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New Hyatt award chart side by side vs Starwood – who has better value for credit cards?

by on Mon November 11, 2013 • 6 Comments

Hyatt hotelHyatt is joining the ranks of programs devaluing their award charts in 2013, with new, higher point prices effective January 7, 2014.

Fortunately, unlike United, Delta, and Southwest, it clearly details the changes side-by-side on its website.

Hyatt and Starwood, which includes Westin, Sheraton, W, Le Meridien, and St Regis hotels, are the two major hotel programs best suited for people who earn points primarily via credit card spending rather than stays in their hotels.

That’s because they charge much less per night in points for a free room night than Marriott, Hilton, and IHG, and both offer upscale quality hotels at reasonable prices. They do this because they have fewer hotels in their networks than Marriott, Hilton, and IHG, so frequent stayers don’t have as many opportunities to earn points, and they need to offer them faster rewards.

Both offer credit cards that earn about 1 point per dollar in rewards –  though Hyatt does have the option of transferring in from Chase Ultimate Rewards, which offers extra earning opportunity for those willing to sacrifice those points versus other uses. It also offers a 2x bonus on dining and airline spending with its credit card

Below, we compare Hyatt’s new chart with Starwood’s:

StarwoodHyatt NewHyatt OldTypical Rate
Category 1300050005000$100
Category 2400080008000$125
Category 370001200012000$175
Category 4100001500015000$200
Category 512000-160002000018000$250
Category 620000-250002500022000$300
Category 730000-3500030000Cat 6 price$400

Luxury – Advantage Starwood

The biggest change is that Hyatt, which used to offer its most expensive, luxury hotels for just 22,000 points per night, now is offering them for 25,000 and often 30,000 points per night. The 30,000 rate includes flagship hotels like the Park Hyatt in Tokyo and the Vendome in Paris.

Now, Hyatt and Starwood are about the same for the higher end hotels. But Starwood has an advantage in that it has many more truly luxury hotels in its portfolio like the St. Regis, but at the same points price, so if super-luxury hotels are your goal, then Starwood is now a better deal for its added flexibility. Before this change Hyatt charged over 25% less for comparable properties.

But one area where Starwood isn’t so transparent are properties that have no ‘standard’ rooms like the following luxury resorts. At these properties you will pay much more than 30,000 points per night –  40,000 – 140,000 points per night. Hyatt has very few luxury resort properties – the Park Hyatt Maldives at Category 6 remains a good bargain at 25,000 points per night, and a couple Park Hyatt resorts in the Middle East are 20,000 points per night.

Sheraton Denarau Villas, Nadi, Fiji; Canyon Suites at The Phoenician; Scottsdale, Arizona; St. Regis Resort Bora Bora, and Le Meridien Bora Bora, Bora Bora, French Polynesia; The St. Regis Bali Resort, Bali, Indonesia; W Retreat & Spa – Maldives, Maldives; Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort, Key West, Florida; The Westin Resort and Spa, Playa Conchal, Playa Conchal, Costa Rica; Mystique, Santorini, Greece; Pine Cliff Residences, Albuferia, Portugal; and Cala Di Volpe, Hotel Pitrizza, and Hotel Romazzino, Porto Cervo, Italy; W Retreat Koh Samui, Koh Samui, Thailand; and Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Middle-level – Advantage Starwood

Hyatt didn’t make any changes to the prices of the middle and lower tiers of its award chart, which include good quality Hyatt hotels outside of the biggest metropolitan areas – hotels like the Hyatt in Denver or Tampa. It remains exactly in line with Starwood, but again Starwood has an advantage here with more overall hotels in its portfolio for you to use your points.

Suite upgrades – Advantage Hyatt

Hyatt used to have an incredible deal for suite upgrades – just 6,000 points for the entire duration of your stay. That’s now changed to 6,000 points for each night, a big increase for most stays.

But it still compares very favorably to Starwood, which charges up to 35,000 points per night for a suite upgrade, or basically making a suite cost 2x what a standard room costs in points. That’s not even close – compare them below.

StarwoodHyatt NewHyatt Old
Category 1300050005000
Category 2400080008000
Category 370001200012000
Category 4100001500015000
Category 512000-160002000018000
Category 620000-250002500022000
Category 730000-3500030000Cat 6 price

Want luxury for free?

The Hyatt Credit Card from Chase still offers a great deal – 2 free nights at any Hyatt, including the most expensive, after you spend $1,000 in 3 months. So it’s definitely still possible to stay at the Hyatt Vendome, Park Hyatt, and more for next to nothing as a special treat. It’s just become harder to do that on the cheap all the time.

Starwood or Hyatt for credit card spenders?

After these changes, unless you’re looking for a suite upgrade, or are a frequent stayer at Hyatt hotels on paid nights, Starwood is a more attractive option for credit card spenders.

Hyatt is no longer cheaper for high end hotels, and Starwood offers 1) many more hotels available for redemption, making it more likely you’ll find a place for a free night, and 2) generous ‘Cash and Points’ deals that let you use part cash / part points to stay. These Cash and Points deals are great for mid-tier, upscale hotels like Le Meridien, Westin, and sometimes W hotels in the middle category ranges.

For example, for 5,000 points plus $75 you can get a Category 4 hotel that might cost $200 if you paid in cash, or 10,000 for all-points. That means 5,000 points could save you $125, almost 3 cents in value per point. That’s a really good deal because 1 cent is what a typical cash back card earns you and you don’t need a lot of points to take advantage of it. This is really important because in most points programs it’s not so easy to get the best bargains unless you save up a lot of points.

So if you want to save up for big savings on hotel nights fast without staying frequently in hotels, our recommendation is to go Starwood, and use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, which also has the added benefit of letting you transfer points into over 20 airline programs 1:1.

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50,000 bonus points

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6 thoughts on New Hyatt award chart side by side vs Starwood – who has better value for credit cards?

  1. B1BomberVB

    Holy Excrement! I just got a brand-new Chase Hyatt Visa last Friday! I found a link to this page on Milepoint.
    I was confident that Hyatt would leave its program alone for a few more years. Gee, I remember when GP had only 4 categories so top-of-the-line was 15K!

    1. MileCards

      @B1BomberVB – Well enjoy the 2 free night certificates at one of the Category 7 properties! And yes, 2014, not 2013 thanks.

  2. Gary Leff

    Hyatt’s in-hotel earning though is at twice the rate as Starwood’s (although 75 and 100 night Starwood Platinums begin to narrow the gap a little).

    Hyatt points are also easier to earn via credit card — the Hyatt Visa has category bonuses, the Starwood Amex does not, and Chase points transfer to Hyatt with all of the big Chase category bonuses.

    You can’t really compare just the number of points it takes for an award since hotel points aren’t equivalent on the earning side. You can see this most dramatically with Hilton and its inflated earn and burn both.

    1. MileCards

      @Gary – Indeed should make it more clear the advice is for those primarily earning via personal card spend. The earn via hotel stays are def much better via Hyatt, though they have half the properties…thus the need for that. But as for card spend vs card spend no perfect comp but Hyatt and Starwood about as comparable as you can get in the hotel world with a 1x earn on most card spending. As popular as it is, still vast majority of folks wanting travel rewards won’t consider a biz card to get those 5x from Chase.

    2. Jason

      One of the reasons I have stuck with Starwood is the fact the points can’t be earned via another program like Ultimate Rewards. Keeps some of the inflation in check.


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