I took advantage of the Hyatt Diamond status match late last year and have been enjoying my suite upgrades, free breakfast, lounge access, and check-in amenities for over half a year now. With just under 5 months left to requalify, I've been giving some thought to whether and how to do so.
Whether to requalify
I have a high baseline level of skepticism that elite status benefits are worth paying anything for.
For example, I manufacture elite status on Delta with a Business Platinum American Express card, but I also earn 1.4 SkyMiles per dollar spent when I meet the $25,000 and $50,000 annual spend thresholds. Since SkyMiles are the airline currency I use most frequently and to greatest effect, I manufacture spend on the card with the SkyMiles in mind, and appreciate the bonus Medallion Qualifying Miles merely as an ancillary benefit.
Requalifying for Hyatt Diamond status has a related logic: since Hyatt Gold Passport points are some of the most useful points, thanks to how easy they are to earn through Ultimate Rewards transfers, qualifying for Diamond status means getting more value from points I'll redeem anyway. I'm not going to try to quantify that additional value — I'm pointing out the difference between elite status in programs you already use aggressively and elite status in programs you use infrequently or never, like the periodic elite status challenges you see offered by airlines.
How to requalify
Hyatt Diamond status requires 25 paid or Points + Cash stays, or 50 paid or Points + Cash nights during the calendar year. There are three important things to consider when deciding on a path to requalification: the Chase Hyatt credit card; requalifying on stays; and requalifying on nights.
Chase Hyatt Credit Card elite-qualifying stays and nights
The Chase Hyatt credit card gives 2 elite-qualifying stays and 5 elite-qualifying nights after spending $20,000, and 3 additional elite-qualifying stays and 5 additional elite-qualifying nights after spending a total of $40,000 during the calendar year. If you spend $40,000 on the card, and value Hyatt Gold Passport points at the 1 cent each you can buy them for with a transfer from Ultimate Rewards, you'll pay $400 in foregone cash back for 5 stays and 10 nights, compared to a 2% cashback card.
Whether that's cheap or expensive depends both on your alternatives and on whether you decide to requalify on stays or nights.
Requalifying on stays
Qualifying with elite-qualifying stays is the option that gets the most attention from travel hackers for three reasons.
First, it's much cheaper to mattress run for additional stays than additional nights. If you are requalifying on stays and get 80% of the way to Diamond status (20 stays), you only need to book 5 more one-night stays. If you are requalifying on nights and get 80% of the way to Diamond status (40 nights), you need to book twice as many more nights, at double the cost.
Second, requalifying on stays allows you to mix and match your booking options. Since Hyatt guarantees standard room award availability, you can book just one night of each stay with cash or Points + Cash, and the remaining nights using only points. This is, in fact, the strategy I've been following this year.
Finally, requalifying on stays allows you to rapidly earn stay credits on longer trips by moving between multiple Hyatt properties in the same city. For example, the Andaz 5th Avenue is just 2 street blocks from the Grand Hyatt New York. It would get old fast, but if you travel alone or have understanding travel companions, on a 5-night stay in New York City you could earn 5 stay credits alternating between the two hotels each night.
As indicated above, if you choose to requalify on stays, then the Chase Hyatt credit card will earn you 5 stays for $400, or $80 each. Is that cheap or expensive? In general, it is cheaper than mattress running with Points + Cash stays unless you have access to Category 1 properties. Those Category 1 Hyatt properties cost 2,500 Hyatt Gold Passport points and $50 per night, plus taxes. If you're able to mattress run at one of the 12 Category 1 Hyatt Regency properties in the Americas (there are many more in the Asia/Pacific region), you'll be able to select a 1,000-point Diamond amenity and earn 325 Hyatt Gold Passport points per stay, bringing your total cost down to $61.75, plus taxes, cheaper than the $80 you'd pay manufacturing spend with the Chase Hyatt credit card.
Using the same logic, even a Category 2 Hyatt Regency Points + Cash stay would cost $81.42, plus taxes (the proof of this is left as an exercise for the reader).
Requalifying on nights
While the case for requalifying for Diamond status on stays is strong, it's not airtight.
Looking at my own stay history this year, I have 7 elite-qualifying stays and 15 elite-qualifying nights. But I have also redeemed 7 free nights. If I had booked those nights as elite-qualifying Points + Cash nights, I'd be at 22 total nights, or 44% of the way to Diamond status, whereas by trying to requalify on stays, I'm only 28% of the way there.
Of course, I had reasons for booking those nights as free awards: 4 of them were redemptions of Chase Hyatt credit card certificates, for example, which can't be booked as elite-qualifying nights!
There are three key questions when deciding whether to requalify on stays or nights: the average length of your stay, the availability of Points + Cash award availability, and the category of property you typically stay in.
If your average length of stay is less than 2 nights, you're strictly better off requalifying on stays, because twice as many nights than stays are required to requalify. This is true even if you have more than 25 stays or more than 50 nights! That's because the more easily you can qualify, the more flexibility you have in selecting between free nights, Points + Cash, and paid stays, and flexibility in this game is worth a lot.
If your average length of stay is 2 nights or longer, then you have to consider the category of property you typically stay in and the availability of Points + Cash award availability. Two extreme examples illustrate this point: if you stay exclusively at Category 7 properties, each night you book with Points + Cash instead of just points costs $150 in extra Hyatt Gold Passport points — that's an expensive elite-qualifying night! If you stay exclusively at Category 1 properties, each night you book with Points + Cash costs just $25 per elite-qualifying night, plus taxes. However, if the properties you stay at don't regularly make Points + Cash awards available, you're out of luck: back to requalifying on stays.
Manufacturing spend on the Chase Hyatt credit card, at $40 in foregone cash back per night, is far superior to mattress running for nights, which even with Points + Cash awards starts at $61.75, as shown above. However, if you already stay 50 nights per year at Hyatt properties, the Chase Hyatt credit card elite-qualifying nights are inferior to simply swapping your award nights for Points + Cash nights, which only requires a "top-up" of $15-25 in Hyatt Gold Passport points (until you get to Category 7 properties).
I already have 2 additional elite-qualifying stays booked, with another 2 planned. Together with the Chase Hyatt credit card elite-qualifying stays, those trips will get me to 16 of the required 25 stays. To mattress run for the 9 remaining elite-qualifying stays at a Category 1 Hyatt Regency property would cost $555.75, plus taxes, which is out of the question.
On the other hand, I haven't planned my fall and winter travel yet, so it's still possible that enough real trips will come along to either get me over the finish line naturally, or get me close enough to mattress run for the final few stays.