I gave Nick a bit of a hard time last week when he couldn’t find any availability to use his Hyatt Visa anniversary free night at the Hyatt Olive 8 in Seattle. They were apparently blocking award night inventory for the entire summer. As an experiment, I called up the Diamond Line and asked them to contact the hotel directly on my behalf to request that they open up a room for me on points. They did and it worked.
Some readers thought that I was being an elitist snob by calling in a special favor just to show him up. While that wasn’t my intention at all, I can see how it may have appeared that way.
In the end, Nick was able to book a room on points. I was very happy for him and look forward to reading the review of his stay. He also made the world a slightly better place by getting them to open up award inventory for everyone else.
Anyway, I felt bad about it for a bit. So to make it up to him, this week I’m going to show Nick how he can become a Hyatt Diamond on the cheap by leveraging the many promotions that Hyatt is currently running.
In this post, I’ll outline a plan whereby Nick (and many of you) can get Hyatt Diamond for 18 months at net cost of $600.
This plan is going to leverage several current Hyatt promotions. Here they are in summary:
20% Award Rebate
Back in February, Hyatt announced that holders of their co-branded credit card would get a 20% rebate on award redemptions through July 31. This applies to both outright award nights as well as Points + Cash stays. The full amount of points is deducted at the time of booking, and then 20% are returned about a week after the stay.
Nick has the Hyatt Visa and is participating in this promotion.
Sweet Dreams, Sweet Rewards Promotion
Then this week Hyatt announced their summer promotion called Sweet Dreams Sweet Rewards and it’s actually pretty decent. It’s a targeted promotion, meaning that the requirements are slightly different depending on which one you are assigned (check your email).
For most folks, the general idea is stay either 10, 15, or 20 nights and earn what amounts to 2,000 points per night. Then for each incremental five nights beyond your initial requirement, you earn even more points, up to some cap.
Nick received the “stay 15 nights, earn 30,000 points” version.
Fast Track To Diamond Status
Hyatt had the best status match program of just about any hotel chain for many years. Then it was discontinued. Then it sort of reappeared. And now the Hyatt Diamond Fast Track is officially back and open to the public. All you have to do is call Hyatt Gold Passport at 1-800-228-3360 and request to be enrolled in the Fast Track to Diamond.
In order to complete the offer you need 12 qualifying nights in the next 60 days. If you do that, you are granted Diamond status immediately which is good for the remainder of 2015 as well as the 2016 program year. That means you’ll have Diamond status through February 2017.
It’s important to note that you don’t get Diamond status at the start of the Fast Track anymore, but rather you get it upon completion. You do, however, earn 1,000 bonus points on each of your first six nights. (I don’t quite get why it wouldn’t be the first 12 but whatever….) It’s also worth noting that Hyatt counts points + cash nights count as qualifying in terms of status, though straight up award nights do not count.
Putting It All Together
By registering for the Diamond Fast Track now, Nick will need 12 nights within the next 60 days in order to earn Diamond status. That is conveniently aligned with the end of July, which means he can leverage the 20% award rebate to reduce his costs.
He simultaneously needs 15 nights to earn 30,000 bonus points under the Sweet Dreams promotion. That’s sort of convenient.
So if he gets 15 nights by the end of July he will earn 36,000 bonus points including 30,000 for the Sweet Dreams promotion and 6,000 with the Diamond Fast Track. He’ll also be Diamond for the next 18 months.
Now let’s see how cheaply we can accomplish this.
Cheap Nights Are Hard To Find
The economy is doing well. Heads are in beds. It’s the summer travel season.
Use whatever excuse you want, the fact is that hotels are not cheap right now. My anecdotal evidence says that the low end properties are up significantly over a year ago, maybe as much as 25%.
Category 1 Points + Cash
Category 1 properties cost 2,500 points plus $50. Some will say that it’s not a great idea to use Points + Cash at these properties, since you could have used 5,000 points for a straight up award night instead. That means you’re essentially buying 2,500 Hyatt points at 2 cents each, which is on the high side. But award nights are not qualifying in terms of earning status, so I would argue that you shouldn’t think of it as buying 2,500 points but rather that you are spending $50 to buy 2,500 points and a night credit. It’s the night credit that we really need, after all.
Oh but wait, there’s an award rebate going on, remember? That means that our Category 1 rooms are really only 2,000 points per night + $50 after the rebate. From here on, I’m just going to assume that the rebate is automatic, since it pretty much is.
Ben values Hyatt points at 1.5 cents each, a number that I find a bit on the low side. But, let’s just go with it. That means that a Category 1 points + cash room is going to cost $50 + 2,000 points or $80. You get all the same benefits on a Points + Cash booking as you do on a revenue night, so one is a perfect substitute for the other. That means that we should prefer to book a Category 1 property on the Points + Cash rate anytime the revenue rate is over $80.
