Debating the Hyatt dummy booking offer

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For about a year now, the new cardmember offer on the World of Hyatt visa card has stunk. While Amex has marched around on a points parade and co-branded cards from United, Southwest, and JetBlue have had six-figure welcome bonuses, Hyatt has plodded on with its measly 45K offer (that they misleadingly advertise as a “60K” offer). And that’s why, over the weekend, I had to email the rest of the Frequent Miler team when I stumbled back over the Hyatt dummy booking offer: is that actually the best Hyatt offer? The answer isn’t necessarily obvious or easy.

Over the weekend, I was booking a Hyatt hotel when the above offer came up during the checkout process and it looked pretty good to me: Get a Category 1-7 free night certificate and a $300 statement credit for just $3,000 spend. Initially, that sounded more generous to me than the current best offer of 45,000 bonus points after $15K spend.

Hyatt likes to push the idea that the current standard bonus offer is for 60,000 “bonus points”, but that’s kind of misleading. The current offer for the World of Hyatt credit card offers the following bonuses:

  1. 30K points after $3K spend in the first 3 months
  2. 2 points per dollar spent on up to $15K spend in the first 6 months.

Hyatt counts the second line of that offer as 30K more “bonus” points, but of course you would always get 1 point per dollar spent on that $15K, so the welcome offer only adds 1 “bonus point” per dollar spent on that $15K in purchases. In other words, $15K spend yields 15K points whether you do it as part of the welcome offer or not, so the welcome offer adds at most 15K extra points. Taken with the 30K initial welcome bonus, that’s 45K total bonus points on $15K spend.

Because Chase awards the first tier of the bonus separately, we can calculate the value at both steps. Based on our Reasonable Redemption Value of 1.6c per Hyatt point (which is intentionally conservative), the two levels of the bonus are worth:

  1. $528 (30K points + 3K bonus points on $3K spend (since you get 2x) x 1.6c per point)
  2. $192 (12K bonus points (on the remaining $12K spend) x 1.6x per point)

A brief aside on first year value

If you’re wondering why our Best Offers page only lists the first year value of this card at $415 despite the cumulative $720 if you add the two tiers above together, that’s because our spreadsheet calculates the opportunity cost of doing the spend on any given card against the chance to spend on a card that earns 3% cash back. While there are fewer options for 3% cash back everywhere than there once were, the Discover IT Miles card offers an effective 3% cash back for the first year and so we calculate the cost of doing spend on other cards against that kind of benchmark.

For those who like to see the full math:

  • $528 + $192 = $720 – $95 (annual fee) = $625
  • 3% cash back on $15K spend = $450. Since you get 15K Hyatt points (worth $240) with $15K spend on the Hyatt card, the opportunity cost of spending $15K on the Hyatt card is $450 – $240 = $210
  • $625 – $210 = $415 (first year value)

However, since opportunity cost is equal over both the standard offer and the dummy booking offer, I won’t consider that opportunity cost again in this post.

Valuing the dummy offer

Back to the dummy offer….

The offer I ran into while booking a Hyatt hotel offers includes only one tier:

  • Spend $3K in the first 3 months, get a Category 1-7 free night certificate and $300 in statement credits for Hyatt purchases in the first 12 months

While I’m not wildly excited by the prospect of a free night certificate with a hard 12-month expiration, a Category 1-7 free night certificate is still somewhat appealing to me since in any normal year I spend at least a night or two in either a Category 6 or 7 Hyatt (and indeed I did spend a couple of nights at the Category 6 Andaz 5th Ave last year, but I wanted to use a suite upgrade – which can’t be applied to nights booked with a free night certificate – so I didn’t use my Cat 1-7 free night certificate. Doh!).

Category 6 and 7 Hyatt properties can often cost well over $500 per night (and in some cases more than $1,000 per night such as the Park Hyatt New York). One could therefore get incredible value out of a Category 1-7 free night certificate. Furthermore, Hyatt free night certificates can be applied even during peak pricing, which means that if you use it for a Category 7 property that is peak-priced, the certificate will save you a total of 35K points.

Of course you don’t really know that you’ll use it for a peak-priced Category 7 hotel, and unless you are the type to regularly spend upwards of $500 or $1,000 per night on a hotel, you need to be careful not to overvalue the certificate. Our conservative estimate for a Category 1-7 free night certificate is $300. You can book many properties that cost more, but it is reasonable to expect to get at least $300 of value out of it. Personally, I have a hard time valuing a free night certificate much higher than that since I know I wouldn’t spend more than that on a single hotel night. I get some intangible value out of staying at a swanky place like the Park Hyatt New York, but if that property were on sale for $400 per night I still wouldn’t pay it because I just don’t spend that much on hotel nights.

