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There are many reasons to love the World of Hyatt loyalty program, and one of my favourite perks is earning a Hyatt Free Night Award. The award allows members to enjoy a complimentary stay at Hyatt properties worldwide. I recently ran into an issue when Hyatt automatically pulled the higher-category (Category 1-7) award instead of the lower-category (Category 1-4) award towards a Category 4 redemption due to the expiry date on the certificates. Gone unnoticed, I would have lost a higher-value Category-7 award.
How to earn Hyatt Free Night Award
The free night award certificate can be earned in a variety of ways;
- As part of the Milestone Rewards, you can earn one Category 1-4 Award after completing 30 Elite Qualifying Nights (EQN). Or one Category 1-7 Award after completing 60 EQN. Awards earned as part of Milestone rewards are valid for six months.
- As part of the Brand Explorer Award, you can earn one Category 1-4 Award for every five unique brands you experience within the Hyatt portfolio. Brand Explorer awards are valid for 12 months.
- You can earn one Category 1-4 Award yearly as a Chase World of Hyatt cardmember and an additional Category 1-4 Award if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year.
All awards earned are available under the World of Hyatt account’s ‘My Awards’ tab and have individual expiry dates listed.
How to redeem a Hyatt Free Night Award
Free Night Award reservations must be made via the ‘My Awards’ page or by calling 800.544.9288 or a Hyatt Global Care Center. The Hyatt booking system makes redeeming a free night award very easy. When searching for a points booking, an additional ‘Free Night’ tab becomes available if you have a valid award in your account.
Once you click through to complete your reservation, Hyatt automatically applies a free night award available in the account with the closest expiry date.
Beware – the Critical Issue at hand
When redeeming, Hyatt does not distinguish between a Category 1-4 award and a Category 1-7 award and automatically applies a free night award with the closest expiry date. This is a significant shortcoming for members with various awards in their accounts, as they risk ‘losing’ a higher category award to a lower category award redemption simply because it expires earlier.
I recently redeemed a free night award online towards a Category-4 hotel where Hyatt pulled a Category 1-7 award for the booking because it was set to expire earlier than the Category 1-4 award in the account.
I brought the issue to my Hyatt Concierge, who promptly acknowledged and corrected the mistake. They returned my Category 1-7 award to the account with a refreshed 6-month validity. A weird way to extend the validity of an award?!
If you have multiple types of free night awards in your account, I recommend extreme caution when trying to redeem the award online. It would be advised to call the Hyatt Global Centre or connect with your Concierge to complete the booking, so you can choose the award that suits your travel plans best.
Hyatt’s swift acknowledgment and resolution of the problem demonstrate its commitment to exceptional customer service. The incident has highlighted the need for greater flexibility when redeeming Hyatt awards online. Allowing members to select which certificate to use, or automatically using the lower-category certificate (and not closest expiry) towards a redemption, would allow a transparent process and enhance the overall member experience.