Hyatt has announced its new 2014 award chart for bookings made January 7, 2014 or later. Categories 1-4 maintain their prices. Categories 5-6 go up in price, and a new, more expensive, Category 7 is introduced. Some hotels are going up or down one category.

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What are the changes to Hyatt award chart for 2014? How can you beat the changes? What credit card is made more valuable by the announcement? Which are made less valuable?

Here is a comparison of the current award chart and new chart effective January 7, 2014:

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 10.17.28 PMCategory Price Changes

Standard Room awards in Categories 1-4 stay the same, though Club Rooms and Suites go up in price 1-3k points.

Category 5 Standard Rooms increase from 18k to 20k points, while Club Rooms and Suites go up 5k points.

Category 6 Standard Rooms increase from 22k to 25k points, while Club Rooms and Suites go up 6-7k points.

A brand new Category 7 enters the chart. Its 30k points for a standard room is 36% more points–8k more–than the current Category 6 price. Its suites go for 48k points, which is a 45% increase on the current Category 6 Suite price.

Hotel Category Changes

Twenty-seven hotels move up one category, including the six inaugural Category 7 Hotels.

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Seventeen hotels drop a category, including two Park Hyatts in India dropping to Category 3.

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Changes to Point Upgrades

Previously Hyatt had the absolute best deal–by far–for upgrades with points on paid stays. You could spend 3k total points to upgrade a paid stay of up to four nights to a Club room and 6k total points to upgrade a paid stay of up to four nights to a Suite.

Those prices will now be 3k per night to upgrade to a Club room and 6k per night to upgrade to a Suite.

These prices have quadrupled.

Which Chart is Effective for Your Stay?

Bookings made through January 6, 2014 will be priced according to the current chart, regardless of the date of the stay.

Bookings made January 7, 2014 and later will be priced according to the new 2014 chart.

But if you have a current award booking for a stay next year at a property that is moving down a category, you will receive a partial refund of the points used.

Example: You booked the Park Hyatt Chennai for one night in February 2014 for 15k Hyatt points. It is dropping to Category 3, which costs 12k Hyatt points. You will have 3k points automatically refunded to your account.

Which Card is More Valuable?

When the points needed for a free award night go up, cards that earn free night certificates instead of points get relatively more valuable. In this case, the Chase Hyatt card, which earns two free nights at any Hyatt worldwide after spending $1,000 in the first three months is more attractive.

The card earns 3x Hyatt points at Hyatt; 2x on car rentals, dining, and and airlines; and 1x on everything else. (I would only use this card at Hyatt. The 2x categories are all 2x on the Sapphire Preferred, which transfers 1:1 to Hyatt, so no need to use this card on those categories.)

The card comes with automatic Platinum status.

Every anniversary you get a free night at a category 1-4 property, a benefit which has just gotten slightly less valuable.

The card has no foreign transaction fees.

There is a $75 annual fee, waived the first year.

Which Cards Are Less Valuable?

Cards that earn Ultimate Rewards are now less valuable, since the Hyatt chart has been inflated. Ultimate Rewards can transfer 1:1 to Hyatt, but you now need more Hyatt points for dozens of hotels.

This is the second recent devaluation of an Ultimate Rewards partner, following the United bloodbath. Hopefully Chase will respond with increased sign up bonuses on the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Plus, or better transfer rates.

My Take

Devaluations are bad, but we know devaluations have happened and will happen. I don’t expect my points to get more valuable over time or even hold their value. It has always been and will always be “earn and burn, earn and burn.”

This devaluation is pretty mild, nothing like Hilton’s earlier this year, and two months notice was given to book up to lock in speculative reservations far into the future (and cancel them with no penalty!)

I can’t be too upset.

Hat Tip to Million Mile Secrets

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