Hyatt and Delta Rewards Point Devaluation

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When you use a rewards credit card as part of a loyalty program, you earn points whenever you make an eligible purchase. After earning enough of those you can redeem them for your perks – such as hotel stays or airline travel. Lately, however, corporations have been changing the rate sheets – effectively changing the rules in the middle of the game. That moves the goalposts (related to your goal of accumulating a certain number of points that is enough to book a hotel or take a trip) farther away from where they originally were. Consumer groups refer to this kind of change as a devaluation of your rewards, explaining that rewards points or airline miles are a form of artificial currency concocted by companies that offer loyalty programs.

The typical standard for one mile earned, for instance, was worth one mile’s worth of travel – but that is beginning to change with some programs (most recently Delta and Hyatt) because they don’t call their rewards “miles.” Instead they change the vernacular and refer to them as “points.” By doing so they open up the door for them to change the calculus and say that a point is worth less than a mile. Similarly, hotels used to traditionally make their calculations based on a point being worth one cent, but these days you have to check the programs terms or charts to find out what value they place on a point. It might be more than a penny or less than a penny, and it is also subject to change at any time – which can potentially lower the value of the rewards points in your account overnight, although they should ethically provide due notice prior to the devaluation.

Changes in the Hyatt Award Redemption Chart

To help understand the difference in how much points can get you at Hyatt, for example, you can go to their website and read about the changes about to go into effect. The Hyatt Gold Passport Award Chart will be updated on January 7, 2014. At that time, Hyatt will also add a new seventh category of hotels – which will include half a dozen Park Hyatt properties in Beaver Creek, Milan, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo and Zurich. The company will simultaneously adjust the number of points you have to redeem in order to qualify for a free night award when reserving a “standard” room in hotels that are in categories 5 and 6 – as well as for upgraded rooms in categories 2 through 6. Now check out the current and new Award Charts below, and if you study them carefully you’ll notice that in some places the points needed abruptly jump after January 6th of 2014. I highlighted one example in red.


Current Award Chart - Effective through January 6, 2014:

 

Hyatt Gold Passport PointsRequired Per Room, Per Night
Free Night Award Category Standard Room Regency Club*/Grand Club Suite
1 5,000 7,000 8,0000
2 8,000 10,000 12,0000
3 12,000 15,000 18,0000
4 15,000 18,000 23,0000
5 18,000 22,000 27,0000
6 25,000 33,000 40,0000
7 22,000 27,000 33,0000

Below is the new award chart for the Hyatt Gold Passport program. As you can see, it will require more points in order to receive a free night.
New Award Chart – Effective January 7, 2014:

Hyatt Gold Passport PointsRequired Per Room, Per Night
Free Night Award Category Standard Room Regency Club*/Grand Club Suite
1 5,000 7,000 8,0000
2 8,000 12,000 13,0000
3 12,000 17,000 20,0000
4 15,000 21,000 24,0000
5 20,000 24,000 32,0000
6 25,000 33,000 40,0000
7 30,000 39,000 48,0000

 

Not only that, but 38 Hyatt hotels are shifting categories. Twenty-one of the company’s hotels will shift into a higher category (meaning it will cost more points to reserve a room in one of those) while 17 hotels will be downgraded to a lower category. To figure out if a hotel you plan to stay in has changed its category you can visit the Hyatt website and view its hotel categorization chart.

To find answers to other questions regarding the Hyatt “Free Time” Rewards Program, visit the official site where you can also use a handy awards calculator to help you figure out exactly how many points you’ll need to stay at a specific Hyatt location.

Delta Rewards Devaluation

Over at the Delta Rewards Program similar changes are underfoot, and they can be a little hard to understand because of the number of rewards /points needed for flight redemption. Basically the Delta program now has three rewards charts, depending upon when you plan to travel. Each of them clearly spells out what you need to be eligible for a particular flight. The problem is that each chart shows some significant inflation in terms of how many points you need to redeem.

