The Latest in Travel Rewards News

News on points, miles, credit cards, loyalty programs, airlines, hotels and more from NerdWallet writers.

Kevin BerryOctober 27, 2020
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Oct. 27 - Hilton Extends Benefits, Lowers Qualification Requirements

Hilton Honors announced several changes today to their loyalty program in light of the ongoing travel issues and restrictions faced by customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notably, Hilton is reducing the status qualification requirements in 2021 by 50%. This is in addition to the previously announced benefit that allows guests to automatically roll over all their 2020 nights into the 2021 year to speed up the qualification process. Based on Hilton's normal elite status chart, this means you can earn Hilton status in 2021 with the following:

  • Silver: Five nights, two stays or 12,500 base points.

  • Gold: 20 nights, 10 stays or 37,500 base points.

  • Diamond: 30 nights, 15 stays or 60,000 base points.

Several other changes have also been made, including:

  • Status extension until March 31, 2022. This applies to elite status members who were going to be downgraded in 2020 or 2021.

  • No points will expire until Dec. 31, 2021.

  • Lowered thresholds: Both Milestone Bonus Nights (now 20 nights) and Gifting Status Nights (now 30 nights) thresholds have been reduced.

  • Extended credit card benefits: Bonus points will continue to count as base points now through Dec. 31, 2021, and 2021 Free Weekend Night Reward certificate expirations will be extended to Dec. 31, 2022, and be valid for any night of the week.

Oct. 26 - AmEx and Uber Team Up for Enhanced Member Benefits

Customers who have The Platinum Card® from American Express, an American Express® Gold Card or an American Express® Green Card have an extra benefit coming their way. Cardmembers will now get a 12-month complimentary Eats Pass Membership as part of their credit card benefits. Included in the perks of an Eats Pass are:

  • Unlimited $0 delivery fees on restaurant orders over $15.

  • 5% off restaurant orders over $15.

  • Unlimited $0 deliver fees on grocery deliveries over $30 (only in select markets).

Terms apply.

Cardmembers must enroll to activate the benefit by Dec. 31, 2021. A standard Eats Pass normally costs $9.99 per month.

Additionally, starting in early 2021, American Express® Gold Card members will get $120 in annual credits ($10 per month) towards Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. Terms apply.

Oct. 26 - Marriott Extends Free Night Award Expiration Dates, Again

Good news for Bonvoy members today as Marriott announced that customers who have a Free Night Award (FNA) will get an extension on those expiration dates again.

Earlier this year, Marriott announced that the expiration date on these FNAs would be extended until Jan. 31, 2021. Now, FNAs set to expire before the end of July will automatically have the expiration date extended to Aug. 1, 2021. This would include previously extended awards with one exception: Any FNAs "with an original expiration date prior to 2020 will not be eligible for the additional extension."

No action is needed by customers, and the updates are expected to take place Dec. 11, 2020.

Oct. 22 - Spirit Airlines Announces New Loyalty Program

Spirit Airlines announced today that it will launch a new Free Spirit loyalty program on Jan. 21, 2021. The new program will offer three elite tier levels (Free Spirit, Silver and Gold), and status will be earned based on the amount of money loyalists spend with the airline instead of the current system, which is based on distance flown in miles. Improvements to the program include:

  • Increased perks (free bags, fee waivers, free food, etc.) and earning opportunities for elite status members.

  • An extension of the mileage expiration date from three months to one year (Spirit credit cardholders will be exempt from mileage expiration).

  • Award redemption fees will reduce significantly, while Silver and Gold members, as well as credit cardholders, will not have to pay redemption fees at all.

  • Revamped membership club and credit cards with enhanced offerings.

The overhaul of the program offers meaningful benefits for Spirit frequent flyers. A full analysis of the changes can be read here.

Oct. 20 - IHG Adds Mr & Mrs Smith Boutique Hotels

IHG announced today that the boutique hotel line of Mr & Mrs Smith will now live within the IHG family and be bookable via IHG moving forward. The plan includes a phased rollout with a select group of hotels available immediately and additional options being added throughout the upcoming eight weeks, after which all 400+ properties are expected to be listed. Customers will be able to use and earn IHG points, and the addition expands IHG's offers into 11 new countries. IHG Rewards members will get "Smith Extras" along with their reservations, including room upgrades when available.

Oct. 14 - American Airlines Increases Flexibility and Benefits for 2021

American Airlines announced today its AAdvantage program changes for 2021. These changes reflect the times and how airlines are adapting to woo flyers back to the skies while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The thresholds for earning elite status in 2021 are being reduced from the standard levels, and flyers will have 15 months (instead of the normal 12) to reach these elite status requirements. In addition, members can earn a waiver of the already reduced Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) requirements through credit card spending.

AAdvantage elite benefits will also be more flexible in 2021: Instead of earning predetermined stated benefits, top elites will be able to choose from a menu of options that are best for their situation.

You can dive into the details of the AAdvantage program changes for 2021 in this article.

All information about The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Green Card are no longer available through NerdWallet.

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