Hyatt's Buy Two, Get Three Offer Comes With Risk

Buy two, get one free?

That's the premise of Hyatt's Three for Two with American Express promotion. On closer inspection, it's a little more complicated than that.

Offer Details

Between January 1 and March 31, Hyatt is offering a free night after two paid nights charged to an American Express card at hotels in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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Participating properties are: Hyatt Regency Dushanbe, Hyatt Regency Warsaw, Park Ararat Hyatt Moscow, Hyatt Regency Kiev, Park Hyatt Istanbul - Macka Palas, Grand Hyatt Amman, Park Hyatt Jeddah, Park Hyatt Hamburg, Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh, Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill, Hyatt Regency Ekaterinburg, Hyatt Regency Mainz, Grand Hyatt Berlin, Grand Hyatt Doha, Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, Grand Hyatt Istanbul, Hyatt Regency Dusseldorf, Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki, Hyatt Regency Taba Heights, Hyatt Regency Oubaai Golf Resort and Spa, Grand Hyatt Cairo, Hyatt Regency Cologne, Hyatt Regency Almaty, Hyatt Regency Belgrade, Grand Hyatt Dubai, Park Hyatt Dubai, Hyatt Regency Dubai, Grand Hyatt Muscat, and Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

Stay must be paid in advance and the reservation is non-refundable—if cancelled, the price of all three nights will be forfeited.

When booking, use promotion code AX436.

Deal or No Deal

On its face, this promotion seems to amount to a 33 percent discount. But there are two red flags to consider.

The first concerns promotions that require qualifying purchases to be made using a specified rate or promotion code. If that rate is higher than the best available rate (BAR), you might be paying more than the incentive is worth.

As a quick check, I test-booked stays at the Hyatt Regency London and the Grand Hyatt Cairo, comparing the promo rate with the BAR.

In both cases, the Pay 2 Get 3 rate was the same as the BAR. So the promotion's nominal value looks to be as advertised. I'd still suggest comparing the promo rate and the BAR before booking, to confirm that there are no nasty surprises lurking in the pricing.

The second caveat concerns the non-refundable prepayment requirement. Three nights at the Hyatt Regency London, to put it into perspective, would require a prepayment of $1,449.50. Any change of plan—as a result of illness, an airline strike, weather, anything—would put that considerable sum at risk.

Probably the best way to view such offers is as a calculated trade-off between a discount and the possibility of losing the prepayment. That puts the focus where it should be—not just on the upside, but on the potential downside as well.

Reader Reality Check

Have you ever forfeited a non-refundable prepayment?

What do you suppose the odds are of your having to cancel an overseas trip?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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