For travel prior to February 1st, 2014:

From U.S. 49 (excludes Hawaii) & Canada Economy Class Business Elite©, First or Business Class
  Saver Standard Peak Saver Standard Peak
Within Continental US, Alaska and Canada 12,500 20,000 30,000 22,500/30,000* 40,000/55,000* 50,000/70,000*
To Hawaii 20,000 32,500 45,000 37,500/45,500* 67,500/72,500* 90,000/95,000*
To Caribbean 17,500 27,500 37,500 30,000 50,000 70,000
To Mexico 17,500 27,500 37,500 30,000 50,000 70,000
To Central America 17,500 30,000 40,000 30,000 50,000 70,000
To Northern South America 22,500 35,000 50,000 45,000 65,000 90,000
To Southern South America 30,000 47,500 65,000 50,000 100,000 162,500
To Europe 30,000 47,500 65,000 50,000 100,000 162,500
To Africa 40,000 65,000 80,000 60,000 115,000 175,000
To Middle East 40,000 65,000 80,000 60,000 115,000 175,000
To South Asian Subcontinent 40,000 65,000 80,000 60,000 115,000 175,000
To Northern Asia 35,000 60,000 80,000 60,000 110,000 170,000
To Southeast Asia 40,000 65,000 87,500 60,000 120,000 175,000
To Southwest Pacific 50,000 70,000 95,000 75,000 120,000 185,000
To South Africa 50,000 75,000 100,000 70,000 125,000 190,000

 

After the change goes into effect on February 1st, 2014, the chart will differ. If you check the highlighted flights listed in the above chart against the corresponding flights in the chart below, you’ll see that after February 1 some of the flights require more points. Take Africa, for example, and you’ll notice that an Economy Peak flight goes from 80,000 up to 90,000 and the First Class Peak goes from 175,000 to 180,000.

From U.S. 49 (excludes Hawaii) & Canada Economy Class Business Elite©, First or Business Class
  Saver Standard Peak Saver Standard Peak
Within Continental US, Alaska, and Canada 12,500 20,000 30,000 25,000/32,500* 40,000/60,000* 50,000/75,000*
To Hawaii 22,500 32,500 45,000 40,000/45,000* 67,500/80,000* 90,000/95,000*
To Caribbean 17,500 27,500 37,500 30,000 50,000 70,000
To Mexico 17,500 27,500 37,500 30,000 50,000 70,000
To Central America 17,500 30,000 40,000 30,000 50,000 70,000
To Northern South America 22,500 35,000 50,000 45,000 65,000 90,000
To Southern South America 30,000 47,500 65,000 50,000 100,000 162,500
To Europe 30,000 47,500 65,000 50,000 100,000 162,500
To Africa 40,000 65,000 90,000 60,000 115,000 180,000
To Middle East 42,500 65,000 85,000 60,000 115,000 175,000
To South Asian Subcontinent 42,500 67,500 85,000 70,000 115,000 175,000
To Northern Asia 35,000 60,000 80,000 60,000 120,000 175,000
To Southeast Asia 40,000 65,000 87,500 60,000 120,000 175,000
To Southwest Pacific 50,000 70,000 95,000 75,000 120,000 185,000
             

 

A third chart that covers travel after June 1st, 2014, with even more changes, can be seen on the website. It looks like they plan to devalue points again in June, which is kind of odd to devalue your points in a little over a month while having a plan to do it again in another 5 months.

The Bottom Line

Although reading loyalty program charts can be hard on the eyes and doing the side-by-side comparisons can give you headaches, the bottom line is that when it comes to the rewards you earn with plastic, they may be subject to change. Just as money in your pocket loses value when subjected to economic inflation, those points you’ve racked up on your credit card can likewise lose value. I would recommend redeeming rewards as soon as you’re allowed, but that can hinder your redemption options because the average credit card holder might have to wait a whole year before they have enough rewards to redeem for a travel purchase.

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

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