$1,000 Hyatt gift card hacked… Twice.

At the end of our fantastic stay at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, I stopped at the front desk to check out.  We had booked 5 nights with points & cash, for 12,500 points + $150 per night.  After taxes and a few charge-to-the-room dining expenses, the total came to over $1,000.  I whipped out my $1,000 Hyatt gift card to pay for the bulk of it.

Hyatt Gift Card Hacked

I had previously bought the gift card for 14.5% off.  10% off was due to using a coupon code that had been handed out at Frequent Traveler University events.  The extra discount came from Amex OPEN Savings, a feature of their small business cards, which offered a 5% rebate on Hyatt stays.  I’ve always had luck getting the rebate even when buying gift cards from Hyatt.  Unfortunately, Hyatt dropped out of the OPEN Savings program as of January 1 2016.  Thanks to mathematics, a 5% rebate on top of a 10% off purchase combines to a total of 14.5% off.

Hyatt gift card hacked

The desk agent on duty swiped my Hyatt gift card and reported that it was empty.  The total balance: $0.00.  Uh oh.  I told the agent to leave the charge on my credit card while I tried to figure out what had happened.

I called the support number on the back of the gift card and learned that the card had been used up in October.  They said that their systems were down at the moment, though, so they couldn’t tell me where it had been used.  My mind raced to figure out what had happened.  Had I used the card?  I was 99.9% sure I hadn’t, but I popped open Trip It to see where I had been.  I had stayed at a Hyatt in New York City around that time, but I clearly remembered having booked the hotel with points.

Then, I vaguely remembered having read a blog post warning people about this issue.  While I couldn’t remember the blog, a Google search quickly led me to this FlyerTalk thread where many people reported the same issue.  The first post in the thread, by FlyingDoctorwu, sounded exactly like my situation:

Just wanted to let everyone know about a potential issue with Hyatt gift cards and to check their cards.

Background; bought a gift card months ago. When I went to use it; didn’t work. Checking the balance revealed it to be zero. Paid bill with CC and contacted Hyatt.

Pretty quickly they issued me a new gift card and promised to investigate. I haven’t heard anything from them but I was pretty happy with the resolution.
One thing to consider: it is no longer possible to check GC balance online. Only over the phone. I wonder if someone designed a brute force app to check for GCs until it found a balance. I’ve heard it’s possible to buy GCs on the underground marks for cheap.

I called Hyatt Customer Support to report the issue.  The woman I spoke with was very nice and understanding.  She even mentioned that this had happened to a number of people back in October and November, but that they hadn’t seen the issue recently (it was now February).  She submitted a ticket to their fraud team and promised that I would get a new gift card within a few business days.

About a week later, I received the following email from Special Person:

Greg, Special Person has just sent you a Hyatt eGift Card

Hyatt Gift Card Special Person

Awesome.  I contacted the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and asked if they could retroactively apply the gift card to my stay.  They readily agreed and promised that my credit card would be reimbursed once the gift card was applied.  They gave me a resort manager’s email address and I sent the gift card number to him.  Problem solved… Or, so I thought…

Hyatt gift card hacked… Again!

A few weeks later, I was still waiting for the $1,000 credit to my credit card, so I contacted the resort manager again.  He replied with this:

Dear Mr. Davis-Kean,

I contacted Hyatt Relations because the E-Gift Card did not go through, it shows it has been already redeemed at another property.  Our accounting department was unable to complete the refund process until the card is redeemed.  I was asked to give you Hyatt Relations phone number so they can help you out,

1.888.524.9288

Please let me know if there’s anything I may do to assist you,

I called Hyatt Relations and learned that this new gift card had been used up at a property in Hawaii!  Somehow someone had used it before the Hyatt Carmel Highlands could.  Once again, I called Hyatt and they promised a quick resolution.

Problem finally solved

This time 9 days passed between reporting the second gift card issue and receipt of a new email from Special Person containing yet another $1,000 e-gift card.  Again, I sent it to the hotel manager.  This time, he was able to apply the balance and I did get the money refunded to my credit card.

Take Away: I’ll no longer buy Hyatt gift cards.

Something is seriously wrong with the Hyatt gift card system.  They recently stopped selling e-gift cards, perhaps because of these issues, but they still sell regular gift cards.  And, the first gift card I tried to use was a regular physical gift card, so I’m not sure how the removal of e-gift cards helps.

