After I wrote last month that Hyatt's new loyalty program "made the decision easy" to requalify as a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond in 2016, Joe Cheung at As the Joe Flies suggested it might be useful to explain my thinking in more detail.
The fact is, I take a pretty brute force approach to travel hacking, so the calculus for me is equally straightforward: I calculate my projected benefits, subtract my projected costs, and figure out whether I'll come out ahead or not. I'm happy to spell that calculus out in more detail.
The cash value of 2017 Diamond status
There are exactly three benefits of the World of Hyatt program which have any concrete value to me:
- A free night at any Category 1-7 property worldwide. This is worth up to $300, the cash value of 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Hyatt Gold Passport or World of Hyatt.
- Breakfast and club access. This is worth perhaps $20-30 per night stayed at Hyatt properties between March 1, 2017, and February 28, 2018.
- 4 confirmed suite upgrades, subject to availability. This is worth perhaps $100 total — suites are nice, while being subject to availability sucks.
In other words, given a minimum of 4 Hyatt stays in the 2017 membership year, Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond status requalification can be assigned a starting value of $480: $300 in transferred Ultimate Rewards points, $80 in breakfast, and another $100 in suite upgrades.
The cash cost of 2017 Diamond status
After meeting the $40,000 spend threshold on my Chase Hyatt credit card, and earning a total of 5 elite-qualifying stay credits, I'll be 5 stays away from requalifying for Diamond status in 2016. Earning those 5 elite-qualifying stay credits only needs to cost me $96 per stay to "break even" with my projected value of Globalist elite status
I'm always anxious to remind people that "breaking even" isn't the point of travel hacking: we're supposed to come out so far ahead that all the crazy antics we commit ourselves to end up paying for themselves! If spending $480 in cash only got me $480 in value, there'd be no point in using Hyatt Gold Passport as an intermediary — I'd just pay $480 for things I valued at $480.
I can, in fact, achieve my remaining 5 elite-qualifying stays for a total price of $455. Putting those charges, at Hyatt Regency properties, on my Chase Hyatt credit card will reduce the price by another $50. One of these "mattress runs" will trigger another 10,000 Hyatt Gold Passport-point payout from the current "More Points. More Play." promotion, and all 5 will trigger 500-point payouts from the current mobile-booking promotion. Earning 6.5 points per dollar adds up to another 2,600 points on the room charges, plus up to 5,000 more points if I choose the points amenity on all 5 stays.
Valuing those earned points at their cash opportunity cost to me — one cent each — means I can pay $204 for $480 in value. That puts me squarely in the range of savings that travel hackers should take seriously.
This calculation requires no fantasies
If you're paying attention, the value I place on Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond status and World of Hyatt Globalist status requires just four stays of one night each in the 2017 membership year.
If I stay four separate nights, and apply four suite upgrade awards, and a single one of my nights is at a Category 7 property, I'm certain to get $480 in value.
I plan to get much, much more value from Globalist status in 2017. The key point is that the more realistic your assessment of the value of elite status, the easier it is to calculate the return on your travel hacking investment.