Even though it may feel like the U.S. is returning to normal, the travel industry is still on its head. Fewer business trips, an increased desire to drive versus fly and ongoing, inconsistent COVID-related rules — like varied mask requirements — might have changed the way you travel. On a global scale, the COVID-19 pandemic is still hurting the broader travel industry. Many countries are still closed to tourists.
Because of that, many hotels have changed (and continue to change) their rewards policies, including extending expiration dates to help welcome customers back — whenever they're ready.
If you have free night certificates waiting in your account or points in danger of expiring, here are the changes major hotels are making that you need to know about.
Hilton was one of the first hotel chains to announce generous policy changes to let customers keep their points and free weekend night certificates active.
Usually Hilton Honors points expire if you don’t have any activity in your account every 12 months, but Hilton has extended the expiration on all points until Dec. 31, 2021.
You now can use them any day you choose: Unexpired free weekend night rewards can now be used any night of the week (not just on weekends).
You have longer to use them: Generally, these free rewards expire 12 months from their issue date, but Hilton has announced it is extending the dates for these certificates.
Certificates issued before May 1, 2020 (which were set to expire Aug. 31, 2021) are now valid until Jan. 3, 2022.
Certificates issued between May 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020 are valid for 24 months from the date they were issued.
Certificates issued between Jan. 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2021 will expire on Dec. 31, 2022.
Hilton also announced generous elite status extensions for up to two years. If your elite status was due to expire in March 2020, it will be extended through March 2021, while any status earned for 2020 will now expire in March 2022.
The Marriott Bonvoy program is offering extensions for point expirations, as well as Free Night Awards and Suite Night Awards.
Marriott has paused all expiration of points until Aug. 1, 2021. They will then return to their normal schedule, with points expiring after 24 months without activity.
Several co-branded Marriott Bonvoy credit cards give cardholders an annual Free Night Award. These cards include:
These awards are usually good for one year, but Marriott has announced that the expiration date on awards originally set to expire in 2020 have been extended through Aug. 1, 2021.
If you hold Platinum Elite or Titanium Elite status with Marriott, you have the opportunity to earn Suite Night Awards each year. Awards with an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2020, will now be extended through Dec. 31, 2021.
Many travel rewards enthusiasts love the Hyatt program for a variety of reasons, including its reputation for being very customer-friendly. Hyatt has suspended point expiration through June 30, 2021. World of Hyatt points normally expire after 24 months of inactivity in your account.
Hyatt also announced its plans to postpone changes to its award charts that were set to take place this spring. The new peak and off-peak pricing changes will be pushed back until 2021.
World of Hyatt members who have free award nights, suite upgrades or club lounge access awards will have more time to use them. Awards that would expire between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020, will now be extended to Dec. 31, 2021.
World of Hyatt loyalty members can receive a free night award when they hit the 30 and 60 qualifying night marks in a calendar year. World of Hyatt Credit Card holders also earn a free anniversary night each year.
Hyatt has also reduced the number of elite nights required to earn each level by half, for all of 2020 and 2021.
IHG is reducing the amount of points you’ll need to earn elite status by 25% or more, and also announced changes to points expiration dates. The program has also paused point expiration until Dec. 31, 2021. IHG points usually expire if you don’t have any activity in your account every twelve months, though points never expire for elite status holders.
There have also been extensions announced regarding free anniversary night certificates. If you hold the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, or you have InterContinental Ambassador status, you may have earned a free night certificate. Certificates that would expire by Dec. 31, 2020, will be honored through Dec. 31, 2021. This update applies to the U.S. & U.K. cards only.
Radisson hotels are extending both the life of their points and their e-certs for free nights.
Radisson is pausing expiration on its points until Dec. 31, 2021. Generally, Radisson points expire after there is no account activity for 24 months.
Radisson Rewards™ Visa® Card holders have the opportunity to earn Free Night E-Certs each year, and those certificates will also have extended expiration dates due to COVID-19. E-Certs that are set to expire between March 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021, will be honored through June 30, 2021.
Wyndham will pause the expiration on all Wyndham Points until June 30, 2021. In normal times, Wyndham points expire without any account activity for 18 months, but they also expire four years from the date you earn them — even if there’s been activity in your account.
The bottom line
Changes to hotel loyalty policies in this time of crisis are fast-moving. These hotel brands could change their expiration policies again (and again) as things progress.
All information about the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card