Disclaimer, I’m a Hyatt HomerTM. This has been well documented.
But, Gary’s just wrong in his assertion about the Hyatt credit card. I’m sure he’ll appreciate me helping him with the math here. We’ll blow a bit of smoke Gary’s way first. He’s a super smart guy and truly one of the most knowledgable people in the world of travel. It isn’t often I find myself on the opposite end of the argument on this one. Quoting from Gary’s post:
Both the Hyatt and Marriott credit cards offer annual free nights… that are capped in category. You can redeem them at hotels in category one through four. That means it is a benefit that gets less and less valuable year after year.(emphasis mine)
Hotel chains increase the number of points required by:
adding new higher redemption categories
moving hotels upward from one category to one that requires more points.
I was having this discussion earlier tonight with Gary and another friend (yes, you Tommy). There was vociferous agreement amongst the two of them that Hyatt needed to step up its credit card efforts.
Let’s break down the math. Nobody can argue with Gary’s logic that higher redemption categories don’t qualify for a free night capped at Category 4. And, properties that originate in these higher categories are never available to members to use their free night. But, when I signed up for the Hyatt credit card, I had no illusion that a whole bunch of properties were going to drop in category. It just doesn’t happen all that often, though the bad economy over the past decade did yield some great promos and likely more reductions than in some previous periods.
Does that mean you have fewer places to redeem your free night now than you did when Hyatt released the credit card 5 years ago? No, not by sheer number. For starters, Hyatt has added properties in the limited service and extended stay brands Hyatt Place and Hyatt House, plenty of which fall in these categories. I’m not arguing these properties are aspirational, just that more places to use your free night is better, right?
So, how many properties graduated up past a category 4 and are no longer eligible for the free night when you pay your annual fee on the credit card each year? I took a quick look at the math. Don’t hold my feet to the fire, but a brief search of the blogs turned up the following:
2015: 3 properties rose from a category 4 to a 5. 6 properties dropped from a 5 to a 4. That’s a net of 3 more properties to redeem at.
2014: 4 up and 2 down. Net drop of 2 properties.
2013: 1 up and 1 down.
2011: 1 up and 1 down.
You get the drift. There isn’t some big category creep that’s moving all the good properties out of reach for the free night.
Would I love it if Hyatt changed the free night and made it eligible for category 5 properties? Absolutely. I’d love double elite qualifying miles from American in 2014 (it’s entirety, of course) for being a loyal customer for all these years. I’d love United to actually recognize the revenue I spend, and I’d love Starwood Preferred Guest to actually clear a Suite Night Award ahead of time for me. I wouldn’t mind a pony, too.
Consider that Starwood Preferred Guest doesn’t even offer a free night when you pay your annual fee in year 2 and beyond. Theirs is a bit cheaper, and you do get some credit towards status qualification, but there’s no free night benefit.
Gary’s Hilton example requires $10,000 in spend to get a free night, something plenty of folks aren’t willing to invest $10,000 in credit card spend for. The IHG benefit is definitely a good one, but only if you can use it at a premium property. I think Gary and I would agree that there’s not a huge pile of properties that are better than a Hyatt category 4, though there are enough to get decent value.
And, as he notes, Marriott limits to category 5, and I just don’t see that being a viable reward.
It’s easy to come up with arguments about the whole suite of benefits one hotel credit card offers versus another. And, patrons of certain chains will be passionate about the credit card for their chosen brand. To be clear, you might not want to redeem your free night at a category 4, but there are certainly lots of places to do so that are just fine.
Arguing that the benefit gets less valuable when Hyatt adds more properties in categories 1-4 just doesn’t compute. It’d be great to have more expensive properties included, but there certainly aren’t less of the same ones from years past to cover the cost of your annual fee.
Don’t miss any of the daily travel tips, tricks and strategies found here. Follow me using one of these options: