Tips for timing your Hyatt credit card spend (Fixed & Improved)

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UPDATE: This post has been updated with the following:

  • Corrected information about how elite nights are earned at the end of the calendar year. I had previously been told by Hyatt that elite nights from spend were based on your statement close date, but that’s not true. Elite nights from $5K spend are earned based on the actual date you complete $5K spend.
  • Details for legacy Hyatt Visa cardholders (those who’s card will be converted to the World of Hyatt card on January 11).
  • 2nd Update 12/8/20 4:45PM ET: I’ve confirmed that legacy cardholders with mid-year card anniversary dates will have the ability to earn two free nights in 2021 with enough spend.

The World of Hyatt credit card offers two distinct perks for spend (other than earning points, of course): 1) Earn a free night with $15,000 spend; and 2) Earn 2 elite nights for each $5K spend. Timing your spend is crucial for getting the most out of these benefits.

Annual Free Night

The World of Hyatt card offers a free category 1-4 certificate with $15,000 in annual spend.  The certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of issuance and must be redeemed for a reservation with a checkout date before the expiration of the award.  To earn this award, spend is dated based on the recorded date of each transaction irrespective of when your credit card statement closes.

Here’s how best to time that spend…

2021 only: Earn 2 free nights

In 2022 and beyond, the World of Hyatt card will measure your $15,000 of spend by calendar year.  That is, you’ll earn a free night if you spend $15,000 or more between January 1st and December 31st.  In 2020 and prior, the timeframe was measured by membership year.  And in 2021, it will be a little of both.  Cardholders who have a mid-year anniversary date can still earn a free night with $15,000 spend by their card anniversary, and can earn another free night with $15K spend between their 2021 card anniversary date and December 31 2021.

Here’s an example.  Suppose you originally opened your account on July 15th.  In that case, you can earn one free night for $15K spend between July 16 2020 and July 15 2021.  And you can earn another free night for $15K spend between July 16 2021 and December 31 2021.

Whether or not it makes sense for you to try to earn two free nights is another question entirely.  More discussion about this is later in this post.

Delay completing spend to extend validity of free night

Free nights from spend are valid for 12 months from issuance.  If you don’t have a known need for this free night within 12 months, it makes sense to delay completing the $15K spend until closer to the end of the year (or the end of your membership year in 2021).  This way you’ll have more time to find a good use for the free night.

Match to your card anniversary date

Some may find that it makes sense to try to complete their $15K spend as close as possible to their card anniversary date.  The reason is that all cardholders (even without spend) get a free night every year based on their card anniversary date.  If you’d like to use your anniversary free night and your free night from spend for the same trip, it can be useful if they have similar expiration dates.  By timing the completion of your $15K spend to be near your card anniversary date, you can closely line up the validity of your two free nights.

Elite Nights with $5K Spend

The World of Hyatt card offers 2 elite nights (tier qualifying nights) for each $5K of spend on your card. This spend is cumulative and is not reset when crossing a calendar year or membership year.  For example, you can spend $4,999 in 2020 and $1 in 2021 in order to earn 2 elite nights in 2021.  Elite nights are issued for the year in which you complete the spend.

What are tier qualifying nights?
Tier qualifying nights are often referred to as "elite nights". With many hotel chains, you can earn elite status by acquiring a number of tier qualifying elite nights each year. For example, Hyatt usually requires earning 30 elite nights per year to achieve mid-tier Explorist status, or 60 elite nights for top-tier Globalist status. Additionally, Hyatt offers "Milestone Rewards" which are perks like free lounge access, free nights, bonus points, etc. Milestone Rewards are earned within a calendar year when you achieve 20 elite nights, and every 10 elite nights after that up to 100. Read more about Hyatt elite status and Milestone Rewards in our World of Hyatt Complete Guide.

 

Important: The spend date for elite nights is measured by the actual date of spend (not by the statement close date as I had previously and incorrectly asserted).  For example, suppose your statement closes on the 15th of each month.  If you complete $5K of spend on December 31st 2020, then your elite nights will apply 2020 even though your statement closes in 2021.  If you want to earn elite nights in 2021, then it’s important to delay at least $1 of that $5K spend until January 1st.

Elite nights with spend are based on cumulative spend.  For example, suppose you have spent a total of $4,500 on your card since signing up.  Now, suppose you make a huge $10,400 purchase with the card.  You will now have cumulatively spent $14,900.  That will qualify you for 4 elite nights (2 for the first $5K spend + 2 for the next $5K spend) and you’ll be only $100 in spend away from earning 2 more elite nights.

Delay completing $5K spend to earn elite nights next year

If you’re not working towards elite status this year, then it makes sense to try to earn elite nights from spend for next year.  This is especially true right now since Hyatt has reduced 2021 elite status requirements.  See: Ludicrously easy path to Hyatt Globalist status (top-tier status for 2 years!).

The key is to wait until January 1 to complete your $5K spend.

Time spend for optimal Milestone Rewards

Elite Nights Earned Milestone Reward
20 Nights 2 Club Access Awards
30 Nights 1 Cat 1-4 Free Night and 2 Club Access Awards
40 Nights 5K bonus points or $100 Hyatt gift card or 10K Find Experience Savings
50 Nights 2 Suite Upgrade Awards
60 Nights 1 Cat 1-7 Free Night and 2 Suite Upgrade Awards and Access to My Hyatt Concierge
70, 80, 90, and 100 Nights 10K Bonus Points or 1 Suite Upgrade Award
Completely separate from elite status, Milestone Rewards are available to everyone and are based on the number of nights you stay in a calendar year. Club Lounge Access Awards and Suite Upgrade Awards are valid for the rest of the current calendar year and 14 months beyond. Free night awards are valid for 180 days from the date issued. FIND Experience discount must be used within 6 months of issuance.

One confusing aspect of Hyatt’s Milestone Rewards is that different rewards have different expiration dates, as follows:

  • 5K Bonus Points, 10K Bonus Points, $100 Hyatt Gift Card: These rewards have no expiration date.  (OK, OK, yes, Hyatt points expire after 24 months if you have no activity in your account, but as a cardholder you would only need to spend a dollar once every two years to avoid that fate).
  • Club Access Awards and Suite Upgrade Awards: Valid for the remainder of the Calendar Year in which it is earned and an additional fourteen (14) months thereafter.  In other words, you might as well earn these early in the calendar year if you can.
  • Category 1-4 Free Night and Category 1-7 Free Night: Valid for one hundred and eighty (180) days from the date of issuance and must be redeemed for a reservation with a checkout date before the expiration of the award.  In other words, if you don’t need the free night right away, it makes sense to wait as long as possible before earning it.
  • 10K Find Experience Savings: Expires 6 months from issuance.  Please don’t pick this reward unless you have an immediate known use for it!

If you are close to earning 30 elite nights or 60 elite nights within a calendar year, it may make sense to delay your credit card spend to avoid reaching those milestones a bit longer.  When you reach 30 or 60 elite nights, you will be issued a free night certificate that’s good for 180 days (about 6 months).  If you don’t have a good near term use for that certificate, you’ll want to get it as late in the calendar year as possible.

How to determine your anniversary date & spend totals

Chase doesn’t make it easy to figure out either your card anniversary date or your cumulative spend towards the next $5K or $15K threshold.  To figure out either, I recommend logging into your Chase account on the web and then:

  1. Send Chase a Secure Message to ask for your official card anniversary date.
  2. Select your Hyatt card and download activity to a spreadsheet.  Use the spreadsheet to determine your spend totals.  Make sure to remove card fees from the total.
    • To determine $15K spend progress, look only at the current calendar year of spend.
    • To determine $5K spend progress, add up spend across all time for those who started with the World of Hyatt card or all spend since January 11 2021 for those who were converted over from the old Hyatt card. Subtract out the highest multiple of $5K. Example: If you found that you have spent $28,204 then after subtracting out $25,000, you’ll see that you have spent $3,204 towards the next $5K.

Legacy Hyatt card conversions

If you have the legacy Hyatt Visa card, it will be converted to the new World of Hyatt card on January 11th.  Once that happens, all of your spend will be reset.  In other words, none of the spend on your old card will count towards earning a free night with $15K spend nor towards earning 2 elite nights with each $5K spend.

You can earn two free nights in 2021 if you card anniversary date is mid-year.  For example, if your card anniversary date is July 15th, it’s possible to earn a free night with $15K spend between January 11th and July 15th and then you can earn another free night with $15K spend between July 16th and December 31.

See also: Should you cancel the old Hyatt Visa and sign up new?

Strategy recommendations for 2021

Given that Hyatt has cut in half their elite status requirements for 2021 (top tier Globalist status can be earned with only 30 elite nights!), elite nights earned in 2021 are arguably more valuable than usual.  And, even if you have plans to earn Globalist status through stays, extra elite nights from spend can be helpful for earning Milestone Rewards.

Here are some tips for maximizing opportunities:

Wait to complete $5K spend

Wait until January to complete your first or next $5K of spend.  Unless you are 2 nights from earning status or a Milestone Reward in 2020, earning elite nights in 2021 will be more valuable.

Legacy Hyatt cardholders:

  • Complete $4K of spend in December in order to earn a free night.  Make sure to register first!  See: Legacy Hyatt Card Offer: Spend $4,000 & Get Category 1-4 Free Night Cert (Spend By 12/31/20).  If you use that free night certificate in January or February 2021, you’ll earn 2 elite nights from that stay thanks to Hyatt’s Bonus Journeys promo.
  • Wait until after your card is converted over on January 11 to spend any more.  Only spend that occurs after the conversion will count towards earning elite nights with each $5K spend or a free night with $15K spend.

