Bet You Didn’t Know: New(ish) Rules on Hyatt Free Night Certificates

By Julian, author of Devil’s Advocate

 

There are two different flavors of Hyatt Free Night certificates associated with the Hyatt Visa credit card. One of them is awesome. The other is not actually even free.

The first type of certificate are the ones you get as a signup bonus after completing $1,000 in spend when you apply for the Hyatt Visa. You get two of them, good for one night each at any Hyatt in the world. This includes Hyatts that cost a gazillion dollars a night and look like you might possibly run into the Duchess of York in the hallways.

hyatt free night

The second type of certificate is the one that arrives each year when you have a Hyatt Visa card, roughly around the anniversary of when you first applied for the card. It serves as a distraction from the $75 annual fee that appears very shortly thereafter.

hyatt free night

Hey, look at this shiny object! Isn’t it shiny? Doesn’t it make you forget you’re paying $75 for a “free” night?

This would actually be a pretty great deal if this annual free night could be used just like the original signup bonus nights. Sadly, the anniversary night is limited to only category 1-4 Hyatt hotels. Granted, if you travel regularly you can probably find decent value for this certificate without too much effort, but it’s not a home run by any means.

However, the biggest downside with both of these types of certificates is their expiration dates. They both carry a 1-year expiration, which means they have to be used (not just booked, but actually used) within one year of being issued.

Now, in the past this expiration restriction has been a little loosey-goosey. Hyatt would routinely allow you to extend the anniversary certificates by at least 30 days. And if you called the Hyatt Gold Passport line enough times, you could usually find an agent who would be willing to extend the all-powerful signup bonus certificates, especially if you had a specific redemption in mind (i.e.: “I was really hoping to use these at the Park Hyatt Sydney for my grandmother’s 148th birthday, is there anything you could do to help?”)

But unfortunately there are new rules, and even more unfortunately you won’t be able to talk your way around them anymore. There is also one very small upside to the new rules, which will at least allow you to get some value out of your free nights, even if you can’t find time to use them before they disappear.

No more extending expiration dates.

As most readers know, last December Hyatt made a significant upgrade to their IT systems which resulted in most Gold Passport activity (redemptions, upgrades, etc.) being unavailable for 4 full days. Hyatt.com has always been a notoriously terrible and unreliable website, but after being down for 4 days of upgrades, I’m pleased to report it is now a mostly notoriously terrible and unreliable website.

hyatt free night

This is literally what hyatt.com is showing as I write this post. I’m not exaggerating.

That being said, Hyatt has managed to make a few recent website improvements. They now show online availability of Points + Cash inventory and offer the ability to book upgrades to club rooms online with points. So that’s good. I’m sure Hyatt’s IT team is very proud of their recent work and if they ever manage to make it through an entire week without the website being down for several hours, they’ll probably nominate themselves for a Webby award.

In any case, the flip side of these IT improvements is that the expiration dates of Hyatt free night certificates are now hard coded into the computers. Which means agents no longer have the ability to change or extend them even if they might otherwise be willing to do so.

So for both types of Hyatt free night certificates, the rule is now consistent and identical to the new Diamond Suite Upgrade rule — you must use the free night (not just book, but complete the stay) by the expiration date. No exceptions. Boooo.

But hang on, because if your certificates are going to expire without being used, you may have one other option…

Converting free nights to points for Diamond and Platinum members.

The following info (and the new expiration rule described above) comes directly from the Hyatt Gold Passport Concierge on Flyertalk who is an official company representative, so it’s safe to assume this is policy and not subject to the whims of phone agents.

It is extremely important to keep in mind the different types of free night certificates when considering this option. If you have any anniversary free night certificates that you cannot use before they expire, you are unfortunately out of luck. They cannot be extended or converted to points.

However, if you have any of the signup bonus free night award certificates and you cannot use them before their expiration, you may be able to convert them to Hyatt Gold Passport points if you meet either of the following criteria:

  • If you are a Diamond member, either from a trial offer or having completed 25 stays/50 nights in the last 12 months, you can convert each unused free night certificate to 20,000 Hyatt points.
  • If you are a Platinum member from having completed 5 stays or 15 nights in the last 12 months (the Platinum status awarded from the credit card does not count), you can convert each unused free night certificate to 10,000 Hyatt points.

Note that if you choose this option to convert your certificates to points, you will have to wait until after the certificates have expired in order to do so. However, do not wait too long as you have only 90 days after the expiration to call and get them converted to points. So it’s essentially a 90 day window to get it done.

