What Will Happen to My Elite Status and Points Because of the Coronavirus?2021-03-08
Limited travel due to the coronavirus prompts airline and hotel rewards programs to make policy changes.
The fallout from the coronavirus continues to leave its mark on the travel industry. While frequent travelers were initially stressed about canceled flights, now they must also worry about maintaining their status and accruals in hotel and airline rewards programs at a time when travel is discouraged. Most hotel rewards programs have extended points expiration dates. However, many travel companies are continuing to make updates to elite status requirements as the situation develops.
Below are the most recent policy updates for the top U.S. hotel and airline rewards programs:
Hotel Rewards Programs
Marriott Bonvoy has paused points expiration until Aug. 1, 2021. The rewards program has also extended the expiration of Suite Night Awards to Dec. 31, 2021. Members who have a free night award expiring before July 31, 2021, will be able to use it through Aug. 1, 2021. Additionally, all elite statuses earned in 2019 will be valid through Feb. 1, 2022. Marriott also deposited 50% of the Elite Night Credits required to maintain 2020 elite status into member accounts, and the company has reduced the spending requirement for Ambassador Elite status from $20,000 to $14,000. For more information, see Marriott’s website.
Wyndham Rewards has paused points expiration for all members until June 30, 2021. Additionally, the number of qualifying nights required to reach each level of elite status has been reduced by 40% for 2021. Current Gold, Platinum and Diamond members will have their elite status extended through Dec. 31, 2021. See Wyndham’s website for more information.
World of Hyatt
Forfeiture of World of Hyatt points will be suspended through June 30, 2021. Additionally, all elite statuses earned by March 31, 2020, are now valid until Feb. 28, 2022. The base points and qualifying nights requirements for each elite tier have also been reduced by 50% for 2021. All Free Night, Suite Upgrade and Club Lounge Access awards with expiration dates between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, as well as awards with Feb. 28, 2021, expiration dates and awards earned in 2020 with 2021 expiration dates will have had their expiration dates extended to Dec. 31, 2021. Changes to the points redemption rates, which were scheduled to fall within peak and off-peak categories starting March 22, 2020, will be postponed until July 2021. Members who booked a stay with points will receive a points reimbursement in their accounts three to five business days after canceling a reservation. Check Hyatt’s website for further details.
Points expiration for Choice Privileges members is paused through Dec. 31, 2021. Members who achieved Gold, Platinum or Diamond status as of May 20, 2020, will maintain their upgraded status through Dec. 31, 2021. Elite status requirements were reduced from 10 to seven nights for Gold, 20 to 15 nights for Platinum and 40 to 25 nights for Diamond through Dec. 31, 2021. See Choice Hotels’ website for more information.
Best Western Rewards
Best Western Rewards points do not expire. All members will maintain their current status through Jan. 31, 2022. Members who downgraded a tier at the end of 2019 will receive their previous tier status through Jan. 31, 2022. Additionally, tier qualifications for 2021 were reduced by about 50% for nights, qualifying stays and points. Best Western Rewards members who booked a stay with points will receive a points refund in their accounts after canceling a reservation. Visit Best Western’s website for additional information.
IHG Rewards Club
Any IHG Rewards Club member who earned status during 2019 will automatically have that status extended through January 2022. The number of IHG Rewards Club points required to reach each status has decreased by 25% or more for 2021. Gold Elite members must accrue 7,000 qualifying points (down from 10,000), Platinum Elite members must collect 30,000 qualifying points (down from 40,000) and Spire Elite members must earn 55,000 qualifying points (down from 75,000). Points set to expire after April 1, 2020, will remain valid until June 30, 2021. These points traditionally expire after 12 months of inactivity, while the points of elite status members never expire. To learn more, visit IHG’s website.
Radisson Rewards points set to expire between March 1 and Dec. 30, 2020, will now expire on Dec. 31, 2021, if the account remains inactive. (Accounts and their associated points typically expire after two years of inactivity.) Additionally, members’ elite statuses from 2020 have been extended through Feb. 28, 2022. All eligible nights and stays earned in 2020 will roll over to 2021 and apply to elite status thresholds for 2022. See Radisson’s website for more information.
No changes have been announced for Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s INVITED program at the time of publication.
Sonesta Travel Pass
Elite statuses for all Sonesta Travel Pass program members have been extended through Dec. 31, 2021. Members still forfeit all points after 24 months of inactivity. See Sonesta’s website for more information.
Expiration dates have been paused for all Hilton Honors points until Dec. 31, 2021. Elite status qualification requirements have been decreased by 50% for all tiers, and all 2020 nights will roll over to help meet the 2021 requirements. Additionally, the thresholds for bonus nights and gifting status nights have been reduced by 50%. Silver, Gold and Diamond members that were set to be downgraded in 2020 or 2021 will maintain their current status until March 31, 2022. Head to Hilton’s website to learn more.
Stash Hotel Rewards
Stash Hotel Rewards points do not expire. Members who booked a stay with points will receive a full points refund after canceling a reservation.
