In last weekend’s week in review around the web, I highlighted a post from Angelina Travels about how to get up to 7 free nights in Atlantic City this summer, and there may be more reason than you think to pursue casino free nights. After that post published, a reader reached out to share something awesome that happened for him: his free M life stay counted as elite qualifying nights for Hyatt. This has also happened for me in the past. Between promotions available in both Las Vegas and Atlantic City right now, it might be possible to rack up some free Hyatt qualifying nights (though note that these nights are excluded via the terms, so you’re rolling the dice a bit with this one).
For those who aren’t familiar, M life is the loyalty program for MGM casinos (in Las Vegas, this includes properties like the MGM, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Delano, Luxor, Excalibur, NY NY, Vdara, Aria). It is possible for World of Hyatt members staying on paid rates to earn elite credit and points on both room and incidental spend at most M life properties. My favorite play in Vegas is to book Delano through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. FHR bookings generally earn points and elite credit — and you can sometimes book Delano for under $100 (before resort fee & tax) and get free breakfast, guaranteed 4pm checkout, a $100 property credit, and Hyatt elite credit / points.
However, as I noted in that week in review post, my favorite price is free. That deal would be a little better yet if we could knock the room rate down to zero…
M Life match & free nights
Stephen Pepper recently wrote about an MGM Amex Offer (Spend $300, get $60 back / 6K Membership Rewards points depending on your offer). Within that post, he noted the fact that many M life elite members were receiving offers for free nights in Las Vegas (See: MGM Resorts Amex Offer: Spend $300, Get $60 / 6,000 Membership Rewards). Many readers likely have M life elite status courtesy of a match from Hyatt (and if you don’t, you can match to Gold from Explorist or Globalist). In fact, a few months ago, some members found that matching back from M Life to Hyatt extended the life of their Hyatt status (See: (EXPIRED) Match M life to Hyatt Explorist NOW, skip extension and get club upgrades!).
Today, the highest M Life status you can receive via match from Hyatt is Gold. Prior to World of Hyatt, it was possible to match from Hyatt Diamond to M life Platinum. I did that back in the day. For some reason, my status has stuck at Platinum. That gave me an extra free night at some properties, like this complimentary 4-night stay at Luxor.
According to the terms of the Hyatt-M Life partnership, stays like that should not earn Hyatt elite credit. From Hyatt.com (with bold added for emphasis):
What is considered an M life Rewards-Eligible Night at the participating M life Rewards destinations?
An M life Rewards-Eligible Night is:
1. Any night where payment is made directly to a participating M life Rewards destination; OR
2. Bookings made through hyatt.com; OR
3. Bookings made through a Hyatt Global Contact Center.
Reservations made through third party on-line sites and services (such as Expedia, Priceline or hotels.com), M life Rewards complimentary room stays, World of Hyatt free night award stays, master account group bookings, traditional wholesale rates, media rates, Hyatt employee discount rates, airline interrupted-trip vouchers, or contracted rooms are not M life Rewards-Eligible Nights. In addition, for any stay at an M life Rewards destination of fifteen (15) or more nights, no night of the stay will qualify as an M life Rewards-Eligible Night, even if such night otherwise meets the requirements described above.
It’s pretty clear that M life comp room stays are not rewards-eligible nights. However, reader Mark tells us that this did not match his real-life experience, where a recent complimentary 3-night stay did in fact earn 3 Hyatt qualifying nights.
Lest we think he merely rolled lucky one time, Mark shared that the same happened with a stay in 2017 – this one included almost $30 in qualifying spend (presumably something Mark charged to his room):
Reaching back further, I had the same experience in 2016 with a complimentary room booked through M life. In my case, I charged a lot more to my room (we went with a few family members and charged everything possible to the room in order to earn Hyatt points — remember that you can charge food, beverages, and more from all of the other MGM casinos to your folio). In Mark’s case, he shows that both a complimentary stay with room charges and one without qualified for Hyatt stay credit.
Again, the terms of the partnership certainly sound like they would exclude nights comped by M life….but it doesn’t seem that reality matches the terms.