The old policies were better, but no longer apply.

hyatt free night

Before the start of 2016, there were different (and better) rules in place for what you could do with Hyatt free nights to convert or extend them. You may find old information floating around the intertubes, but regrettably all of those more favorable rules are null and void and should be ignored. As of January 2016, the info in this post is the current official Hyatt policy and IT upgrades make it impossible for agents to override them.

I understand why Hyatt made some of these recent changes, especially the one that newly limits Diamond Suite Upgrades which had in practice been usable almost a year past their stated expiration. But not having the option to extend the expiration date by even 30 days is unduly harsh.

Frankly, my own Hyatt Visa anniversary is upon me and I’m seriously considering canceling the card, even though it would effectively mean I’d probably never be able to get it again if Chase does in fact extend their 5/24 rule to all their cards next month. But I figure if I can live without Hyatt Diamond status, I can live without the Hyatt Visa too. Besides, didn’t I hear something about an increased limited time bonus on the SPG card?…

Did you know the new rules for converting or extending Hyatt Free Night certificates?

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Find all the “Bet You Didn’t Know” posts here.

Last updated on December 20th, 2018

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Paul
Guest
Paul

The cat 1 to 4 cert is not that valuable. Now, if they allowed you to use it on cat 5 to 7 too by paying the difference in points (e.g. cat 1 to 4 cert + 5K points for a cat 5), that would be good. If it could be used on any cat as a cash and points redemption, that would be good to. A free cat 4 is 15K points so using it for the points portion on a cat 7 + $300 would make the cert more valuable.

Skor
Guest
Skor

Agree with this comment – something Hyatt and Chase should consider to retain cardholders beyond the 1 year mark..

Robin
Guest
Robin

I have signup bonus free night’s expiring in June. There was no availability for redemption in Hawaii when I originally rcvd the signup bonus certificates (both husband and I).

Can I gift these to someone? I have a friend attending a college graduation ceremony in NYC in May.

I only have platinum status

Max
Guest
Max

No, those cert’s are tied to your account. When you redeem them online or by phone, the name on the account automatically transfers to the reservation, and can not be changed.

AZTravelGuy
Guest
AZTravelGuy

Um. My anniversary certificate expires end of May. The website just this week allowed me to redeem it for a stay in September.

P
Guest
P

Hmm. Maybe you’ll get a bill at check out.

Devils Advocate
Member
Devils Advocate

Are you certain it applied the correct certificate? For instance, at this moment I have both the bonus night and anniversary night certificates sitting in my account. If I try to book a category 1-4 Hyatt beyond the expiration of my bonus nights, hyatt.com will assume I want to use the anniversary certificate and allow it, but it won’t let me apply the bonus night certs instead. In fact, during searches hyatt.com will indicate that I can use the all-category cert for stays beyond its expiration, but if I try to actually book one of them that way, it errors out.

AZTravelGuy
Guest
AZTravelGuy

Yes. I used the bonus nights in 2014. It clearly shows an anniversary night used, and expiration is end of May. The website let me redeem for September.

Matthew Pringle
Guest
Matthew Pringle

I’m very curious about this. I tried to book a hotel past the expiration date of my free nights, and it allows me to do it as well, but it also says that the certificates will be redeemed upon check-in. So I’m a little nervous that I will get there and go to check-in, and they’ll try to use the certificates at that point only to find out they’re expired. Please keep us updated!

marvin santos
Guest
marvin santos

this is late, but did this work out for you?

Susan
Guest

I used my two free nights when I got the card for s stay at the Park Hyatt in Sydney (Cat 7 – bargain!)

I just used my anniversary certificate for an unexpected night in Pensacola. We had to travel for a family emergency, and with it being spring break, our room would have cost $189 if we paid with cash; I didn’t have enough points to pay with points or cash and pounds, so I used my free night. Better than paying $200+ (when you factor in taxes etc) in cash.

P
Guest
P

Going off topic here, but is there any limitation on the IHG card similar to the Hyatt expiration restrictions?

LauraPDX
Guest
LauraPDX

AM in the same boat having problems finding 1-4 hotels to book in the large cities I usually end up traveling to. A year and a half ago, I was able to use the certificate at the FIsherman’s Wharf location, but I think the category rose since then (and it is not really where I wanted to be but walking was good for me). My annual fee has posted and I plan to call and cancel after having the card for 3 years.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

I can never vote on the polls. I can click “vote”, but I can’t click any of the selections. I’m using a macbook pro with Safari Version 9.0.1. In case you’re interested. OS X El Cap 10.11.1.