The situation worked out for me in the long run, but it was a hassle.  I think that it helped that I had bought the gift card directly from Hyatt originally.  I’m not sure how things would have played out if I had bought the gift card from a reseller.

If given the opportunity to buy Hyatt gift cards again for 14.5% off, I won’t do it.  Unless/until I learn that Hyatt has fixed their gift card system, I think that the chance of having to deal with fraud is simply too high to make it worth the hassle.

But, I’ll still buy Marriott gift cards

On the same trip described above, I had two occasions to use a Marriott gift card that I had bought for 20% off by taking advantage of Amex Offers.  Our flight into the San Francisco airport arrived late at night at the beginning of the trip and departed crazily early at the end of the trip.  The Hyatt Carmel Highlands is a fairly long drive from the airport, so I bookended the trip with one night stays at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront.  The timing was great because Marriott had just started a new MegaBonus promotion for a free night after 2 stays.  I booked the stays by clicking through whatever portal was offering the best cash back rates at the time (found here via CashBackMonitor) and booked the state government rate (which my wife qualifies for).  Since I have Marriott Platinum status, we received a welcome amenity (I took the bonus points) and lounge access.  Paying with the gift card at the end of each stay was seamless.  And, the MegaBonus free night appeared in my account soon after.

Marriott Gift Card

I realize, of course, that two little data points isn’t much evidence that Marriott gift cards really work better than Hyatt gift cards, but that’s all I have with respect to recent evidence.  I have used Marriott gift cards successfully many times further in the past, but the same is true of Hyatt gift cards.

Anyway, my point is that I have no reason to believe that Marriott gift cards are compromised in the way that Hyatt gift cards appear to be.  So, I will probably try to get in on the May 3rd Daily Getaway offer for 20% off Marriott gift cards.

Reader Experiences?

Have you used hotel gift cards?  Was the experience good or bad?  What issues have you encountered?

Last updated on August 13th, 2016

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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Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Joshia
Guest
Joshia

Had a $875 gift card hacked. Found out about it while I was staying at the hyatt key West resort. Fortunately I called 2 days before check out just to check my balance. Something inside me told me to do so. Everything was zeroed out and used at multiple properties. Called gift line and they worked really hard to get me one before checkout and I had it in time to use it. Definitely something wrong with their egiftcards.

stacey
Guest
stacey

in january i tried to pay my bill in honolulu hyatt using two $1000 cards and one $500 card. the $500 card showed a zero balance. called hyatt and found it had been used up in florida (where i’ve never been). they said they’d stopped e-cards so mailed me a plastic card that i’m hoping to use in arizona next month. fingers crossed. customer service was efficient and had obviously dealt with this issue many times before; thankfully i’d bought the card directly from hyatt when they had 10% off. definitely a problem with their gift cards.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Had a GC zeroed out back in October as well. Hyatt issued me a replacement paper gift certificate instead of another gift card. Definitely a problem with Hyatt gift cards!

Biggie F
Guest
Biggie F

I had this happen to me in December on a $500 card purchased from Raise.com and while they did make good, it was a hassle. I agree that something is wrong. I’ve posted at length on this on the Flyertalk thread, so need need to beat that horse again too badly, but I am skeptical about the way that Hyatt reports this back to us, or the way that we construe what they report to us: Someone hacked my card and used it at Grand Cypress in Florida! As if internet hackers wanted to stay at Hyatts, and as if such fraudsters could not be caught by their hotel usage. I’m even skeptical that these are hack / re-sale to innocent Hyatt hotel-goers. (Ourselves!) I think that there is a Hyatt IT glitch that makes the cards unstable.

Kathy (Will Run For Miles)
Guest

sorry you got hacked, Greg. I checked my cards about a month ago and they were all still ok. Hyatt Gift Cards are a hassle. Here’s a blog post I wrote a while ago about some of the regular problems with them. ( http://willrunformiles.boardingarea.com/warning-read-buying-discounted-hyatt-gift-cards/#sthash.6yMe6EMQ.dpbs ) – Hyatt promptly responded to my post with a lot of promises. (http://willrunformiles.boardingarea.com/hyatts-prompt-responses-concerning-gift-card-issues/#sthash.Rc9pkHOR.dpbs ). But I’m not sure how many of those promises have been met.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

I’ve never had any trouble, but this does make me concerned about Hyatt gift cards. I dont want the hassle of having to be hyper vigilant about keeping track of the balance.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan

This happened to me not once but FOUR times! I bought a bunch last year to use for stays and each one was a dud. I got everything refunded but what a hassle…I’ll never buy these again.

