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Update: The free reservation change/cancellation policies noted below are no longer available. Existing reservations needed to be changed or cancelled by June 30, 2020, and new reservations needed to be booked by June 30, 2020.
In a time of great uncertainty—both in travel and in general—Hilton continues to do right by its customers. Hilton recently extended the expiration date of free weekend night certificates for cardholders. Now, Hilton has announced even greater flexibility for Hilton Honors members in three categories: status, points, and reservations.
- 2019 Status Extension: All members whose status was scheduled to be downgraded on March 31, 2020 will automatically receive an extension through March 31, 2021.
- 2020 Status Extension: Member status from 2020 will be extended through March 31, 2022. That means you'll keep the status you earned for 2020 today for the next 24 months.
- Points Extension: Hilton is pausing the expiration of Hilton Honors points through December 31, 2020.
- Existing Reservations: All reservations scheduled for arrival between now and June 30, 2020 can be changed or canceled at no charge. Changes must be made 24 hours before your scheduled arrival day. This includes non-refundable Advanced Purchase reservations.
- New Reservations: All reservations that are booked before June 30, 2020 can be changed or canceled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival day. This also includes non-refundable Advanced Purchase reservations.
Elite Status Extension
Hilton's announcement essentially gives anyone with status—whether that was during 2019 or during 2020—an extra year of status. For travelers who earn Hilton Honors elite status through hotel stays, this is fantastic news. During a travel hiatus of unknown length, qualifying for hotel status through stays/nights could be quite difficult.
For those who qualify for Hilton Honors status by holding a credit card—such as the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card—this policy change presumably means you could downgrade or cancel your card and still maintain the status that comes with it. With global travel at a virtual standstill, now is a great time to assess your credit card portfolio.
Points Expiration Pause
Good news if you have Hilton Honors points scheduled to expire soon. Hilton is pausing the expiration of points through December 31, 2020. That takes the pressure off travelers that were at risk of losing their Hilton points and couldn't travel to extend the expiration date. While there are many ways to extend Hilton Honors points, this is a nice gesture.
Increased flexibility for booking hotel reservations gives Hilton Honors the biggest boost out of all announcements so far. Not only does this allow existing reservations to be canceled without charge, but also stir-crazy would-be travelers can take advantage of lower hotel rates for future stays without sacrificing any flexibility should such a trip not come to fruition.
For those forced to cancel trips due to COVID-19, this is a great opportunity to plan and book replacement trips. Should future plans be impacted, you will be able to change or cancel at no extra charge.
Coupled with the extension of free weekend night certificates, Hilton has cemented itself as a hotel chain doing the right thing for its members. Hilton's generosity extends beyond its hotel loyalty program as well. Hilton spelled out in the same email how it's working to help healthcare workers and donating to organizations helping those impacted by COVID-19.
This increased flexibility in multiple aspects of the Hilton Honors program builds trust and loyalty among its members. Once business and leisure travel resumes, Hilton surely wants to maintain its mainstay of customers. Doing right by them in the meantime will go a long way in making sure that happens.
For information on how other hotel chains are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, check out:
- Airline, Hotel Programs Begin Limiting Non-Travel Redemption Options
- Hyatt Suspends Points Expiration, Delays Peak Award Pricing, Provides Cancellation Options
- Choice Hotels Suspends Points Expiration, Provides Flexible Cancellation Policies
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