Devils Advocate
Member
Devils Advocate

Hmmm, that’s odd. I’ll pass that along to the tech team. Thanks for letting me know.

Mei
Guest
Mei

Have been considering to apply the Hyatt card thinking the annual free certificates would be worth the $75. Are there blackout dates for the certificates and can they be redeemed as long as they have rooms available for award redemption? Thanks. Same question of the sign up certificates.

Max
Guest
Max

Those cert’s are only good for rooms in the lowest rate bucket for any Hyatt hotel. In some very expensive hotels, such eligible rooms can be very hard to find. For example, in PH-NYC there may be no cert-eligible rooms at all for many months in a row. In less expensive or desirable hotels, room availability is less of a problem.

Mei
Guest
Mei

Thanks. I don’t have any certificates, is there any way I can “test out” the room availability for certs redemption at a few specific hotels I am hoping I can use the certs for?

Dee
Guest
Dee

If there is a standard room available for points, you can use your certificate for that room.

ABC
Guest
ABC

One of my Hyatt free any cat nights expired after I tried to use it at least a dozen different dates at six different properties in four different cities that were level 5 and up. I ended up using one free anywhere night at a level 4 property. I tried to get an extension or even 5,000 points for a level 1 night later, but Hyatt said there was nothing they could do. I had actually stayed eleven nights months earlier at 8,000 Chase rewards points each(a level 2 property, which I had tried to book with points and cash to get stay credits but of course it was not available) . The eleven award stays did not count for any stay credit(I was a credit card Platinum with 11 award point stays that year) so I was not able to receive the 10,000 points for Platinum members with expired nights. And they could not change a reward point stay to a certificate stay after the stay. Hyatt has been my worst experience so far using hotel or any kind of rewards. I had a friend who also had their free nights expire because they also could not book the hotels on the dates they needed. I wonder what percentage of regular people are actually able to redeem these nights and for what level? It would be really nice if Hyatt would give people 5,000 points for each unredeemed free night since that is the cost of a level one. Instead some people end up with nothing after wasting a lot of time trying to use these certificates without any luck, and then those people decide that Hyatt to not worth their time.

Stvr
Guest
Stvr

It seems to me that the category creep is Hyatt robbing from Chase…

J
Guest
J

I will soon be using mine. I have changed plans tons of times and could have gotten $400+ value out of mine at Hyatt Bonita Springs, but cancelled due to change of plans. I think the free night also works in Park City. ( for valuable options…) Anyway, I haven’t had a hard time at all booking with it. For some reason, I have to call which is annoying. I’m going to use it for $250 redemption next week just to guarantee I don’t lose it. I enjoyed PH Tokyo with my first free nights. Fun experience. I would like to change to points, but I never stay in Hyatts cause I’m more rural so I’m a “fake” platinum and I love Marriott certs for less populated areas.

Captian Hooks
Guest
Captian Hooks

Glad I held out until I saw an offer for 50K points instead of the two free nights.

Anil
Guest
Anil

I have been waiting for that offer for my DW but can’t see anywhere. When did you signup?

trackback

[…] Bet You Didn’t Know: New(ish) Rules on Hyatt Free Night Certificates by Frequent Miler. Had no idea you could convert the sign up bonus free night certs to points, pretty good deal if you’re a diamond member. […]

Anil
Guest
Anil

Question on Option#1: I got Diamond status through status match and don’t have any stays with Hyatt as I recently joined them while getting the Hyatt VISA card.
I don’t have any plans of using the Free Award Nights, do you think I will still be able to convert those two certificates to 20k points each?

Logan
Guest
Logan

I missed to use my two nights. After a little back and forth over the phone and email, they gave me 20k pts. Only one night but still good.

Anil
Guest
Anil

Thanks for the Data Point. Do you have any status with them? Also, what is the best way to contact them to get this done? Twitter/FlyerTalk/Phone ?