Cardcash and raise seem to be the worst, but even the Amazon Hyatt cards Weere hacked

Billy d
Guest
Billy d

This has happened to me many times mostly with cards I got through raise. I usually have thousands of dollars of them in my raise wallet so when one doesnt work I just use a different one. Then I call raise and let them know what happened. They deal with the problem and fix it within a couple months. Its not really a big hassle to deal with to save all that cash. Lately I switched over to buying them from another gift card site for 20% off. Hopefully everyone doesnt find that site and drive the price down like what happend on raise, giftcards.,com and other populat sites. I usually call in my giftcards and make sure the balance is accurate when I buy them and before I use them. I just used 3 hyatt e-gift cards yesterday in Portland, ME. It was a quick and seamless process. If you prefer Marriott it’s good for people like me that want the Hyatt cards. Tell all your friends to stop buying them too! That way the prices will drop on the reseller sites. Thanks for the interesting article

JS
Guest
JS

I think i may purchased thru the vendor you mentioned on the 20% discount seller, but in my experience when my hyatt gc got hacked they took forever to response, and according to their policy after 45 days they will not back up unlike raise stands behind their gc all time…

Curtis
Guest
Curtis

As a programmer, these guys need to get their shit together… The hacks of VGCs and these too is just pathetic. They are clearly aware of the issue and should have immediately fixed it the second that the first one was hacked.

JS
Guest
JS

I’ve recently encountered the same situation, my case however involving an ebay purchase of egift card (not known smv/paypal seller), as soon purchase was made i checked the next day , it got drained away from 1k ….i’ve contacted hyatt customer relation and was told they will not honor the purchase as its from third party, so i sucked it up and filed paypal protection…something is seriously wrong with hyatt gift card system…

Nick
Guest
Nick

This is all concerning to hear. Does it seem like mostly eGift Cards or older gift cards are having the problems? I just bought $500+ in Hyatt Gift cards off amazon in the last few weeks and plan to use them on my upcoming trip to Cancun next week. Hoping maybe they resolved the issue with newer cards and not being able to check online. Ill probably call to check balances just to be safe anyway.

Carey
Guest
Carey

Had this same issue occur to me at Hyatt Regency Vancouver. $200 e-gift card had been wiped clean and I had to pay with my credit card. I was issued a new one in the same manner described and plan to use it at the end of the month. Will have to double check balance as trip approaches.

M
Guest
M

Hacked for $1,000 card last September. Hyatt contact responded, said it was used elsewhere. Vendor was Cardcash. Filed for chargeback with Amex, but Cardcash issued the refund anyway. They kept saying it was possibly a card that was mistakenly put up for sale. After research, I think that several vendors dynamically sell Hyatt credit, and Hyatt is OK with this. The issue is probably on Hyatt IT side re tracking of that credit.
I definitely want this avenue to remain available, just wish they would get it together. The discount makes me move my business to Hyatt often. Then again, how long has Hyatt IT been a cluster mess??

ben
Guest
ben

I just checked mine after reading your post and guess what !!! One card has “0” balance and the other card has more credit than I bought..

Called Hyatt customer service and they said they will send me a physical card. finger crossed.

VirtuosoEric
Guest

Happened to me last year too with e-gift cards (The replacement also got hacked just like you)! That reminds me, I should call to check the balance on my 3 physical cards I bought last month.

Madison
Guest
Madison

Yep had this happen to me in February in Hawaii on only one of the four e-gift cards I purchased directly from Hyatt at a discount last October, when I went to use to pay my bill. Paid with my credit card. Called Hyatt and it took about 3 -4 weeks for it to get corrected on the billing end. Sent bloggers an email about it then.

Dave
Guest
Dave

I bought some Hyatt e-GC from Amazon during the holiday promos and plan on using them in a couple weeks at HR HB. I haven’t checked the balance on any of them… here’s hoping no problems arise.

Raja
Guest
Raja

I bought 500.00 card and samething happend to me

Tim
Guest
Tim

Bought a $1300 card in November 2015 and it was hacked in Feb 2016

Domenick
Guest
Domenick

During the Christmas to New Year week our two $500 Hyatt gifts cards were rejected due to zero balance. Both Hyatts worked the issue with Corporate so we could receive new gift card numbers and use them to eventually pay the bills. Love the service but will no longer buy the gift cards.

