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Airline, hotel loyalty programs extending perks for members through coronavirus

From extensions on elite status memberships to more flexible rewards options, the biggest loyalty programs are supporting valued customers

Summary

The coronavirus situation is changing rapidly, and frequent flyers and hotel loyalty members are left wondering what recourse they have when it comes to their member status and points or miles. Here’s what you need to know about relief measures from major programs.

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While COVID-19 has affected all parts of daily life, the travel industry has certainly been put on hold as people have had to cancel plans and stay at home. As a result, many airlines and rewards programs have taken measures to assist their customers. Some have done so by extending expiring points, vouchers or elite membership statuses, others have been offering extra rewards. Now that travel seems to be picking up, members can finally take advantage of these offers.

We researched the major players in the hotel and airline industry to find out how these companies have been accommodating their valued members in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

See related: Best hotel credit card

Hilton Honors

In addition to donating up to one million rooms to medical professionals, Hilton has promised to compensate its Hilton Honors loyalty program members in a number of ways.

Lower status requirements

Hilton has cut status qualification requirements by half.

Elite statusPrevious status requirementsNew status requirements
Silver status4 stays, 10 nights or 25,000 base points2 stays, 5 nights or 12,500 base points
Gold status20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 base points10 stays, 30 nights or 37,500 base points
Diamond status30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 base points15 stays, 30 nights or 60,000 base points

Status extension

For any Silver, Gold or Diamond members due to downgrading in 2020 or 2021, statuses will be extended through March 31, 2022.

Points extension

Hilton has extended points expiration through Dec. 31, 2021.

Cardholder benefits

Weekend night rewards on eligible Hilton credit cards that were not expired by May 1, 2020, will now be valid through August 31, 2021, and certificates issued from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, are valid for 24 months from the date of issuance. All free weekend night certificates issued in 2021 can be used any night of the week and expiration is extended until Dec. 31, 2022.

Additionally, bonus points will continue to count as base points on eligible purchases through Dec. 31, 2021, and toward elite status tier qualification, including Lifetime Diamond Status.

Other rewards

All 2020 elite qualifying nights will be rolled over to the 2021 status year. This applies to all nights members have already completed or will complete this calendar year.

On top of that, Hilton has lowered the requirements to earn Milestone Bonuses for 2021. Previously, you could earn 10,000 bonus points every 10 nights after completing 40 nights in a calendar year. Starting in January, that requirement has been changed to 20 nights stayed to align with the new Gold qualification level. However, 60 nights will still earn you 30,000 points.

Diamond members will be able to gift Gold status for staying 30 nights in 2021 instead of 60 nights which was the previous requirement. The requirement to gift Diamond status is lowered to 60 nights instead of 100.

To ensure member safety, Hilton is providing flexible cancellations and full points refunds for all Hilton Honors experiences booked through May 31, 2021.

You can follow further updates for Hilton Honors members on the loyalty program website.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott plans to compensate its Marriott Bonvoy members, although benefits may vary depending on members’ location.

See related: Marriott data breach involves 5.2 million hotel guests

Status extension

Bonvoy members who earned elite status for 2020 can now enjoy their benefits through February 2022.

Points extension

Points set to expire by Aug. 1, 2021, will be paused, and no points will expire until after that time period. 

Cardholder benefits

Beginning March 1, 2021, World of Hyatt Credit Card holders will earn an extra 500 bonus points for every two qualifying nights (up to 2,500 bonus points in total). This offer is valid through June 15, 2021. You must register for the offer by May 15, 2021, to qualify.

Other rewards

Active free night awards (as part of Marriott credit cards or packages) set to expire beginning March 1, 2020, will be extended through Aug. 1, 2021. Additionally, more recent certificates set to expire before July 31, 2021, will be extended through that date as well. Suite night awards that were set to expire by Dec. 31, 2020, will be extended another year through Dec. 31, 2021.

Additionally, Marriott will deposit Elite Night Credits into Bonvoy elite members’ accounts in the amount of 50% of the nights required for the status they earned in 2019. This can make it easier for the members to reach the next tier.

Elite Night Credits deposit breakdown

Elite statusAnnual tier requirementsExtra elite night credits
Ambassador Elite100 Qualifying Nights and $20,000 stay spend50 Elite Night Credits
Titanium Elite75 Qualifying Nights38 Elite Night Credits
Platinum Elite50 Qualifying Nights25 Elite Night Credits
Gold Elite25 Qualifying Nights13 Elite Night Credits
Silver Elite10 Qualifying Nights5 Elite Night Credits

Stay up to date on relief measures for Bonvoy members on the company’s COVID-19 page.

