$1,000 Hyatt gift card hacked… Twice.


At the end of our fantastic stay at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, I stopped at the front desk to check out.  We had booked 5 nights with points & cash, for 12,500 points + $150 per night.  After taxes and a few charge-to-the-room dining expenses, the total came to over $1,000.  I whipped out my $1,000 Hyatt gift card to pay for the bulk of it.

Hyatt Gift Card Hacked

I had previously bought the gift card for 14.5% off.  10% off was due to using a coupon code that had been handed out at Frequent Traveler University events.  The extra discount came from Amex OPEN Savings, a feature of their small business cards, which offered a 5% rebate on Hyatt stays.  I’ve always had luck getting the rebate even when buying gift cards from Hyatt.  Unfortunately, Hyatt dropped out of the OPEN Savings program as of January 1 2016.  Thanks to mathematics, a 5% rebate on top of a 10% off purchase combines to a total of 14.5% off.

Hyatt gift card hacked

The desk agent on duty swiped my Hyatt gift card and reported that it was empty.  The total balance: $0.00.  Uh oh.  I told the agent to leave the charge on my credit card while I tried to figure out what had happened.

I called the support number on the back of the gift card and learned that the card had been used up in October.  They said that their systems were down at the moment, though, so they couldn’t tell me where it had been used.  My mind raced to figure out what had happened.  Had I used the card?  I was 99.9% sure I hadn’t, but I popped open Trip It to see where I had been.  I had stayed at a Hyatt in New York City around that time, but I clearly remembered having booked the hotel with points.

Then, I vaguely remembered having read a blog post warning people about this issue.  While I couldn’t remember the blog, a Google search quickly led me to this FlyerTalk thread where many people reported the same issue.  The first post in the thread, by FlyingDoctorwu, sounded exactly like my situation:

Just wanted to let everyone know about a potential issue with Hyatt gift cards and to check their cards.

Background; bought a gift card months ago. When I went to use it; didn’t work. Checking the balance revealed it to be zero. Paid bill with CC and contacted Hyatt.

Pretty quickly they issued me a new gift card and promised to investigate. I haven’t heard anything from them but I was pretty happy with the resolution.
One thing to consider: it is no longer possible to check GC balance online. Only over the phone. I wonder if someone designed a brute force app to check for GCs until it found a balance. I’ve heard it’s possible to buy GCs on the underground marks for cheap.

I called Hyatt Customer Support to report the issue.  The woman I spoke with was very nice and understanding.  She even mentioned that this had happened to a number of people back in October and November, but that they hadn’t seen the issue recently (it was now February).  She submitted a ticket to their fraud team and promised that I would get a new gift card within a few business days.

About a week later, I received the following email from Special Person:

Greg, Special Person has just sent you a Hyatt eGift Card

Hyatt Gift Card Special Person

Awesome.  I contacted the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and asked if they could retroactively apply the gift card to my stay.  They readily agreed and promised that my credit card would be reimbursed once the gift card was applied.  They gave me a resort manager’s email address and I sent the gift card number to him.  Problem solved… Or, so I thought…

Hyatt gift card hacked… Again!

A few weeks later, I was still waiting for the $1,000 credit to my credit card, so I contacted the resort manager again.  He replied with this:

Dear Mr. Davis-Kean,

I contacted Hyatt Relations because the E-Gift Card did not go through, it shows it has been already redeemed at another property.  Our accounting department was unable to complete the refund process until the card is redeemed.  I was asked to give you Hyatt Relations phone number so they can help you out,


Please let me know if there’s anything I may do to assist you,

I called Hyatt Relations and learned that this new gift card had been used up at a property in Hawaii!  Somehow someone had used it before the Hyatt Carmel Highlands could.  Once again, I called Hyatt and they promised a quick resolution.

Problem finally solved

This time 9 days passed between reporting the second gift card issue and receipt of a new email from Special Person containing yet another $1,000 e-gift card.  Again, I sent it to the hotel manager.  This time, he was able to apply the balance and I did get the money refunded to my credit card.

Take Away: I’ll no longer buy Hyatt gift cards.

Something is seriously wrong with the Hyatt gift card system.  They recently stopped selling e-gift cards, perhaps because of these issues, but they still sell regular gift cards.  And, the first gift card I tried to use was a regular physical gift card, so I’m not sure how the removal of e-gift cards helps.

The situation worked out for me in the long run, but it was a hassle.  I think that it helped that I had bought the gift card directly from Hyatt originally.  I’m not sure how things would have played out if I had bought the gift card from a reseller.

If given the opportunity to buy Hyatt gift cards again for 14.5% off, I won’t do it.  Unless/until I learn that Hyatt has fixed their gift card system, I think that the chance of having to deal with fraud is simply too high to make it worth the hassle.

But, I’ll still buy Marriott gift cards

On the same trip described above, I had two occasions to use a Marriott gift card that I had bought for 20% off by taking advantage of Amex Offers.  Our flight into the San Francisco airport arrived late at night at the beginning of the trip and departed crazily early at the end of the trip.  The Hyatt Carmel Highlands is a fairly long drive from the airport, so I bookended the trip with one night stays at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront.  The timing was great because Marriott had just started a new MegaBonus promotion for a free night after 2 stays.  I booked the stays by clicking through whatever portal was offering the best cash back rates at the time (found here via CashBackMonitor) and booked the state government rate (which my wife qualifies for).  Since I have Marriott Platinum status, we received a welcome amenity (I took the bonus points) and lounge access.  Paying with the gift card at the end of each stay was seamless.  And, the MegaBonus free night appeared in my account soon after.

