Hilton Slashes 2021 Elite Status Requirements, Extends Point Expiration Pause

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Hilton just announced several positive changes to the 2021 Hilton Honors program in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The changes include extending elite status, extending the pause on points expiration, and reducing the qualifications needed to earn elite status in 2021.

The hotel chain also announced positive changes for Hilton Honors American Express cardholders. Here are the full details of the COVID-19-related changes and updates.

Hilton Honors Elite Status Extensions

In March 2020, Hilton announced that elite members who were scheduled to have their status downgraded on March 31, 2020 would receive an automatic extension through March 31, 2021.

Now, the hotel chain has further extended the validity of elite status. All members that currently hold elite status will maintain their status and all associated benefits through March 31, 2022.

Enjoy elite status with the Hilton Honors program through March 31, 2022 and receive elite benefits at properties like the Waldorf Astoria in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Changes To Honors Elite Status Qualifications in 2021

Arguably the most significant change to the Hilton Honors program is 2021 elite qualification. In 2021, you will need to earn just half the number of nights, stays, or points to obtain elite status. Elite status can be obtained after earning the following nights, stays, or base points:

  • Silver — Earn Silver after 5 nights, 2 stays, or 12,500 base points
  • Gold — Earn Gold after 20 nights, 10 stays, or 37,000 base points
  • Diamond — Earn Diamond after 30 nights, 15 stays, or 60,000 base points

The 2021 elite status tier structure is quite generous. It will actually be easier to obtain Diamond status in 2021 than it is to obtain Gold status typically. Hilton Honors Diamond status comes with a suite of benefits that include 100% bonus points each stay and room upgrades.

Elite Status Gifting

The qualifications required to gift status as a Diamond member will also be cut in half in 2021. In 2021, Diamond members will need to hit just 60 nights to gift Diamond status to another Honors member. Typically, Diamond members need to achieve 100 nights in a calendar year to gift Diamond elite status to another member.

To gift Gold status to another Hilton Honors member in 2021, members will need to earn 30 nights compared to the current requirement of 60 nights.

Changes to Milestone Bonus Achievements

Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members enjoy Milestone Bonuses after achieving a certain number of eligible nights in a calendar year. For example, in 2020, Hilton Honors members earn 10,000 points every 10 nights starting when they reach the 40-night mark. Members that reach the 60-night mark earn an additional 30,000 points.

Hilton Honors Milestone Rewards in a typical year
The current Hilton Honors Milestone Bonus qualifications will be replaced with easier to reach qualifications in 2021.

For 2021, Hilton is reducing the number of nights needed to reach these Milestone Bonuses.

Starting January 1, 2021, members can begin earning Milestone Bonuses after just 20 nights. Upon reaching the 20-night mark in 2021, Hilton Honors members will begin earning 10,000 Honors points every 10 nights. Members will still need to reach the 60-night mark to start earning 30,000 points.

Nights Earned in 2020 Will Rollover To 2021

As announced in September 2020, any nights you earn in 2020 will roll over and count toward 2021 elite status qualification. Even if you only manage to stay 2 nights with Hilton in 2020, you'll only need to earn 3 more nights to obtain Silver status in 2021.

While nights earned in 2020 will count towards elite status in 2021, they will not count towards Milestone Bonuses or the ability to gift elite status. Nevertheless, rollover nights make it significantly easier to reach status.

Hilton rolls over excess elite nights earned by elite members. So, if you earn more than 30 nights for 2021, you can roll over the excess towards elite status qualification in 2022.

Points Won't Expire Until 2022

Like many other loyalty programs, Hilton has suspended expiration of points. Hilton initially extended the expiration pause of Honors points in March and again in August. Now, members can enjoy peace of mind knowing that their points won't start expiring until January 1, 2022.

As a reminder, the expiration date for your Hilton points is pushed back each time you complete a stay or earn points. This includes earning points with any Hilton Honors American Express credit card.

Changes to Hilton Honors American Express Card Benefits

Benefits available to Hilton Honors co-branded credit cardholders have also been extended through the end of 2021. As reported by Doctor of Credit, any base points you earned as a cardholder in 2020 will roll over to 2021. Points earned as a cardholder in 2021 will continue to count as Base Points towards elite status — including Lifetime Diamond status.

Additionally, any free weekend night certificates issued in 2021 can be used any night of the week, not just weekends. Certificates earned in 2021 will not expire until December 31, 2022. Unfortunately, free weekend night certificates earned in 2020 will still expire on December 31, 2021.

The three personal Hilton Honors American Express credit cards are among the best credit cards for earning hotel rewards points. Each of the these cards is offering a lucrative welcome bonus:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — Earn 150,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, enjoy a free Weekend Night Reward within your first year and every year after renewal.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card — Earn 130,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card — Earn 80,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Earn Double Honors Points and Nights in 2020

Hilton Honors is also offering members the ability to earn double points and double elite qualifying nights through December 31, 2020. To register for this promotion or to see if you're already registered, click this link and begin the registration process.

To clarify, this promotion is not retroactive. Registering now won't have any effect on points or nights earned earlier this year. But you can still earn both double points and double elite qualifying nights through the end of the year.

As a reminder, any nights earned in 2020 will roll over and count towards elite status in 2021. That means you will earn elite status in 2021 by staying just three nights with Hilton this year. When those 6 elite nights roll over from 2020 to 2021, it'll be enough to satisfy the reduced requirements for Silver status.

Earn Double Points and Double Nights with Hilton through the end of 2020
Register to earn both double points and double nights with Hilton through the end of 2020.

The Bottom Line

In a press release, Hilton Hotels noted that the hotel chain “remains committed to providing maximum flexibility to its 108 million Hilton Honors members.”

Though Hilton's COVID-19 related changes are similar to those made by other major hotel chains, Hilton's changes have been the most extensive so far. Additionally, Hilton is one of the few major hotels that has created a dedicated landing page that outlines all of the changes made to the chain's Hilton Honors program.

Loyal Hilton Honors members that were concerned about their elite status can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Plus, travelers who might not otherwise qualify for elite status have a fast track to elite status next year.

Do Hilton's most recent round of changes go far enough? Will the varying responses to the on-going pandemic by major hotel chains impact your loyalty in 2021?

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