What happens to your airline companion fare or hotel free night certificate now?
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The world is slowly getting used to a new “normal.” Travel bans have been decreed and then extended; theme parks, casinos and hotels have closed with opening dates pushed back; and restaurants and bars have become — and remain — take-out only establishments.
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Life as we know it will continue to change over the coming days and weeks, leaving us all with a slew of questions — especially travelers who are now sitting on a pile of companion fare and free hotel night certificates earned through cobranded credit cards or elite status.
So, what will happen to those travel certificates now that it’s nearly impossible — and inadvisable — to travel anywhere for the time being? Here’s what we found out.
Airfare companion certificates
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines all offer companion fare certificates as a benefit of their cobranded credit cards, so you may have an unused certificate credited to your account right now.
Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
If you have an outstanding companion fare benefit from the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, you’re in luck. All certificates set to expire in 2020 will now be extended until Dec. 31, 2020, allowing you to purchase travel through Nov. 26, 2021.
American Airlines Companion Certificate
There are certain American Airlines cobranded credit cards that offer companion certificates, including:
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® — $99 companion certificate after you spend $30,000 or more on the card in a calendar year and renew the card (account must be open for at least 45 days after account anniversary date).
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard — You earn one certificate each cardholder year when you spend $30,000 or more. This certificate offers one or two additional tickets for $99 (plus taxes and fees) on paid flights operated by American Airlines.
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Red Mastercard — Earn an annual companion certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after spending $20,000 on purchases.
- AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard — Receive one each account anniversary year, good for one guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees), after spending $20,000 on purchases in that year.
The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card, AAdvantage Aviator Silver, AAdvantage Aviator Red, and AAdvantage Aviator Business cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Both Citi and Barclays have offered extensions on expiring companion certificates. Eligible Barclay AAdvantage cardholders with certificates expiring between March 31, 2020 and May 31, 2021 will be able to use them through June 30, 2021.
Meanwhile, Citi is offering six-month extensions for both companion certificates and flight discounts.
Delta Annual Companion Certificate
If you hold specific Delta cobranded credit cards, you are entitled to a companion certificate.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Use the companion certificate for domestic Delta One, first class and coach round-trip flights.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: Use the companion certificate for domestic Delta One, first class and coach round-trip flights.
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Use the companion certificate for domestic Main Cabin round-trip flights.
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Use the companion certificate for domestic Main Cabin round-trip flights.
According to Delta, here’s what will happen to these Annual Companion Certificates — as well as other upgrade tools:
“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, caring for our customers and employees is our top priority … As a part of that, we’ve extended Annual Companion Certificates, upgrade certificates and $200 travel vouchers that were set to expire before June 30 for eligible Medallion Members and Delta SkyMiles American Express Card Members. Now, they’ll have until Dec. 31, 2020, to enjoy those benefits.”
Delta said Global Upgrade Certificates, Regional Upgrade Certificates and $200 travel vouchers that Diamonds and Platinum Medallions have selected through Choice Benefits and are set to expire between March 1 and June 30, 2020, will have their expiration dates extended to Dec. 31, 2020. Members with ones that expire after June 30, 2020, will receive an additional six months beyond the current expiration date.
No action is needed from these Medallion Members — this update is expected to be in Member accounts by the end of the month. Certificates and travel vouchers must be both booked and flown by Dec. 31, 2020.
Delta SkyMiles Reserve or Platinum American Express Card Companion Certificates that are set to expire between March 1 and June 30, 2020, have also had their expiration dates extended to Dec. 31, 2020. No action is needed from the cardmember, either, and this update should already be reflected in member accounts. Companion Certificates must be both booked and flown by Dec. 31, 2020, and if a cardholder needs to cancel an existing Companion Certificate booking, the reopened certificate will automatically be extended to Dec. 31, 2020.
On Delta’s coronavirus travel updates page, the airline says if you booked a trip using a SkyMiles Companion Certificate (or a combination of cash and miles or an upgrade using miles or certificates), you must call to change your travel plans.
Free night certificates from hotels
Many hotel chains offer a free-night reward, and so plenty of TPG readers are anxiously waiting to find out if their certificate expiration dates will be extended.
