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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, 2022, and moving forward, points won't expire until you've gone 24 months without account activity. All qualifying nights earned in 2021 will also rollover into 2022.
If you have one of the co-branded Hilton credit cards from American Express, you may have earned a free weekend night reward. Unexpired free weekend night rewards can now be used any night of the week (not just on weekends). Expiration on all free nights earned in 2021 has been paused until the end of 2022, with nights earned in 2022 expiring 12 months from their date of issuance.
Nights earned between July 1, 2020, and the end of 2020 now expire 24 months from their date of issuance (Dec. 31, 2022, is the last eligible date).
As of October 2022, all free night certificates can be used on weeknights as well as weekend nights.
Hilton also announced generous elite status extensions: Whatever level of Hilton elite status you hold as of now, you’ll retain through at least March 31, 2023.
The Marriott Bonvoy program is offering extensions for point expirations, as well as Free Night Awards and Suite Night Awards.
Several co-branded Marriott Bonvoy credit cards give cardholders an annual Free Night Award after your card renewal month. These cards include:
Many travel rewards enthusiasts love the Hyatt program for a variety of reasons, including its reputation for being very customer-friendly. World of Hyatt points expire after 24 months of inactivity in your account.
Hyatt has postponed changes to its award charts that were set to take place last spring.
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.
IHG has automatically extended all members' level of elite status through February 2023. Whatever your IHG elite status was pre-pandemic, you'll still hold it today.
And typically, points expire after 12 months for club members. But due to the pandemic, IHG has extended points expiry until Dec. 31, 2022. Points never expire for members with elite status (Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond).
There have also been extensions announced regarding free anniversary night certificates. If you hold the IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card, or you have InterContinental Ambassador status, you may have earned a free night certificate. IHG One Rewards Credit Card Anniversary Night Certificates awarded in 2021 can be redeemed through Dec. 31, 2022, and should have been automatically updated in your account.
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.
Wyndham Points 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 2023, 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