Hey Hyatt, It Is Time To Catch Up With The Competition

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Top Off A Hyatt Free Night Certificate With Points

Can You Top Off A Hyatt Free Night Certificate With Points?

World of Hyatt has been held up on a pedestal for so long that it is hard to think of a time they fell behind the pack. Their points are still extremely valuable, especially for hotel points. Their awards are affordable and their partnership with Ultimate Rewards makes stockpiling their points easier than most. Then you throw in their Globalist status, which is second to none, even if it isn’t for me. All of that is great but do you know where they have really fallen behind? Their free night certificates are pretty much back of the pack these days. Ever wondered if you can top off a Hyatt free night certificate with points? Well you can’t, even though you can with much of the competition.

This Didn’t Use To Be An Issue

A few years ago people dreamed of being able to top off free night certificates with points but it wasn’t a huge gripe. That was because no one offered it and Hyatt category 1-4 free night certificates still offered a lot of value. They had plenty of great properties to choose from that fell in the category 3 and 4 space.

Over the years Hyatt has chipped away at that value by moving the best Category 4 hotels up to Category 5. They have done it each time they reshuffle the category deck and one by one we have lost many of the best options, especially domestically. That has worn away the veneer on these certificates some.

On top of all of that Hyatt did play a game with your mind not too long ago. They did this when they introduced non peak and peak pricing. See the certificates are category locked versus point value locked. That means they all of sudden could be worth up to 18,000 points instead of just 15,000 (category 4 peak pricing). That is a façade since they devalued the entire program in the process. It appears they are more valuable when they really just get you the same thing as before.

Top Off A Hyatt Free Night Certificate With Points

The Competition Has Moved Past World of Hyatt

World of Hyatt wasn’t the only program to devalue over the past year but their three biggest competitors all made improvements to their free night certificates.


Hilton’s free night certificates are probably the best there is after IHG capped their certificates to 40,000 points a few years back. The only annoying part with Hilton certs were that they were only useable on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. That has been changed for the time being. Which makes the best free night certificates in the business even better.


Marriott recently made some big changes to their program, for the worse, and more bad things are to come in the near future when they go fully dynamic. But one good move they made was allowing members to top off their free night certificates with up to 15,000 points.


IHG may be the only program that did a 180 lately. They went fully dynamic overnight and people complained so much that they did a reversal a few days later. Then a few weeks back they completely revamped their program for the better, a rarity these days. They also refreshed the IHG Premier card (with a currently increased welcome offer) which makes it a pretty compelling card now.  One great addition for Premier cardholders is the ability to top off free night certificates earned from the card. There is no cap on this either which is better than Marriott’s 15,000 point cap.

Top Off A Hyatt Free Night Certificate With Points

What I Would Like To See Happen

I think it is time for World of Hyatt to introduce something similar to what Marriott and IHG offer. They need to add the option to top off free night certificates with points. They could limit it to a cardholder perk, like IHG, since a vast majority of the free night certificates out there are from their World of Hyatt credit card.

Even if they make the certificate amount static, say 15,000 points for a category 4 cert, when topping off I would be willing to give up some of the value to do it (losing that 18,000 top tier redemption). That is because they would become more flexible and useful. I wouldn’t mind adding 2,000 / 5,000 / 8,000 points on top to book a Category 5 hotel.  That gives me a lot of flexibility since a ton of great hotels fall just out of reach in that category 5 level, especially in major cities.

Top Off A Hyatt Free Night Certificate: Final Thoughts

One thing I can say about World of Hyatt is they seem to be pretty in tune with what consumers want. I have to imagine that they have noticed what the competition is doing with their free night certificates and have at least considered this. It would offer more value to their members, and cardholders, plus it would encourage people to “overspend” on their stays. If you could just add a few thousand points to get that nicer hotel down the street you know people are going to jump at it to “maximize” their certificate.

Come on Hyatt, make it happen!

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. Mark You are right on point with your assessment of World of Hyatt
    Hyatt while a good program has had no material improvements of any kind
    in years to its otherwise well written program.Just devaluation and benefit cuts
    It will cost them tens of thousands of dollars from me alone annually being penny wise and pound foolish
    The lesser programs are offering better options and better promotions
    Hyatt promotions are weak they have watered down Globalist benefits like breakfast where I don’t care if I stay or go to a competing brand.They nickel and dime us now and I’ve been with them for decades and a lifer Glob.Closed clubs and declining food and beverage quality & service in their restaurants.Sad really.Hopefully they come back .They have gotten greedy and their value prop has severely diminished

  2. Just drop the points into the account – 15k and 35k. End of the problem. Some people would rather have three free 5k nights.

