IHG reduces elite status requirements, extends reward night certificates

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The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) includes hotels like Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Kimpton, and InterContinental hotels. The IHG rewards program has three elite status levels (beyond the Club Member level you get just for signing up). It’s fairly easy to get IHG status with the right hotel credit card. The mid-tier Platinum status comes with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which currently has an all-time high bonus of 150,000 IHG points after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening.

IHG has also made temporary updates to its elite status requirements for this year and is extending the expiration date on the annual reward night certificates you can earn with an IHG credit card. Let’s take a look at how to earn IHG elite status and the perks that you get with each level and the details of the temporary changes.

IHG includes lots of beautiful hotels, like the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, but IHG elite status is short on useful benefits. (Photo by JT Genter)

IHG status review

IHG COVID-19 changes

As a result of COVID-19’s impact on travel IHG has made several changes to its elite status requirements and to the expiration dates for certain benefits. Below are the temporarily revised thresholds you need to meet to earn or maintain status.

If you have the IHG Premier Rewards Club card you’ll get Platinum status regardless of how many points you earn or nights you stay (or Gold status with the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card). So the change in status requirements won’t impact you, but IHG is also extending the expiration date of the annual reward night certificate you can earn with the IHG Premier card. If your reward night certificate is set to expire on March 1, 2020, or later, it will be extended through at least December 31, 2020. Also, all other reward night certificates issued in 2020 will be extended for an additional 6 months (18 months of total validity). You don’t need to call to get the extension, IHG will automatically update the certificates.

IHG brands

Personally, I’ve had IHG Platinum elite status for years because I get it free with my IHG credit card. IHG elite status is nice to have, but I’ve found that it’s not as valuable as comparable status levels with other hotel chains. For example, even the top-tier IHG Spire elite status doesn’t include free breakfast.

But IHG is a good sized hotel chain with 5,000+ locations worldwide. And it wasn’t long ago that they added Kimpton to their rewards program, which brought in lots of fun hotels to the chain.

The IHG brands include:

Once you’ve setup an IHG account, you’re ready to start earning elite status.

How to earn IHG status

IHG Rewards members can earn Gold, Platinum, or Spire elite status after meeting the following requirements:

  • Gold status – 10 elite night credits or 10,000 elite qualifying points
  • Platinum status – 40 elite night credits or 40,000 elite qualifying points
  • Spire status – 75 elite night credits or 75,000 elite qualifying points

If you have the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card or the old Chase IHG Select credit card (no longer available to new applicants) you’ll get automatic Platinum elite status.

Some hotel chains allow you to earn lifetime elite status, but IHG doesn’t offer that. So you’ll have to re-qualify every year.

IHG status perks

You’ll earn 10x IHG points per $1 spent with IHG hotels (5x IHG points for Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites locations). Just remember that you’ll only earn hotel points and elite status credit when you book directly with the hotel. So booking through 3rd-party sites, like Expedia or Orbitz, won’t earn you points or elite status credit.

All IHG members (including those without elite status) get complimentary internet access.

IHG Gold status

With Gold status you’ll get a 10% bonus on the base IHG points you earn. You’ll also have access to priority check-in and late check-out (when available). Gold status also entitles you to a welcome amenity at check-in. One of the underrated benefits of IHG status is the fact that when you have it, your IHG points won’t expire.

There’s not much going on at this level. The welcome amenity varies by hotel, but in my experience, it’s usually points or a bottle of water and a choice of a snack.  Access to the priority check-in line is essentially meaningless. I’ve stayed at dozens of IHG properties and on the few occasions when there was a priority check-in line I never needed it.

IHG Platinum status

With IHG Platinum status you’ll have access to all the benefits of Gold status and you’ll get a 50% bonus on the base points you earn. You are also eligible for room upgrades, when space is available. In addition, elite nights rollover from year to year, so any nights you stay in excess of what you need to earn your status will count toward earning status the next year. Platinum elites also have guaranteed room availability when booking 72 hours before arrival, this benefit is not valid on award nights.

The Platinum room upgrade benefit won’t apply to award stays. How upgrades are handled is up to the individual hotel and they aren’t required to upgrade you to a suite. I’ve found that generally, an upgraded room is usually for something minor, like a better view.

IHG Spire status

IHG Spire Elite status comes with very similar benefits to Platinum status. But you will earn a 100% bonus on base points, in additional to all the other perks granted to Platinum elites. The main benefit of earning Spire status is you’ll get Hertz Five Star Status and a choice of either 25,000 bonus IHG points or the ability to gift Platinum status to a friend or family member.

Other than Hertz Five Star elite status and the choice benefit, you don’t get much extra for being a Spire elite. Hertz Five-Star elite status does get you a one-class upgrade on rentals and additional bonus points, when booking directly with Hertz. So if you like renting from Hertz that’s useful.

For your choice benefit, the 25,000 IHG points make the most sense because Platinum status is easy to qualify for with the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. The 25,000 bonus IHG points are enough for a free night at a category four IHG hotel, according to the IHG award chart.

InterContinental Ambassador program

IHG also has a special program that’s similar to elite status called InterContinental Ambassador. You have to pay $200 or 40,000 IHG points for a one-year membership and you’ll only get perks specifically at InterContinental hotels & resorts. If you purchased an Ambassador membership in the first six months of 2019, your membership is being extended by six months to account for the current pandemic and this will also include an update in the expiration date of your weekend night voucher.

The perks you get include a guaranteed one category room upgrade, 4:00 pm late check-out, restaurants & bar credit of up to $20 per stay, complimentary mineral water, free internet and IHG Platinum status. Each year you’ll also get a complimentary weekend night, but the weekend night certificate is only valid as the second night of a paid stay. So don’t think of it as a free night certificate, but something closer to a 50% discount (assuming both nights are the same price). You’ll also get a few extra benefits for stays in mainland China, including free breakfast for one person each night of your stay and a 15% discount at restaurants and bars.

If you stay at InterContinental hotels a lot, this program is worth looking into. Otherwise, the benefits aren’t worth the cost in most cases.

Bottom line

IHG status is helpful if you frequently stay at IHG hotels, but it comes up short when you compare the benefits you get with other hotel chain elite statues. For example, Hilton’s mid-tier Gold status comes with free breakfast. And if you earn Hyatt’s top-tier Globalist status by accumulating enough nights, base points or meetings, you’ll have four guaranteed suite upgrades (of up to seven nights each) and at least one category 1-4 free night award and a category 1-7 free night award.

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Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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