What Will Happen to My Elite Status and Points Because of the Coronavirus?2020-04-28
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 leaving their loyalty program policies vague, with some choosing to delay announcing updates to elite status requirements until more information is available about the coronavirus. At the time of publication, most major U.S. airlines have not announced any changes to their rewards programs’ elite status requirements, as many carriers are hoping to better understand the scope of the virus’ impact before updating their loyalty program policies.
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 Feb. 28, 2021. The rewards program has also extended the expiration of Suite Night Awards by one year to Dec. 31, 2021. Members who have a free night award expiring in 2020 will be able to use it through Jan. 31, 2021. Additionally, all elite statuses earned in 2019 will be valid through Feb. 28, 2022.
Wyndham Rewards has paused points expiration for all members until Sept. 30, 2020. Additionally, current Gold, Platinum and Diamond members will have their elite status extended through Dec. 31, 2021.
World of Hyatt
Forfeiture of World of Hyatt points will be suspended through Dec. 31, 2020. 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 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. All Free Night, Suite Upgrade and Club Lounge Access awards with expiration dates between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, have had their expiration dates extended to Dec. 31, 2021. Additionally, all elite statuses as of March 31, 2020, are extended to Feb. 28, 2022.
Points expiration for Choice Privileges members is paused until May 31, 2020. Changes regarding elite status requirements have yet to be announced.
Best Western Rewards
Best Western Rewards points do not expire. Best Western Rewards members who booked a stay with points will receive a points refund in their accounts after canceling a reservation. 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.
IHG Rewards Club
Club members’ IHG Rewards Club points set to expire after April 1, 2020, will remain valid until Dec. 31, 2020. These points traditionally expire after 12 months of inactivity, while the points of elite status members never expire. The number of IHG Rewards Club points required to reach each status has decreased by 25% or more for 2020. 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). Additional changes to the IHG Rewards Club program have been made for members based in the Greater China region.
Points expiration for all Radisson Rewards members has been extended by six months, effective March 1, 2020. Additionally, members whose elite statuses would have expired in February 2021, will now have their statuses extended through Feb. 28, 2022.
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 members of the Sonesta Travel Pass program have been extended through June 30, 2021. Changes regarding points expiration have yet to be announced.
Expiration dates have been paused for all Hilton Honors points scheduled to expire between March 16 and December 31, 2020. What’s more, U.S. members with a Hilton Honors credit card from American Express will have the expiration date of all Weekend Night Rewards (including new awards issued until Aug. 30, 2020) extended to Aug. 31, 2021. All Hilton Honors members whose 2019 status was scheduled to be downgraded on March 31, 2020, will have their status extended through March 31, 2021. Additionally, Hilton Honors members’ 2020 statuses will be extended through March 31, 2022.
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 Leading Hotels of the World properties through June 30, 2020, will receive a Leaders Club point credit equal to the value of their canceled stay for hotels that are unable to issue a refund or hotel credit. Also, members who have accounts expiring before June 30, 2020, will have their membership automatically extended for free to July 31, 2020. Changes regarding elite status requirements have yet to be announced.
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. Free night certificates with booking expiration dates of March 31 or April 30, 2020, will be extended 90 days. Additionally, elite status downgrades will not be made for 2020.
ALL – Accor Live Limitless
Members of Accor’s rewards program will have 50% of the status nights and points required to achieve their current status credited to their account. Changes regarding points expiration have yet to be announced.
I Prefer Hotel Rewards
Points expiration for all I Prefer Hotel Rewards members has been extended through Aug. 31, 2020. Additionally, members will maintain their current status through June 30, 2021.
Airline Rewards Programs
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles expire after two years of account inactivity. Mileage Plan members who purchased tickets with miles and have canceled or will cancel their flights in March, April or May due to coronavirus concerns will have the credits reimbursed into their accounts. Those credits will have an extended expiration date of July 5, 2021, for travel through May 31, 2022. Members who earned credits before March 1, 2020, will have their booking expiration dates extended by six months. What’s more, Mileage Plan members will have their elite statuses extended through Dec. 31, 2021.
Delta SkyMiles miles do not expire. Members who bought award flights that qualify for a change fee waiver, including those scheduled for March and April 2020 and those purchased in March 2020, will have their miles redeposited into their accounts for free. Additionally, members who have upgrade certificates and travel vouchers set to expire between March 1 and June 30, 2020, can now use those certificates and vouchers until Dec. 31, 2020. All upgrade certificates and travel vouchers with expiration dates after June 30, 2020, will have their expiration dates extended for six months. Elite SkyMiles members will also have their 2020 medallion status and medallion qualification miles extended through 2021. The extended medallion qualification miles will count toward their 2022 status.
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. No changes for the JetBlue TrueBlue program have been announced at the time of publication.
United MileagePlus miles do not expire. Premier qualifying points earned with the United Explorer and United Club credit cards will double and quadruple respectively from May 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. Additionally, Platinum and Premier 1K members will receive a six-month extension for any PlusPoints set to expire on or before Jan. 31, 2021. All annual membership and subscription benefits will also be extended by six months. What’s more, MileagePlus members with 2020 Premier status will have their status extended to Jan. 31, 2022, and the threshold to qualify for each elite status in 2021 has been reduced by 50%.
American Airlines AAdvantage
Members of the American Airlines AAdvantage program whose elite statuses expire on Jan. 31, 2021, will have their statuses extended through Jan. 31, 2022. Additionally, the threshold to qualify for each elite status in 2020 has been reduced by up to 50%. Changes regarding miles expiration have yet to be announced.
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Southwest Rapid Rewards points do not expire. All Southwest Rapid Rewards members 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 and A-List Preferred status will have their status extended through Dec. 31, 2021, while members with Companion Pass status will have their status extended through June 30, 2021.
FRONTIER Miles members who booked flights with miles must submit a form online to receive reimbursement. FRONTIER Miles accounts set to expire on or before April 30, 2020, will remain active. Changes regarding miles expiration and elite status requirements have yet to be announced.
HawaiianMiles rewards miles will not expire between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. Additionally, Premier Club members enrolled as of March 19, 2020, will have their membership extended by three months. Elite status requirements for 2021 will be updated, but the new elite tier qualifications have yet to be announced.
All Free Spirit miles posted to member accounts as of March 1, 2020, will not expire until Sept. 30, 2020. Changes regarding elite status requirements have yet to be announced.
Courtesy of USNews