Given the current hotel prices, let’s just assume that $80 is as cheap as it’s going to get.
Putting It All Together
15 nights in Category 1 hotels, at 2,000 points per night (net of the rebate) and $50 means that the investment is 30,000 points and $750.
On the earning side, Nick will pick up 1,000 points for each of the first six nights. Then he will earn 5.75 base points (including the 15% Platinum bonus) per dollar spent on the 15 nights at $50 each for 4,312 points.
And he’ll earn 30,000 bonus points for the Sweet Dreams promotion. That means he will earn a total of 40,312.
He’ll also get 15 nights in a Hyatt, most likely a Hyatt Place or Hyatt House. That could be seen as a benefit or a drawback, depending on perspective.
The Net Effect
Since he’s spending 30,000 points and earning 40,312, that’s a net gain of 10,312 points. And a net spend of $750.
Put another way, by spending $750 Nick will earn Diamond status for 18 months and pick up 10,312 points along the way.
I like to boil everything down to dollars and cents, so let’s say those 10,312 points are worth $155 at Ben’s 1.5 cents per point valuation.
Now Nick is basically spending $595 to obtain Diamond status for 18 months. Is that a good deal?
Is 18 Months of Diamond Status Worth $600?
That probably depends on how much Nick plans to travel and stay with Hyatt over the next year and a half.
He would receive four Diamond suite upgrades for use in 2015 upon completing the Fast Track in July, and then another four upgrades in February of 2016. That’s quite a bit of value.
Then there’s the free breakfast benefit that comes with being a Diamond. We know that Nick has a weekend planned at the Grand Hyatt Seattle in August. If he and his husband plan to eat breakfast there, that’s probably worth $50 per day — he just recouped $100 of the $600 investment on one stay.
Finally, let’s not forget that he’ll have access to the Diamond line.
Category 1 Hotel Availability
I based this analysis on being able to book a Category 1 properties on the points + cash rate. Of course, there aren’t that many Category 1 properties, and the Points + Cash rate has only limited availability. You can check out the list of Hyatt Category 1 hotels here.
Category 1 Hyatt’s aren’t uniformly distributed across the country. If you live in Detroit, Atlanta, Dallas, or perhaps Virginia, you’re in luck. If not, the choices are a lot more limited. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little road trip. Who doesn’t want to hotel hop around Dallas or Atlanta for two weeks in the summer? Or I hear that Detroit is climbing the list in terms of vacation destinations (mostly because it can’t go any lower).
The other challenge is that you can’t check Points + Cash availability on the website. (There is no “IT” in Hyatt after all.) I find this to be a pain.
Spending Points To Earn Points (And Status)
To help limit out of pocket costs, I did this analysis assuming that Nick stays at Category 1 Hyatts on the Cash + Points rate. This requires an initial outlay of 30,000 points.
Sure, he’ll end up getting those 30,000 points back (and more) eventually, but he’s going to have to front those points, so he either needs to have that many Hyatt points already or be willing to transfer some Chase Ultimate Rewards to his Hyatt account.
Can It Get Cheaper?
I didn’t include any bonuses that would be earned on the $750 hotel spend. Or possibilities for acquiring Hyatt gift cards at a discount that could be used to offset some of that cost. But to first order, I think this is a good approximation. Obviously it can also get more expensive if Nick chooses to splurge and stay at Category 2 Hyatts…
What About The Time?
I originally thought that this would take quite a bit of time to check-in to 15 different properties. But it turns out that both the Sweet Dreams promotion and the Fast Track to Diamond are both night based promotions (thanks to two readers for quickly pointing this out in the comments.) Therefore it should be possible to book a 15 night stay and just check-in once. That could make this really easy.
The challenge will likely be finding a block of nights during which the cash + points rate is available for all 15 nights. But that’s still a lot easier than checking-in to a lot of hotels! And heck, maybe you can even get some value out of the nights by doing a few long weekend staycations. My family typically picks up few qualifying stays each summer just so we can chill out, enjoy the pool, and a nice breakfast.
Will This Work For Me?
Probably. The only part of this that is that is specific to Nick is the version of the Sweet Dreams Sweet Rewards promotion that he was targeted for. Most folks seem to have received an offer that awards around 2,000 points per night once you hit 10 or 15 nights, all of which are reasonably aligned with the 12 night for the Diamond Fast Track.
Those that only got the “Stay 1, Get 3,000 Points,” however, might have trouble making this work.
You also need to have the Hyatt Visa in order to get the 20% rebate.
What do you think? Should Nick take the One Mile at a Time Diamond Challenge as outlined here? Would you spend $600 to have Diamond status for two years?