What are Hyatt elite nights worth?

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Hotel elite nights, on their own, are worthless.  The point of elite nights is to earn elite status.  In most cases, I don’t recommend changing your behavior to earn elite nights.  It’s usually not worth spending more.  Hyatt may be an exception though.  In my opinion, Hyatt offers the most valuable top tier status of all of the hotel chains.  Hyatt also offers Milestone Rewards so that you get some perks along the way towards earning elite status.  That’s all great, but if you’re thinking of spending more to get Hyatt elite nights, you better have some idea of how much value you’ll get.  That’s where we can help…

Background

The most common way to earn Hyatt elite status is by accumulating Tier Qualifying Nights (also known as “elite nights”).  For example, if you earn 30 elite nights in a calendar year, you get mid-tier Explorist status.  And with 60 elite nights in a calendar year, you get Globalist status.  Hyatt also offers Milestone Rewards where you earn perks when you achieve 20 elite nights and each 10 elite nights after that, up to 100 nights per year.  For more details please see: World of Hyatt Complete Guide.

Usually elite nights are earned through stays.  Each night of your stay gives you one elite night for that year (where “that year” is the year in which you check-out of the hotel).  You can also earn extra elite nights through Hyatt promotions or with the World of Hyatt Credit Card which offers 5 elite nights each year plus the ability to earn 2 elite nights with every $5,000 in spend.  The card also offers up to two free category 1-4 nights each year.  One is granted every year upon renewal, and the other is granted after you complete $15K spend within your cardmember year.  Free nights booked with these certificates earn elite nights upon checkout.

A slew of overlapping Hyatt promotions has led me to recently write a lot about mattress running with Hyatt.  Mattress running is where you book a hotel solely to earn elite nights and points.  See these posts for more:

Following these posts, a few readers have asked what elite nights are worth.  If we’re going to lay out points or money to earn elite nights, it makes sense to know whether it’s worth it. The same question makes sense when considering putting big spend on the World of Hyatt credit card.  Is it worth earning only 1 Hyatt point per dollar if we’ll also earn 2 elite nights per $5K spend?

My first reaction was that it’s impossible to estimate the value of an elite night.  The answer depends upon what level of status you’re shooting for, how many elite nights you’ll have as a baseline (e.g. how many you expect to earn without going out of your way to earn more), how much you’ll use those elite benefits, etc.

The Solution: FM’s Elite Night Value Worksheet

While we can’t estimate the value of elite nights for you, we can make it easier for you to estimate the value for yourself.  Towards that end I added a new tab to the spreadsheet that formerly held only the Hyatt cash or points? Worksheet.

To use the enhanced worksheet, do the following:

  1. Open the worksheet by clicking here: FM’s Elite Night Value Worksheet
  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 G)
  4. The spreadsheet will automatically show you the results at the bottom.

Be conservative with your estimates

When filling out the spreadsheet with estimates for how much you’d pay for various things like upgrade awards or free night certificates it’s important NOT to enter how much value you expect to get from that thing.  Instead, enter how much you’d be willing to pay up-front for it before you even have concrete plans for how to use it.  The only reason you’d be willing to pay up front for these things is if you expect to get significantly more value than you paid.  For example, if you think you’ll use the category 1-4 free night certificate for a $250 hotel room, you should put a value far less than that as what you’d pay.  Why pay $250 up front for the ability to get a $250 room later but only if you use it within 6 months?  You shouldn’t.

My Results

To give you an idea of how to use the spreadsheet, here’s how it looks with my own inputs (you may have to scroll to the right to see my answers):

As you can see in my estimates above, there are many perks where I entered $0.  In some cases this is because the perk truly has no value to me.  For example, since I already have Globalist status which gives me free access to club lounges, the club access certificates truly have no value to me.  Others might offer some value, but I’m simply not willing to pay in advance them.  For example, when you get to 60 nights, you get assigned a “My Hyatt Concierge” who will help you with bookings, any issues you have with your stay, etc.  This is a very nice feature, but I simply wouldn’t pay for it if it was a separately purchasable perk.  I like having the perk but wouldn’t pay for it.

I estimated that I’ll earn 39 elite nights in 2021 without mattress running or spending more than I already expect to on the my World of Hyatt card (you may have to scroll to the right to see my answers):

Since my goal is 60 nights (to re-earn Globalist status), I need 21 more nights.  At the bottom of the spreadsheet are my results (you may have to scroll to the right to see my results).  The only row that really matters is my goal: 60 elite nights.

You can see above that my estimated cumulative value of earning 60 nights (assuming a 39 night baseline) is $940.  In other words, the amount I’d be willing to pay to earn 21 more nights is $940.  So, arguably, if I can find a 21 night mattress run that costs me $940 or less, I should do it.  Another way to look at it is by looking at the far right column “Value of each additional elite night.”  With my estimates, each elite night above my 39 night baseline is worth $45, but only if I get to 60 nights and stop there.  If I go to 70 nights, then the per-night value drops to $34.

Under normal circumstances, it would be really hard to find a mattress run that costs $45 or less.  Now, though, with the Bonus Journeys promo it’s possible to earn double elite nights for 2021 by booking a stay that starts in 2020 and ends in 2021 no later than January 4th.  I haven’t looked yet, but I expect that it would be easy to find a Hyatt that costs less than $90 per night for this purpose.  If I can book a 10 night stay that crosses New Years eve for less than $900, then the mattress run would be arguably worth the price because I would earn 20 elite nights in 2021.  I would also use the Hyatt cash or points? Worksheet to determine my real cost after promotional bonus points and/or rebates.

The Credit Card Spend Alternative

Before I book a 10 night mattress run, I need to work out whether it’s cheaper to earn those 20 elite nights with a mattress run or with World of Hyatt credit card spend.  I can always get the same 20 elite nights with $50K credit card spend.  So, which should I do?

With my Bank of America Premium Rewards card with Platinum Honors, I earn 2.62% cash back for all spend.  If I put $50K spend on this card, I would earn $1,310.  With the World of Hyatt credit card, meanwhile, I’d earn 50,000 Hyatt points and 20 elite nights.  If we say that I’d be willing to buy Hyatt points for 1.25 cents each, then those 50K Hyatt points are worth $625.  The opportunity cost, then of my spending $50K on the World of Hyatt card comes to $1,310 – $625 = $685 or $34.25 per elite night.  Even with the ability to earn double elite nights, unless I can find a 10 night mattress run that costs me $685 (after rewards) or less, I’m better off manufacturing Hyatt Globalist status through spend.

To model this yourself, use the same spreadsheet referenced above, but go to the tab titled “Credit Card Cost of Spend for Elite Nights“.

Conclusion

The spreadsheet documented above is designed to help you figure out what Hyatt elite nights are worth to you.  In the scenario I modeled (based on my own travel expectations), I found that the elite nights I need to get to Globalist status next year are worth about $45 per night.  That is, I’d be willing to pay that much because I expect to get even more total value.  Further, I found that my opportunity cost for earning elite nights with spend on the World of Hyatt Credit Card is only $34 per elite night.  In general, that’s a far cheaper way to earn elite nights than through mattress runs.  Even with promotions offering double elite nights, I’d have to find a mattress run for less than $68 per real night ($34 per elite night) for it to be worth the effort.

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