Like it or not, the major hotel chains have all chosen to enforce expiration policies on the points balances held by their members. In normal times, this might not be a particular issue, but during the pandemic many people have stopped staying in hotels altogether! Although points expiration was paused in 2020, the major hotel chains are apparently planning to be less understanding going forward… Luckily there are alternative ways of keeping a hotel account active.
What are the Expiration Policies of the Major Chains?
Points expire if your account is inactive for a period of 18 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.
Points have a hard expiry of 4 years from the date earned! They also expire after 18 months of account inactivity.
How to Keep Your Points Alive Without a Hotel Stay
Most of the major chains offer regular promotions where they sell points at a discount. This is an ideal time to buy points, extending the life of your entire balance.
If you haven’t paid much attention and your points are due to expire imminently, you can buy the bare minimum at any time, usually costing you no more than $20 or so…
If you hold a co-branded credit card, you ought to have no problems keeping your account active. Even if the card isn’t your go-to card, it is easy enough to make a small purchase that earns you a few points. Just make sure that your statement date occurs before your points expire!
You can also convert American Express or Chase Ultimate Rewards points into a variety of hotel chain points. Some conversions are better value than others, but a minimum transfer can be a free and simple way to extend the life of any points balance.
If you aren’t travelling but a friend or family member is, you can earn 500 points by referring them to Choice Privileges. The points would be earned after that new member completes their first points-eligible stay.
You could 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 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 at least 30 days.
You can transfer your points to any other member. This will cost $5 for a 1,000 point transfer. Although this is normally a really bad idea, you would be keeping two separate accounts active for a mere $5.
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 would be extending the life of your points balance without spending any actual cash…
A great way to keep your account active is to convert some of your 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. This is a very poor ratio, but it does keep your Radisson points alive without cost.
World of Hyatt
There aren’t very many ways of earning Hyatt points without leaving home. A relatively painful suggestion is to convert 5,000 points – enough for a free night at a Category 1 hotel – into 2,000 airline miles.
Wyndham offers an online shopping portal where you can earn a handful of points for your online shopping. I can’t help you with the 4 years hard expiration policy though!