Grand Hyatt Kauai
Grand Hyatt Kauai

First of all, I was just mentioning that I was writing this to my moderators in the MilesTalk Facebook group and they mentioned that my friend Nick over at Frequent Miler already wrote a very similar article.

I have very purposely not read it yet so as not to color my thoughts, but I certainly will after I post this…

My love for World of Hyatt runs deep. It’s a love story only about 4 years old, brought on by the debacle that was SPG’s absorption by Marriott and my deep dissatisfcation with upper elite treatment under the Marriott Bonvoy program.

World of Hyatt maintains the strongest hotel elite program by a wide margin, in my opinion, and that’s not yet up for grabs in my mind. There’s the elite program and then there is the World of Hyatt point / currency value. 

World of Hyatt, at least at the top tier 60-night Globalist level is unparalleled with things like a real concierge (although for sure there are good ones and bad ones – but there are some *really* good ones like mine), and adhesion by a majority of properties to brand standards like breakfast (most properties in my experience go above and beyond with statements like “just order whatever you want and we’ll zero it out”), upgrades without too much haggling, and little pushback on 4pm checkouts.

Hilton, by contrast, now only offers a breakfast benefit internationally, instead giving a fixed daily food & beverage credit in the US, they make no offer of a guaranteed 4pm checkout for top tier Diamond elites (a benefit I truly value) and also do not make any promises of upgrading Diamonds to available suites. 

So clearly as far as on-property treatment, I think that Globalist > Diamond.

However, I’ve long also felt that Hyatt was bar none the most valuable currency. There was no point currency that I wanted to hoard as much as Hyatt points (including Ultimate Rewards and Bilt Rewards since they transfer 1:1 to Hyatt).

And yet now, I’m wondering if I want to start leaning towards Hilton and American Express Membership Rewards (which transfers 1:2 to Hilton but often has transfer bonses for even more).


Hyatt losing SLH award access, Hilton gaining SLH award access, and Hyatt launching Mr. and Mrs. Smith (a platform they actually fully bought – they didn’t just partner) as revenue based redemtpions with point values around 1.3 cents each. That is less than the 1.6 cent average value I’ve long placed on a Hyatt point and much less than the minimum of 2 cents per Hyatt point I’ve consistently received with little effort at all

And while I’ve been thrilled that Hyatt has kept award charts, they really had the most appealing pricing on SLH properties. Sure, there are some Hyatt branded stunners like the Alila Ventana Big Sur, for which you can still get 7-8 cents per Hyatt point in value on a standard room. But there are so many less than before. The more I search for vacation awards, the more I’m finding that it’s hard to get more than 2 – 2.5 cents in most cases. Look at how fast they have raised the award levels for all-inclusives like Ziva and Zilara for which I think you could have gotten 3-4 cents a point and now probably average 2 cents a point.

Ventana Main Pool
Ventana Big Sur Main Pool

To be clear, this is probably Hyatt doing exactly what they need to do in order to maintain award charts – a key point of diferentiation with World of Hyatt that diehard members love. Redemptions over 3 cents on a regular basis are most likely not sustainable – especially when hotels are sold out or close and Hyatt is reimbursing the hotel very large sums for our awards. 

And Hyatt maintains some other very competitive program pieces for redemptions:

  • You can book standard and premium suites outright for points, which is key for families (especially with rich point balances!)
  • You earn Suite Upgrade Awards, confirmable at time of booking into Standard Suites (the standard sutie must be available), and valid for a stay of up to 7 nights. It’s easy to earn 4 on your road to Globalist so they really come in handy for family vacations. 
  • The aforementioned award chart. It’s always good to know what you are saving up for.
  • No resort fees on awards (Hilton doesn’t either) but also free parking on award stays for Globalists as long as the parking can be charged to the room. Yes, even at the Hyatt Grand Central in NYC where parking is over $90 a day! That free parking can add a lot to a cents per point value on certain stays.
  • Lots and lots of premium hotels in the Hyatt network such as the Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, and Alila brands plus the Miraval Resorts. 

Hilton has no resort fees on awards and while they switched to dynamically based redemptions, you may have noticed that any particular property maxes out at a certain rate. Even as the cash rate rises, you will see properties remain available at their “hidden” top rate, be it 80,000, 90,000, 120,000 or 150,000 points per night.

150,000 is currently the top band possible for a standard award and yes, I’d bet they will make a new top band sometime soon, unfortunately, as the top band was 120,000 only a few years ago in 2021 when it rose to 150,000 rather stealthily.

Hilton also gives the 5th night free on awards as long as you have any elite status whatsoever, even 1st tier Silver. That combined with waived resort fees can really bump the value of Hilton points at certain hotels and resorts. 

And then there are the Free Night Rewards that you get annually on Hilton Aspire credit cards and with spend thresholds on the Hilton Surpass credit card. Sadly, and much to my dismay, the Free Night Reward benefit was axed on the Hilton Business card in March.

Still, these certificates are valid any night of the week (they used to only be valid Friday to Sunday but, after making a temporary change during COVID, Hilton kept them as valid any day of the week) as long as a Standard Reward room is available and that is at almost any hotel, even hotels that go for a whopping 150,000 points a night – which cost in the $1,000 – $2,500 a night range on average.

If a couple has two Aspires and spends $15,000 each on a Surpass, that could be 4 Free Night Rewards a year to use somewhere extravagant. I highly reocmmend the Waldorf Astoria Pedregal in Cabo, by the way, for a long weekend that would cost well over $5,000 for those 4 Free Night Reward certificates.

Waldorf Astoria Pedregal Plunge Pool
Waldorf Astoria Pedregal Plunge Pool

The point being – you already can get some great high end redemptions with Hilton at the likes of their Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and LXR brands – although sadly there is no way possible to confirm a suite which I find especially valuable with a toddler.

And so the ADDITIONAL point is that Hilton has told us (well, they told Greg at Frequent Miler) that SLH hotels will be folded into the existing award structure – which means they would top out at 150,000 points a night, Free Night Rewards would be valid and 5th night free would apply as well.

Based on how this plays out (i.e. if we have the same choice of SLH redemptions we had with Hyatt or at least a similar amount AND if those hotels play ball with Standard Reward Night availabilty) we may find ourselves able to get more value at the high end from Hilton points than with Hyatt points in many situations.  Especially in places poorly served by Hyatt now (ignoring the dynamically priced, low redemption value Mr. and Mrs. Smith properties).

I’m not going all in on anything until SLH is actually bookable but I am saying that after looking at trips the last few weeks using Hyatt points where I was really having some trouble getting amazing value for points – especially in Europe where SLH had amazing coverage – my mind is open.

Oh, and before someone points out something like it costs 3X as many Hilton points for the same type of hotel, I’ll of course say that’s accurate and that is why I value Hyatt points at 3X that of a Hilton point. But Hilton points are similarly easier to earn at scale so I kind of think that washes out at the end of the day. Not to mention that Hyatt doesn’t have any credit card certificiates that you can use at the very highest end properties while Hilton does and that’s another big deal.


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