When Is Hyatt Points + Cash Not A Good Deal?

Filed Under: Advice, Hyatt
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In early 2014, Hyatt introduced Points + Cash, allowing members to redeem part points and part cash for a stay. This is a feature that several hotel loyalty programs offer, though the underlying system differs by program.

In the case of Hyatt there are no blackout dates for free night redemptions, meaning that you can outright redeem points for a hotel stay as long as a standard room is available for sale. That’s not the case for Points + Cash, however. These redemptions are capacity controlled, and it’s at the hotel’s discretion whether or not they make that option available.

When Points + Cash was first introduced it was really exciting because you could earn elite qualifying nights for these stays, and could also apply confirmed suite upgrades to these reservations. When that was the case I almost exclusively redeemed my Hyatt points for Points + Cash bookings, to make sure that I was earning elite nights for all those stays.

Over time that value proposition has changed, though. That’s because World of Hyatt now awards elite qualifying nights for all stays, including free night redemptions. Furthermore, Globalist Suite Upgrades can be used on free night redemptions as well. Now that there’s no difference on that front between free night and Points + Cash stays, how does the value proposition between the two compare?

Earn Hyatt points

Comparing Free Night and Points + Cash rates

Here’s a chart comparing Hyatt’s free night redemption rates and their Points + Cash redemption rates:

To figure out the value you’re really getting from Points + Cash, you have to compare the free night cost to the Points + Cash cost. What are you really “paying” per point when booking Points + Cash? Here’s how it compares at each level:

  • Category 1: Pay $50 in place of redeeming 2,500 points (paying 2.0 cents per point)
  • Category 2: Pay $55 in place of redeeming 4,000 points (paying 1.375 cents per point)
  • Category 3: Pay $75 in place of redeeming 6,000 points (paying 1.25 cents per point)
  • Category 4: Pay $100 in place of redeeming 7,500 points (paying 1.33 cents per point)
  • Category 5: Pay $125 in place of redeeming 10,000 points (paying 1.25 cents per point)
  • Category 6: Pay $150 in place of redeeming 12,500 points (paying 1.2 cents per point)
  • Category 7: Pay $300 in place of redeeming 15,000 points (paying 2.0 cents per point)

But the math is a little more nuanced than that, if we’re going to get technical. When you book Points + Cash stays you do earn points for the cash portion of your stay. World of Hyatt members earn 5x points per dollar spent (elite members earn additional bonuses). I value World of Hyatt points at ~1.5 cents each, so we have to apply a ~7.5% discount there to account for the points you’re earning back.

When you do that math, here’s how the numbers work out:

  • Category 1: You’re “paying” 1.85 cents per point
  • Category 2: You’re “paying” 1.27 cents per point
  • Category 3: You’re “paying” 1.16 cents per point
  • Category 4: You’re “paying” 1.23 cents per point
  • Category 5: You’re “paying” 1.16 cents per point
  • Category 6: You’re “paying” 1.11 cents per point
  • Category 7: You’re “paying” 1.85 cents per point

However, it gets more complicated than that. You also have to keep in mind that you have to pay taxes on the cash portion of the Points + Cash booking. It’s tough to generalize those — in some cities taxes are 5%, while in other cities they’re 25%. It’s something that’s important to consider, though.

What does this mean?

Based on my valuation of 1.5 cents per World of Hyatt points, Points + Cash bookings at Categories 1 & 7 properties aren’t a good value. You’re paying 1.85 cents per World of Hyatt point after factoring in the points you’re earning, and that’s significantly more than I value those points.

Other than that, I think Points + Cash is a good value. The best value is Category 6, followed by Categories 3 & 5, followed by Category 4, followed by Category 2.

Another advantage to outright free night awards

While I think Points + Cash bookings at five of Hyatt’s seven categories are generally a good deal, there’s a further consideration that could make free night redemptions a better option:

  • All World of Hyatt members receive waived resort fees on free night redemptions, but not on Points + Cash stays (Globalist members receive waived resort fees on all stays)
  • World of Hyatt Globalist members receive free parking on free night redemptions, but not on Points + Cash stays

The value of this will vary by property, though this can very much swing the pendulum in terms of what represents the best value. Let’s use the Hyatt Regency Orlando as an example, which is a Category 4 property. You can potentially redeem either 15,000 points, or pay 7,500 points plus $100. My first thought would be “Points & Cash is a no brainer, that’s like acquiring Hyatt points for ~1.23 cents each.”

If you booked the free night, you’d owe nothing in cash. If you booked with Points + Cash you’d have to pay the ~$25 resort fee plus an additional ~$13 in taxes.

Suddenly you’re paying $138 in cash to save 7,500 points. Now, you’d earn 500 points for the cash portion (5x points for the $100 of base spend), so you have to subtract $7.50 from that total.

