Hyatt’s 3 elite nights per $5K spend. Deal or no deal?

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Hyatt recently announced a promotion for Hyatt cardholders: Through June 30th 2020, World of Hyatt cardholders can earn 3 elite nights for every $5,000 of spend.  That’s 1 extra elite night per $5K spend over the usual 2 elite nights earned.  Additionally, those with the old Hyatt card which doesn’t usually offer any elite nights for spend, will earn 2 elite nights per $5K spend.  In this post, though, I’m looking only at the World of Hyatt card

Does this promo make it worth increasing spend on the World of Hyatt card?

With some elite programs, the answer to a question like this would depend on how much you value the elite status you’re trying to obtain.  Hyatt, though, makes the calculation more complicated because they offer Milestone Rewards which you can earn along the way towards elite status.  Here’s their Milestone Rewards chart:

Completely separate from elite status, Milestone Rewards are available to everyone and are based on the number of elite nights earned in a calendar year. Club Lounge Access Awards and Suite Upgrade Awards are valid for the rest of the current calendar year and 14 months beyond. Free night awards are valid for 180 days from the date issued. FIND Experience discount must be used within 6 months of issuance.

Estimating the value of 3 elite nights is hard

As you can see above, Milestone Rewards are first granted at 20 elite nights and then at every 10 elite nights thereafter.  If the rewards were uniform, we could estimate their value and then say that for every 10 elite nights earned you get “X” value.  We could then say that 3 elite nights earned from credit card spend is worth 30% of X.  That’s not exactly right because you are likely to end the year with a number of elite nights that is not divisible by 10.  Still, it would be a start.  But things like 2 Club Access Awards earned at 20 nights are almost certainly less valuable than a free night earned at 30 nights or Suite Upgrade Awards earned at 50 nights.  Worse, the value depends upon your elite status.  If you have top tier Globalist status when you travel, then those Club Access Awards are worthless since you’ll get free access to clubs anyway.

Another complication is that the World of Hyatt credit card offers a free Cat 1-4 night certificate after $15K spend in your cardmember year.  So, if you’re starting from scratch, spending $15K during this promotion results in more value than would be earned by those who have already spent $15K on their card.

A no-brainer for some

In my post “Manufacturing Hyatt Globalist Status,” I explained why Globalist status is valuable and I compared options for achieving that status through credit card spend and mattress running (booking cheap paid or award stays just to earn status).  I concluded that generating spend on the World of Hyatt credit card was the best option for filling the gap between actual stays and the required 60 nights to get to Globalist status.  Keep in mind that this path only makes sense for those who highly value Hyatt Globalist status, and have easy ways to manufacture spend, and are not afraid of getting their Chase accounts shut down.

If you decided, like I did, that you would spend your way to Globalist status, then this promotion is great.  It means less spend is required to get to where you need to be.  The real question for you is not whether to participate, but rather how far to go with it?  Once travel opens up again, Hyatt is likely to run a number of promotions that offer extra elite nights for stays.  So, if you only want to get to 60 nights, you’ll have to estimate the number of elite nights you might earn later due to actual stays and promotions.  Fortunately, if you go over 60 nights, you can still earn extra Milestone Rewards (10K points or a Suite Upgrade Award) at 70, 80, 90, and 100 nights.

For those who haven’t decided to go for Globalist through spend anyway, let’s see if we can figure out whether it’s worth participating in this World of Hyatt credit card promo…

Estimating the cost of spend

For the purpose of this post, let’s decide that the cost of spend is 2%.  Here’s why:

  • For those who haven’t yet paid federal taxes, you can use your Hyatt card to pay (or overpay) taxes for a fee of just under 2%.  See this post for details: Complete guide to paying taxes via credit card, debit card, or gift card.
  • Alternatively, you can look at the opportunity cost: if you put spend on the Hyatt card you’ll lose out on the rewards earned on a 2% cash back card.  So, the opportunity cost then is 2% (assuming a 2% cash back card is your best alternative to the World of Hyatt card).

