Free night certificates are a key avenue to maximizing hotel loyalty programs and scoring hotel nights without paying anything out-of-pocket.
How to Earn Hyatt Free Night Awards
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, making the Chase Hyatt Visa a card that’s worth keeping in the long run after collecting the welcome bonus in the first year.
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 Award.
(Recall that Hilton’s Free Night Rewards can be similarly earned by spending US$15,000 per calendar year on the Amex US Hilton Surpass and Hilton Business cards. Given the choice here with all else being equal, I’d 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.)
In addition, 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.
However, note that you’ll only earn Milestone Rewards by staying the actual number of nights, and not via any shortcut means to earning Hyatt status (such as status matches or temporarily reduced qualification criteria.)
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 five 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 26 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.
Personally, I’ve now stayed at a total of eight Hyatt brands, so I’m looking forward to earning a second Free Night Award upon trying out, say, a Thompson and an Unbound Collection property.
Note that the nine brands under the “Inclusive Collection” are all-inclusive properties, so they may be more challenging to collect unless you visit all-inclusives every now and then as part of your travel style.
How to Redeem Hyatt Free Night Awards
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, not just booked, within that period.
There are a few restrictions to be aware of when redeeming Hyatt’s Free Night Awards: you can’t apply Suite Upgrade Awards or Club Access Awards to the reservation (both of which are earned as part of Hyatt’s Milestone Rewards for staying frequently).
If you’d like to apply a Suite Upgrade Award to secure a suite well in advance of your stay, it’s best to book with cash or World of Hyatt points instead in order to deploy the instrument.
Strategies for Maximizing Hyatt Free Night Awards
Most participants in the World of Hyatt program can expect to earn one, two, or three Category 1–4 Free Night Awards per year, depending on whether they stay with Hyatt enough to reach the 30-night threshold and whether they hold the Chase Hyatt Visa.
If you’re a dedicated Hyatt member who pursues Globalist status every year at 60 qualifying nights, you’ll also earn a more powerful Category 1–7 Free Night Award as a reward for your loyalty.
The Brand Explorer promotion can also boost your balance of Free Night Awards in your first few years of Hyatt membership, but this won’t necessarily be a reliable source of free nights in the long run.
As Category 4 falls squarely in the middle of Hyatt’s eight hotel categories, this means that non-Globalist members 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.
You’ll definitely want to redeem each type of Free Night Award for its highest award category (Category 4 and 7, respectively), and in particular the top-tier brands like Park Hyatt, Alila, Andaz, Thompson, and Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
You can visit Hyatt’s Explore Hotels page and filter by category, brand, and geographic region to find Category 4 and 7 hotels that might work best for your travel goals.
What’s more, now that World of Hyatt uses peak and off-peak pricing, another strategy for maximizing the value of your Free Night Award is to redeem it on a night that would otherwise be priced as a peak rate.
In this fashion, the Category 1–4 and 1–7 Free Night Awards can be thought of as “saving” you up to 18,000 or 35,000 World of Hyatt points, respectively.
Personally, I’ve redeemed a couple of Category 1–4 Free Night Awards over my short Hyatt career so far, and I find $300 (CAD) or $250 (USD) to be a reasonable benchmark for the outsized value that I aim to get out of these certificates – most often at mid-range city centres or resort properties during high season.
I’ve yet to earn a Category 1–7 Free Night Award with Hyatt, but I’m hoping to do so this year as part of renewing my Globalist status. I’ll definitely be holding out to redeem for an aspirational property like the Alila Villas Uluwatu or Park Hyatt Tokyo if I do.
The World of Hyatt loyalty program can take some work to get involved with, especially from a Canadian perspective. But the rewards are generally regarded as highly worthwhile once you do – and the Free Night Awards are a major part of that equation.
Whether you’re aiming for Milestone Rewards, applying for the US-issued Chase Hyatt Visa, or planning out your stays across Hyatt brands in groups of five, 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.
Furthermore, for true Hyatt loyalists that rack up 60 qualifying nights each year as Globalist members, a Category 1–7 Free Night Award awaits, unlocking a complimentary stay at many of Hyatt’s most aspirational luxury properties.