Hyatt cash or points? Which should you book? Now with video instructions.

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Hyatt is currently offering incredible promotions for points stays and for cash stays. To help you figure out which to book, we built FM’s Hyatt Cash or Points Tool.  And now, we’ve added a video showing how to use it.

Hyatt Cash Or Points

Should you book with cash or points? I’ve written separately about how pumped I am about Hyatt’s latest promotions and how best to take advantage of them (see: Rocking Hyatt’s overlapping promos: How to claim 2 years of top tier status.).  Some of the promotions offer great rewards for paid stays and others offer great rewards for points stays.

Via Hyatt’s Bonus Journeys promo, you’ll earn triple or quadruple points on paid stays.  Via the Free Nights on Sale promo, you’ll earn either 15% or 25% points back based on the points price and whether or not you have a Hyatt credit card.  These battling promos make staying at Hyatt rewarding, but it makes deciding whether to pay with cash or points very hard.

The Solution: FM’s Hyatt Cash or Points Tool

The tool is setup to let you figure out how much a points stay or a cash stay will cost you after accounting for all of the rewards & rebates earned from your stay.  To use the tool, do the following:

  1. Open the tool by clicking here: FM’s Hyatt Cash or Points Tool
  2. Copy the sheet so that you can make changes. Within Google Docs, go to the File menu and click File.. Make a Copy
  3. In your copy of the sheet, edit all of the cells in blue (column C under “Your Answer”)
  4. The spreadsheet will automatically show you the results at the bottom.

How to use our tool

The next sections walk you through the basics of how to use the tool.  Alternatively, you can watch this video:

About You

The first part of the spreadsheet asks questions about you.  How much do you value different kinds of points?  What elite status, if any, will you have during the stay?  Do you have a Hyatt card?

This display shows the “About You” section of the spreadsheet, but it is not editable:

About Your Potential Cash Stay

The next section asks you questions about the paid stay (if you choose to pay cash instead of points).  How much will it cost?  What kinds of rebates are you eligible for?  Etc.

This display shows the “About Your Potential Cash Stay” section of the spreadsheet, but it is not editable:

About Your Potential Award Stay

The next section asks you questions about the award stay (if you choose to pay with points instead of cash).  How many points will it cost?  Do you need to transfer points from Ultimate Rewards? Etc.

This display shows the “About Your Potential Award Stay” section of the spreadsheet, but it is not editable:

Results: Which is best?

Finally, as you scroll down, you’ll see the results.  This summarizes the net cost of each option (after rewards earned). Whichever is cheaper is deemed to be the better deal:

About your Potential Points+Cash Stay

Version 2 of this spreadsheet includes a section at the bottom to let you model the cost of a Points+Cash stay.  Most Hyatt stays don’t include a Points+Cash option, so this section is buried at the bottom after the initial points vs cash results:

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Lucas

This doesn’t seem to be calculating correctly for me.

I have a stay for $832 before taxes/resort fees.

I’m explorist, and I’m currently on 3x bonus journeys, with WOH card.

My math shows for pts: 4160 base points (5x), 8320 bonus journey (3), and 3328 for 4x WOH card. Explorist bonus 20% is another 832. Total is 16640.

Your sheet shows 13728 for points I’ve earned. Can you breakdown the math for me? Or is your sheet wrong?

dimm0k

this is pretty cool, thank you for all the work put into this and for sharing! curious though, when does the value in C18 in the first sheet ever change? is that during some sort of Hyatt promo?

dimm0k

thank you for clearing this up for me! thanks again for the great work

Mark Elliott

Great work, Greg. I’m pretty proficient with spreadsheets and I have to say I’m impressed.
One interesting wrinkle to the value of points that I can’t find anyone discussing is the fact that point are worth more (maybe substanially more) once you achieve Globalist (e.g., stays come with free parking, free breakfast, lounge access, suite upgrade). Therefore, it makes a LOT of sense in marginal cases to preserve points while you have lower status and use those points once you achieve Globalist.

Two other aspects might be considered, but the value is all at the margin so it’s difficult to incorporate (1) Hyatt credit card spend has value for many of us ($5k for 2 elite qual nights which are essential for me to earn the confirmed suite upgrades, plus free Cat 1-4 night at $15k spend) and (2) the free Cat 1-4 night after reaching a fifth brand in a year. The former is another reason to prefer credit card spend to using points.

Mark Elliott

Thanks for replying, Greg. I understand that once someone is a Globalist, that most of the benefits are the same whether using points or money. However, before and after the transition from say Explorist to Globalist, the value of the points is quite different. So if someone is NOT a Globalist now and is working to achieve Globalist with points or the Hyatt credit card, the value of points changes drastically before and after. For most of those without excess points, it also limits future vacation options.

