So far, we’ve covered how to maximize free night certificates from two major hotel loyalty programs:
In this post, let’s finish off the series by taking a look at Free Night Awards in the World of Hyatt program, which may have piqued the interest of many Canadian travellers with its easy pathway to top-tier Globalist status for 2021.
1. Chase Hyatt Visa
Entering the US credit card market and eventually applying for the Chase Hyatt Visa is the best-value way to earn Free Night Awards with Hyatt every year.
You’ll earn a Category 1–4 Free Night Award within the World of Hyatt program upon renewing the Chase Hyatt Visa for a second year and every year after that. The annual fee on the card is US$95, and it should be very feasible to redeem your Free Night Award for a Category 4 hotel that would otherwise cost much more than US$95.
Therefore, the Chase Hyatt Visa is a card that’s worth keeping in the long run after collecting the welcome bonus in the first year.
After all, getting repeat signup bonuses with Chase is tricky anyway: most of their cards have a 48-month rule for repeat bonuses, and there’s also the bank-wide “5/24 rule” (in which you won’t get approved for new cards if you’ve opened five or more credit cards from any issuer over the past 24 months).
Furthermore, you’ll also earn a Category 1–4 Free Night Award upon spending US$15,000 on the Chase Hyatt Visa every calendar year.
This won’t be a realistic objective for everyone, but if you have personal or business spending needs that outpace the minimum spends you can make on new credit cards, then it can be a good idea to put the spend on the Chase Hyatt Visa and earning an extra free night certificate.
(You’ll recall from our discussion of Hilton’s Free Weekend Night Awards that the Amex US Hilton Surpass and Hilton Business also had a similar Free Weekend Night Reward upon spending US$15,000 per calendar year. Given the choice here, I’d probably lean towards spending towards the Hilton certificates first, since they can be redeemed on Hilton’s best luxury hotels, whereas Hyatt’s are limited to Category 4.)
I’d also note that the Chase Hyatt Visa has previously offered a Free Night Award as part of the welcome bonus, too. If that sounds appealing to you, it might be worth waiting for such an offer to return in the future before applying for this card.
2. World of Hyatt Milestone Rewards
If you haven’t made it far enough along your US credit card journey to apply for Chase credit cards yet, you can still earn Free Night Award certificates with Hyatt through the World of Hyatt program itself.
World of Hyatt offers members Milestone Rewards for every 10 elite qualifying nights they earn. There are two thresholds at which you’ll earn a Free Night Award:
- Upon reaching 30 elite qualifying nights, you’ll earn a Category 1–4 Free Night Award
- Upon reaching 60 elite qualifying nights, you’ll earn a Category 1–7 Free Night Award
Traditionally, the 30- and 60-night thresholds are associated with achieving or retaining Hyatt Explorist and Hyatt Globalist status, respectively, so the Free Night Awards are often described as a perk of earning these status levels.
However, status qualification and Milestone Rewards are in fact two separate components of the World of Hyatt program. Indeed, for 2021, Hyatt has halved its elite status requirements, while the Milestone Rewards thresholds have remained the same.
As you’ll recall, until the end of February 2021, the Bonus Journeys promotion (which you’ll need to have registered for previously) is also offering double elite nights on all stays, making it somewhat attractive to “mattress run” your way to Hyatt Globalist status through February 2023.
If you’ve registered for Bonus Journeys, then completing a 15-night stay by the end of February will help you achieve Globalist and unlock a Category 1–4 Free Night Award all in one fell swoop. For those who are interested in diversifying into the World of Hyatt program, there’s never been a better time to do so.
3. World of Hyatt Brand Explorer Award
In addition to the above opportunities to earn up to four Free Night Awards on an annual basis, there’s also a one-time opportunity to earn up to three more Category 1–4 Free Night Awards through Hyatt’s Brand Explorer promotion.
Under your World of Hyatt account, you’ll find the Brand Explorer tracker, which keeps track of how many of Hyatt’s 18 hotel brands you’ve stayed at. Upon staying at five different Hyatt brands, you’ll earn a Free Night Award.
