Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. Every week, he answers readers’ questions about credit card rewards programs in his “Cashing In” column.
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My trip to Hawaii was canceled. What do I do with my unused Hyatt points?
You’ll get the best value by using your points at a Hyatt property for another trip, but there are options to transfer points to an airline or purchase a gift card.
Dear Cashing In,
I had plans to attend a family reunion in Hawaii, and signed up for a Hyatt credit card to be able to stay at the hotel there. I got the sign-up bonus, but now the reunion has been canceled. I’m trying to figure out how I can use the points. I live in Alabama and don’t seem to have a lot of options. – Jacob
For starters, grabbing that Hyatt card was a sensible move. Hyatt has several great hotels in Hawaii. They tend to be expensive. One of the ways you can cut hotel costs is by using the points from a hotel credit card.
At the time of this writing, the Hyatt Credit Card from Chase gives you 40,000 Hyatt points after spending $2,000 in the first three months (annual fee: $75). In addition, you earn 3 points per dollar on Hyatt charges, 2 points per dollar at restaurants and with airlines and car rental agencies, and 1 point for everything else. You also receive one free night per year and get Hyatt elite status, which allows you to have late checkout and other perks.
Hyatt properties worldwide
Hyatt’s hotels are classified in one of seven categories, and the category determines how many points you need for a free night. A category one is 5,000 points per night, while a category seven is 30,000 a night. In Hawaii, Hyatt has seven hotels. The lowest is a category three (12,000 points per night), a Hyatt Place on Waikiki Beach on Oahu that starts around $240 a night in the summer. The highest is a category seven Hyatt condo on Maui that starts around $800 a night in the summer. You can see how it is possible to save some serious cash on hotels with this card, but you would probably still have to pay for some nights. With flights, it would still probably be an expensive vacation, just not as expensive as it might otherwise be.
See Related:Hotel rewards: Go for free nights, not points
But with those plans canceled, it’s time to look at other options. Unlike other hotel chains that have a lot of different brands where you can use your points, Hyatt’s options are relatively limited. Hyatt has more than 600 properties worldwide. In contrast, Hilton has more than 5,000, and Marriott has more than 6,000. In Alabama, where you live, you have only three Hyatt hotels, all in Birmingham.
However, there are several Hyatt resorts and hotels within driving distance where you can enjoy two nights at a category five Hyatt hotel with your points. Whether you want to experience NOLA’s French quarter or relax on a beach in Florida, your Hyatt points can cover the cost.
Tip: Consider taking another trip to a Hyatt property, but beware Hyatt points expire after 24 months of no activity.
Other options for points
As with most co-branded cards, you receive the best deal from using points with the company that sponsors the card – in this case, Hyatt. If you use the points somewhere else, you won’t get as much value. You should look first at other ways to use the points at a Hyatt. If nothing is on the horizon now, you can wait a little while. But Hyatt points expire after 24 months if you have no activity in your account.
You do have other options. You can transfer the points to a number of airline programs. But beware that it tends to be a poor value: For every 5,000 Hyatt points you transfer, you receive only 2,000 airline miles. Transferring 40,000 Hyatt points would net only 16,000 airline miles. You can also convert the points into gift cards for dining and spa services at Hyatt hotels, so that could be an option. Transferring 40,000 Hyatt points is worth $300 toward that – again, not a great deal, but it’s something.
Your choices are limited. The best bet is to try to find somewhere else to go, even if it’s not the Hawaiian paradise you had planned.