The last time I stayed at the Park Hyatt New York, I got upgraded to this swanky suite. That was awesome, but I still wouldn’t pay anything near the sticker price for a standard room.

The other part of the dummy booking offer bonus is $300 in statement credits for Hyatt purchases. We don’t tend to value statement credits for brand-specific spend at full face value because of the restrictive nature. Greg argued for valuing the statement credit at $240 (80% of face value), but I think I’d value it more like 90% of face value ($270). Even that may be unnecessarily conservative given the ease of using the statement credit — I imagine that even if you don’t travel during 2022, a hotel deposit for a 2023 stay (booked during 2022) would probably trigger the credit.

Therefore, at $3K spend, the value of the dummy booking offer is:

  • $300 (Cat 1-7 free night cert) + $270 = $570

That makes the dummy offer look just a bit better for those who prefer to only spend $3,000 on the card rather than completing the entire $15K spending requirement of the standard offer. Those who assign more than $300 in value to the free night certificate may find this offer even more appealing.

However, in our team discussion about the offer, Greg made a solid point: the standard offer is far more flexible. While 33,000 bonus points on $3K spend may not be as mathematically valuable as the free night certificate and statement credit, you can have and hold those points to use how and when you see fit. You could unlock that $528 in value in 2022 or hold on to it to use the points in 2023 or 2024 or 2025. The dummy booking offer requires you to use up all of the value (both the free night certificate and statement credits) in the first year. If something crazy happens and you can’t travel much for the year (hard to imagine as that may be), you could conceivably spend $3,000 and end up with nothing (I’d argue that you’d be silly not to make some sort of speculative future booking to use the $300 Hyatt statement credit, but nonetheless his point was good).

Those who would otherwise do the full $15K spend to reach a free night certificate (a standard card benefit is to get a Category 1-4 free night certificate after $15K calendar year spend) would be better off with the standard offer since the additional $12K spend will yield 24K points rather than only 12K points with the dummy booking offer.

Bottom line

Since the standard offer yields far greater flexibility and certainly better value for those looking to do the full $15K spend, the best offer on our Best Offers page remains the standard offer. I’ve added this dummy booking offer as an “alternate” offer for those who would prefer to only do $3K spend for a Hyatt welcome bonus and who value the certificate and statement credit over the flexibility of the points, but at the end of the day the rest of the team was right to overrule my initial impression that the dummy booking offer was better. That said, this is a good reminder that starting the process for a booking often yields a different offer. Some are objectively better than the standard offer, but you really have to do the math on others to determine what’s best for you.

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Jeff

I almost signed up for this when booking a trip to Big Sur, but since no standard rooms were available for points booking I figured I couldn’t use the category 1-7 certificate either. Otherwise, I think this would have been a great use for it since we are planning to go anyways.

Brian Cogswell

Hey Nick,

Slightly unrelated but is Hyatt….do you have any insight as to when the Dreams Resorts will be bookable with Hyatt? The purchase of Apple Leisure Group closed early November but nothing has changed yet…

Ken

Wouldn’t the standard offer yield 36,000 pts
30,000 after 3k spend + 3k spend x 2 pts. Oh yeah I get it that’s the sham of the 60k bonus

Last edited 21 days ago by Ken
dave_261

Thanks for calling out the incredibly misleading bonus offer (as you said… it’s up to 45k points, not 60k). I actually canceled the card after I found this out during my bonus period. I essentially told the Chase rep ‘why don’t you just say that customers can earn up to a million points if you want to follow the same logic of rewarding people for points they literally earned as part of card usage’. Rep didn’t care and happily canceled the account to get me off the phone.

GUWonder

I repeatedly found the Hyatt Catgeory 1-4 free night award certificates to not be applicable for use on nights where standard rooms were available for using points at standard point prices. That is a concern I would have with a Category 1-7 award as a core part of the SUB offer instead of having points as a code part of the SUB offer.