In the end it means you’re paying ~$130 to save 7,500 points, which is ~1.73 cents per point. That’s not such a hot deal, in my opinion.

Bottom line

It can be easy to assume that a capacity controlled Points + Cash redemption is a better value than an outright free night redemption without capacity controls, at least for someone who places a realistic value on their points. With Hyatt that’s not necessarily the case though, as I’d say Category 1 & 7 properties are a significantly better value with a free night redemption.

Beyond that, a free night redemption could also be a better value if the hotel has a resort fee, or if you’re a Globalist member parking a car.

In the past I would have booked a Points + Cash stay at any property when available so I could earn elite qualifying nights, but that’s no longer an advantage.

Lastly, I should mention that the above analysis is just intended to look at the value of Points + Cash vs. the value of redeeming for a free night. You should always compare those two options to the cost of paying cash for a stay, since sometimes that can be a better value (assuming you’re not committed to staying for “free”).

What’s your approach to Hyatt Points + Cash bookings?

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Comments
  1. Why do you have to pay taxes on Points+Cash? You’re purchasing points, which are not taxable. I would write to Hyatt about this. I know IHG doesn’t charge tax on Points+Cash awards…

  2. @ Ian — With Hyatt you’re not purchasing points, you’re just paying cash for portion of the stay. With IHG you’re purchasing points directly (meaning that if you cancel the booking the full points go back into your account). With Hyatt and Starwood you’re paying a cash supplement that qualifies the same as a cash rate.

  3. Are there ever circumstances where Points+Cash is available and free night redemptions aren’t? I could still see a Points+Cash redemption at one of the more expensive category 7’s, being worth it in that case

  4. @ Chasgoose — Nope, free nights have no blackout dates as long as a standard room is available. Points + Cash availability is a subset of free night availability.

  5. I have been having trouble getting credit both in the form of points for my spend and stay credits for my points + cash bookings at Hyatt properties. When I put in a missing stay request, they say they cannot see the stay despite when I log into my account I see the stay listed, points deducted and can even view the bill. I reached out to @Hyatt on Twitter and this was their response:

    Hyatt
    After looking at your account, both 64998591 and 64998757 count for credit, however, there seems to be an error on our end preventing us from posting them to your account. This is not unique to your account, and we are going to be looking into this. I am very sorry, because we do not know the root cause, I do not have a time frame for you.^JH

    Anybody else having this issue?

  6. @lucky

    that’s not true. for example, park hyatt milan uses both queen/king for c+p while only king bed for 30k.

  7. As an anecdotal piece of evidence, I stayed 6 days at the Hyatt Baha Mar in Nassau. The fees and taxes were literally over $2,000 if we paid any amount of the room with money (including points and cash). However, we purchased Hyatt points during a promotion, booked the rooms with the points entirely, and paid no taxes or fees. We simply paid a $28 gratuity charge to the staff, which is understandable.

  8. We get tremendous value when using the Points + Cash method at a particular Category 3 property ($75 plus 6,000 points). Our suite upgrade rate at check in there is better than 95%. The breakfast at their restaurant IMO is the best in the Regency brand and in of itself saves us $100+ for this family of 4. No lounge but no resort fee either and the service is great.

  9. Unlike airline miles, I burn through hotel points quicker than I earn them. Because I don’t have a really big balance, I use C&P unless there is a good rate.

    In general you can book twice as many nights for the same number of points using C&P.

    Cat 7 being an exception.

  10. @Lucky, thanks for this breakdown. I’ve never transferred UR to Hyatt mainly because I was confused with what’s considered a good redemption rate and when to use points & cash etc.
    What’s the cancellation policy, etc. for Hyatt using points and points & cash?

  11. @ Michelle — It should be the same as the cancelation policy for a flexible rate, so typically you can cancel up until two days before arrival. That’s not the case at all hotels, though. Some hotels, especially resorts, have more stringent policies. The PH Maldives, for example, requires 60 day cancelation (at least the last time I checked).

  12. @Lucky, thanks again! Always love your detailed breakdowns & how you explain it.

  13. I do cash+points rewards almost exclusively when the cash rates are high (~$300-$400 or more per night) and get outsized value. That means redeeming C+P rewards at high-end properties. I would pay cash at the lower end and possibly points-only in the middle…

  14. I appreciate the level of detail in your post. I use the cash rate plus any resort fee and taxes as the basis for determining the value of the points. Often the cash rate varies with the seasonal demand and influences whether the free rate or the cash and points rate is the best value.

