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- Hyatt Category 4 Hotels Where the Hyatt Card Annual Free Night Rocks
- Complete the Hyatt Diamond Challenge in 9 Nights With the Citi Prestige Card
- My Top 5 Hilton Category 2 Hotels for Award Stays
To begin, I must say I’m disappointed I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to receive Hyatt Diamond status. Although I did luck out with Hilton Diamond status.
I realize I’ll likely sound like a spoiled brat whining about something I didn’t get for free. Especially when others have spent much more time and money to actually earn the status. That said, the way Hyatt handled the Diamond status match – from free-for-all to the later restriction to only match SPG Platinum members, and all the missteps in between- was very mishandled.
Hyatt had an opportunity to capitalize on the SPG/Marriott merger and they blew it – unless you got the match, then you win. I likely would’ve gone out of my way to stay with Hyatt more in 2016 and beyond. This whole thing has left such a bad taste behind that it makes me want to actively avoid Hyatt, and only use them for free award night stays.
Although I think what Hilton is doing is genius, at least from a marketing perspective. And, let’s face it: Hilton has a much larger footprint than Hyatt (4,100+ hotels compared to ~600). And Hilton is in every place there’s a Hyatt with few exceptions.
For example, there are NO Hyatt hotels in Barcelona (where I’ll be in a few weeks). But there were 4 Hilton options:
- Alexandra Barcelona, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
- Hilton Barcelona
- Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Conference Center La Mola
Furthermore, the next time Hyatt has a Diamond status challenge to stay 12 nights, I won’t even consider doing it (even though you can complete it with only 9 nights if you have Citi Prestige). Why would I spend $1,000 on something so many others got for free?
Anyway, that’s my preamble – just wanted to clear the air here. Again, I completely understand I don’t “deserve” the status in way. It just sucks to see so many get it for free, even though my credentials where enough – at one point – to get me in, too. A case of “early bird gets the worm” if there ever was one.
But now, I’m taking another look at Hilton, as I expect to have more paid stays there, at least for now. And, it’s not as bad as you’d think.
In This Post
Hilton Diamond Vs Hyatt Diamond
- Link: Hilton Diamond Elite Status / Membership Overview
- Link: Hyatt Diamond Elite Status / Membership Overview
- Hilton base points per $1: 10, +5 with “Points + Points” earning style
- Hyatt base points per $1: 5
Bonus with status
- Hilton: 50%
- Hyatt: 30%
Requirements to keep status
- Hilton: 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 HHonors Base Points
- Hyatt: 25 stays or 50 nights
- Free breakfast
- Guaranteed access to Executive Lounges at Hilton, Conrad, Curio and DoubleTree hotels with a lounge
- Upgrades “when available”
- 1,000 bonus Hilton points per stay at most hotels
- 5th night free on award stays
- 4 Suite upgrades per year
- Free breakfast
- Upgrade to best available room, excluding Suites
- Access to Regency Club or Grand Club lounge
- 1,000 bonus Hyatt points per stay, or a welcome amenity
Both have a 48-hour room guarantee, late checkout, dedicated phone line, and premium wifi.
Hotel categories and points required
Points on $1,000 stay as a Diamond member
- Hilton: 20,000 Hilton points (10,000 base, 5,000 with Points + Points, 5,000 from status) – enough for a 1-night award stay at a Category 3 hotel
- Hyatt: 6,500 Hyatt points (5,000 base, 1,500 from status) – enough for a 1-night away stay at a Category 1 hotel
There’s a lot to chew on here.
To get it out of the way, the hotel chains are vastly different, and people like them for totally different reasons.
Hilton has some great aspirational properties:
- Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa, Category 9
- Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Category 10
- Conrad Tokyo, Category 10
- Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa, Category 10
And so does Hyatt:
- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Category 6
- Hyatt Ziva Cancun, Category 6
- Park Hyatt Tokyo, Category 7
- Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome, Category 7 (which I thought was “meh”)
To get a night at a Hilton Category 10 hotel, you’d need to spend $3,500 (3,500 X 15 + 50% bonus = 70,000 Hilton points), assuming you find a low-level award for 70,000 Hilton points. (Here’s the points calculator I used.)
