My Hyatt Gift Cards Were HACKED: My Experience & Getting a Resolution

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Hyatt Gift Cards Hacked

Hyatt Gift Cards Hacked

Over the past couple of years I have written about different deals for saving on Hyatt gift cards. For me, the best deals came about a year ago when I was able to combine deals on eBay to save nearly 30% off of face value. Since I stay in a lot of Hyatt properties that savings definitely adds up and thus I stocked up on a ton of cards.

Hyatt cards on eBay are/were sold by SVM Gift Cards. SVM is the first party company that Hyatt hires to distribute their gift cards so I was the first and only owner. Generally when this is the case, you are mostly safe from fraud since no one else has the card numbers. Unfortunately, you are never truly safe, especially if the system has been compromised.

Discovering My Hacked Cards

Hyatt Gift Cards Hacked

Over the Summer I used one of my $200 gift cards for a stay at a Hyatt Place in Charlotte. The cost was about $50, meaning I should have had plenty of value left on the card. Just two weeks or so later, I tried to use that same card and was informed it had been wiped out. Zero balance. How embarrassing. Luckily I had another Hyatt gift card with me that had not been compromised.

Then fast forward about another month. I was in Philadelphia getting ready to checkout of the Hyatt at the Bellevue. To checkout I went to the front desk, gave them a completely different and unused $200 card and was informed it had been wiped out as well. That time I didn’t have another card with me so I ended up just using a credit card to pay my balance. Essentially I ended up paying 30% more than I would have otherwise.

Getting My Money Back

Once things settled down with my travel schedule, I called the Hyatt gift card customer service line to explain what had happened. They took the card numbers and started an investigation. A few days later I was told that I needed to provide proof of my purchase. I was never told what exactly happened with the cards or who had used them.

Since I had made several different purchases of Hyatt gift cards on eBay, I did not really know which order corresponded with which cards, so I just sent over my latest purchase to start. I figured if they wanted more I could send over everything. Thankfully that wasn’t necessary. It took a couple of weeks, but eventually two new gift cards showed up in the mail.

Buying Hyatt Gift Cards Going Forward

Hyatt Gift Cards Hacked

If you search Google for “Hyatt gift cards hacked” you will see that my problem isn’t  unique. This is happening a lot and it is troubling. In my case these cards were never owned by someone else and while I suppose an employee at the hotel in Charlotte could have wiped out my first card, there is no explanation for why the second, never used card was compromised.

Hyatt has a serious issue and one that has me adjusting how I buy Hyatt gift cards. For future stays I will not purchase cards ahead of time and hold them. If I want to get a discount, I will buy cards a relatively short amount of time before I plan to redeem them. This should eliminate most cases of fraud and it will also make it easier for me to track any issues so I can get my money back. If I purchase from a third party reseller, I’ll make sure I can use the cards within their guarantee period.

Conclusion

I commend Hyatt for honoring their product and replacing my compromised gift cards, but at some point I think they need to change their entire system if it is so easy to hack. Between finding out my iTunes cards were hacked recently and this fiasco, I surely am aware of the headaches of dealing with gift cards. Now I know why people just like to pay with cash! 🙂


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42 COMMENTS

  1. I’m done with Hyatt GCs. Bought one on eBay and checked it 7 days before trip. Had to spend 3 hours getting it fixed.

  2. Did you buy from Hyatt directly? You’re lucky. I bought mine at one of the online discount GC stores. I went to use it only to find it had been emptied out. I’ve been fighting through my CC company to get my money back. What a pain. I am also done with Hyatt GC until they improve their security. A unique redemption code/PIN would be a great place to start. It would make fraudulent usage highly unlikely, whereas now all you need is the GC number of known length.

  3. I got a Hyatt gift card from American Express with membership rewards points. It was only $50. I went to use it at Grand Hyatt Kauai and it had a zero balance. They were nice enough to believe me and give me credit but took card. Then I contacted American Express to let them know. They immediately gave me back the points I used even though I didn’t ask. I was more interested in finding out HOW it happened but they didn’t seem to care.

  4. Is Hyatt even investigating this? Why won’t they say what is happening or change the system if it’s a system problem. There are many GC systems on the market that are not compromised like this. What a customer service fiasco and a money loser for them.

