World of Hyatt just announced some changes coming to their program starting in 2019 and 2020. The primary thing to note is that rather than earning most of the perks when you hit the Explorist and Globalist tiers, respectively, World of Hyatt will use a more gradual approach to rewarding members at more regular intervals, something they call “Milestone Rewards”. These changes will take effect starting March 1, 2019.
The changes are a mix of good and bad, depending on what loyalty tier you typically qualify for and how you typically use the co-branded World of Hyatt credit card. For the general member, I anticipate that these changes will be mildly positive overall. But for a few cases, they could be a bummer. Here are the two things that may be missed come 2019 and 2020 for some World of Hyatt members:
Credit card spend will no longer earn you Club Upgrades
[Author note: section has been edited after posting to correct a misunderstood change] Currently, cardholders of the legacy Hyatt Visa card (not the new World of Hyatt Visa) can earn Explorist status after spending $50,000 in purchases in a calendar year, which includes 4 Club Upgrade certificates. This benefit will be extended through 2019, rewarding dedicated spenders who still haven’t taken Chase’s lame upgrade offer. But starting in 2020, the Explorist status earned via credit card spend will not include any upgrades, drastically reducing its value, at least in my opinion.Club Upgrade certificates will only be earned through the Milestone Rewards structure.
For the odd period of overlap in 2019 from January through February, Hyatt has also made it clear that members who earn Explorist (presumably through credit card spend) in this time will not receive any additional club upgrade certificates when the program changes take effect. For example, you could presumably earn 4 upgrade certificates in January and February by spending $50,000 on your legacy card, and then 2 more at each milestone under the new structure. But its an either-or, not both.
Given that the new World of Hyatt Visa earns you 2 qualifying nights for every $5,000 in net spending, plus gives you 5 qualifying nights annually, spending $50,000 on the new card would get you to 25 qualifying nights by the same level of spending. This definitely isn’t the same as Explorist, but you’re at least most of the way there. The benefit of the new card is that you can earn qualifying nights that get you beyond Explorist, and the nights will count as qualifying nights under the new Milestone Rewards structure.
Given that any additional benefit of holding the old card is going away after 2019 (aside from the cheaper annual night), I’m going to upgrade mine on January 1. I’m highly interested in using the card to help me qualify for Globalist in 2019. Which brings me to the second negative change…
Globalist qualification will get harder
Currently, a Hyatt Globalist looking to re-qualify for their top-tier status needs to stay 55 nights rather than the full 60. Given that the co-branded World of Hyatt Visa will get you an additional 5-night boost, Globalists are only looking at 50 net nights. Now they’ll be looking at the full 60 (55 for World of Hyatt Visa cardholders).
This doesn’t seem like a huge deal on the surface, but if you tend to only barely qualify for Globalist each year, this might make it a bit more tricky. I’m sure there will be a small subset of Hyatt loyalists that are annoyed about this change. First Hyatt changed from qualification by stays to nights with the roll-out of World of Hyatt. Now they will require the full 60 nights to attain Globalist. At least the new World of Hyatt Visa complements the strategy of earning by nights.
Positive changes coming to World of Hyatt
The new “Milestone Rewards” changes definitely have a positive side to them as well. Rather than rewarding members only when they achieve Explorist and Globalist, the new tiered approach allows loyal members to earn lounge upgrades and suite upgrades at earlier junctures. Rather than awarding all club lounge upgrades at 30 qualifying nights or 50,000 base points, two will be awarded at 20 nights or 35,000 base points and the remaining two at the original level. Likewise for the suite upgrades, with two being awarded at 50 nights and the other two at 60 nights. The free night benefit at the Explorist and Globalist tiers will remain the same.
This tiered approach will likely also encourage Hyatt members to continue staying with them, as the next milestone will feel a whole lot more within reach. A completely new benefit is being added at the 40-night or 65,000 base point tier, where Hyatt will award you with either 5,000 points, a $100 gift card or a 10,000-point discount off of a FIND experience.
Here is a link to the changes coming to World of Hyatt.
Beyond the 60-night mark, there aren’t any changes to the program. World of Hyatt will continue to award either 10,000 bonus points or a suite night upgrade award at every 10-night interval, for 70, 80, 90 and 100 nights.
The roll-out of these changes starts March 1, 2019.
As someone who is interested in qualifying for Hyatt Globalist for the first time in 2019, I see these changes as mildly positive. It will be nice to earn lounge awards and suite night awards at slightly lower tiers, allowing these to be used earlier. The addition of another 5,000 bonus points, $100 gift card or 10,000-point discount off a FIND experience is an additional welcomed benefit. However, for a current Globalist member looking to re-qualify, these changes might be a bit annoying.
With the recent addition of Small Luxury Hotels into the Hyatt portfolio (SEE: A potentially exciting new partnership for World of Hyatt?), the World of Hyatt program still looks very attractive to me. They may not have the footprint of other chains, but given the low number of points required for award nights, the ability to earn 3-6 free nights per year based on credit card spending, tier milestones, and brand stay milestones, and the general treatment Hyatt Globalist members receive at their hotels, I’m still all-in for shooting for their top-tier status this year.