This is a fun way to incentivize members to try out different brands, and I do wish that Marriott and Hilton offered something similar too. I’ve now stayed at a Park Hyatt, a Grand Hyatt, and a Hyatt Place, so I’m looking forward to earning this Free Night Award upon trying out, say, an Andaz and a Hyatt Regency.
There doesn’t appear to be a time limit to try out the five different brands (up to three times, for a total of 15), as Brand Explorer was launched in 2017 and is still running to this day.
How to Redeem a Hyatt Free Night Award
Free Night Award certificates are deposited into your World of Hyatt account within 10 weeks of earning them, although typically they’ll be deposited sooner. You’ll find your Free Night Awards listed under the “My Awards” section of your World of Hyatt dashboard.
Redeeming these awards can be done online. You’ll need to tick the “Use Points” search option and ensure that your chosen hotel has standard room availability for redeeming World of Hyatt points; if so, then it’ll also be eligible for a Free Night Award redemption.
Free Night Awards from the Chase Hyatt Visa are issued with a one-year validity period, whereas those issued from Milestone Rewards or Brand Explorer have a six-month validity period. The stay must be completed within that period. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, all outstanding Free Night Awards have had their expiry dates extended to December 31, 2021.
Strategies for Maximizing Hyatt Free Night Awards
I imagine that most participants in the World of Hyatt program for 2021 will be earning one, two, or three Category 1–4 Free Night Awards, depending on whether you’ve taken aim for Globalist status and whether you’re going to apply for the Chase Hyatt Visa.
(The only exception is if you meet the 60-night threshold for earning a Category 1–7 Free Night Award. With the Bonus Journeys promotion, that’ll only require staying 30 nights before the end of February, which can still be a tall order unless you’ve always been very loyal to Hyatt in the first place.)
As Category 4 falls squarely in the middle of Hyatt’s seven hotel categories, this means that you should expect to use these awards for relatively upscale hotels at best, rather than properties that represent the pinnacle of luxury in Hyatt’s portfolio.
Personally, I’ve already earned one Category 1–4 Free Night Award, and I’m aiming to rack up a few more once I’m unshackled from Chase’s 5/24 rule and can apply for a Chase Hyatt Visa later this year.
I’ll then be aiming to redeem them for some of the best Category 4 hotels in the portfolio, and in particular the top-tier brands like Park Hyatt, Alila, and Thompson Hotels.
For example, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar is a Category 4 hotel that I’ve heard lots of great things about. The hotel can retail for up to US$400 per night, making this an excellent use of the free night certificate.
Another good choice for the Category 1–4 free night is the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile, where you can book a room with sweeping views of the city that would otherwise cost upwards of €150 ($230). With Globalist benefits, you might even be able to “suite-talk” your way to an Eiffel Tower Suite!
Before embarking on an international trip to either Tanzania or Paris, a more realistic redemption for the near future might be a staycation at the newly-refurbished Park Hyatt Toronto, which will be reopening in mid-2021. I’ll certainly be aiming to give this hotel a try soon after it opens its doors.
I’ve also got my eye on a few other properties on this filtered list of Category 4 hotels on the Hyatt website, such as the Andaz Bali, Park Hyatt Saigon, and Thompson Chicago, for the additional Hyatt Free Night Awards that I earn in 2021 and beyond.
With a simplified pathway towards earning elite status in 2021, World of Hyatt is now more accessible to Canadian travellers than in previous years.
Whether you’re aiming for the 30-night Milestone Reward, applying for the US-issued Chase Hyatt Visa, or planning out your stays across five different Hyatt brands, the Category 1–4 Free Night Awards can help you extract even more value out of the program and score some very nice hotel stays while paying nothing out-of-pocket.
If you’ve registered for the Bonus Journeys promotion and plan to get on the fast-track to World of Hyatt status, make sure to complete your stay by February 28 for it to count towards the double elite nights.