Oops: I Tried Too Hard To Maximize My Hyatt Free Night Certificate

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Don’t make the mistake I did.

The World of Hyatt program was introduced early last year (replacing Hyatt Gold Passport… RIP), and one of the new aspects of the program is that frequent guests receive quite a few free night certificates:

  • If you have The Hyatt Credit Card, you get an annual Category 1-4 free night certificate
  • For staying 30 qualifying nights or earning 50,000 base points per year, you get an annual Category 1-4 free night certificate
  • For staying 60 qualifying nights or earning 100,000 base points per year, you get an annual Category 1-7 free night certificate
  • While this can only be earned once, World of Hyatt members get one Category 1-4 free night certificate after trying five different Hyatt brands, and another Category 1-4 certificate after trying another five Hyatt brands

The expiration dates of these certificates vary — the one offered by the credit card is valid for a year, while historically the ones offered for qualifying for Explorist and Globalist status were valid for only 120 days. However, as of the beginning of this year, Hyatt changed the expiration policy, and increased their validity from 120 days to 180 days.

I always thought 120 days was a fairly short window in which to maximize a certificate like this, though I didn’t think the expiration policy would directly impact me, since I figured I’d be able to maximize it within that period. After all, I spend a lot of nights in hotels, and have a lot of discretion as to where I stay.

Well, I just realized that my Category 1-7 certificates is expiring in less than a week, and I have no plans for it. Oops!

I’m not at this point because I’ve been completely careless and forgot about it, but rather I’m at this point because I’ve been trying so hard to maximize it, that I lost sight of the expiration.

I can’t believe I made this mistake, but I also feel like this is one of my issues as someone who is constantly looking to maximize rewards. In the same way that you want to redeem miles for top first & business class products at the best rates, you also want to redeem a Category 1-7 certificate at as expensive of a property as possible.

Clearly I tried too hard to maximize, and it’s backfiring. I remember in February I had considered using this at the Andaz 5th Avenue New York for a night, but thought to myself “that’s only a Category 6, I’m sure I’ll find a way to redeem at a Category 7.”

I recently stayed at the Park Hyatt Paris, though I made that booking last year, and couldn’t use the certificate, because there were no standard rooms available by the time I was issued my free night certificate.

Of course now I realize that I should have just used the certificate for something decent, rather than trying so hard to maximize.

I’m in the Seychelles for a few more days, though the way things are looking, I guess I’ll just redeem it for a stay at an airport hotel in the nick of time. I might as well at least earn the elite qualifying night from my stay. I do wish they made the policy change of extending the expiration from 120 days to 180 days retroactive, but I guess that’s wishful thinking.

Has anyone else had a Hyatt free night certificate expire, or ended up redeeming it sub-optimally? 

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Comments

  1. I almost lost mine in the same way this month but managed to grab a great stay at the PH NYC (including a suite upgrade) at the last minute – was close as I thought I had 2 more months before it expired too.

    I had been doing the exact same calculus – not wanting to use up such a valuable cert on anything but a Category 7 (at peak times too)

  2. I’m thankfully using mine on the day it expires this week at Hyatt Carmel Highlands, which is now sold out the night we booked (but would be $900+ otherwise). I did end up effectively wasting a Cat 4 certificate last fall and stayed at Hyatt Regency Atlanta for the night just so I’d at least get free dinner and breakfast for my staycation. The inflexible expiration dates and the inability to confirm a suite upgrade when using certificates are among the worst aspects of WoH.

  3. I let my category 7 free night expire. I waited to use it because I wanted to requalify for top tier status first, since free nights didn’t count towards elite status last year [or at least I didn’t know that they would re-calculate stays retroactively]. Then I wanted to use it at a reasonably high category hotel, though didn’t actually book a 7.

    I had a reservation to use it close to expiry, but had to cancel the trip to attend to end of life care for my dog. I actually rebooked the trip for a couple of weeks later, post-expiration. I didn’t stay with Hyatt.

    Hyatt will often give points upon request for an expiring credit card free night by the way.

  4. I did the same thing with my free night from my IHG cc. I waited too long and passed up opptys throughout the year, only to lose it. D’oh!

