Circumvent Hyatt’s ridiculous award booking rules with Pay My Way
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I wrote a few months ago of my aspirations to visit Maui by the end of 2020. Didn’t happen, but we’re back at it again.
Maui is an island of black sand beaches, ubiquitous rainbows, the best banana bread on Earth and impossible-to-book Hyatt hotels.
There are two hotels on the island that I want to book with Hyatt points — the Andaz Maui and Lahaina Shores Beach Resort — and it took some discovery to figure out exactly how to reserve them. See, Hyatt has this “no blackout dates” policy that states you can book a reward night as long as there are standard rooms available at the hotel. But some hotels won’t sell standard rooms unless you are staying for an unwritten amount of nights. Currently, the Andaz Maui requires that you stay nine nights if you want a plain old standard room.
In other words, you need 270,000 Hyatt points if you want to stay at the Andaz Maui for free. Kind of feels like they don’t want anyone booking award nights.
In truth, accruing hundreds of thousands of Hyatt points isn’t horribly difficult if you have the right arsenal Chase credit cards. But very few of us want to stay at one hotel for over a week or be forced to shell out a large number of points in one go. So I tried contacting Hyatt and going through their @HyattConcierge service on Twitter (which is amazing, by the way), and they reported zero award availability for my stay.
But I booked it anyway. Here’s how to get around these customer-unfriendly Hyatt rules.
Booking tips and tricks with Hyatt Pay My Way
Hyatt’s Pay My Way tool gives you the ability to book Hyatt stays using multiple payment types in one booking. Essentially, this allows you to use a combination of points, points + cash, free night certificates and/or cash to book a single reservation.
I’ve found that there are ways to use Pay My Way to get around some of the limitations that Hyatt properties put in place when booking award nights.
Predicament 1. Using multiple free night certificates on a single reservation
Here’s what the website shows you when you’re booking an award stay, but you’ve got a Free Night certificate that can be used instead of points. The default option is to use the free night, and you’re very welcome to click on the tab with the points rate in the event that you want to keep your certificate for later.
Note: You’d only want to redeem points over a free night certificate during instances when you’re not using the full potential of the certificate. For example, if you have a Category 1-4 certificate, it’ll generally be worth the most if you use it for a Category 4 hotel. It would be better to use points if you’re booking a Category 2 hotel.
If you want to redeem your certificates for multiple free nights, however, that option doesn’t appear. It only shows points. This is not good if you’re like me and you have multiple free night certificates. It looks like you don’t have the ability to use them for one stay — unless you book multiple single-night stays. Bit of a pain, but oh well.
However, some hotels won’t even show availability unless you book more than one night. This is my situation for Hawaii later this year. I want to stay at Lahaina Shores Beach Resort, but the hotel won’t even show availability unless you book at least three nights.
This hotel is perfect for my free night certificates. It’s a Category 4 hotel and costs $260 per night after taxes. I’d love to use four Free Night certificates instead of 60,000 Hyatt points. I can save those points for two nights at a super fancy hotel like the Andaz Maui.
So how can I use Free Nights instead of points?
The answer is simple. Just flip to the “View Rates” tab, and locate “Use Pay My Way” under the nightly rate.
Here is where you can use a combination of different payment methods to satisfy your bill. You can pay the full cash price one day, and pay on Hyatt points the next day. Or, miraculously, you can now use Free Night certificates for multiple days on the same stay. You can even choose which certs you want to use, and burn the ones that expire the soonest.
Moral of the story: Pay My Way allows you to redeem more than one Free Night certificate at a time. That’s particularly great if you’re staying at a hotel that doesn’t show award availability unless you’re booking multiple nights.
Speaking of which…
Predicament 2. Book three nights at the Andaz Maui
The Andaz Maui is equal parts famous and infamous:
- It’s one of the best hotels in Maui — a bucket list redemption for many of us in the points and miles community!
- It often makes award redemptions nearly impossible
That second point is exasperating. As mentioned earlier, the Andaz Maui will only offer standard rooms when booking a minimum of nine nights. In other words, the Andaz Maui doesn’t want you booking award nights unless you’re prepared to spend 270,000 points. Which is nobody.
Here are the three days I want to book, May 6 through May 9. As you can see, allegedly no availability.
Here are the same dates I want to book, but with the stay extended to nine nights. TA-DA!! Plenty of availability. In other words, the three days I want to book do have standard rooms available — they’re just not for sale unless the stay is nine nights long.
When you use a Suite Upgrade Award at the Andaz Maui, you’ll receive an upgrade to an Andaz Suite. Andaz Suites were available during the time I tried to book, so I even tried asking if I could attach a Suite Upgrade Award to the reservation to circumvent the need for standard night availability. That didn’t work.
The solution: Using Hyatt Pay My Way to book fewer award nights
Here’s what you do:
- Find the dates you want to stay
- Add nights to your stay until you’ve got at least nine nights
- Click “View Rates” and head to our trusty friend, Pay My Way.
Here, you can select the dates you want to book for award nights, and just keep the cash rates for all the other nights. The paid rates at this hotel are truly harrowing, but don’t worry — you won’t be paying it.
Behold the only “snag” to this process. I couldn’t modify the reservation online, I could only cancel. I reached out to the Hyatt Concierge (honestly the greatest hotel customer service platform out there — they are so helpful) and asked if they could cancel all but my three award nights. I also asked to attach the Suite Upgrade award.
Moral: Even the Hyatt Concierge can’t see award nights at the Andaz Maui unless you take the initiative and book nine nights yourself. Use Pay My Way to book your award nights in tandem with paid nights, and then cancel the paid nights.
This lesson from the Andaz Maui should be applicable when booking other hard-to-reserve Hyatt hotels. If you’re not seeing normal award availability you can check Pay My Way for award nights — then modify your reservation with Hyatt Concierge after booking to the nights you actually want.
Before booking any nights with cash, you’ll want to make sure you’re within the free cancellation window. After making your initial booking, it would be wise to immediately cancel the paid nights so you aren’t hit with any fees.
Update: Reader Lee reports that for certain dates, Google Chrome would not display the Pay My Way option, while Microsoft Edge would. Leave a comment if you’ve got similar browser-specific data points.
How to earn Hyatt points quickly
Amassing Hyatt points isn’t difficult, as there are many Hyatt points-earning credit cards. Chase offers the World of Hyatt Credit Card, which directly earns Hyatt points. There’s no better card if you pay for Hyatt stays with any regularity.
However, to become a Hyatt points-earning machine, read our post on the Chase Trifecta. None of these cards are Hyatt cards — instead, they earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can instantly transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. Aside from the amazing earning rates these cards offer, here are a couple of the best welcome bonuses:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card – $750 bonus cash back (75,000 Chase points) after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card – $750 bonus cash back (75,000 Chase points)after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® – 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
Hyatt occasionally likes to play games with their inventory — particularly in Maui. However, there are ways to get around these obstacles with Hyatt’s Pay My Way tool — even at the Andaz Maui. I’m successfully booked for seven days at Hyatt hotels, and I’m saving about $4,200 on hotels by using Hyatt points in the above ways. Perhaps I’ll see you there.
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