  5. I bought $500 worth for a stay at the Hyatt Regency NYC from GiftCardSpread.com about 45 days before my trip. About 3 weeks before I left, one got hacked. 5 days later the one more got hacked. Hyatt was ZERO help since these were bought from a non-authorized seller. After the first one was hacked and they did not help, I asked if they could at least take the remaining “good”cards and issue new ones….no dice. Giftcardspread did refund the two cards, but it was a hassle. Their customer service is terrible.

    I would advise only buying Hyatt cards from Hyatt-approved authorized sellers and would only buy them if planning to use them within a few days or weeks of getting them. DNC email servers are more secure than Hyatt gift cards!

    • Yes if you are buying third hand cards from a reseller make sure to use them within the reseller’s guarantee period since Hyatt most likely won’t help. In my case SVM is an authorized first party seller which is why I suppose they replaced the cards.

  6. Just to confirm, your two hacked Hyatt gift cards were purchased from SVM via ebay? I bought a few from them so I need to check mine. This is very unsettling. I also thought we were safe if we bought from SVM.

    If yours were hacked and bought from SVM, going forward, I might have to rethink buying from them or if I do buy them, buy them if I know I will have an immediate use. Thanks.

  7. Not about Hyatt cards, but I bought 2 $200 Mastercards at Staples in September when they had a rebate going. I opened one up last week to pay a medical bill over the phone–it had been hacked. The other one was almost drained as well. I could look up the activity and see the hacker did a trial charge of $1 and then basically emptied both cards at a store in California–all the while the cards sat in their unopened packages in my drawer in Ohio.
    So. you are never safe. Make sure packages are undamaged and I always take from the middle or back of the rack if I’m buying in a store, use them quickly, don’t buy used giftcards and keep your purchase receipt as that is key to getting restitution.

    • you need to liquidate same day. sorry to hear that, but its well known all variable GCs are already pre-hacked. after you buy them, its a race to drain it. holding it even to the next day is high risk.

      • Hmm, really? well my ignorance then. If it matters, they weren’t variable load cards, but regardless It hadn’t happened to me before and I’ve purchased them whenever these deals come around. . Shawn obviously buys a lot of them and I don’t think he liquidates them all on the day he buys them. ( His advice for liquidating them includes using for nonbonused everyday spend) I’m not reading every blog out there but I’ve not seen anyone warn that these are to be assumed hacked and must be used immediately. …there’ s so much outrage in here about Hyatt cards without a pin that folks have had for months…that clerly people actually don’t expect new Hyatt gift cards to be drained so why would they expect Pin enabled new MC or Visa cards to be drained?

    • I had similar problem with several $500 MC gcs. They were drained online and in stores in Compton within hours of purchase – clearly a network of people are involved in hacking these cards.

      I started looking and realized there is huge security problem with their cards. Turns out you can guess each card within 4 numbers, every time. And the four numbers are predictable. So worst case you take 4 tries to hack a card. Odds are it only takes two tries. If I had a larcenous heart I could make millions with very little effort – and if I could figure out the gaping security hole in about 15 minutes, anyone can.

  8. Same experience this week (though I haven’t had time to contact Hyatt yet for resolution). Two of my $200 GCs bought from SVM showed zero balance.

    Good to know that Hyatt handled it well!

  9. Just called Hyatt and they refused to reissue the card I purchased. Am I doing something wrong??? I’d purchased it in April or so when SVM had a zero balance. Pretty shameful they suggested I dispute it with were I purchased the card….Seriously like it’s the SVM or the stores fault Hyatt had a gift card system that got hacked.

    • I would try to speak with someone different. Perhaps try to escalate? I didn’t do anything special to get them to replace the cards other than sending in my eBay receipt and they know they have an issue with compromised cards.

      • Tried twitter told to pack sand there too. Offered to send them a picture of the card Said I need to dispute it with the third party vendor. Hyatt honestly expects if I bought it at a store months ago to try and dispute it with the store I purchased at?? I couldn’t imagine if going into a store and asking them to refund a Hyatt card I’d bought 6 months ago. Sent SVM a message via ebay. May try more calls on Monday.

  10. Do you know if the gift cards had to have been purchased within a period of time? I have a few from last October that I haven’t used

  11. Ongoing issue for over 15 months at least. Hyatt does not seem to be doing anything to resolve the hacking problem. I had a card hacked over a year ago, and I’ve decided to just stay away for now.

  12. I have two cards purchase from SVM in October 2015 that were hacked. Hyatt refuses to help. SVM has opened a help ticket but so far I have very little hope of recovering my $340.