Clyn6

I am assuming you would NOT the bonus free night Cert (Cat 1-4) after $15k spend on the current normal offer, but WOULD get the bonus free night cert if taking the $300 Hyatt credit offer. So that seems to add more value, but again is limited by expiring in 6 months. I guess it depends on your travel plans for the next 6 to 12 months.
Back when I signed up for this card it was 2 free nights to ANY Hyatt property, which I had planned to use back to back with P2 for a 4 night stay. But P2 needed surgery and had to use his vacation time for that, so it ended up being a hassle to use the free night certs before they expired. I guess that is a good example of why points that don’t expire are better than free night Certs that expire…..

Darin

You mention the value of the 6 elite nights for $15k spend, but you also get a cat 1-4 free night at that spend. Shouldn’t that be added to the valuation? That puts the standard offer squarely ahead in my mind.

Darin

Makes sense. I always spend $15k on the card, but was assuming most people just looking to maximize a bonus offer like this would stop at whatever spend got them to the SUB. In scenario 2, the value of only having to spend $3k is further diminished since you lose out on the additional certificate. Not sure how to quantify that, but even if I weren’t a Hyatt loyalist, it would make me rethink whether I would consider the $15k spend.

Paul

when you compare this against the amex bonvoy with a cat 8 cert and 150K points back in the fall, very close to enough for 3 nights at any st regis or ritz at standard pricing, it feels quite disappointing…

Paul

I agree with you there. Hyatt is probably the only card i know of that hasnt come out with a decent offer since the pandemic. Heck even maxing out the cfu first year grocery will give you 60k points already…

GUWonder

There was the 50k points Hyatt card SUB around 13 months ago. It requires $6k spend within c 6 months, of which at least $3k spend was to be within the first c 3 months.

WR2

I’d say the second tier is worth precisely zero, as you can get 2x on normal spend with a few cards. You’re basically giving that offer extra credit for having to do $15k of spend, which is backwards. I could do 4 more SUBs instead of doing that spend. Sure you might be doing that spend for the FN cert anyway, but that’s a separate decision.

I think you MSers have a distorted view of big spend requirements. I basically view the MSR as a cost, no different than the AF, at 2.85% minus base earning rate (Plastiq fees). As such, these $10-15k spend offers to me are garbage.

I’d do the dummy booking offer if I absolutely needed the Hyatt card now, otherwise I’d wait and go for one of many good UR offers to collect Hyatt points.

The Exceptional Traveler

Let’s just focus on the first $3k in spend:
Standard offer yields 33k points; at your 1.6 cent valuation, that’s worth $528.
“Dummy offer” yields $300 credit + $300 estimated value cert + 3k points ($48 value), for a total of $648.
Dummy offer wins.
As far as the next $12k in spend goes, if your objective is to earn as many Hyatt points as possible, you would be far better off to open a Chase Sapphire card and a Chase Freedom Unlimited card, collect their signup bonuses (80k total) and put all of your spend on those cards. Assuming you could average 3X on that $12k in spend because of all the category bonuses available, that’s a total of 116k UR points, all transferrable to Hyatt, 1:1.
Versus 30k Hyatt points and a Cat 1-4 free night certificate on the standard offer.
Lots of assumptions here, not the least of which is 5/24 eligibility for all those new Chase cards. This just illustrates the power and glory of signup bonuses and category bonuses!

Dan

A lot of words and time was wasted on 2 terrible offers.
But I love your hard work!

Gene

The dummy booking offer is just too complicated. Hard no for me compared to the more straightforward offer.

LarryInNYC

However, since opportunity cost is equal over both the standard offer and the dummy booking offer, I won’t consider that opportunity cost again in this post

Isn’t the opportunity cost of the standard offer considerably higher ($15,000 * 0.03) than the dummy booking offer ($3,000 * 0.03)? Enough to change the value comparison?

LarryInNYC

Ah, yes.

A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation of what the two bonuses might look like from Hyatt’s viewpoint: If you did the dummy offer, didn’t use the certificate, and were successful in trading it in after expiration for you’d get 20K points. If you took the $300 credit and used it to buy miles (I’m not sure if that’s an allowed use of the credit, but just imagine) and did so during one of their sales, you’d get around 15K. Total is 35K, which is pretty much what they’ll give you for the standard offer.

Andrew

The clear answer is that it is the best offer if you’re actually looking to book a Hyatt for cash right now, when the credit is worth $300 for sure. It’s not a great offer either way, but the certificate does have decent value given the lack of restrictions, especially with the forthcoming devaluation of the Marriott 35k certificates.