Hotels, airlines and even car rental companies give us benefits that are good all year, but sometimes we treat them too preciously. This is the year to spend your upgrades early and often!
Holding Upgrades and Certificates In Too High Regard
Airlines and hotels limit the benefits given for their very best rewards but sometimes I hold those in too high regard for actual use. For example, Hyatt did a great job upgrading me last year where an upgrade was possible. However, I still ended the year with two of my four upgrades (valid for up to seven nights) unused.
Why would I not utilize them on the 15% of stays in which I could have? Because I didn’t want to “waste” them on short stays where I may otherwise have been upgraded anyway. That was foolish. Since Hyatt introduced their Category 1-4 certificates for Globalists, I have converted those to a less valuable point equivalent twice in three years simply because I wanted to maximize their redemption.
With American Airlines, I let an unconscionable 12 eVIPs die on the vine in the last few years. Sometimes that was because they wouldn’t clear despite exerting effort, but I also waited too late to try and use them. This won’t be the case moving forward.
Hotel Upgrades, Certificates
I am writing this from a confirmed bi-level suite at a Hyatt. It’s a ridiculous upgrade (review coming next week) but I had some heartburn about burning it on a two-night stay inside of the first week of January. Surely there would be better opportunities throughout the year, but that’s my old way of thinking and it needs to die.
I am approaching the Category 1-4 and 1-7 upgrades with Hyatt in the same way. Instead of maximizing their value, I will burn them at the first reasonable opportunity. I was able to utilize two last year, once at the Park Hyatt Vendome and the other at the Park Hyatt New York. Those are both Category 7 properties and perfect redemption choices, but the category 1-4 should be used at the earliest opportunity to keep more cash/points in my pocket and not take a hit if Hyatt extends the opportunity to convert it to points.
As I type this, I rolled 80 United PlusPoints (the maximum courtesy allowed) into an April 2020 extension and will lose 120 if I do not spend them in January. I will 100% apply those upgrades in the coming month as allowed but also intend to burn them throughout the year.
My family has yet to fly Polaris though I have done it twice on solo trips. I hope to burn them on upgrades for long-haul United flights, if possible, at the time of booking. If the opportunity presents itself to burn American Airlines eVIPs this year I will do the same there, though I won’t be holding my breath.
In the past, I have held onto these benefits hoping for the perfect opportunity to spend them. But after half a decade of letting at least some of them die, I am turning a new leaf and will apply these constantly throughout the year.
What do you think? Have you ended the year with upgrades and certificates left? Do you hold them to precious or do you burn them at every opportunity as I hope to do?