And to get a night at a Hyatt Category 7 hotel, you’d need to spend $4,615 (4,615 X 5 + 30% bonus = 29,998 Hyatt points). Over $1,000 more.
What about earning through credit cards?
Hilton has 4 co-branded credit cards. With the AMEX Hilton Surpass (which has an 80,000 points sign-up bonus right now), you earn:
- 12 Hilton points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels
- 6 Hilton points per $1 spent at US gas stations, US restaurants, and US supermarkets
- 3 Hilton points per $1 on all other purchases
That’s probably the best all-around Hilton card. Pair it with Hilton Diamond status, and you’re earning 27 Hilton points per dollar at Hilton (excluding the 50% bonus).
To get an award night at a mid-tier Hilton Category 6 hotel, you’d need to spend $10,000 on the card (less with bonus categories).
And of course Chase has multiple cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, which transfer 1:1 to Hyatt. And some sweet category bonuses (5X at office supply stores for starters, which the Chase Ink card).
Still, the base earning rate is 1 point per $1 spent, and you’d have to spend $15,000 for an award night at Hyatt Category 4 hotel. And again, less with bonus categories.
If you have the Chase Hyatt Visa, you’ll earn 3X per $1 spent at Hyatt, which makes 8 Hyatt points per dollar at Hyatt (excluding the 30% bonus).
Pros and Cons
OK, Hilton’s not faring so bad here.
Let’s make an old-fashioned pros and cons list.
- Ease of earning points
- Less spend for award nights
- Tons more hotels
- Diamond status not as meaningful
- No guaranteed suite upgrades
- Inflated points currency
- Diamond status means free breakfast
- SUITE UPGRADES CAN BE WORTH THOUSANDS
- Points transfer option is viable and worth it
- Don’t have to focus on “just” earning Hyatt points
- Very limited selection, although in most major cities and tourist destinations
- Platinum status is useless – need Diamond for free breakfast
- Harder to earn points, but they’re worth more
What I love about Hyatt is you can feel good about transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards point to Gold Passport. What I mean by that is, their points are on par with most airline programs.
While you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Hilton, I’d never do it because Hilton points are a horribly inflated currency. You’ll get much more “mileage” with an airline program.
In that regard, you can’t really compare the values. I think of Hyatt points like I do about airline miles. And I think of Hilton points like I think about say, Club Carlson points: it’s their own program, and the value is harder to peg.
There’s still time to request a match to Hilton Diamond status. Email a screenshot of your status with another hotel program to HHonorMyStatus@hilton.com by January 11th, 2016. If anything, you’ll likely get matched to Gold status, which is enough for free breakfast!
Hilton is inflated, yes, but so is all the earning. You actually get award stays at top-tier hotels faster with paid stays, and need to spend less on co-branded cards for award nights.
The biggest argument for Hyatt is you don’t have to focus on earning Hyatt points. You can focus on earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and transfer over when it makes sense.
For Hilton award stays, you’d have an opportunity cost. By earning Hilton points, you wouldn’t be earning say, United or Singapore miles. You’d just be earning Hilton points. Which is fine, especially for paid stays.
Perhaps the biggest loss with Hilton, though, is the Suite upgrades. Man, those are sweet. But, you get the 5th night free on award stays, which can begin to make up for it if you redeem enough Hilton points.
But all else being equal, lots of peeps might actually come out ahead with Hilton because it’s easier to earn points, and you get more of ’em. Plus, you can’t deny the footprint: Hilton beats Hyatt in that regard by a mile.
Both chains have great properties, aspirational awards, and their own little quirks.
Of course, if you were one of the lucky ones to get both Hilton and Hyatt Diamond elite status, you have the best of both!
Finally, does hotel elite status really even matter anyway? Hilton could at any time create a new, higher status level. Or Hyatt could devalue. Or any number of other scenarios.
To be honest, I just like free breakfast! And lounge access is a nice perk, too.
Lots of questions remain:
Any other big pros or cons I missed?
Which chain to you intrinsically prefer?
Is Hilton… underrated? Is Hyatt overrated?
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.