IHG Rewards Club

Due to travel constraints and shortened travel periods, IHG has lowered its requirements for elite status membership by 25% or more, as well as extended statuses and points for all members (since elite members’ points never expire). 

Lower status requirements

StatusPrevious qualification requirementsNew qualification requirements
Gold
  • 10,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
  • 10 qualifying nights in a calendar year
  • 7,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
  • 7 qualifying nights in a calendar year
Platinum
  • 40,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
  • 40 qualifying nights in a calendar year
  • 30,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
  • 30 qualifying nights in a calendar year
Spire
  • 75,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
  • 75 qualifying nights in a calendar year
  • 55,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
  • 55 qualifying nights in a calendar year

See related: The benefits of IHG Rewards Club elite status

Status extension

Program statuses will be extended through January 2022 for all members. Spire elite members will also retain their Choice benefit of 25,000 bonus points or gifting of Platinum Elite status to someone each year.

Award certificates 

All 2020 certificates will be redeemable for 18 months instead of the usual 12. Some members have also reported that free night certificates expiring before Dec. 31, 2020, will be extended until August 2021.

Follow updates to IHG Rewards Club benefits on the program’s travel advisory page.

World of Hyatt

The World of Hyatt loyalty program will extend all statuses and rewards to compensate valued members. The hotel chain is also lowering its status requirements by 50% through the end of 2021.

Lower status requirements

StatusPrevious qualification requirementsNew qualification requirements
Discoverist
  • 10 tier-qualifying nights or
  • 25,000 base points
  • 5 tier-qualifying nights or
  • 12,500 base points
Explorist
  • 30 tier-qualifying nights or
  • 50,000 base points
  • 15 tier-qualifying nights or
  • 25,000 base points
Globalist
  • 60 tier-qualifying nights or
  • 100,000 base points
  • 30 tier-qualifying nights or
  • 50,000 base points

Status extension

All active elite statuses, as of March 31, 2020, will be extended through Feb. 28, 2022. 

Points extension

Forfeiting points due to inactivity will be suspended through June 30, 2021. No points will expire until that date.

Other rewards

From March 1 to June 15, 2021, members can also earn 2,000 bonus Hyatt points for every two qualifying nights spent in an eligible Hyatt property (nights do not need to be consecutive) and up to one free night award at a Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel after 10 qualifying nights. Registration for the offer required by May 15, 2021.

Any earned rewards, such as free nights or upgrades, set to expire between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021.

Check the updates to Hyatt relief measures on the program’s COVID-19 page.

Wyndham Rewards

On April 14, 2020, Wyndham announced it was extending elite status for all members through Dec. 31, 2021. Additionally, the chain is offering free Gold elite status to essential workers through the same date as a part of their #EverydayHeroes initiative.

Previously, on April 7, 2020, the company promised to extend points for all Wyndham Rewards members.

On June 30, 2020, Wyndham also announced lower Member Level earning requirements, following other companies that had taken similar measures.

Points extension

Points set to expire between now and May 31, 2020, will be extended through the end of 2021.

Status extension

Reward status levels for all members will be extended through the end of 2021.

Lower status requirements

Wyndham is cutting elite-qualifying requirements by 40% through the end of 2021. All new and existing 2021 stays will count toward these new requirements.

Elite statusPrevious status requirementsNew status requirements
Gold status5 nights3 nights
Platinum status15 nights9 nights
Diamond status40 nights24 nights

Other rewards

Wyndham is giving a Gold membership upgrade to all essential workers. To receive the upgrade, they can sign up for the offer online.

Keep an eye on Wyndham’s COVID-19 statement page for updates.

Choice Privileges

It took Choice some time to follow suit and join other hotel chains in extending elite statuses and offering other promotions amid the outbreak. On May 21, 2020, the company announced a series of offers to expand the benefits of its Choice Privileges loyalty program.

“Even during this crisis, our members found a number of ways to engage with us and make a difference,” said Jamie Russo, vice president, loyalty programs and customer engagement, Choice Hotels. “Some of them are essential and front line workers who chose to stay in our small-business hotels, and others showed their generosity by donating their Choice Privileges points to aid recovery efforts. Our latest loyalty program changes tell our members that we appreciate their continued support and our hotels are here to welcome them whenever they feel safe traveling again.”

Status extension

All members’ current elite statuses will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021.