Will that work with other partner casinos?
The post from Angelina Travels promises up to 7 free nights in Atlantic City this summer. Those nights are based on status matching to new casinos like the Hard Rock and to Total Rewards, which would not get you any credit with Hyatt. However, Angelina also notes a match to the newly-opening Ocean Resort’s Ocean Premier loyalty program (Ocean Resort is set to open June 28th), which will be matching M life Gold and Platinum members to Ocean Platinum Tier and Black Tier, respectively.
That’s intriguing to me because with the Hard Rock and Total Rewards offering free nights via match and the Ocean Resort already offering Angelina’s husband 2 free nights based on past player’s club membership with the Revel (the old name of this property before the current remodel), I think it would be reasonable to expect that a complimentary night or two will be offered for Platinum or Black tier members.
Unfortunately, Ocean Resort is not an M Life property. However, it is a Hyatt property — the latest member of the Hyatt Unbound Collection.
Since award stays (and the annual free night certificate from the Hyatt Credit Card, which would theoretically be valid at this Category 3 property) count toward Hyatt status, I wouldn’t be surprised if complimentary stays here count toward Hyatt status as well. A note for those looking to use their Hyatt credit card anniversary certs at this property: in a handful of searches, I couldn’t find a night available for 12K points. Cash & points availability is plentiful (including on New Year’s Eve for those so inclined), but opportunities to use the free night cert look extremely limited at best right now).
It is certainly possible that the IT will be better integrated with the Ocean Resort than with M life properties so as to exclude comp stays from earning qualifying nights, but if you’re already passing through Atlantic City for a Total Rewards / Hard Rock match, it’s probably worth testing the waters at Ocean Resort.
Status match for the future?
All of the above points me to two keys: first, you may be able to pick up Hyatt qualifying nights on “free” nights(you’ll still have to pay the resort fee). That’s potentially a nice little mattress run for those looking to qualify/re-qualify.
But there is a secondary benefit in the Atlantic City status matching game for those who aren’t working on qualifying for Hyatt through nights: prepping for future status matches.
Thanks to a divergence in elite qualification calendars, Hyatt and M life status have run on a merry-go-round (match this year’s Explorist to M life Gold late in the year (after Sept 30th) and have M life status until the next fall. When Hyatt status drops in the spring, match back from M life Gold to Explorist). We’ve never expected that would last forever.
Right now in Atlantic City, there is the possibility to match M life Gold to Total Rewards Diamond and M life Platinum to top-tier Ocean Resorts Black. If your plans or geography have you near Atlantic City, it might be worth the jaunt even if you’re not interested in the potential for Hyatt qualifying nights. When the Hyatt-M life merry-go-round ends (like if the two programs eventually match up elite status calendars), it might be worthwhile to have another casino status to leverage for a match with M life — paving the path back to Hyatt Explorist.
While Hyatt Explorist isn’t an incredible status to have, and it might not be worth a speculative trip to Atlantic City just to maybe possibly position yourself for that status at some unknown future date, it’s not a bad excuse to pop around and do the matches if you’re already going to be in Atlantic City or close enough to make it an easy trip. And in fact, I’d say that for those within driving distance, it might be worth a mattress run after all. Using up 6,000 Hyatt points for a cash + points stay at the Ocean Resort for the potential to pick up six or seven free nights at various casinos (and then 4 free nights in the Bahamas once you’ve got Total Rewards Diamond) might not be a bad deal if it’s just free nights you’re after.
While the Hyatt-M life partnership terms seem to exclude earning Hyatt qualifying nights for complimentary stays, one reader’s recent experience (and my past experience) indicate that those nights do indeed count. It is therefore possible that free nights via status match at the newly opening Ocean Resort in Atlantic City will also count toward Hyatt status. While free nights are fun because of the joy of free and all that, you might be able to stack the joy of free with the joy of requalification for status, which is a better deal than paying full price. Further, with all of the matching going on, you might be able to position yourself for future matches to stay on the merry-go-round even if they change the music.