  5. Hyatt gave me 15,000 for the Category 1-4 free night which would have expired.
    It still doesn’t make the status useful enough to me.

  6. @Stvr I’ve been told points for the Hyatt Visa cert and NOT for the cat 7 free night cert. Believe me, I tried. Maybe they just don’t like me.

  7. I was told while not policy informally they’ll give you 20k pts for a cat 1-7 expired certificate if you call right after it expires with a little sob story. I too almost got screwed on this but wound up using on a Cat 5 GH SF suite so not terrible.

    I was told you couldn’t use a TSU on free night certificates so I was surprised by that as well.

  8. Which is why people should not bite when bloggers push hotel credit cards. It’s hard to get value out of them. It might be easy to redeem them for high ROI but still represent bad value. You will need to understand what this means for your own situation.

    All the bloggers talking about how they missed out is proof enough.

  9. You would think they would make the cert valid for a year. I had one in the past I was unable to use because I had no travel scheduled at the time where I could use it. Its quite lame of them to conduct business this way.

  10. I just planned a trip to Japan and would love to use mine at the Andaz Tokyo, although the trip is a month after mine expire. Instead, I am booked that Andaz stay for 25k UR pts/night and am using the certificates in the South of France in Nice/Cannes in June. Those hotels both look nice, but the rates are considerably lower than for Tokyo and I’d have been fine paying cash for France.

    I felt bad about my sub optimal usage of mine, but I think yours is considerably worse given you travel exponentially more than I do. Oh well, live and learn.

  11. Flame me for being off topic but this reminds me of Delta AMEX companion certificates. They are not valid on flights which have low fares because the fare classes are excluded. Conversely, they are not valid on high fare classes, because DL realizes they can get revenue for those seats.

  12. I wish I knew I could get 15k from the Chase 1-4 cert. my wife and I just let ours expire 1 week ago.

  13. I used mine at a Cat 4 and it was awesome (Andaz papagayo). Such a great stay- it isn’t suboptimal if it’s a place you are going to anyway vs. extra cost to get to the higher category..

  14. Conversion to points is really hit or miss. Ironically, my concierge told me they only convert the credit card certificates to points (denying me help with a globalist certificate). A month later, through casual conversation with a standard phone agent, I mentioned how it was a stupid policy. That agent said that he could easily retro-convert the certificate, did so on the phone, and gave me a few bonus points for my bad prior experience.

    My side lesson here… stop using the concierge.

  15. I think we all have made this mistake once. Now my goal is to use up free night certificates instead of saving them. Although I might not get the “best” use out of them, they don’t go unused.

  16. It’s not a “free” night. It’s likely the only reason most people pay the annual fee for the card. Though I notice you didn’t mention the annual fee in the post.

  17. I’m notorious for letting the DSUs lapse ( typically only used 1 or 2 of four. But I did manage to use both free night certs early this year.

  18. I had two that were expiring at the end of Feb. 2018 (Globalist certificates) so I booked two nights at the PH New York over President’s Day Weekend. Got upgraded to a suite by the property too. It was a great use of them since I was overdue for a visit back to NYC.

  19. Hyatt Customer Care has told me that they’ll redeem the Anniversary Certificate for 10,000 points if you contact them within 90 days of its expiration. No good trying before it expires. They used to do more points, but World of Hyatt has changed it. 10K points can help a lot with Hyatt bookings and certainly justifies the expense of the card.

  20. Those who got points back for expired certificate, are you all Globalist? I heard Hyatt provide the this option only for top tier elite

  21. My is due to expire 11 August 2018 and I just called to see if I could redeem for Ray in Paris in October. I got the smack down. They told me it needed to be actually used before then for it to be valid. I think it will be used for stay-cation

  22. Hey Lucky sorry to hear about this – but as others have mentioned as a Globalist or Courtesy card you do get points back for expired free night awards!

    I want to ask though where did you find this info you quoted in your article
    “However, as of the beginning of this year, Hyatt changed the expiration policy, and increased their validity from 120 days to 180 days.”

    I just checked I have a Cat 1-4 Promotion award for hitting 50k base that is only valid for 120 days that I got in March!? I’m about to email MHC to ask for an extension but wanted to check where you read this update at!

    Thanks

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