth night is exorbitantly expensive.

Let me use an absurd example to demonstrate what I mean.  I’m sure this doesn’t exist in reality, but imagine one can find a Hyatt where the first three nights cost $100 per night, but the 4th night costs $9700.  In that case, one could use the Prestige 4th Night free benefit (the pre-July 23rd version) and end up paying just $300 for the stay (actually you would pay the full price at checkout and then Citi would rebate the 4th night later).  Hyatt, though, would count the full $10,000 towards your elite requirements.  Two stays like this would get you to top tier status for a net total of $600 + taxes.  Plus you would earn over 100,000 valuable Hyatt points which would more than make up for the $600+ cost.

In reality, you won’t find a case where the 4th night costs 100 times each of the first 3 nights.  So, what is actually possible?  A while ago, I ran a  contest to see what 4th Night Free deals readers could dig up (see: The best 4th Night Free finds).  The best finding was a pre-Superbowl room rate in which the first three nights were $129 each, and the 4th night was $1200.

Most of the other great finds weren’t that good, and none were with Hyatt.  But, let’s assume, best case, that we can find a Hyatt with the same rates.  And, let’s also assume (even more unlikely!) that we can find that same set of rates multiple times throughout the year.  Ignoring taxes (since they don’t count towards Hyatt elite status), each stay would generate $1587 of Hyatt spend for a final out of pocket cost of $387.  You would need 13 such stays to generate the required $20,000 spend for Globalist status.  Your cost: 13 x $387 = $5,031.

Yes, Globalist status is great, but it’s not $5,000 great.

Answer: No, the 4th Night Free benefit cannot be used to gain top tier status cheaply.

Can we use the Prestige card to reduce the cost of achieving top tier status?

I established above that we can’t start from scratch and get Globalist status cheaply.  But, the Prestige card can help reduce the cost of achieving status under certain circumstances.

If you happen to be in a situation where you would often stay at Hyatt hotels for 3 nights at a time, you can use the Prestige benefit to book 4 nights instead of 3 for the same final price.  That way you’ll earn more base points and more nights towards status, for the same price.

At best, this strategy can reduce the 60 Night Globalist requirement down to 45 nights, but only in the extremely unlikely scenario that you would have booked 15 separate 3 night stays.  In that unlikely scenario, you could book 15 4 night stays instead, for the same price.  Of course you should make all of your bookings before July 23rd so that 4th night taxes will be included in your rebate.

Final Answer

While it is theoretically possible to use the Prestige card’s 4th Night free benefit to get Hyatt top tier status cheaply, it is not at all realistic.  The final answer is “No, the Prestige card can’t really be used to game the World of Hyatt.”

That said, if you are desperate to get top tier Hyatt status, you do have a few shortcut options:

  1. Earn 25 stays by the end of February.  That way you’ll get Diamond status in the old program and that will translate to World of Hyatt Globalist status, which you’ll keep through February 2019.  If you have the Hyatt credit card, $40K spend by the end of February will help by adding 5 elite qualifying stays to your account.  Personally, I think it’s kind of insane to try to cram 25 stays into two months just to get top tier status, but I’ve been known to do crazy things too, so I won’t judge.
  2. Hope for a World of Hyatt status match or challenge.  I think it is likely that, as they have in the past, Hyatt will offer some type of challenge to woo people over from Marriott, Hilton, IHG, etc.  Previously Hyatt required completing 12 paid nights within 60 days to get top tier status.  Most likely the status would last only through February of 2018 if you did the challenge early this year.  It may be worth waiting until June to sign-up in case a mid-year completion of the challenge leads to status through February of 2019.  This is all conjecture at this point.  I haven’t yet heard of any plans for a World of Hyatt status challenge.
  3. Find a friend with top tier status.  You can enjoy the perks of Hyatt top tier status with a little help from a friend.  The trick is to move your Hyatt points to your friend’s account and then have them book a stay for you using the Guest of Honor program.  More details can be found here.

My personal plan is to rely on option 3, but if an attractive World of Hyatt status match or challenge appears I’ll do it.  How about you?  Will you try to get top tier Hyatt status?  If so, how?

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. For the week after Christmas, the Hyatt Playa del Carmen had nights jump from the $400 range up to the thousands. Wish I’d thought of this!

  2. I’ve actually been using the benefit in this way. Where I have two days of work. I can justify billing client for 3, but not four days. I just leave a day early. Then I earn credit on the fourth night and am fully reimbursed.

  3. This is based on the current set up for the Citi Prestige. In a few months, Citi will credit you 25% of your entire stay which will no longer include taxes.

  4. If you knew someone needing a hotel Super Bowl weekend, $400 for a 4-night stay (even if they only used the last night) is substantially better than $1200 for one night…

    And if you knew 13 somebodies needing a hotel Super Bowl weekend…

    Unlikely, but just a thought 🙂

  5. Will you earn two stays if you book two different hotels on the same night? For example, Book Hyatt Hotel A – checkin; drive a short distance to Hyatt Hotel B – checkin. The very next day checkout of both hotels.

  6. Greg
    Has the 25 stays by the end of February been confirmed? I’m on business travel through the month of Feb and could accomplish this if its valid.

    Thanks from a fellow Michigander

  7. I think we should all change our name to Greg Miler. Then we would all pool our stays. Greg would be the only one with account access and he could divvy up points at the end of each year. But we would always have top status. I’m sure some of our teenagers know how to get an ID that says Greg Miler.

  8. What about booking the cheapest room in the hotel for the first 3 nights and booking the presidential suite for the 4th night? Would citi know?

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