  15. The way I look at it, I got into this for FREE travel, so although cash+points is a great deal if you don’t have enough points and dont have the ability to transfer UR pts, if you have the ability to transfer UR points I feel the free travel takes precedence, especially if traveling in a metropolitan city with high tax. Example, the downtown

  16. As you allude to at the very end, I think the analysis is somewhat more complicated than simply comparing P+C to a Free Night Redemption. Your analysis essentially assumes an unlimited points balance and looking only at 1 night at a time, which doesn’t seem very realistic. As a simple example, assuming you only had 30,000 points, I would think that the choice to use a free night award vs. a P+C award would be very different, depending on whether you wanted to stay 1 night at the PHV (at $1000/night) vs. 2 nights (at $1000/night).

  17. Doesn’t this analysis neglect the value of the room at the time of the stay? For instance, I’m planning a trip to Miami on a specific weekend. The Hyatt Regency I’m staying at is $450 for two nights (Category 3). If I pay all points, I’m getting 1.875 cpp. If I pay with Cash+Points, I’m getting 2.5 cpp (reduces the cash price from $450 to $150 for a savings of $300 for 12,000 pts).

    So, yes, while I’m technically buying my own points for 1.25 cpp, I’m also increasing the value of the points spent by 0.625 cpp. In other words, there’s more to the deal than the cash value of points saved.

  18. I have to disagree with the category 7 C&P. I think it also depends on the property. For Jan 2019, I booked 3 rooms with C&P for Park Hyatt Tokyo for ourselves, my parents and in-laws. I emailed the hotel and they will extend my globalist status to all 3 rooms (have it confirmed by a manager via email). I will then have my brother in law transfer points to me and I will book a 4th room and make him a guest of honor so in total I’ll get 4 rooms with all globalist perks. I am paying 15,000 plus $316/night including taxes or use 30,000 points per night (member rate is $600/night). I feel the C&P is a better value in this case otherwise I’ve gotta use over 270,000 points for 3 rooms for 3 nights each.

  19. My advise is when you want p+c, also search for cash room rate. I was going to made p+c on a Cat 5 hotel. It would cost me 10000 + $125, however, the cash rate is only $140

  20. Lucky: Thanks for the article. Appreciate it. Quick question: I value hotel executive lounge access, but do not travel enough to get elite status (except via credit cards). At Hyatt, it appears I can simply pay points (w/o elite status) to get it per visit (example – Hyatt Regency in Perth). With IHG Intercontinental, it appears that I have to pay cash to get it (i.e., no points options). Can I use the IHG free night certificate and upgrade with cash for lounge access at Intercontinentals? Thanks, again.

  21. Former financial analyst here. I think you can make this analysis a little more broadly applicable and accurate. For example, here:

    “Suddenly you’re paying $138 in cash to save 7,500 points. Now, you’d earn 500 points for the cash portion (5x points for the $100 of base spend), so you have to subtract $7.50 from that total.

    In the end it means you’re paying ~$130 to save 7,500 points, which is ~1.73 cents per point. That’s not such a hot deal, in my opinion.”

    The correct adjustment for the 500 points isn’t to deduct the approximate cash value from the cash you’re spending, but rather, to add 500 points to the 7,500 points you’re “saving.” That way your calculation is invariant to someone’s personal valuation of Hyatt points.

    What’s really happening is you’re spending $138 to end up with 8,000 more points than you would have on a full points booking, and that’s an accurate statement at any valuation of Hyatt points (whereas your calculation is more approximate and valuation dependent).

  22. I am a big Lucky fan… but not sure I am in agreement here, based on two things:

    1) I don’t agree with the “Points Math” that there is a fixed amount you are buying points for based on the schedule. For me it is the typical math all of us calculate on any award, what would be the cash cost and the points used. That varies greatly according to the rate. I have booked the Hyatt Regency Maui for C+P which is 10k points + $125. That hotel is often $500/nt… so I look at it like I am getting $500-$125 = $375 in award savings. Those savings were gained by using 10k points, so that is 3.75 cents per point; which is obviously an outstanding value for a hotel redemption. How am I wrong there?

    Lucky states that he is looking at it more from the pure points side… but I don’t think that is right. I think the above is the right view, even if you have tons of points like Lucky does. It is not theoretical, you are actually choosing between three options.

    2) I just stayed at said above hotel and as a Globalist on C+P and I made sure not to pay for parking or resort fees at checkout. I paid neither, and it was a huge savings. Between resort fee, free parking & free breakfast I was saving at least $100/day. Is Lucky certain about this policy? I thought Globalist was just straight up no parking (at resorts?) or resort fees.

    I was kind of surprised to see this post because most the time I consider the Lucky view to be unimpeachable, but not seeing the logic here. I love C+P… will need to consider if I am thinking about this right.

    BTW, Hotel points are inherently more valuable than airline points for most people… getting 3.75 cents for Hyatt points is like getting 10 cents for airlines.

  23. Am I missing something or can someone explain it to me? Yes, with the CPP, you are likely increasing it with the C+P, but you’re increasing it with an out of pocket cost? It isn’t all about CPP, right?

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