Marriott Free Night Awards
Travelers have a few ways to earn Marriott Free Night Awards (FNA). You can earn one as part of your credit card benefits package, for example. The up to 35,000-point certificate is earned on the anniversary of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, while the up to 50,000-point certificate is earned on the anniversary of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
You can also earn one of these reward nights as your Annual Choice Benefit, through a promotion or as part of a travel package.
If you have any Marriott FNAs expiring in 2020, you can now use them through Jan. 31, 2021.
Marriott Suite Night Awards
Marriott says it’s extending the expiration of Suite Night Awards (SNA) with an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2020, by one year. The new expiration date is Dec. 31, 2021.
World of Hyatt certificates
If you’re a World of Hyatt loyalist, you may have any of the following awards waiting to be used:
- Category 1–4 Free Night Award
- Club Lounge Access Award
- Suite Upgrade Award
World of Hyatt has decided to give members more time to use all of those awards in the future. Here’s the information Hyatt emailed members:
“All unused Free Night, Suite Upgrade or Club Lounge Access awards with expiration dates between March 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020 will be extended to Dec. 31, 2021. This includes existing awards and awards that may be earned throughout this year with a 2020 expiration date. The award extension will be generated by World of Hyatt — members do not need to take action. Awards that expired between March 1 and March 31, 2020 will be replaced with new awards on April 20, 2020. All other qualifying, unused awards will be updated by the 20th day of the month in which the award would have originally expired.”
Elite status has also been taken into consideration and extended per these guidelines:
“Status and benefits will be extended for all existing elite members without having to requalify. This means that whatever your status was as of March 31, 2020 — whether Discoverist, Explorist or Globalist — it will be automatically updated to reflect a Feb. 28, 2022 expiration date. All elite tier extensions should be reflected in members’ accounts no later than April 15, 2020.”
Additionally, Hyatt will postpone the introduction of off-peak and peak point redemptions. That change was scheduled to go into effect on March 22, 2020, but the company will now wait until 2021.
Finally, World of Hyatt also suspended points forfeiture through May 31, 2020. (Hyatt points don’t expire but can be forfeited if there’s no activity in your account for 24 consecutive months.)
Hilton Weekend Night Reward
Hilton has also proactively extended the expiration date of its Weekend Night Reward certificates, like the ones earned with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. If you have an unexpired Weekend Night Reward as of March 11, 2020, it — and all new certificates issued through Aug. 30, 2020 — will have a new expiration date of Aug. 31, 2021.
You don’t need to do anything to take advantage of the extension. Hilton will automatically update your certificate in its system.
IHG Anniversary Night
IHG is extending the expiration of its Anniversary Night certificates that are a perk of its U.S. and U.K. cobranded credit cards. According to the chain, certificates expiring from March 1, 2020, will now be valid through Dec. 31, 2020. Certificates issued in 2020 will have an 18-month redemption period. IHG’s website says it “will be reaching out to cardmembers directly with more information.”
Radisson Free Night E-Cert
E-certs earned using the Radisson Reward Visa card, that are scheduled to expire between March 1 and July 31, 2020, can be redeemed through June 30, 2021.
Free day certificates from rental car companies
Enterprise and National were the first rental car companies to extend elite status. Unfortunately, however, they haven’t been nearly as generous with their free rental day certificates.
Enterprise also told TPG that it would not extend free days earned from the popular One Two Free promotion slated to expire on June 15. The promo allowed members to score a free day after just two rentals — while still racking up rental credits at the usual rate.
We’ve reached out to the other rental car companies to learn more about their status and certificate extensions, but haven’t heard back as of press time.
Certificates from Amtrak
On April 6, Amtrak announced that it has paused expiration of all coupons — including companion passes, upgrade certificates and others — until Sept. 25, 2020. These changes are effective immediately and there’s no need to enroll or contact Amtrak. Furthermore, all Amtrak Guest Rewards points that are due to expire will be extended until Sept. 25, 2020.
We understand it’s frustrating to be stuck in a “no travel” pattern, and even more so to have uncertainty about some of the perks you’re accustomed to using, such as your hotel free night and airline companion certificates. But, the good news is that many hospitality companies are trying to get ahead of the curve and are adjusting expiration dates on these benefits so you have the chance to get value from them later this year or next.
Have you talked with a hotel or airline about your travel certificates? Are you satisfied with the outcome? Let us know in the comments section below.
Feature photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.
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