New Hilton changes: extended 2021 free night certs, reduced elite requirements, and more

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Hilton Honors has announced some new customer-friendly adjustments to the program in light of the current pandemic. The real highlight here is that in addition to the extension in place for 2020 free night certificates, now 2021-issued Free Weekend Night certificates will be valid any day of the year and up to December 31, 2022. That is awesome, particularly for those hesitant about travel this year or next year but who feel safer betting on 2022 travel. There are also other bits including an elite status extension and reduced 2021 requirements that stack with rollover nights.

Free Weekend Night Certs stay awesome another year

The Conrad Bora Bora, where I used Hilton free night certificates last year.

Ordinarily, Free Weekend Night certificates issued from the Hilton Honors credit cards (like the annual free night that comes with the Aspire card or the free night that can be earned with $15K spend in a calendar year on the Surpass) are only valid on weekend nights (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in most of the world) and only for a year from the date of issue.

However, this year it was previously announced that free night certificates issued from May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 would be valid any night of the week and for two years. That was great news.

Today, Hilton announces that Free Weekend Night certificates issued in 2021 will enjoy similar flexibility: they will be valid any night of the week and until December 31, 2022, meaning that everyone will get at least a year to use their 2021 certificates and some cardholders will get significantly more time.

Given that Hilton free night certificates are not category-restricted, this is awesome news. If you have earned any free night certificates since May, you could theoretically stack those with all of the free night certificates you earn next year and those earned in early 2022 for a 2022 trip (and use the certs from 2020 and 2021 any night of the week).

Elite status requirements reduced

Hilton has also announced a 50% reduction in the 2021 elite tier requirements for stays, nights, or base points. Ordinary elite status requirements and 2021 adjustments will be as follows:

Status level Nights per year required Lifetime status requirements Key benefits 2021 Requirements
Silver 4 stays, 10 nights or 25,000 base points N/A 20% bonus on base points, 2 bottles of water at most full-service properties 2 stays, 5 nights, or 12,500 base points
Gold 20 stays, 40 nights, or 75,000 base points N/A 80% bonus on base points, free breakfast 10 stays, 20 nights, or 37,500 base points
Diamond 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 base points 10 years of Diamond status plus either 1,000 lifetime nights or 2 million base points earned 100% bonus on base points, free breakfast, lounge access 15 stays, 30 nights, or 60,000 base points

 

While Hilton elite status is easy to get via credit card or status match, the reduced requirements here will make it quite easy to earn based on stay activity as well. Making the path easier yet is the fact that all nights earned in 2020 will roll over to 2021. In other words, staying 15 nights this year and 15 nights next year can combine to earn Diamond status in 2021 (which will be valid for the rest of 2021 and all of 2022). That’s not a bad deal for someone who is not interested in picking up the Hilton Aspire card.

Status and expiration extensions

Hilton has also announced that those members who were set to downgrade in status in 2020 or 2021 will keep their status through March 31, 2022. Furthermore, no points will expire until December 31, 2021. That should give members plenty of time to get some activity that keeps points alive.

Milestone and elite status gift reductions

In addition to the reduced elite requirements above, 2021 Milestone benefits will begin at 20 nights (rather than the usual 40 nights). Members will earn 10,000 bonus points after 20 nights and each 10 nights after that (with the standard 30K bonus points still coming at 60 nights).

Additionally, Diamond members who stay 30 nights in 2021 will be able to gift Gold status to another member (this ordinarily requires 60 nights). Those who stay 60 nights in 2021 will be able to upgrade that to Diamond status (normally requires 100 nights).

Bottom line

This is all positive news for Hilton Honors members as it means that it will be easier than ever to earn elite status and additional benefits. Furthermore, free night certificates earned this year and next year will continue to be more valuable than usual. In my opinion, the strength of those free night certificates significantly improves the value of both the Hilton Honors Aspire and Hilton Honors Surpass cards given that either could help you put together a nice 2022 trip with certificates earned this year, next year, and the following year.

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