Hilton Is Extending Point, Reward Night, and Elite Status Expiration As Coronavirus Halts Travel (Video)

Hilton Honors made a sweeping announcement that should set its most devoted customers’ minds at ease.

As coronavirus has swept the globe, travelers have faced profound, unprecedented challenges. Those have ranged from having their plans completely disrupted or canceled, to confronting the possibility of quarantine in foreign countries, to racing to find ways home amid increasingly stringent travel restrictions and bans.

The more frequent travelers among us have also been wondering what is going to happen to rewards points and elite status with both airlines and hotels as travel bans stretch beyond weeks and into months. As of today, at least one major hotel company has provided some answers.

Points, Elite Status, and Reward Nights on Pause

Hilton Honors — the loyalty program of over a dozen brands including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and DoubleTree — made a sweeping announcement that should set its most devoted customers’ minds at ease. First, no points will expire between now and Dec. 31, 2020. Hilton points normally expire after 12 months of inactivity, so this is a reprieve for less active travelers who might not have any stays scheduled for the foreseeable future.

Customers who spent enough time and money at Hilton properties in 2019 to earn elite status for 2020 will have their benefits extended a full two years until March 31, 2022. That’s a pretty generous policy and means travelers won’t have to worry about qualifying activity in 2020 to retain status in 2021. But Hilton is going above and beyond even that. Folks who enjoyed Silver, Gold, or Diamond elite status in 2019 will retain their status for another year until March 31, 2021, even if they were going to be downgraded or dropped altogether in 2020. This is basically a free pass and a way of reminding people who might have moved on to other hotel loyalty programs that Hilton has their back.

To top it off, all Hilton Honors members who stay at a Hilton-branded hotel before Dec. 31, 2020 will have all nights automatically rolled over to next year to count toward their 2021-2023 Hilton Honors tier status. Stays must be booked through Hilton.com or the Hilton Honors app.

What About Hilton Credit Card Holders?

While the elite status extensions are great news for travelers who earn their status through stays, remember that if you have a Hilton credit card, you might also be entitled to automatic elite status. For instance, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card confers Gold status while those with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card receive top-tier Diamond status. Speaking of the Aspire, consumers with that card also receive a free weekend night reward each year that is redeemable at nearly any Hilton property around the world, which can be worth hundreds of dollars.

These reward nights usually expire one year from the date they are issued. But as part of its loyalty announcement, Hilton has said that any credit card weekend night rewards that had not expired as of March 11, 2020, and those issued through Aug. 30, 2020, will have their expiration extended through Aug. 31, 2021, which buys travelers some extra time, too.

The Hilton hotel lobby at Waikiki Beach.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Will Other Hotels Step Up?

Up until now, the other major hotel chains have remained mostly mum on the topic of points and elite status, instead taking a wait-and-see approach to figure out how long coronavirus will dampen travel demand. The one exception has been Best Western Rewards, which announced at the beginning of March that all members globally would retain their 2020 status through Jan. 31, 2022 without needing to fulfill any other qualifying activity. Even those who were downgraded at the end of 2019 as a result of any restricted travel received a boost back up to their previous status tier.

Now that Hilton has extended its own generous terms to Honors members, hopefully the other major hotel loyalty programs including Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt, and IHG Rewards Club will follow suit.

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