Complete $15K spend by your 2021 card anniversary date

In 2021, you can earn a free night by completing $15K of spend between your 2020 and 2021 card anniversary date.  If all of that spend happens in 2021, you’ll also earn a total of 6 elite nights from that spend.

Legacy Hyatt cardholders: This applies to you too. In your case, none of your spend up until January 11th will count, but you will earn a free night if you spend $15,000 between January 11th and your card anniversary date.

Consider completing $15K more spend

Consider completing $15K more spend between your 2021 anniversary date and December 31 2021.  In 2021, only, this will result in a second free night.  Whether or not this makes sense for you depends heavily on when your anniversary date is (for example, this will be hard to pull off if your anniversary date is in December) and how much you value these free nights.

Legacy Hyatt cardholders: This applies to you too.

Sample plans for 2021

We’ve written a lot about the opportunities to earn top tier Globalist status in 2021.  Thanks to the Bonus Journeys promotion, stays with checkout dates between Jan 1 and Feb 28 2021 will earn double elite nights.  Combined with the fact that Hyatt has cut in half the elite requirements for 2021, this means that you can earn top tier status with only 15 nights of Hyatt stays between those dates.  And that’s without earning any elite nights from the World of Hyatt credit card.  If you factor in the credit card elite nights, things get even easier.  For full details, see: Ludicrously easy path to Hyatt Globalist status (top-tier status for 2 years!).

New Cardholder 2021 Plan

Those who sign up now (or signed up recently) for the World of Hyatt card recently will get 10 elite nights in 2020 and 10 in 2021 (and will continue to earn 5 elite nights each year thereafter, like other cardholders).  Also, new cardholders must spend $6K to earn the full 50K welcome bonus.  Here’s an example plan for a new cardholder to make the most of current opportunities:

  1. Sign up for the World of Hyatt card (found here).  There are two signup offer options. I recommend selecting the option to earn up to 50,000 points.  The current welcome offer will give you (among other things), 10 elite nights in 2020 and 10 elite nights in 2021.
  2. Wait until January 1st to complete $5K spending towards the $6K required for the welcome bonus.  This way, your two elite nights from spend will post in 2021.
  3. Plan to spend $15,000 on the card before your next card anniversary date.  Keep in mind that the 50K welcome bonus requires spending $3K in your first 3 months in order to get the first 25K points and $6K total within 6 months to get the second 25K points.  With the full recommended $15K spend by your next card anniversary, you’ll earn:
    • 15K points from spend (or more if some of that spend earned category bonuses)
    • 50K points from the welcome bonus
    • 6 additional elite nights in 2021 (3 x $5K spend)
    • 1 category 1-4 free night certificate
  4. Book 7 nights worth of stays with checkout dates between January 1 and February 28 2021, inclusive.  Thanks to the Bonus Journeys promotion (Make sure to register by Jan 15!), those 7 nights will give you 14 additional elite nights towards status in 2021.

With the above plan, you’ll earn top tier Globalist elite status in 2021.

Current Cardholder 2021 Plan

For this plan, I’ll make some big assumptions: 1) Your card anniversary date is mid-year; 2) You haven’t yet put much spend on your card since your last card anniversary date; 3) You want to earn Globalist elite status in 2021; 4) You highly value suite upgrade certificates and so you want to earn at least 50 elite nights in 2021 to get 2 upgrades via Milestone Rewards.

  1. You will automatically get 5 elite nights from your card in 2021 (as you do every year)
  2. Book at least 10 nights worth of stays with checkout dates between January 1 and February 28 2021, inclusive.  Thanks to the Bonus Journeys promotion (Make sure to register by Jan 15!), those 10 nights will give you 20 elite nights towards status in 2021.
  3. Spend $15K on your card starting January 1 and before your card anniversary date.  This will result in a free night plus 6 elite nights.
  4. Spend $15K on your card after your card anniversary date and before December 31st.  This will result in a free night plus 6 elite nights in 2021.
  5. Earn 13 more elite nights in 2021 in order to get the 50 night Milestone Reward (2 Suite Upgrade Certificates).  This can be a combination of elite nights earned from spend and elite nights earned from stays.  You’ll earn elite nights from stays booked with cash, points, or free night certificates.  Keep in mind that stays booked with checkout dates between Jan 1 and Feb 28 count double.

Conclusion

The World of Hyatt card offers multiple different perks from spend.  Starting in 2022, figuring out how to time that spend will be relatively easy, but between now and then, there are many factors to consider.  In 2021 only, many of us have a chance to earn two free nights from spend.  Plus, with elite requirements cut in half in 2021, elite nights earned from spend are more valuable than usual.  On the other hand, earning elite nights from stays is far easier than usual in January and February.  There’s no easy answer as to exactly what to do and how to time your spend, but hopefully this post gives you the information you need to go forward.

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