Marriott Gift Card

I realize, of course, that two little data points isn’t much evidence that Marriott gift cards really work better than Hyatt gift cards, but that’s all I have with respect to recent evidence.  I have used Marriott gift cards successfully many times further in the past, but the same is true of Hyatt gift cards.

Anyway, my point is that I have no reason to believe that Marriott gift cards are compromised in the way that Hyatt gift cards appear to be.  So, I will probably try to get in on the May 3rd Daily Getaway offer for 20% off Marriott gift cards.

Reader Experiences?

Have you used hotel gift cards?  Was the experience good or bad?  What issues have you encountered?

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[…] has had a lot of issues surrounding their gift cards in the past. From my understanding, it has been very easy for […]

[…] has had a lot of issues surrounding their gift cards in the past. From my understanding, it has been very easy for […]


I also bought 2 Hyatt gift cards about 12 months ago when there was a rebate from AMEX. I bought them directly from Hyatt. I used one within a month, and it went fine. I tried to use the second one today and was told that the card had $0.00 balance. They said it was all used on 12-30-16. Fortunately, I had bought the card from Hyatt directly and they were able to look it up. They trusted my story that I did not use it, and they said they will send me a replacement. They also said the new cards all have a PIN which makes it harder to hack them. Hope this will work, and I will try to use the replacement card ASAP. BUT, will NEVER buy again.


My family had an experience today with a gift card I purchased one year ago. I purchased a plastic gift card from Hyatt and had it mailed to my daughter. She was unable to use it until now. She made a reservation and checked in to the hotel today (Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in San Francisco) and when she went to use the card was told it was empty. She said that was impossible since it had never been used and never left her home. They said it had been and listed all the charges. When she explained there had to be some mistake they told her it had probably been hacked and that this had happened before. They said that they could do nothing about it if it were hacked! She had traveled there with her kids at considerable distance and had no recourse but to pay with her own money. Now I am reading about how frequent this is and am appalled. Why would anyone buy a Hyatt gift card? I bought mine online directly from Hyatt. I never ever dreamed there would be any problem with this. It is outrageous. And I certainly do not wish to be reimbursed with another Hyatt card!

Fern Goodman

Two years ago my coworkers purchased a $250 gift card at the Tamaya Hyatt in New Mexico for my retirement. Five coworkers gave one of my coworkers a total of $250 cash and he bought the card. I tried using the card at the resort’s golf course, Twin Warriors the other day and was told that there was no balance on the card and that the card was never loaded with any funds. I have contacted Hyatt customer service and they have essentially told me that they can do nothing because I have no receipt. My coworker who bought the card wrote a letter to Hyatt describing the transaction but Hyatt didn’t consider that “proof of purchase”.

Needless to say I am extremely disappointed with Hyatt. I believe what happened was either fraud or negligence by one of its employees. As a result, $250 has been stolen from me and the response of there customer service folks is to say “sorry for your frustrations”.

Fern Goodman

An update to my post. Today I heard directly from the Tamaya Hyatt and they have agreed to issue a new card for $250!!!!

[…] If I flew Southwest often I’d definitely consider their gift cards.  And I would get Hyatt gift cards, if it wasn’t for this common occurrence: $1,000 Hyatt gift card hacked… Twice. […]

Joe Smith

Same thing happened to me. Only the balance was only $53.81, having used most of it up at the Grand Hyatt in Kauai. So I have tried to get to the bottom of the lost funds. No one with Hyatt will help me since I do not have proof of purchase. I even told them at this time I just want to know where the balance was spent. They will tell me nothing!

[…] gift cards can only be spent at the stores they are tied to.  They are occasionally hacked (as happened to me and many others with Hyatt gift cards).  They are easily lost and forgotten.  And they take up valuable wallet real-estate that is best […]

[…] front-desk to earn the credit, but that doesn’t strictly meet the terms of the offer.  Plus, Hyatt gift cards have been known to be hacked, repeatedly so that wouldn’t necessarily be a safe […]


I am glad I read this; however, a little too late. Same thing. I purchased a $375 Hyatt gift card that had a $1.52 balance when I checked out, so I had to pay the remainder. I reported the problem to Hyatt, and I was sent another $375 e-mailed gift card. Went to use it, and behold, it had a $0.00 balance. I’ll be contacting Hyatt again today.

[…] }); Greg, the Frequent Miler, also had some familiar issues … http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.co…-hacked-twice/ […]


Hyatt gift card that was reissued to me because a prior one was hacked just got hacked. This is getting comical.


We are staying in a Hyatt right now. I had a physical gift card I had received in the mail that had been issued by Hyatt as a gift. I checked with the front desk upon check in that I could use the card to pay and it had $0.00 balance! They called customer service and it did indeed have a zero dollar balance and had apparently been used in full on Monday March 28th. This was a gift and how embarrassing would it be to call the gifter and ask if there had been a mistake? I called Hyatt and they informed me it had been used in Colorado. I wish I had been there! But I haven’t been in years! They said they would send another physical one and hopefully it would work and the hotel could reimburse my credit card. Not cool but ok. They said they could do an electronic one but it was less safe and this was a common issue. So I googled to find out it sure is! So I had the physical gift card, I’ve never checked the balance online, and no email was sent through my email with the card number. Weird. Irritating. Ruined my mood on my first day of a two day vacay! They should do more than just the balance because I spent the first hour here on the phone customer service. Lame.

[…] on our trip to Saigon, but they’re only available to use in the US or Canada. Also, Frequent Miler had his GCs hacked, twice, so I didn’t want to linger with them. I decided to try out the Hyatt Bellevue, as I’d […]

[…] Miler had cards stolen which were purchased directly from Hyatt. My way of thinking is that at least if you buy from […]