So far during the pandemic, most hotel loyalty programs have extended their elite status through to at least 2022 in recognition of the challenging travel climate.
Today, Hilton Honors has made its move as the first major hotel chain to extend elite status through to March 2023 so that members don’t have to worry about requalifying for status for the rest of 2021 or during 2022.
Moreover, the previously announced pause of expiration Hilton Honors points and additional flexibility of Hilton Free Weekend Night Rewards have been extended as well.
Hilton Honors 2023 Status Extension
During the pandemic, Hilton had previously offered status extensions on two separate occasions:
- In March 2020, Hilton extended all members’ status (whether or not they had retained their status in 2019) through to March 2021
- In October 2020, Hilton extended all members’ status through to March 2022
Now, all Hilton members will once again have elite status extended a third time through to March 2023.
Ordinarily, you’d have all of 2021 to requalify for yet another year and renew their status into March 2023, but the continued challenges around travel this year has naturally impeded members’ efforts to renew their status.
With this extension, you don’t need to worry at all about requalifying for status for the rest of 2021, since your status would be valid until March 2023 no matter what.
It’s only when 2022 comes around that you’d start thinking about requalifying again, which, if successful, would renew your status all the way to March 2024.
Of course, note that Hilton elite status is fairly easy to qualify for if you have access to the major Canadian- and US-issued credit cards:
- You can get mid-tier Hilton Gold status (which provides free breakfast and room upgrades) just by holding the American Express Platinum Card here in Canada.
- You can get top-tier Hilton Diamond status (which provides lounge access and suite upgrades) just by holding the American Express US Hilton Aspire Card; along with the card’s many other benefits, the instant Diamond status goes a long way towards justifying the card’s US$450 annual fee.
Indeed, thanks to Hilton’s generosity in terms of extending status in three successive years during the pandemic, a member could theoretically hold Gold status in March 2023 even if they had never stayed at Hilton hotels before, and had last held the Platinum Card back in 2018!
Hilton Honors Extends Flexibility on Points & Certificates
Points expiration will continue to be paused, meaning that any Hilton Honors points set to expire between now and December 2022 will no longer expire. Ordinarily, Hilton points expire with 12 months of inactivity, so it was easy enough to keep points from expiring anyway.
Meanwhile, the additional flexibility on the annual Free Weekend Night Rewards from the Amex US Hilton Aspire Card, the Amex US Hilton Surpass Card, and the Amex US Hilton Business Card will also be extended.
Even though these certificates are meant to be redeemed for weekend nights (i.e., Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights) during normal times, all certificates issued through 2022 will be redeemable on any day of the week.
However, even though previously issued Free Weekend Night Rewards have had their validity period extended by 12 months, that won’t be applied to certificates issued in 2022 for the time being – they’ll have their standard one-year validity period.
Will Marriott Bonvoy and Others Follow?
With this move, Hilton Honors has been the most generous hotel loyalty program so far when it comes to carte-blanche status extensions during the pandemic.
While their generosity is very much appreciated, the truth is that Hilton status was extremely easy to earn anyway. As mentioned above, mid-tier Gold status can be obtained just by holding the Amex Platinum Card, while top-tier Diamond status is given as a perk of the US-issued Amex Hilton Aspire Card.
(Indeed, I currently hold Diamond status from the Aspire Card, and even if I didn’t receive this status extension through to 2023, I would’ve kept the card around and extended my status without doing anything anyway.)
That’s not the case for the other major hotel chains. Marriott Bonvoy’s best elite benefits begin at the Platinum Elite level, which ordinarily requires 50 elite qualifying nights to achieve, and the co-branded credit cards can only help you rack up 15–30 of those nights.
Similarly, World of Hyatt’s best benefits are only attained at the top-tier Globalist status level, which ordinarily requires 60 elite qualifying nights to achieve – even though it was halved to 30 for the 2021 qualifying year.
Perhaps Hilton’s action today will spur Marriott and Hyatt into offering a similar automatic status extension for their members for another year – it would be the right thing to do.
However, with vaccinations ramping up around the world and the picture for domestic travel, if not international travel, looking more favourable these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if Marriott and Hyatt stopped short of a full status extension for 2022 and through early 2023.
Instead, for the 2022 qualifying year, I’m expecting both chains to continue to either offer a boost towards members’ elite qualifying nights (as Marriott has done so far) or reduce status requirements by a certain percentage (as Hyatt as done so far).
It’s great to see Hilton Honors extending status for its members across the board through to March 2023, giving members the peace of mind of not having to worry about status qualification for the remainder of 2021.
I look forward to continue checking out more Hilton hotels as a Diamond member in the coming months, and in the meantime, I hope their generous move will encourage Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt to follow suit with similar generosity in their plans for elite qualification in 2022.