Complete guide to hotel elite status during the coronavirus outbreak
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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 hotels programs are announcing modifications to their elite status schemes. Many of these offers were initially specific to those residing in the Asia-Pacific region and 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.
However, many hotel programs are now offering status extensions to customers outside of these regions, and 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.
Here’s a roundup of all participating companies thus far.
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 Hotels & Resorts is allowing all members of the Best Western Rewards members around the globe to maintain their current 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.
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.
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 on March 31, 2020, to March 31, 2021. Likewise, Hilton Honors members who have status expiring on March 31, 2021 will have their status extended through March 31, 2022.
The hotel group made a handful of other changes across its portfolio including:
- Points expiration is paused for all Hilton Honors points until December 31, 2020.
- All existing reservations that are scheduled for arrival on or before June 30, 2020, can be canceled at no charge up to 24 hours prior to your scheduled arrival day.
- All new reservations booked between today and June 30, 2020, for any future travel date can be canceled at no charge up to 24 hours prior to your scheduled arrival day.
- Outstanding Weekend Night Reward certificates earned with select Hilton American Express cards will be extended. All Weekend Night Rewards that were unexpired as of March 11, 2020, and all new certificates issued through August 30, 2020, will have their validity extended until August 31, 2021.
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. Similar to Hilton, those IHG points that would otherwise expire will be extended until Dec. 31. These adjustments will be made automatically and members should see the updated dates in their accounts.
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.
In addition, those who purchased Ambassador status in the first six months of 2019 will have their status extended by six months to accommodate for the interruption. This even includes an updated “complimentary weekend night” voucher, which will reflect the new date of expiration for IHG Ambassadors.
Here are other updates related to the IHG Rewards Club program:
- The program is waiving cancellation fees for new and existing bookings worldwide, effective March 11 through June 30, 2020.
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 expiration date extended to February 2022, a move similar to announcements from Hilton and World of Hyatt.
Additionally, Marriott is pausing Bonvoy point expiration until February 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:
- All existing Marriott stays — including more restrictive prepaid reservations — can now be changed or canceled free of charge until June 30, 2020. All changes and cancellations must be made 24 hours prior to the guest’s scheduled arrival date.
- Any new reservation made between March 13 and June 30 can also be changed or canceled at no charge, though again, you must make the change or cancellation at least 24 hours prior to your arrival date.
- Members with outstanding free-night certificates offered by select Marriott credit cards that were set to expire in 2020 will be able to use them through Jan. 31, 2021.
- Suite Night Award certificates with Dec. 31, 2020 expiration dates have had validity extended through Dec. 31, 2021.
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 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 March 31, 2021. Travelers with e-certs that are set to expire through June 30, 2020, will be able to redeem them for stays through June 30, 2021. Additionally, all elite nights from 2020 will roll over to 2021.
You can cancel or change reservations made before April 30, 2020 for stays through Sept. 30, 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 Sept. 30, 2020.
Though it’s a smaller program, Shangri-La is being especially generous, with the company deciding to extend all Golden Circle tier status members (Diamond and Jade) around the world through Dec. 31, 2021.
World of Hyatt
On April 3, 2020, Hyatt announced that 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 and all World of Hyatt elite members should see the new expiration date reflected in their online account by April 15, 2020.
Additionally, the hotel group announced that all rewards set to expire between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, will have validity extended through December 31, 2021. These rewards include suite upgrades, free-night certificates and club access passes. Hyatt has also paused the expiration of World of Hyatt points through December 31, 2020, for all members regardless of their elite status tier.
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 and planned introduction of 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, while the Park Hyatt Mallorca will drop from Category 6 to Category 5.
- All existing reservations booked April 1 or earlier for arrivals through June 30, 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 betwen between April 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020, can be changed or canceled at no charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival regardless of the date of arrival.
- Existing Advanced Purchase rate reservations made directly with Hyatt on or before March 8 for travel through June 30 can still be canceled in exchange for 10,000 World of Hyatt points if the member so desires. However, no refund will be offered on these stays.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
On April 14, 2020, Wyndham announced that it was extending elite status for all current Wyndham Rewards elite members through December 31, 2021. This status extension is automatic and there’s no need to call Wyndham to process the extension.
In addition, 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 December 31, 2021.
Other changes to Wyndham Rewards include:
- Points expiration is paused for points scheduled to expire between now and Sept. 30, 2020.
- New or existing direct bookings through June 30, 2020, can be changed or canceled free of charge within 24 hours prior to arrival.
- Change penalties are waived for stays beginning after June 30, 2020, so long as the reservation is canceled 48 hours prior to arrival.
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 the lives of travelers — 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 Dace Kundrate/Shutterstock.
Benji Stawski, Victoria Walker and Jasmin Baron contributed to this post.
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