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The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact on the travel industry around the world. Though planning your next hotel stay might not be top of mind, the good news is that many hotel brands are changing their rewards policies to help customers.
You may have free night certificates waiting in your account, or you may have points that could be in danger of expiring. Here’s a roundup of what changes major hotel brands are making to help you keep your points and free night certificates active for when you’re ready to travel again.
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. Their updated policy indicates that any points that would expire between now and Dec. 31, 2020, will stay in your account without expiring.
If you have one of the co-branded Hilton credit cards from American Express, you may have earned a free weekend night reward. There are two positive changes you should know about these certificates:
You now can use them any day you choose: Unexpired free weekend night rewards as of May 1, 2020, plus new free weekend night rewards issued until Dec. 31, 2020, 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. All current outstanding free night rewards will be valid until Aug. 31, 2021. New free weekend night rewards issued from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2020 will be valid for 24 months (rather than 12 months) from the date of issuance.
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.
Points set to expire between now and August 2020 will remain active until further notice. Marriott has yet to announce when these points will expire. Generally, Bonvoy points expire if you haven’t had activity in your account in the past 24 months.
Several co-branded Marriott Bonvoy credit cards give cardholders an annual Free Night Award. These cards include:
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
These awards are usually good for one year, but Marriott has announced that the expiration date on these awards will be extended until Jan. 31, 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 will pause all points expiration through May 31, 2020. 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 December 31, 2020, will now be extended to December 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. The World Of Hyatt Credit Card holders also earn a free anniversary night each year.
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. All points set to expire April 1 through the end of the year will now be extended until Dec. 31, 2020. IHG points usually expire if you don’t have any activity in your account every twelve months.
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 starting March 1, 2020, will be honored through Dec. 31, 2020. Additionally, certificates issued in 2020 will have an 18-month shelf life instead of the usual 12 months.
Radisson hotels are extending both the life of their points and their e-certs for free nights.
Effective March 1, 2020, Radisson is pausing expiration on its points for six months. Generally, Radisson points expire after there is no account activity for 24 months.
Radisson Rewards™ Visa® Cardholders 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 July 31, 2020, will be honored through June 30, 2021.
Wyndham will pause the expiration on all Wyndham Points that are due to expire through May 31, 2020. 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 and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card are 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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Coronavirus stimulus checks, debt relief and your finances Coronavirus flight cancellation and change policies: What you need to know How to change/cancel existing bookings due to coronavirus