Jose
Guest
Jose

Prices in a bit of a free-fall, over 25% on reseller

Laura
Guest
Laura

Happened to me too. I will NEVER buy Hyatt gift cards again. I bought a bunch of plastic Hyatt gift cards from Amazon late last year. In January, I found out two $100 had been zeroed out. It was a hassle, but Amazon did reimburse me. I now check the balance of the remaining 3 cards once a week, since I won’t be using them until later in the year. It’s a total hassle. People would be wise to keep away from these….

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Thanks for this post. I bought 3 from resellers for trips next month. Just checked, two are good as of right now (the $50 and $100) but the $500 is zero. Just requested a refund. Guess we’ll see what happens.

trackback

[…] Do NOT buy Hyatt gift cards, really! What the hell Hyatt, this is just #atrocious! […]

AA
Guest
AA

I really appreciate this post and all the comments associated with it. Based on this I will most certainly stay away from Hyatt gift cards no matter what the discount is; don’t need the hassle.

Sky
Guest
Sky

There’s a few people selling $500-$1000 gift cards on Ebay with pretty low amounts of feedback. They are being sold for less that would be expected. These (or 1 guy) are your culprits.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

Had my first issue this morning with a $600 Hyatt GC. Called in. Turns out the hotel just screwed up and ran it then saw the $0 balance and assumed it hadn’t worked or something, so told me it was $0 balance and I gave them another (unneeded) $600 card for another $600 card. Anyways, supposed to be set right shortly, we’ll see what happens. Just an untrained employee probably.

trackback

[…] few days ago I wrote about my $1,000 Hyatt gift card that was empty when I tried to use it (and how the same happened to my replacement gift card).  I asked readers about their experiences […]

PhatMiles
Guest
PhatMiles

I started buying Hyatt gift cards through reselling websites. Now I am scared to continue.

trackback

[…] Beware of buying Hyatt gift cards as they seem to often have a hacking problem recently. […]

Jake
Guest
Jake

Has anyone with ecards been able to call Hyatt and demand that they be reissued physical cards even if the ecard has not been hacked?

Jim
Guest
Jim

After reading this, checked the balances on 3 e-gift cards – purchased directly from Hyatt website in December – and all have been drained. To the tune of $3200 between the three of them. Hyatt is working to get them reissued, but what a pain!

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

So glad you wrote this article. I had an e-gift card with a partial balance I tried to use in October. It only had $95 left and I had to pay with a credit card. I actually had forgotten about it and called Hyatt to run through the transactions. Sure enough someone hacked it and drained it in September. Hyatt is investigating and say they will replace it in less than one week. Time to check all my other cards.

trackback

[…] Ah, here’s some gift cards.  Jeez, 24% off plus 5x UR points, Thats basically 30% off Hyatt..  of course they are in $50 denominations and could well be hacked.. […]

Tom
Guest
Tom

Everybody is blaming Hyatt, but I’m willing to bet all your emails and/or computers have been hacked, and malware is watching for these e-giftcard messages to come through, and sending them off to the C&C where they can be resold in the underground.

Far easier to hack people’s email/computers than corporate systems.

Ray
Guest
Ray

Unfortunately I bought a $250 Hyatt GC from Gift Card Spread and it was hacked. I called both GCS and Hyatt, GCS needs 3 days and haytt needs 1 day to investigate. Finger crossed. Anyone has any experience with Gift Card Spread?

trackback

[…] compromised. There are several FlyerTalkers sharing similar experiences, and fellow blogger FrequentMiler had his $1,000 Hyatt gift card hacked not only once, but […]

trackback

[…] Miler had cards stolen which were purchased directly from Hyatt. My way of thinking is that at least if you buy from […]

trackback

[…] on our trip to Saigon, but they’re only available to use in the US or Canada. Also, Frequent Miler had his GCs hacked, twice, so I didn’t want to linger with them. I decided to try out the Hyatt Bellevue, as I’d […]

Grace
Guest
Grace

We are staying in a Hyatt right now. I had a physical gift card I had received in the mail that had been issued by Hyatt as a gift. I checked with the front desk upon check in that I could use the card to pay and it had $0.00 balance! They called customer service and it did indeed have a zero dollar balance and had apparently been used in full on Monday March 28th. This was a gift and how embarrassing would it be to call the gifter and ask if there had been a mistake? I called Hyatt and they informed me it had been used in Colorado. I wish I had been there! But I haven’t been in years! They said they would send another physical one and hopefully it would work and the hotel could reimburse my credit card. Not cool but ok. They said they could do an electronic one but it was less safe and this was a common issue. So I googled to find out it sure is! So I had the physical gift card, I’ve never checked the balance online, and no email was sent through my email with the card number. Weird. Irritating. Ruined my mood on my first day of a two day vacay! They should do more than just the balance because I spent the first hour here on the phone customer service. Lame.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Hyatt gift card that was reissued to me because a prior one was hacked just got hacked. This is getting comical.

