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?
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.
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?