Complete guide to hotel elite status during the coronavirus outbreak

Dec 27, 2020

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

As the world continues to react to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, several hotel programs have announced modifications to their elite status schemes. Many of these offers provided peace of mind to travelers who suddenly saw a drop-off in their overnight business travel and would thus struggle to maintain any status they had earned.

The good news is that many hotel programs are now offering status extensions, while others have offered to waive points expiration and adjust other aspects of their programs. In the article below, we’ll show you what all of the major hotel loyalty programs are doing for their elite members — though check back frequently, as this is sure to change over the weeks and months to come.

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Here’s a roundup of all participating companies thus far.

In This Post

Accor

Accor has extended all Accor Live Limitless (ALL) status tiers — Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond — by an additional year. Status now expires on Dec. 31, 2021, regardless of how many eligible nights a member completes in 2020.

Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Best Western Premier Trocadero la Tour Paris
The Best Western Premier Trocadero la Tour in Paris. (Photo courtesy of Booking.com)

Best Western Rewards extending elite status through Jan. 31, 2022, regardless of their future stays. This change will be automatically reflected in all eligible Best Western accounts. Even better, Best Western members who were downgraded to a lower status tier at the end of 2019 will have their previous status reinstated through this date.

Choice

On May 21, Choice Hotels extended all members’ current elite status through Dec. 31, 2021, regardless of the number of nights you stay this year. The chain also announced reduced thresholds for elite status qualification in 2020:

  • Gold status: earned after staying seven nights as opposed to 10
  • Platinum status: earned after staying 15 nights as opposed to 20
  • Diamond status: earned after staying 25 nights as opposed to 40

In addition, points expiration has been paused until Dec. 31, 2020.

Related: Choice Privileges extends elite status for all, offers elite upgrades and bonus points

Hilton Honors

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz / The Points Guy)

On March 25, 2020, Hilton became the first of the major hotel loyalty programs to announce elite status extensions for all elite members. According to Hilton’s coronavirus page, the hotel group has extended elite status validity for members with status expiring in 2020 or 2021 to March 31, 2022.

The hotel group has also halved elite status requirements for 2021 and all 2020 elite nights will roll over to 2021. Here’s how many nights each tier requires:

  • Diamond: 15 stays, 30 nights or 60,000 base points
  • Gold: 10 stays, 30 nights or 37,500 base points
  • Silver: 2 stays, 5 nights, or 12,500 base points

Related: Hilton is waiving all cancellation fees in response to coronavirus concerns

The hotel group made a handful of other changes across its portfolio, including:

  • Points expiration is paused for all Hilton Honors points until Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Outstanding Weekend Night Reward certificates earned with select Hilton American Express cards will be extended. All Weekend Night Rewards issued before May 1, 2020, are now valid through Aug. 31, 2021, and can be used any day of the week. All certificates issued after May 1, 2020, are valid for 24 months and can be used any day of the week.
  • Diamond members who stay 30 or 60 nights in 2021 will be able to gift Gold or Diamond status, respectively, to a friend or family member
  • Starting in January, the Milestone Bonus requirements will be temporarily reduced. You’ll earn 10,000 bonus points every 10 nights you stay at Hilton properties after your first 20 nights. Previously, this benefit required 40 nights.

IHG

On April 22, 2020, IHG announced that it would automatically extend all elite statuses through January 2022. Previously, it had only announced elite status extensions for members with accounts in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as of Feb. 17, 2020.

This announcement is in addition to IHG’s announcement from March 11 that it would update its elite status criteria for 2020. The new qualification requirements reduce the required points or nights by 25% or more through the end of the year. You can see the specific requirements for all status tiers in the graphic below.

Graphic courtesy of IHG.

Related: IHG waives cancellation fees; lowers elite status requirements

In addition, those who purchased Ambassador status in the first six months of 2019 had their status extended by six months to accommodate the interruption. This even includes an updated “complimentary weekend night” voucher, reflecting the new date of expiration for IHG Ambassadors.

Here are other updates related to the IHG Rewards Club program:

  • IHG point expiration extended through June 30, 2021
  • Free night certificates with an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2020, will now expire on Aug. 31, 2021

Marriott

JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District - The Atlantic
The Atlantic guest room. (Image courtesy of JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District)

On April 8, 2020, Marriott announced that it was extending Marriott Bonvoy elite status for members who earned elite status in 2019. These members will have their status extended to February 2022, a move similar to Hilton and World of Hyatt.

Additionally, Marriott is pausing point expiration until August 2021. At that time, points will expire in accounts that have been inactive for 24 months or longer. Thankfully, there are many ways to keep your points active, like using a Marriott credit card or dining with the Marriott dining program.