trackback

[…] }); Greg, the Frequent Miler, also had some familiar issues … http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.co…-hacked-twice/ […]

Mark
Guest
Mark

I am glad I read this; however, a little too late. Same thing. I purchased a $375 Hyatt gift card that had a $1.52 balance when I checked out, so I had to pay the remainder. I reported the problem to Hyatt, and I was sent another $375 e-mailed gift card. Went to use it, and behold, it had a $0.00 balance. I’ll be contacting Hyatt again today.

trackback

[…] front-desk to earn the credit, but that doesn’t strictly meet the terms of the offer.  Plus, Hyatt gift cards have been known to be hacked, repeatedly so that wouldn’t necessarily be a safe […]

trackback

[…] gift cards can only be spent at the stores they are tied to.  They are occasionally hacked (as happened to me and many others with Hyatt gift cards).  They are easily lost and forgotten.  And they take up valuable wallet real-estate that is best […]

Joe Smith
Guest
Joe Smith

Same thing happened to me. Only the balance was only $53.81, having used most of it up at the Grand Hyatt in Kauai. So I have tried to get to the bottom of the lost funds. No one with Hyatt will help me since I do not have proof of purchase. I even told them at this time I just want to know where the balance was spent. They will tell me nothing!

trackback

[…] If I flew Southwest often I’d definitely consider their gift cards.  And I would get Hyatt gift cards, if it wasn’t for this common occurrence: $1,000 Hyatt gift card hacked… Twice. […]

Fern Goodman
Guest
Fern Goodman

Two years ago my coworkers purchased a $250 gift card at the Tamaya Hyatt in New Mexico for my retirement. Five coworkers gave one of my coworkers a total of $250 cash and he bought the card. I tried using the card at the resort’s golf course, Twin Warriors the other day and was told that there was no balance on the card and that the card was never loaded with any funds. I have contacted Hyatt customer service and they have essentially told me that they can do nothing because I have no receipt. My coworker who bought the card wrote a letter to Hyatt describing the transaction but Hyatt didn’t consider that “proof of purchase”.

Needless to say I am extremely disappointed with Hyatt. I believe what happened was either fraud or negligence by one of its employees. As a result, $250 has been stolen from me and the response of there customer service folks is to say “sorry for your frustrations”.

Fern Goodman
Guest
Fern Goodman

An update to my post. Today I heard directly from the Tamaya Hyatt and they have agreed to issue a new card for $250!!!!

Maggie
Guest
Maggie

My family had an experience today with a gift card I purchased one year ago. I purchased a plastic gift card from Hyatt and had it mailed to my daughter. She was unable to use it until now. She made a reservation and checked in to the hotel today (Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in San Francisco) and when she went to use the card was told it was empty. She said that was impossible since it had never been used and never left her home. They said it had been and listed all the charges. When she explained there had to be some mistake they told her it had probably been hacked and that this had happened before. They said that they could do nothing about it if it were hacked! She had traveled there with her kids at considerable distance and had no recourse but to pay with her own money. Now I am reading about how frequent this is and am appalled. Why would anyone buy a Hyatt gift card? I bought mine online directly from Hyatt. I never ever dreamed there would be any problem with this. It is outrageous. And I certainly do not wish to be reimbursed with another Hyatt card!

Phil
Guest
Phil

I also bought 2 Hyatt gift cards about 12 months ago when there was a rebate from AMEX. I bought them directly from Hyatt. I used one within a month, and it went fine. I tried to use the second one today and was told that the card had $0.00 balance. They said it was all used on 12-30-16. Fortunately, I had bought the card from Hyatt directly and they were able to look it up. They trusted my story that I did not use it, and they said they will send me a replacement. They also said the new cards all have a PIN which makes it harder to hack them. Hope this will work, and I will try to use the replacement card ASAP. BUT, will NEVER buy again.

trackback

[…] has had a lot of issues surrounding their gift cards in the past. From my understanding, it has been very easy for […]

trackback

[…] has had a lot of issues surrounding their gift cards in the past. From my understanding, it has been very easy for […]