Hyatt Points + Cash awards are now bookable online. These awards let you use only half the number of points needed for a free night award in exchange for a cash co-pay. They can be a high value way to stretch your points. They can also be a bad deal.

Here are seven things you need to know about Hyatt Points + Cash awards.

1. Their Cost

Hyatt divides its hotels into seven categories, roughly based on price. Here is a chart that shows the prices of booking free nights in a Suite, a Club room, and a Standard room at each of the seven categories.

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cpp = cents per point

The last two columns are about Points + Cash stays, which can only be used to book a standard room. You’ll notice that the number of points needed for a Points + Cash stay is exactly half the points needed for a free night. The co-pay varies from $50 to $300.

I conceptualize Points + Cash stays as booking a free night and then buying back half the points used for that free night for the price of the cash co-pay. The last column shows the “price” of “buying back” points during Points + Cash stays. The worst deals by far are for Category 1 and 7 hotels. You’ll basically never want to book Points + Cash stays at those properties. Categories 2-6 offer much better deals, with Category 6 offering the best deals.

2. Capacity Controls

Any time a standard room is for sale at a Hyatt property, it should be bookable with points as a free night. However, Points + Cash stays are only offered at the discretion of the hotel (ie capacity controlled.) That’s a huge difference.

3. Points + Cash Stays are “Paid Stays”

You earn stay credits toward status on Points + Cash stays. You earn points on the Cash portion of Points + Cash stays. Hyatt Diamonds can use Suite Upgrades on Points + Cash stays.

None of those things are true for free night awards.

4. You Pay Taxes and Resort Fees on Points + Cash Stays

You pay the often punitive hotel taxes on the Cash portion of Points + Cash stays. You also pay resort fees if you are staying at a resort.

You don’t pay either on free night awards.

These two factors make free nights a better deal compared to Points + Cash awards than the chart above showed. However since these vary by hotel, they can’t be added to the chart.

5. How to Book Points + Cash Stays Online

Perform a search on hyatt.com. Then check “Show Hyatt Gold Passport Points & Awards” above the search results.

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Now the hotels will display with their points price for a free night.Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 2.32.10 PMSelect a hotel. If a Points + Cash tab appears, it has availability for the nights you searched.
Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 2.32.37 PMIf only a Redeem Points tab appears, there is no Points + Cash availability.Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 2.34.56 PM

6. Night-by-Night Searching Technique

Imagine you want to enjoy a weeklong stay at a particular hotel on Cash + Points. You search the weeklong stay and don’t get the Points + Cash tab, meaning there is no space for the entire week.

Search night-by-night to see if you can find space on any days. Then you can book those days with Points + Cash and the other nights as free nights.

7. Currency Fluctuations Can Make Points + Cash a Better Deal

The Park Hyatt Vienna is a Category 6 hotel that costs 25,000 points for a free night or 12,500 points + $150 for a Points + Cash stay. Except that the $150 is priced in local currency at 127 euros, which is currently less than $136.
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The cash component is priced in the hotel’s currency and doesn’t update as often as currency values fluctuate. This can work for or against you. In this case because the dollar has gone up against the euro recently, it works for you.

By the way, this hotel is 470 euros ($502) per night on May 1, 2016 on a refundable rate like the free night and Points + Cash rates. That means you’d get 2.01 cents per point of value from a free night and 2.93 cents per point of value from a Points + Cash award. Easy choice.Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 2.37.51 PM

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