Lower status requirements

Choice is also easing requirements to qualify for elite status in 2021.

Elite statusPrevious status requirements2021 status requirements
Gold status10 nights7 nights
Platinum status20 nights15 nights
Diamond status40 nights25 nights

Additionally, Choice is giving current elite members a limited-time upgrade to the next tier. Gold members will be upgraded to Platinum status and Platinum members will be upgraded to Diamond. Additionally, members who stayed at least five nights by Dec. 31, 2020, will be able to keep their upgraded tier through 2021.

See related: Best credit card for airline miles

United MileagePlus

United has said it would compensate their MileagePlus members by extending all annual memberships, subscriptions and checked bag benefits for six months. The carrier has also made status membership requirements easier.

Status extension

All MileagePlus Premier members will get to retain their 2020 status through Jan. 31, 2022.

Lower status requirements

MileagePlus Premier membership now has easier requirements, reduced 50% for each status level through 2022.

2021 statusPremier qualifying flightsand PQP… or PQP
Silver62,0002,500
Gold124,0005,000
Platinum186,0007,500
1K269,00012,000

Other rewards

All currently valid electronic certificates and all new ones issued on or after April 1, 2020, will be valid for 24 months from the date they were issued.

Follow more updates to United MileagePlus on the program’s travel notice page.

Delta SkyMiles

Delta has stepped up to say they will compensate their Medallion members by extending their Member status.

Status extension

2020 Medallion Member status will be extended through Jan. 31, 2022, and this change should be reflected on the member’s SkyMiles account as of Feb. 1, 2021. Additionally, all 2020 Medallion Qualification Miles will roll over into 2021.

Follow updates to the Delta SkyMiles program on the coronavirus travel update page.

Other rewards

Delta hasn’t lowered its status qualification requirements, but from April 1 to Dec. 31, 2021, SkyMiles members can earn up to 75% more toward the Medallion status for most Delta flights, including award travel. All basic economy and Main Cabin tickets will earn 50% more Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs). Premium-cabin fares, including those booked in Delta One, Delta Premium Select, domestic first class and Delta Comfort+, will be eligible for an additional 25% bonus, which brings the total qualification boost to 75%.

Delta is also extending the majority of vouchers through 2022, allowing flyers over 20 months to use them.

Cardholder benefits

If you have a co-branded Delta credit card, you may eligible for certain special offers as well. For instance, Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card cardmembers who earn a $100 flight credit from Jan. 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021, will have the expiration date extended to June 30, 2022. Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card cardholders who have unused companion certificates as of March 31, 2021, or certificates issued from April 1 to May 31, 2021, will have the expiration date extended to June 30, 2022. Additionally, Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardmembers with one-time Sky Club guest passes issued from Jan. 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021, will have the expiration dates extended to June 30, 2022.

American Airlines AAdvantage

As AAdvantage members have experienced reduced travel opportunities due to the coronavirus, American Airlines is offering elite status extension, lowering elite status requirements and allowing eligible cardholders to earn miles toward Million Miler status with credit card spend.

Status extension

Members whose elite status expired on Jan. 31, 2021, will automatically get an extension until Jan. 31, 2022.

Miles extension

The airline has paused the expiration of miles through June 30, 2021. If your miles are expiring on or before June 30, 2021, they will now expire in July 2021, unless there’s an additional activity in your account before then.

Lower status requirements

Members will be able to qualify for a higher elite status in 2021 with lower requirements, including Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD), Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) and Elite Qualifying Segment (EQS). Note that Basic Economy tickets will no longer earn EQM, EQS or EQD toward future elite status.

Gold oneworld RubyPlatinum oneworld SapphirePlatinum Pro oneworld SapphireExecutive Platinum oneworld Emerald
  • $2,000 EQDs and 20,000 EQMs or
  • $2,000 EQDs and 20 EQSs
  • $4,500 EQDs and 40,000 EQMs or
  • $4,500 EQDs and 45 EQSs
  • $7,000 EQDs and 60,000 EQMs or
  • $7,000 EQDs and 70 EQSs
  • $12,000 EQDs and 80,000 EQMs or
  • $12,000 EQDs and 95 EQSs

Cardholder benefits

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®* cardholders who hold a companion certificate that expired on Dec. 31, 2020, will receive a six-month extension as well, bringing the expiration date to June 30, 2021.

Learn more about AAdvantage program updates on aa.com.

