If you are like me, you don’t really think too much about when your hotel points might expire. Even though your accumulated balances might be worth thousands of pounds, a regular traveller is always going to need a hotel – so keeping your hotel loyalty accounts active is rarely an issue. Until now of course… We all hope that the coronavirus crisis will pass in a matter of weeks, but what if it takes much longer? And what if one or more hotel chains decides not to be sensible and waive expiry, but instead treats the crisis as an opportunity to wipe a large liability off of its books?
Luckily there are ways to keep your hotel chain accounts active, even when you are not travelling…
The first thing to consider is how to easily monitor your expiry dates. Award Wallet is the best tool available to track your points expiry. Michele has 4 premium memberships to give away for the first four people who sign up with this link and use a specific code (new users only).To qualify to win, just comment below with “I’d like free premium AwardWallet”.
What are the Expiry Policies of the Major Chains?
Accor Live Limitless
Points expire if you do not have at least one hotel stay every 12 months!
Points expire if your account is inactive for a period of 15 months.
IHG Rewards Club
Points expire 12 months after the last activity on your account, unless you have elite status.
Points expire after 24 months of inactivity, unless you have elite status.
Points expire if you have no earning or redeeming activity on your account during a 24-month period.
World of Hyatt
Points expire if you are not active during a period of 24 months.
American Express Membership Rewards
If you collect points from American Express, you can convert these into hotel points at three of the above-mentioned chains. Here are the minimum transfer amounts:
- Hilton Honors – 200 MR points (1 MR point = 2 Honors points)
- Marriott Bonvoy – 400 MR points (2 MR points = 3 Marriott points)
- Radisson Rewards – 3 MR points (1 MR point = 3 Radisson points)
Even the smallest conversion of American Express points will keep your hotel account active.
Co-Branded Credit Cards
In the UK, co-branded credit cards are offered by IHG Rewards Club and Marriott Bonvoy. You might also have the Hilton Barclaycard tucked away in a sock drawer. If you already have one or more of these cards, putting periodic spend through it (such as a Netflix subscription) will keep your account active without any thought.
If you are panicking to avoid an imminent expiry of hotels points, signing up for a new credit card is unlikely to be a viable solution.
With the exception of Accor, all of the major chains sell points. Buying points will count as activity and extend the life of your points.
If your points are in imminent danger of expiring, you can purchase the absolute minimum that each chain sells. This shouldn’t cost you much more than £10-20. If you plan a bit further in advance (or happen to be lucky), you might be able to buy points during a bonus promotion. These promotions often require that you purchase more than the minimum, but I regularly find excellent value in buying hotel points during these promos.
Don’t rely on the “Book an Award Night, Then Cancel It” trick
Spending points on an award night certainly counts as activity. Depending on how the hotel chain has set up its IT processes, the cancellation of an award night also appears as a separate activity. As a result, it can be tempting to simply book an award night and then cancel it a few days later. Your expiry dates will certainly update, but you might receive some bad news later on…
If you redeem Points for a Stay and subsequently cancel that Stay, the redemption activity does not prevent Point expiration. [IHG Rewards Club]
Simple chain-specific options for avoiding points expiry
Although there are dozens of ways of posting activity to your hotel point account – without actually staying at a hotel – here are some of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of remaining active…
Accor Live Limitless
If you have at least 2,000 points in your account, you can convert them into a 40 euro voucher (for spending at Accor hotels), or airline miles.
Unfortunately I’m not aware of any redemption options for balances of less than 2,000 points, even those left over after spending chunks of 2,000 points on vouchers or miles.
Pool your points with a friend or family member. This won’t cost you anything and you will extend the lifetime of your points, as well as those of the lucky recipient. Click here to be taken to the required form.
You must pool / transfer a minimum of 1,000 points and both sender and recipient must have had an Honors account for longer than 30 days.
IHG Rewards Club
You can transfer your points to any other member. This will cost $5 for a 1,000 point transfer. Even though this offers poor value compared to simply buying points, you would be keeping two separate accounts active for a mere £4.
You can also spend IHG points on a digital download. You should be able to find an e-book or magazine for 250 points or less. You will most likely have zero interest in the subject matter, but will be extending the life of your points balance without spending any actual cash…
Convert Marriott points into airline miles. Unlike most other hotel chains, Marriott’s 3:1 ratio (points to miles) is quite reasonable. The minimum conversion is 3,000 points –> 1,000 miles. Of course, if you convert exactly 60,000 Marriott points, you will receive 25,000 miles (a 25% bonus).
You can convert 2,000 Radisson points into 200 airline miles.
World of Hyatt
Believe it or not, the only way to keep Hyatt points from expiring (without leaving home) is to book an award night in a Category 1 hotel for 5,000 points. Alternatively, you can convert 5,000 points into 2,000 airline miles. (destroying about 50-70% of their value…)
What are the current concessions for points expiry in 2020?
Hilton will also pause the expiration of all Points scheduled to expire between now and 31 December 31, 2020.
Bonvoy has paused Points expiration for those scheduled to expire between now and 31 August 2020. No changes will be made to the Points expiration date and Points will remain in the Member’s Account until the end of August 2020.
Radisson Hotels has extended its point expiration policy by 6 months, from 1 March 2020.
Hyatt will be suspending the expiration of points until 31 May 2020.
The 30-Second Lowdown
There really is no excuse for allowing your hotel points to expire. I usually prefer to buy a handful of points if necessary, keeping my entire balance safe from expiry.
But if you have the appropriate credit card, you can easily keep your hotel points alive. If not… and you refuse to spend any money, you can usually spend a small number of points on something. It might not be the best use of points, but it will be a non-cash way of keeping the bulk of your points balance going…