Here are the other updates Marriott is making in light of the coronavirus outbreak:

Preferred Hotels & Resorts

The I Prefer rewards program — covering over 700 global resorts across 85 countries — sent an email to members on March 16, 2020, announcing that all elite members would retain their status through June 30, 2021, regardless of the number of nights they complete this year. It’s also extending points expiration for all members through Aug. 31, 2020.

Radisson

Radisson Rewards has extended elite status through February 2022 for members who would have lost it in February 2021. In addition, the program has suspended points expiration through Dec. 31, 2021.

You can cancel or change reservations made before April 30, 2020 for stays through Dec. 31, 2020 with no penalty. This applies only to bookings made directly with Radisson and not through third-party sites. Radisson allows free cancellations up to 24 hours before arrival on reservations made between April 30 and Dec. 31, 2020.

Other changes include:

  • All elite nights earned in 2020 will be rolled over to 2021 to be applied toward 2022 elite status.
  • Travelers with e-certs set to expire through June 30, 2020, will be able to redeem them for stays through June 30, 2021.

Shangri-La

Though it’s a smaller program, Shangri-La is being especially generous. The company decided to extend all Golden Circle tier status members (Diamond and Jade) worldwide through Dec. 31, 2021.

World of Hyatt

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Hyatt members now have some additional flexibility, though elite status is still up in the air. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

On April 3, 2020, Hyatt announced it’s extending World of Hyatt elite status for all members that held valid elite status as of March 31, 2020. All members will have their elite status expiration extended through Feb. 28, 2022, regardless of how many nights they’ve accrued this year. There is no need to enroll in this status extension.

Additionally, the hotel group announced that all rewards set to expire between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, will have validity extended through Dec. 31, 2021. These rewards include suite upgrades, free-night certificates and club lounge access. Hyatt has also paused the expiration of World of Hyatt points through June 30, 2021, for all members regardless of their elite status tier.

Hyatt has also slashed the number of nights needed to qualify for elite status in half. This means you can now earn top-tier Globalist status after earning just 30 elite nights. Here’s the breakdown for all status tiers:

  • Discoverist: Stay five tier-qualifying nights or earn 12,500 base points ($2,500 in spending)
  • Explorist: Stay 15 tier-qualifying nights or earn 25,000 base points ($5,000 in spending)
  • Globalist: Stay 30 tier-qualifying nights or earn 50,000 base points ($10,000 in spending)

Related: World of Hyatt expands free cancellations, suspends award chart changes until next year

Note that Hyatt has also announced other changes to its loyalty program in light of the coronavirus:

  • Hyatt postponed the previously-announced changes to its award chart, including peak and off-peak pricing, until 2021. Note, however, that five hotels will still shift categories on March 22. Four hotels — the Hyatt Centric Park City, Park Hyatt Shenzhen, Alila Yangshuo and Park Hyatt Ningbo — will move up a category. Meanwhile, the Park Hyatt Mallorca will drop from Category 6 to Category 5.
  • All existing reservations booked before July 1, 2020, can be changed or canceled at no charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival. This includes Advance Purchase Rate reservations that usually don’t allow changes or cancellations.
  • New reservations made after July 1, 2020, be changed or canceled at no charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival regardless of arrival date. This does not include Advance Purchase Rate reservations.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

On April 14, 2020, Wyndham announced elite status extension for all current Wyndham Rewards elite members through Dec. 31, 2021. The hotel group also extended points expiration through June 30, 2021.

In addition, earning Wyndham elite status in 2021 will be easier. Here’s how many qualifying nights you’ll need for each status tier:

  • Gold: Three qualifying nights
  • Platinum: Nine qualifying nights
  • Diamond: 24 qualifying nights

Finally, the hotel group is gifting Gold elite status to essential workers, including healthcare workers, delivery drivers and others who help “keep everyday life moving” while we’re locked down. Eligible essential workers can enroll on Wyndham’s #EverydayHeros webpage; the complimentary status is valid through Dec. 31, 2021.

Bottom line

While COVID-19 spreads, we’ve seen a massive impact on the travel industry — with travel bans, canceled flights and plunging hotel occupancy. It’s nice to see that hotels are working to make travelers’ lives — both frequent and infrequent — easier during this time of uncertainty. If you’re wondering what will happen with your hotel elite status for the rest of the year and into 2021, be sure to bookmark this page and check back regularly, as we’re certain to see updates in the weeks and months to come.

For the latest news around the COVID-19 virus, check out our dedicated coronavirus news page.

Featured photo by Jasper Cole/Getty Images

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski, Victoria Walker and Jasmin Baron 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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