Working with that 2% cost estimate, we can then calculate that the cost to spend $5,000 is $100:

  • $5,000 X 2% = $100

In exchange for that spend, you will earn 5,000 Hyatt points plus 3 elite nights.  To make the math easy, let’s conservatively value the earned Hyatt points at only 1 cent each.  We can now calculate the cost to “buy” 3 elite nights

  • 5,000 Hyatt points at 1 cent each (conservative estimate) = $50 value
  • Cost to buy 3 elite nights through spend: $100 – $50 = $50

Milestone Rewards Value Estimates

As shown above, I estimated the value of each Milestone Reward.  These are extremely conservative estimates.  In my opinion, people often overestimate the value of rewards which leads to poor decisions about how much to spend to achieve them.  So, rather than estimate the redemption value of these rewards I tried to estimate how much one might be willing to pay for each reward if it was available for purchase.  For example, I think that paying $100 for 10,000 Hyatt points is worthwhile.

The biggest estimate ($500), above, is at 60 nights where you not only get a free category 1-7 night and 2 suite upgrade awards, and Concierge access, but you also achieve Globalist status for the rest of the current calendar year and for 14 months beyond.  This means all kinds of goodies such as free upgrades including standard suites, waived resort fees on paid nights (resort fees are waived on award nights for all members), free breakfast or club access, free parking on award nights, and 4pm late checkout.  You can think of my $500 estimate as being $150 for the free night plus $150 for the suite upgrades plus $200 for Globalist status.  If anything, it’s a gross underestimate.

It’s worth spending $5K for 3 elite nights if…

Using my estimates above, we know that $5K spend costs you $50 ($100 minus $50 worth of points earned).  And we now have an estimate for each Milestone Reward.

The next estimate is up to you…  How many elite nights will you end with this year if you don’t put extra spend on your credit card now?  This is an impossible thing to estimate yet it’s important to at least guess in order to decide if spending on this promo is worthwhile today.

I put together the chart shown above to try to help readers decide how much spend to put on the World of Hyatt credit card while Hyatt is offering 3 elite nights per $5K of spend.  You must first estimate how many nights you think you’ll end with this year if you don’t put extra spend on the card.  Then, use the chart to see if it’s worthwhile spending your way to the next Milestone Reward level.  Here are some examples of how to read the chart…

  • If you estimate ending the year with 15 elite nights, then you’ll see that you shouldn’t add spend to your card.  You need to end with 17 elite nights or more for it to be worthwhile to spend your way to 20-night Milestone Rewards (2 Club Access Awards).
  • If you estimate ending the year with 25 elite nights, then you should spend $10,000 to get to the 30-night Milestone Reward (Cat 1-4 Free Night and 2 Club Access Awards).
  • If you estimate ending the year with 42 elite nights, then it’s not worth spending $15,000 to get to the 50-night Milestone Rewards (2 Suite Upgrades).
  • If you estimate ending the year with 44 elite nights, then it is worth spending $10,000 to get to 50 elite nights.

The weirdest part of the above chart is the calculation for when it is worth pursuing 60-night rewards.  Based on the estimates presented above, it is worth going for 60 nights if you expect to end the year with 30 or more elite nights.  For example, if you expect to end the year with exactly 30 elite nights and if you can safely put $50,000 spend on the World of Hyatt card while the promotion is in effect, then you will earn 30 more elite nights from the credit card.  This will cost you $500 ($1000 at 2% of $50K minus $500 worth of points), but in return you’ll get $500 worth of 60 night Milestone Rewards in addition to the Milestone Rewards earned at 40 and 50 nights.

Conclusion

Hyatt has given World of Hyatt cardholders two and a half months to earn 3 elite nights for every $5K of spend instead of the usual 2 elite nights.  If you were planning to spend your way to Globalist status anyway, and if you have a safe way to increase spend right now, then this deal is a no-brainer.  For everyone else, I put together estimates and guidelines to help you determine if it’s worthwhile.  Hopefully some will find this useful!

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