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 programmes have begun 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 travellers who suddenly saw a drop-off in their overnight business travel and would thus struggle to maintain any status they had earned.
However, some hotels are now offering status extensions to customers outside of these regions, and others have offered to waive points expiration. In the article below, we’ll show you what all of the major hotel loyalty programmes 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 announced that all Accor Live Limitless (ALL) tiers of status — Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond — will be extended an additional year for all members residing in Greater China, including the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. These statuses will now expire 31 December 2021, regardless of how many eligible nights a member completes in 2020.
Members outside of these countries are not yet eligible for the status extension.
One of the most generous policies to date, Best Western is allowing all members of the Best Western Rewards members around the globe to maintain their current status through 31 January 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.
The Choice Privileges programme hasn’t made any announcements regarding member elite status, though a statement posted online notes that it’s continually evaluating elite status in light of the coronavirus and will update members on any changes.
Here are the other changes the programme is making:
- You can make free changes or cancellations for existing reservations as well as new reservations booked between 17 March 2020 and 30 April 2020. In all cases, the change or cancellation must be made at least 24 hours before a guest’s scheduled arrival date.
- Point expiration has been paused until 31 May 2020.
On 25 March 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 31 March 2020, to 31 March 2021. Likewise, Hilton Honors members who have status expiring on 31 March 2021, will have their status extended through 31 March 2022.
The hotel group made a handful of other changes across its portfolio including:
- Points expiration is paused for all Hilton Honors points until 31 December 2020.
- All existing reservations that are scheduled for arrival on or before 30 June 2020, can be cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours prior to your scheduled arrival day.
- All new reservations booked between today and 30 June 2020, for any future travel date can be cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours prior to your scheduled arrival day.
On 22 April 2020, IHG announced that it will 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 17 February 2020. Similar to Hilton, those IHG points that would otherwise expire will be extended until 31 December. 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 11 March that it would update its elite status criteria for 2020. The new qualification requirements reduces 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 programme:
- The programme is waiving cancellation fees for new and existing bookings worldwide, effective 11 March through 30 April 2020.
On 8 April 2020, Marriott announced that it’s extending Marriott Bonvoy elite status validity for members that 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 programme.
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 cancelled free of charge until 30 June 2020. All changes and cancellations must be made 24 hours prior to the guest’s scheduled arrival date.
- Any new reservation made between 13 March and 30 June can also be changed or cancelled at no charge, though again, you must make the change or cancellation at least 24 hours prior to your arrival date.
- Suite Night Award certificates with 31 December 2020 expiration dates have had validity extended through 31 December 2021.
Preferred Hotels & Resorts
The I Prefer rewards programme — covering over 700 global resorts across 85 countries — sent an email to members on 16 March 2020, announcing that all elite members will retain their status through 30 June 2021, regardless of the number of nights they complete this year. It’s also extending points expiration for all members through 31 August 2020.
Radisson Rewards has extended elite status through February 2022 for members who would have expired in February 2021. In addition, the programme has suspended its points expiration for six months, starting 1 March 2020. Travellers with e-certs that are set to expire through 30 June 2020 will now be able to redeem them for stays through 30 June 2021.
You can cancel or change reservations for stays through 30 April 2020 with no penalty (with changes, you’ll have to pay the difference in rate if applicable). This applies only to bookings made directly with Radisson and not through third-party sites.
Though it’s a smaller programme, 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 31 December 2021.
The World of Hyatt
On 3 April 2020, Hyatt announced that it’s extending World of Hyatt elite status for all members that held valid elite status as of 31 March 2020. All members will have their elite status expiration extended through 28 February 2022, regardless of how many nights they’ve accrued this year. There is no need to enrol in this status extension and all World of Hyatt elite members should see the new expiration date reflected in their online account by 15 April 2020.
Additionally, the hotel group announced that all rewards set to expire between 1 March and 31 December 2020, will have validity extended through 31 December 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 31 December 2020, for all members regardless of their elite status tier.
Note that Hyatt has also announced other changes to its loyalty programme 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 22 March. 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 1 April or earlier for arrivals through 30 June 2020, can be changed or cancelled 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 between 1 April 2020, and 30 June 2020, can be changed or cancelled 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 8 March for travel through 30 June can still be cancelled 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 14 April 2020, Wyndham announced that it’s extending elite status for all current Wyndham Rewards elite members through 31 December 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 enrol on Wyndham’s #EverydayHeros webpage; the complimentary status is valid through 31 December 2021.
Other changes to Wyndham Rewards include:
- Points expiration is paused for points scheduled to expire between now and 30 September 2020.
- New or existing direct bookings through 30 June 2020, can be changed or cancelled free of charge within 24 hours prior to arrival.
- Change penalties are waived for stays beginning after 30 June 2020, so long as the reservation is cancelled 48 hours prior to arrival.
While COVID-19 spreads, we’ve seen a massive impact on the travel industry — with travel bans, cancelled flights and plunging hotel occupancy. It’s nice to see that hotels are working to make the lives of travellers — 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.
Victoria Walker and Jasmin Baron contributed to this post.
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