New and existing Leaders Club members with scheduled stays at The Leading Hotels of the World properties through June 30, 2021, will receive a Leaders Club points credit equal to the value of their canceled stay for hotels unable to issue a refund or hotel credit. Also, all members will have their memberships extended for free through June 30, 2021. See The Leading Hotels of the World’s website for more information.
Omni Select Guest
According to an Omni Hotels & Resorts representative, Omni Select Guest members with canceled free nights that have expired can have their free nights rebooked through the member service team. Additionally, elite status downgrades were not made for 2020, and statuses achieved in 2019 remain valid through the end of 2021. See Omni Hotels & Resorts’ website for additional information.
ALL – Accor Live Limitless
Expiration dates for all rewards points in Accor’s rewards program have been paused through Dec. 15, 2020, for basic members, while elite members’ points will not expire until April 30, 2021. What’s more, any suite night upgrades that were not used as of Dec. 31, 2020, had their expiration dates extended one year. Additionally, all status nights and points earned between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, were rolled over into 2021 so members can more easily qualify for elite status. Current members’ 2019 status was also extended to Dec. 31, 2021. For more information, check out Accor’s website.
I Prefer Hotel Rewards
Points expiration for all I Prefer Hotel Rewards members has been extended through June 30, 2021. Additionally, members will maintain their current status through June 30, 2022. See Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ website for more information.
Airline Rewards Programs
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles expire after two years of account inactivity. Alaska Airlines has waived change and cancellation fees for all flights booked through March 31, 2021, and new travel dates for changed flights in this period must be within one year of the original travel date. The airline is also eliminating change fees on all Main and First Class fares starting April 1, 2021. Members who earned credits before March 1, 2020, that were set to expire by July 5, 2021, will keep those credits through Dec. 31, 2021. What’s more, Mileage Plan members will have their elite statuses extended through Dec. 31, 2021. Miles earned between January and April 2020 will be rolled into 2021 to help members requalify for elite status in 2022, and miles earned from June 2020 through June 2021 receive a 50% bonus. Check out Alaska Airlines’ website for more information.
Delta SkyMiles miles do not expire. Elite SkyMiles members’ 2020 Medallion status and Medallion Qualification Miles will remain valid through Jan. 31, 2022. Any rolled over Medallion Qualification Miles will count toward earning 2022 status. For additional updates, see Delta’s website.
JetBlue TrueBlue points do not expire. If a flight booked with points is canceled due to coronavirus concerns, JetBlue will credit the points back to the JetBlue TrueBlue member’s account. Additionally, the threshold to qualify for TrueBlue Mosaic status in 2021 has been reduced by 50%, while current TrueBlue Mosaic members will have their statuses automatically extended through Dec. 31, 2021. See JetBlue’s website to learn more.
United MileagePlus miles do not expire. All members will receive a six-month extension for any points that expire on or after January 1, 2021, including all points earned from 2019 and 2020 activity. What’s more, MileagePlus members with 2020 Premier status will have their status extended through Jan. 31, 2022, and the threshold to qualify for 2022 elite status has been reduced by various levels (about 25%). For more information, see United’s website.
American Airlines AAdvantage
American Airlines AAdvantage miles set to expire on or before June 30, 2021, will now expire on July 1, 2021. Members whose elite statuses were set to expire on Jan. 31, 2021, will keep their statuses through Jan. 31, 2022. Additionally, the threshold to qualify for each elite status in 2020 has been reduced by up to 50%. All Elite Qualifying Miles, Segments and Dollars earned from October through December 2020 will count toward the 2021 requirements. To learn more, visit American Airline’s website.
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Southwest Rapid Rewards points do not expire. All Southwest Rapid Rewards accounts opened by Dec. 31, 2020, will receive 15,000 tier qualifying points, 10 flight credits toward A-List and A-List Preferred status, 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits toward Companion Pass status. Members with A-List, A-List Preferred or Companion Pass status will have their status extended through Dec. 31, 2021. See Southwest’s website for more information.
The expiration of reward miles for FRONTIER Miles has been paused indefinitely. FRONTIER will send a 90-day communication to all members before resuming expirations. Members who booked flights with miles must submit a form online to receive reimbursement. Elite Status members will have their status extended through Dec. 31, 2021. Existing Elite Status requirements, which range from 20,000 miles or 25 flight segments for Elite 20k to 100,000 miles or 100 flight segments for Elite 100k, remain valid. Visit Frontier’s website for more information.
Premier Club members enrolled in HawaiianMiles as of Sept. 18, 2020, will have their membership extended by three months (in addition to the previous three-month extension). Pualani Platinum and Gold members will have their elite statuses extended through February 2022. See Hawaiian Airline’s website for additional updates.
Following the restructuring of the Free Spirit rewards program in January 2021, miles were converted to points. Points expire after one year of inactivity. Existing elite status requirements have changed with the new program but were not reduced as a result of COVID-19.
Courtesy of USNews