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Hilton Honors becomes latest program to extend loyalty benefits

Oct. 27, 2020
4 min read
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As the world continues to react to the coronavirus pandemic, hotel programs are announcing more updates to how members earn elite status, status extensions and more.

Earlier this year, Hilton became the first of the major hotel loyalty programs to announce elite status extensions for all elite members. Now, the chain is back with even more news for its most loyal members. Here's what you need to know.

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Points expiration extended

The first part of Hilton's announcement applies to expiring points, which has now been paused for all members through Dec. 31, 2021. That gives you a full year (and then some) to redeem your points. Previously, points expiration had been paused for all Hilton Honors points until December 31, 2020.

Elite status through March 2022

Hilton also announced that Hilton Honors Silver, Gold and Diamond members that were set to downgrade in 2020 or 2021 will keep their status through March 31, 2022. This is especially notable for any members who didn't stay with Hilton enough in 2019 to requalify for their existing status (which would've resulted in a downgrade as of March 2020 — in a normal year). These travelers had already been granted a one-year extension — through March 31, 2021 — and now they are getting another year of essentially "free" status.

Reducing Status Qualification Requirements

Hilton has also slashed 2021 qualification requirements in half, including stays, nights and base points. Here's how you can now earn status starting January 2021:

  • 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

As we've previously reported, all 2020 nights will automatically roll over to 2021 — so you could get a massive head start on your 2021 qualification based on stays this year.

Milestone Bonus Night threshold lowered

Hilton has also lowered the requirements to earn Milestone Bonuses for the 2021 calendar year. Previously, you earned 10,000 bonus points every 10 nights after you completed 40 nights in a calendar year. Starting in January, that requirement has now been lowered to 20 nights stayed (aligned with the new Gold qualification level).

However, the one-time milestone bonus of 30,000 points for staying 60 nights (which is in addition to the 10,000-point bonuses for every 10 nights) is remaining the same.

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Gifting status

Diamond members who stay 30 nights in 2021 will be able to gift Gold status to a friend or family member. This requirement was previously 60 nights. Additionally, the requirement to gift Diamond status was lowered to 60 nights instead of 100. This makes it even easier to share elite benefits with a loved one.

Free-night certificates and card spending

Finally, Hilton has announced some notable updates that affect holders of its cobranded credit cards. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, all newly-issued Free Weekend Night Reward certificates will be valid through December 31, 2022. And like current certificates, their validity has been expanded to cover any night of the week — providing valuable flexibility for cardholders.

As a reminder, here are the existing policies related to certificates issued in 2020:

  • Any remaining, unexpired certificates issued prior to May 1, 2020 are valid through Aug. 31, 2021 — on any night of the week.
  • Any certificates issued from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2020 are valid for 24 months from the date of issuance — and also on any night of the week.

In addition, bonus points earned on Hilton credit cards will continue to count as Base Points on eligible purchases through Dec. 31, 2021, thus counting toward elite status tier qualification — including Lifetime Diamond Status.

Bottom line

These new updates from Hilton Honors are great for loyal members, though they also hint at the fact that travel may not return as quickly in 2021 as many of us hope. When you combine rollover elite nights from 2020 and the lower elite qualification requirements in 2021, it may be easier than ever to earn and then enjoy Hilton elite status next year.

Featured image by SCcott Baker Photography

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more