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Updated to reflect that not all WoH members are having success with this
This is a post to remind World of Hyatt members that if you can’t find an economical or worthwhile use for a Hyatt free night certificate, there may be no need to make a booking for the sake of it or to watch the certificate go to waste – Hyatt may be happy to give you points in exchange for any free night certificates that you allow to expire.
The World of Hyatt program has been one of the more member-friendly loyalty programs for a number of years and one of the ways in which that friendliness has manifested itself is through the program’s willingness to frequently offer points in exchange for expired free night certificates.
A part of me expected to see Hyatt quietly withdraw this unwritten allowance after it introduced peak and off-peak award pricing but based on my recent experience, World of Hyatt agents are still appear happy to offer up points in exchange for expired free night awards.
How do you earn Hyatt free night certificates?
Hyatt offers 3 types of free night certificates:
- A certificate that can be used for a free night at properties in Categories 1 through 4 and which is valid for 12 months from the date of issue
- A certificate that can be used for a free night at properties in Categories 1 through and which is valid for 180 days from the date of issue
- A certificate that can be used for a free night at properties in Categories 1 through 7 and which is valid for 180 days from the date of issue
There is no free night award that will give a World of Hyatt member a free stay at Category 8 SLH properties.
Here’s how these awards can be earned:
Through Hyatt’s Milestone Rewards
- World of Hyatt members who credit 30 nights to their account or who earn 50,000 base points are rewarded with a Category 1 – 4 free night award which is valid for 180 days from the date of issue.
- World of Hyatt members who credit 60 nights to their account or who earn 100,000 base points are rewarded with a Category 1 – 7 free night award which is valid for 180 days from the date of issue.
Through the World of Hyatt credit card
- The World of Hyatt credit card (review) gives cardholders a Category 1 – 4 free night award on their card anniversary every year which is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
- Holders of the World of Hyatt credit card who spend $15,000 on their card in a calendar year are given a Category 1 – 4 free night award which is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
Through Hyatt’s Brand Explorer promotion
- World of Hyatt members can earn a Category 1 – 4 free night award every time they stay at 5 different Hyatt brands. This free night award is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
Note: Hyatt actually calls its free night certificates “free night awards” but to prevent any confusion between awards booked with points and awards booked with instruments from a credit card or from Hyatt’s Milestone Awards, I’ve chosen to refer to them as certificates.
Exchanging a certificate for points
Requesting points in exchange for an expired certificate is simple:
- Wait for your certificate to expire
- Call the World of Hyatt phone line or email your World of Hyatt concierge (if you have one) and ask to have your expired certificate exchanged for points. All the data points that I’ve seen suggest that you need to make this call within 90 days of your certificate expiring.
Be aware that Hyatt representatives are not able to convert valid certificates into points so you’ll have to wait until your certificate has expired before making a request (you may not be able to see the expired certificate in your account but the phone agents can).
Important to know
The first thing that I should point out is that I’ve seen evidence that suggests Hyatt representatives have the ability to offer points for all Hyatt free night award certificates (i.e. Chase issued certificates as well as Hyatt issued certificates) but comments you’ll see at the end of this post suggest that it’s a lot easier to get points for a Hyatt issued free night certificate.
The second thing that I should point out is that you may not always get what you want on your first call to Hyatt – some people have reported being turned down by the first agent that they’ve spoken to but that a second (or sometimes third) agent has processed the exchange for them. Update: Some people are reporting no luck at all.
Note: If you have a Hyatt concierge courtesy of your elite status, its worth contacting them before you allow your certificate to expire to see if they’ll confirm how many points you’ll be offered when your certificate expires.
The number of points you’re offered will usually depend on what certificate you’re exchanging with holders of Category 1 – 4 certificates usually given 10,000 points* and holders of Category 1 – 7 certificates given 20,000 points.
*There have been reports of 15,000 points being given for some Cat 1-4 certificates
Clearly, you will almost always get better value by using a free night certificate for a stay than by exchanging it for points, but with a significant number of certificates only valid for 6 months (and with a lot of people living busy lives and unable to take a vacation or short break whenever the mood takes them), the points option can be very useful.
I, for example, recently took what I expect some will consider to be a controversial decision when I allowed a valuable Category 1 – 7 certificate to expire unused before claiming 20,000 points in return…
…but I’m actually ok with how things turned out.
My certificate was earned as a byproduct of my efforts to earn a couple of extra suite night awards (I was given the certificate for earning 60 elite night credits last year) and at no point in the 180 days during which the certificate was valid, did I have a need to book a property costing more than 20,000 points.
In order to use the certificate to its full potential, I would have had to book a stay that I wouldn’t have otherwise made, and as that would have meant spending money that I wouldn’t have otherwise spent (on travel and on incidentals), that wouldn’t have been a particularly clever thing to do.
As 20,000 bonus points in my World of Hyatt account is worth more to me than a 1-night stay that I don’t really need to make, I was ok with watching my certificate expire unused.
If you have a Hyatt free night certificate (award) that’s coming up to its expiration date, you’re not necessarily in a ‘use it or lose it’ scenario. World of Hyatt agents continue to have the power to convert expired free night certificates into useful World of Hyatt points and while those points probably won’t have the same potential value as your certificate, they’re almost always going to be a better money saver than a certificate that you’re using for the sake of it.
As the comments below will show, this won’t work for everyone, but it’s still something worth keeping in mind if you have an expiring Hyatt certificate. Also, if