February 5th, 2013
Update: Tomorrow is the last day to lock in current category rates before they go up. As long as they are booked by tomorrow you can make date changes through March 15th under the old chart. If you have category 1-4 anniversary nights from the Chase Hyatt Visa and are thinking of using them in Manhattan at the 48LEX now is your last chance!
Originally posted on 12/18/12:
Most hotels chains reorganize their categories yearly to keep them current with the average rates that they charge. The beauty of hotel points is that there are no blackout dates or capacity controls, if there is a room you can use points for it. So even if a major event is in town and rates are quadruple what they normally are you can still use the regular amount of points as long as the hotel is not sold out of standard rooms. When Starwood announces their 2013 changes I’ll post them as well (Don’t expect the Dead Sea to stay at a category 1 forever folks!)
Hyatt normally charges the following amount of points for a free room:
Category 1 = 5,000 (Standard room). 8,000 (suite).
Category 2 = 8,000 (Standard room). 12,000 (suite).
Category 3 = 12,000 (Standard room) 18,000 (suite).
Category 4 = 15,000 (Standard room) 23,000 (suite).
Category 5 = 18,000 (Standard room) 27,000 (suite).
Category 6 = 22,000 (Standard room) 33,000 (suite).
For 2013, 10 hotels go down in category. 7 hotels go up in category.
The somewhat underwhelming Park Hyatts in Toronto and Carlsbad, CA (Aviara) both drop from a category 5 to a category 4. The good news here is that they’re a good value to use the with free anniversary night that you get for free every year with the Chase Hyatt Visa.
On the other hand the Hyatt 48LEX in Manhattan goes up from a category 4 to 5, making it ineligible for the annual free night.
Of course when you actually get the Hyatt Visa you get 2 nights that can be used at any category Hyatt, only the free annual night is restricted to category 4 and below.
But what I’m really happy about is that the Andaz West Hollywood in LA remains a category 4. I had pegged that as very likely to go up to 5 along with the 48LEX. I’m also thrilled to see that the awesome Park Hyatt Melbourne remains a category 4.
Through 02/06/13 you can continue to book nights at the hotels at their current rates, so if you have an anniversary night and want to use it in Manhattan anytime in 2013, book that now before it’s too late!
Any award nights booked before February 7, for dates after February 7, can be modified through March 15 following the terms of the old chart. Any modifications made to these reservations after March 15 will follow the terms of the new chart.
While the Hyatt Visa is awesome for the signup bonus, the Platinum elite status you get just for having it, and for the annual free anniversary night, it’s a terrible card for spending because you can also transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt.
-It offers 1 point per dollar on general spending. This is beat by every Ultimate Rewards card as Ultimate Rewards points are more flexible as they can go to Hyatt or to many other partners. Plus cards like Sapphire Preferred and Freedom Exclusives earn a bonus, even on top of base spending. While the Ink cards offer 5 points per dollar so you can buy a $500 prepaid card from Office Depot for $4.95 (a cost of less than 1%) and earn 5 points per dollar (worth about 9.5%) on all your base spending. Ultimate Rewards consumer cards include Freedom Visa, Freedom Mastercard, Sapphire Preferred Visa, Sapphire Non-Preferred Visa. Ultimate Rewards business cards include Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash. All of these cards are fully churnable to earn the bonus again. You or your spouse must have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus to actually transfer those points to airlines or hotels, but even having one of the other cards keeps your points alive for when you will open one of the premium cards in the future. While the Chase system allows transfers to other people you should not transfer your Chase points to someone else’s Chase account besides for your spouse as they may close the credit card that made or received a transfer like that. For now there have not been any shutdown reports from transfers directly into someone else’s mileage account, but beware that they may enforce that in future.
-It offers 2 points per dollar on dining, airline tickets, and car rentals. This is beat by the 2.14 offered by Sapphire Preferred on those and other categories.
-It offers 3 points per dollar at Hyatt hotels. This is beat by none other than the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN. The Starwood business card gives 5% cash back via Open Savings at Hyatt hotels in the US and 1 Starpoint per dollar. I’d value 3 Hyatt points at about 5.1% back, and 1 Starpoint+5% cash back at 7.2% back.
-The only exception to this would be at Hyatt hotels outside of the US as American Express business cards only give Hyatt open savings in the US and the Starwood card charges foreign transaction fees while the Hyatt card does not. So dust off your Hyatt card when you travel abroad and stay at a Hyatt hotel!