Smay
Guest
Smay

And I bet YOU didn’t know that the annual free night certificate can be redeemed for 15,000 Hyatt points for Diamond members who can’t use them before expiration! Just happened to me and my wife when we couldn’t use the cert in time. A nice agent did the deal for both of us! I may have to start writing a column “maybe even Julian doesn’t know” 🙂

Devils Advocate
Member
Devils Advocate

Hmmm, that’s interesting. There aren’t any reports of that on Flyertalk or elsewhere, so I’m wondering if this is a new policy or just a friendly agent helping out!

trackback

[…] New(ish) Rules on Hyatt Free Night Certificates […]

Kent
Guest
Kent

do you have to pay the $75 annual fee to use the free anniversary night? just got my free night (cat 1-4) , can i cancel the card (void the annual fee) and still use the free night within the next year or do i have to keep the card?

Logan
Guest
Logan

You should email GoldPassport. Technically, I’d say it’s possible but don’t take my word for it.

https://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/customer-service/contact-hyatt/email.jsp

Antonio
Guest
Antonio

It looks like Hyatt.com is letting me use my annual free night cert for booking at cat 5 hotel. Have people tried this before? Will this be rejected at check-in?

Logan
Guest
Logan

Good find. Upon seeing your post, I logged in and checked. It shows me a FREE NIGHT at the Grand Hyatt Kauai which is a Cat. 6 hotel.

WOW

Bridget
Guest
Bridget

Im getting this result too when I search in San Diego, free night available at category 5, but Im nervous about showing up and being stuck with the $400 bill. Has anyone had success with a completed stay?

pal
Guest
pal

Did you try this booking? any updates??

pal
Guest
pal

Did you try this booking? any updates??

Tess
Guest
Tess

Hi there! I have a free night award in my account but I already canceled my CHASE card. Can I still redeem the free night award without my CHASE card? thanks

mitch
Guest
mitch

I am also finding that Hyatt is letting me book my free night after expiration. Wondering what will happen if I do book a couple weeks after expiration.

trackback

[…] The Hyatt Olive 8 comprises almost half of the Olive 8 building in downtown Seattle with the remaining higher floors being utilized as condominiums. The Luxury King Suite layout is a little strange in that it is an extraordinarily long unit–I’m sure there is a story behind it. The staff was friendly and the rooms were clean and not worn-feeling. There is no wonder why many bloggers always highlight the Category 4 Olive 8 was a great value to use a Chase Hyatt Credit Card free annual night. […]

trackback

[…] night must also be used (not booked) “within 12 months from issuance.” Also, Hyatt no longer offers extensions to these deadlines as they did in the […]

George
Guest
George

Add me to the list of folks wondering what happens if I book my anniversary free night for check-in beyond the expiration date.

LoveMyFreebies
Guest
LoveMyFreebies

Can you use the 2 free nights for any type of room? For instance, the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina has a garden view room for $129 and a penthouse suite for $1200. Thanks!

Yana
Guest
Yana

I’m looking to used the 2 free nights February 2018 (specifically starting on 2/16) – is now the right time to open the card? I was told it would take approx 30 days for the points to populate following the 2k spend, but I’m nervous that if the billing cycle is shorter or I spend the 2k too quickly or too slowly it will screw up my free night redemption.

RH
Guest
RH

I just called to convert my expiring cat1-4 certificate into points and was told that conversion is no longer an option under the new World of Hyatt program. Pretty big change to make without notice.

Ben
Guest
Ben

FWIW, I called Hyatt the other day about an anniversary night that was expiring the next day.
I had no immediate use for it, and I would have needed to book and use that stay the same day. The representative told me that if I let it expire and then called back in, they could convert that expired night into 10,000 points.
I was a little skeptical, as this was an anniversary night, but I had no other options.
Two days later I called back in, and was honestly expecting to have to fight for it a bit. To my surprise, the representative immediately processed the 10k points into my account.

trackback

[…] earned from the sign up bonus with no category restriction, not the annual free night certificate). Frequent Miler also had a post on this in 2016, but since then World of Hyatt has been […]

Bee32
Guest
Bee32

Has anyone tried to use these certificates for levels beyond 4? I’m also seeing availability all the way up to 7!

Bee32
Guest
Bee32

The annual free night

Rob
Guest
Rob

Cat 1-4 are fine for me.. I never go to luxury hotels so a night where a room cost 130 bucks is still worth it because it covers the AF and more.

My question, how do I book Hyatt’s 2 bonus nights I got.. Online. I’ve looked all over and they tell me how but I have no reserve button etc. It’s a pain in the ass..Thanks.

trackback

[…] New(ish) Rules on Hyatt Free Night Certificates […]