  3. Don’t disagree that Hyatt certs are worth less than a couple or years ago due to category creep but to say they are at the back of the pack is wrong. Also, certs still apply to peak point prices.

    Hilton: 1 available with their $450 CC, great value there, no argument. But it’s also not that easy to earn them.

    Marriott: I see so many mid-tier Marriott hotels priced at 51000 or 66000 points, it’s a joke. Give me a Hyatt 1-4 any day vs. 35k cert. and maybe even a 50k cert.

    IHG: The jury is still out on this one on value or if hotels will learn to adapt.

    The end result of IHG and Marriott topping off is that you get fooled into feeling good about spending an extra 10-15k points booking the same cert hotels you did 2 years ago.

    • I think they are in the back of the pack in terms of flexibility but not in value. I would agree they are still worth more than a Marriott 35K cert and I would put them level in terms of value with the IHG cert with the ability to top that one off. The money values are close at their base levels as it is.

  4. I would rather see the certs go to a cat 1-5 or cat 1-8. As it is so many hotels are gaming the program with their multi night minimum stays with points/certs, or very few “standard rooms”. Europe was particularly bad this summer, where many properties had points rooms available to book in the spring time but then closer to the summer rates skyrocketed and points rooms were not available in some cities like London. This isn’t new and summer 2022 with “revenge travel” has been out of control.

    I’m fearful of what might happen if Cat1-4 certs are allowed to be topped off. Marriott has taken their disdain for customers to a new level, and although Hyatt doesn’t seem to do that, some individual hotels seem to take every opportunity.

    • Allowing them to go to a cat 1-5 or 1-8 would be better but that would cost Hyatt actual money where this adjustment really wouldn’t, why I think it is more likely.

  5. I second the “be careful what you wish for” sentiment. There is no free lunch. Companies need to profit from these initiatives. Just like Amex and their high breakage monthly credit, Hyatt profits from these certs (or loses less) from breakage…ppl not being able to use them when they would otherwise pay cash. They end up either going to waste, or staying somewhere they otherwise wouldn’t…which means Hyatt isn’t losing much since you wouldn’t otherwise had stayed there and paid cash. What you are pushing for is a world where points are always worth a set amount of cash, like with Delta and to some extent Hilton. No thanks. Keep doing you, Hyatt.

    • I’m not sure that the people that let their category 1-4 certs expire are going to be savvy enough to use the top off feature anyway so I am not so sure the breakage numbers change all that much.

  6. You just don’t know how to use your Cat 1-4 certs. Use them for nights in cities where there are huge events and Cat 1-4 rates go to infinity. College football weekends, Great American Beer Fest in Denver, New Years Eve, etc. Don’t blame the company because you can’t properly play the game.

    • I currently have 0 certs in my account since I used them all so tell me how I don’t know what I am doing once again. You didn’t address the fact that they are not as valuable as they once were and the competitors have made theirs better in the mean time. But troll away pal!

  7. None of the Cat 1-4 Hyatts in my area would accept my free night certificate (cat 1-4). It’s going to expire and Hyatt Concierge said there’s nothing that can be done. What’s the point of getting free night certs if I can’t use them.

    Also until very recently, all of the Hyatts in my area were not accepting WoH points or certs for stays at all. How does a property block points/award redemptions?

    • Right? I’d love to burn my cert at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki, but they play so many games with rules and availability, that it’s just about impossible. This has always been my biggest complaint about Hyatt – they let hotels get away with too much regarding basic redemptions. It often makes the program nearly unusable for me.

  8. Great idea but not if it comes with eliminating reward categories. Watch what you wish for ….. Unfortunately these days no changes are ‘good’ and changes are ‘bad’.

    • Agreed. I wouldn’t want fully dynamic pricing but I fear it is coming at some point. Hyatt seems to be about 2 years behind everyone else so I feel like it is just a matter of when.

  9. I would say: Hyatt, do your own thing and don’t listen to this blogger.
    It is bad for them to “compete”. It always drives down the benefits. I’m not seeing how this would be the first in a long path in the wrong direction.

    • This would simply be offering more benefits to their members after they recently devalued their program. So giving a bit back – not sure how you can see that as a bad thing. They already hit us with the bad thing…which was…shocker alert…doing what everyone else had already done. Adding peak and non peak pricing and adding higher category tiers.

  10. You make a compelling argument. A few years ago the top tier was category 7 with around a half dozen hotels. Now between devaluations, new even higher categories, and lots of new pricey properties, the category 1-4 certificate just ain’t what it used to be. Offering a buy-up option as you suggest makes a lot of sense.


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