  13. I have bought Hyatt gift cards directly from Hyatt in November when they have their 10% sale. The past two years, both instances have been hacked. So it doesn’t matter where you buy them from. Hyatt re-issued them for me, but yes it’s embarrassing.

  14. hey Shawn, can you tell us the phone number you called and also the E-Mail or Fax number that was used to send in info?

    i am very fortunate to have my Hyatt GC all intact, but maybe not for long. therefore, I did a mock test run of a hacked GC.

    this test run showed me what a HUGE BITCH it is to explain yourself. I got totally NO WHERE. I was told to call Hyatt corporate and write letters and crap. WTF…

    im glad you didnt need to go through any pain, but I dont get why so many people are having no luck. I called the number on the back of the GC 1-866-784-0540. IVR asked for PIN. This is new. Old GCs dont have a PIN. So I guess Hyatt is finally doing something about it and will put PIN numbers on their new GC batches. However, the old batches are still heavily in circulation.

    Trying to think how to convert them or liquidate them ASAP. I guess sell them…

    • I thought about selling them, but since they’re hackable, someone who buys them could also complain to whoever you sold them if they’re hacked afterwards. Then you’ll end paying back what you got paid for them.

  15. Anyone know how to verify gift cards WITHOUT pin numbers? Their phone verification keeps asking for it, which is stupid because there are a bunch without pin numbers. I have six of them.

  16. I had $1,200 wiped from a card. They were able to find out where the last charge/swipe was but they wouldn’t tell me. I had purchased directly from Hyatt and they made it right. I am very diligent with all my cards and track their balances.

  17. Held onto to my Hyatt $200 gift card from SVM for 10 months and never used (didn’t realize it was for US hotels only when I bought it). It was just drained last month. Called Hyatt gift cards and they asked for proof of purchase which I sent. They confirmed by email I would receive a PIN enabled gift card replacement within two weeks. So, looks like they are adding more security to mine anyway.
    I asked what they were doing about the fraud since it would seem easy to catch the perpetrators, but woman only said they were pursuing but could not share any details.

  18. My friends and I bought about $10,000 worth of Hyatt gift cards from CardCash.com. We did not realize there was a 45 day guarantee only because we live in California and figured that as per state law the gift cards would never expire. Guess what? Almost half of them were hacked before we could use them and we are out about $5000 combined. We called cash card to do a claim but they would not refund us the money since it had been over 45 days and American Express keeps denying the chargebacks. Hyatt was no help as well so we are just in the hole now. We are thinking about a class action lawsuit against cardcash.com if possible. This is the worst company ever! In one of their email responses to me they told me there was a risk to award ratio when purchasing these cards which I never knew. They also stated that sometimes they get a bad apple that sells them cards which is not disclosed on their website as well. They are knowingly selling cards that could be compromised which is unconscionable.

  19. One of my $200 gift cards bought from SVM via ebay got hacked. This was bought about a year ago. I contacted Hyatt on twitter and at 800-323-7249. Both told me I would have to contact SVM and there’s nothing they can do. These were bought with ebay gift cards as well. It’s pretty sh*** of Hyatt to do this. Both told me that it was purchased from a 3rd party (not a first party). I’m currently calling Hyatt over and over to get a resolution.

    • Have you got any feedback from Hyatt? I got the similar experience that Hyatt asked to contact SVM. The Hyatt custom service lady is really not helpful and friendly which cause to me think no longer stay in Hyatt. What a disappointing xx.

  20. Hyatt is now refusing to replace gift cards that were fraudulently drained if they were purchased from a “third party” (eg, SVM on eBay).

  21. My friends and I bought about $10,000 worth of Hyatt gift cards from CardCash.com. We did not realize there was a 45 day guarantee only because we live in California and figured that as per state law the gift cards would never expire. Guess what? Almost half of them were hacked before we could use them and we are out about $5000 combined. We called cash card to do a claim but they would not refund us the money since it had been over 45 days and American Express keeps denying the chargebacks. Hyatt was no help as well so we are just in the hole now. We are thinking about a class action lawsuit against cardcash.com if possible. This is the worst company ever! In one of their email responses to me they told me there was a risk to award ratio when purchasing these cards which I never knew. They also stated that sometimes they get a bad apple that sells them cards which is not disclosed on their website as well. They are knowingly selling cards that could be compromised which is unconscionable.

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