JetBlue TrueBlue

JetBlue took a bit longer to join other airlines in taking measures to support loyal customers. On May 14, 2020, JetBlue announced it was extending Mosaic elite statuses, as well as making it easier to earn one.

Status extension

All currently valid Mosaic elite statuses will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021.

Lower status requirements

JetBlue is reducing the qualifying thresholds for Mosaic status by 50% for 2021. To earn the status this year, you’ll need to earn 7,500 qualifying TrueBlue base points or 6,000 qualifying TrueBlue base points and 15 flight segments.

Alternatively, you can get elite status by spending $50,000 in annual net purchases on the JetBlue Plus card.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic has also made it easier for customers to earn and maintain elite status amid the pandemic.

Status extension

In March 2020, Virgin Atlantic extended status for Gold and Silver members, allowing them an additional six months to meet the requirements.

On Aug. 20, 2020, the airline added another six months to the extension, making it one year in total.

Other rewards

Starting Sept. 1, 2020, the Flying Club program members are able to earn tier points on award flights, meaning they’ll be able to earn elite-qualifying points on flights where they used Flying Club miles to redeem for travel.

On top of that, Virgin Atlantic makes it easier for members to earn and redeem Companion Vouchers, Upgrade Vouchers and Clubhouse Vouchers.

Members can now use Companion Vouchers with any ticket in any booking class, regardless of status. Gold and Silver members can book their companion into any cabin for zero miles, and Red members can book their companion into Economy and Premium for zero miles or upper class at a 50% discount.

Upgrade Vouchers can also be used with any ticket in any booking class, excluding Economy Light, for a one-cabin upgrade on a return flight.

Clubhouse Vouchers can be used for one entry to any clubhouse when booked on a Virgin flight or with Air France, Delta or KLM when flying internationally. Gold members will continue to receive two vouchers.

Southwest Rapid Rewards

On April 16, 2020, Southwest announced a status extension for A-list and A-list Preferred members and companion passes.

“As we continue to navigate our way through this unprecedented time and deal with extraordinary challenges, we are committed to keeping you informed and updated on the steps we are taking to manage through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Southwest said in a message to Rapid Rewards members.

Status extension

Companion Pass Members who received an extension of their earned Companion Pass benefits through June 30, 2021, will have their benefits extended for another six months. Members will be able to keep their status through Dec. 31, 2021.

Other rewards

Additionally, travel funds created or expired between March 1, 2020, and Sep. 7, 2020, will now expire on Sep. 7, 2022. Alternatively, Rapid Rewards members can convert those funds into Rapid Rewards points. According to Southwest, the conversion ratio is “the same rate you would be able to purchase a ticket with points today.”

British Airways

On June 11, 2020, British Airways finally joined other airlines in extending the elite status for its members. Additionally, the carrier is reducing the number of tier points needed to reach a higher membership tier.

Status extension

British Airways is extending tier status by 12 months for members who have a tier point collection end date of July 2020 through to June 2021.

Lower status requirements

The carrier has also reduced the number of points needed to retain and upgrade a membership status by 25%.

Here are the new tier qualification thresholds:

  • Bronze: 225 Tier Points or 18 eligible flights
  • Silver: 450 Tier Points or 37 eligible flights
  • Gold: 1125 Tier Points

TSA Precheck

TSA Precheck is a five-year membership that provides expedited security checks at select domestic airports in the U.S. At this time, TSA is planning to keep enrollment centers open while working to determine if any temporary closures are required. Some centers have been closed or changed hours.

If you’re planning to visit an enrollment center, it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment – as walk-ins may be deferred.

Visit TSA’s enrollment questions page for more information.

Global Entry

Global Entry, a program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows travelers to get expedited clearance through automatic kiosks when arriving in the U.S., reopened its enrollment centers on Sept. 8, 2020. After a six-month hiatus, the program finally started allowing conditionally approved Global Entry applicants to complete in-person interviews at most Trusted Traveler Programs enrollment centers in the U.S. The interviews must be scheduled in advance online, and their availability will vary by location.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak has also affected processing times for Global Entry renewals, CPB has increased the renewal grace period to 18 months. This means that if you apply for your Global Entry renewal before its expiration date, you’ll be able to use Global Entry for another 18 months.

As the coronavirus situation is unprecedented and changing rapidly every day, hotels and airlines continue to make updates to their travel policies, including their loyalty programs. Travelers should continue to check airline and hotel websites as the situation evolves. If they cannot find the information they need online, they should contact their hotel, airline or travel agency’s customer service number.

*All information about the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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