Points value example: Say you are spending 45k points on a 3-night long-weekend for two adults, two kids in a Category 4 property (say
the Confidante Miami – I’m not sure if it has a lounge).
If you took that trip as an Explorist, you get: Standard Room, no free breakfast for 4 guests, and no free parking. So the cost of the stay is 45k points (value say $600 @ 1.33cpp), plus $44/nt for parking, plus you pay for 12 breakfasts (worth at least $200); the conservative effective cost is $932.
If you took that trip as a Globalist, you get: Upgrade to a Suite, free breakfast for up to four guests, and free parking. So, the cost of the stay is 45k points (value ostensibly ~$600); so the effective cost of the stay is $600 (but now in a Suite) and $332 in other costs are offset. So even without assigning a value to a suite upgrade (and without accounting for a lounge) the effective value of the points is now $932/45000 = 2.07cpp. Assigning $50 per night for the suite upgrade yields $1082/45000 = 2.40cpp.
So, when deciding whether to spend points to achieve Globalist, one should calculate based on the value those points would have if they remained in one’s account once one was a Globalist. (This seems clear to me, but no one ever mentions it on these points sites. Am I missing something?)

Future vacation options: For many points travelers, using points for a mattress run to achieve Globalist instead of saving the points to use as a Globalist will mean missing out on vacations entirely. This point applies to travelers whose vacation plans/options are “points-limited”; for those with excess points but no time (e.g., 800k points but little vacation time) it doesn’t apply. It also doesn’t apply to those who take the same trips and stay in the same hotels regardless of whether they have the points. However, for most travelers on these points sites, I assume many vacations or at least city/hotel choices are contingent on having points in the first place. 

Dave

Trying to figure out a stay with points or cash and a pet fee that will need to be paid either way. How should I calculate that?

Oliver

Devaluation of the breakfast benefit at Hyatt Place?

NonRevGuy

Cell C55 is incorrect. Formula should be

=(C53+C51)*$C$5/100+C50+C54*C48/100

[…] as clearly evidenced by the fact that I’ve booked a 30-night Hyatt mattress run. I used Greg’s handy spreadsheet and determined that it made more sense to use cash than points to book the stay. The only problem? […]

JN2

Thanks for the updated spreadsheet. When you released version 1, I briefly wondered why Points+Cash was not included, but I assumed you purposely omitted P+C rates because they have rarely made sense since Hyatt changed how the cash portion was calculated. It would be interesting to see with really low cash rates if there might be isolated cases where P+C rates are the best option. One other factor working against P+C rates v full points is that non-globalists have to pay the resort / destination fees with P+C.

Quo Vadis?

Cool worksheet, thanks!

WR2

I’ve never found points and cash to be a good option. It always seems to be a very poor use of points. Any niche situations when it is viable?

[…] To help you decide if it’s worth checking into a Hyatt only for the points and elite nights, I created a new spreadsheet: What are Hyatt elite nights worth?  Use this along with this one to figure out your plans: Hyatt cash or points? Use the Frequent Miler worksheet. […]

[…] for paid rates and which category level it falls into for award stays.  UPDATE from Greg: Use our Hyatt Cash or Points Worksheet to help you decide which to […]

Michael

Awesome work, always great work you and the team do. Now to make my 25 day mattress run into the new year with points!

Gordon

Greg,
I appreciate the amount of work that went into this. When I opened the document, the menu options are all in German. Is anybody else experiencing this?

JustSaying

Way too complicated. You went from this is a great idea to I’m falling asleep in my beer! Try doing a post on a easy comparison of a Globalist member cash vs points. Use standard concepts. Then people can expand from there. But this gives me a cold headache!

Joe Schmo

No, it’s not. Keep up the great work, Greg.

JustSaying

I’ve been calculating for the last 45 minutes and while it does lead me to a paid stay when the award stay is getting less than 1 cent per point I am still not easily seeing your spreadsheet calculations
My paid stay is as a Globalist with World of Hyatt card.
Your spreadsheet shows me getting 1912 from a base stay of 5X.
Then your bonus cell for Globalist and promos now totals 6,310 which doesn’t seem right. Where is that number coming from and it doesn’t seem to be changing the stay of 5X to a stay of 15X so what am I missing?

JustSaying

$191 per night for 2 night stay

Last edited 1 year ago by JustSaying
Bill

Fantastic sheet. I’m thinking another tab on this spreadsheet might be the amount of credit card spend needed to reach Globalist — starting with 60 nights then minus 5 for the credit card, you need $140K, less 1 free night, etc…would love to see what you come up with. Thanks for the great site.

DSK

Great job!

[…] Cash Or Points Spreadsheet: I love number crunching and spreadsheets, so I was thrilled to see this tool built by Greg at Frequent Miler. Based on inputs by you, it calculates whether you should use points or cash for your next Hyatt […]

toomanybooks

You might put in a line “Is this trip tax-deductible to you? If so, what is your combined state/federal/local marginal tax rate?”

Cash reservations are tax-deductible and points/miles fares are not. Often makes the difference for me.

toomanybooks

I mean if it is a business trip, of course.

Larry K

This is awesome, Greg. I’ve been trying to plan some stays with all this in my head and it is nearly impossible with the promos. One wrinkle that adds a variable in the short term will be when we see the list of 4x resorts.

Dee

Brilliant! Thanks, Greg.

eli104

This is very helpful! Are there other such worksheets, such as for other hotels or airlines?

eli104

Is there a similar worksheet for airlines (points vs cash)? I seem to remember it but cannot find it right now…