Courtesy of IHG Hotels & Resorts
Courtesy of IHG Hotels & Resorts
Start earning points toward free nights at hotels under the IHG umbrella, like the Kimpton St Honoré Paris.
New elite tiers, earnings structures, and enhanced benefits are part of IHG One Rewards, which coincides with the rebrand of IHG Rewards credit cards.
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Following the relaunch of IHG Rewards credit cards in March 2022, global hospitality company IHG Hotels and Resorts has unveiled a much-anticipated and somewhat-improved new loyalty program, IHG One Rewards.
The program’s predecessor, IHG Rewards program, lacked many of the elite perks that make programs like Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy so popular. (Hello, free breakfast and noteworthy room upgrades!) Thankfully, IHG has now regrouped to make its loyalty program more competitive and attractive, although the full suite of new benefits doesn’t kick in until June 2022.
Find out more about IHG’s growing portfolio of hotels, plus tips for earning IHG points through the new rewards program now.
IHG stands for InterContinental Hotel Group but its greater portfolio spans more than a dozen brands beyond InterContinental properties. Under the IHG umbrella, you’ll find familiar names like Kimpton, Six Senses, Crowne Plaza, and even Holiday Inn, amounting to 6,000-plus properties globally (with 1,800 more in-progress at press time).
IHG’s brands are grouped under four separate collections. These are:
Through the IHG One Rewards loyalty program, IHG points can be earned and/or redeemed for stays at any hotels within the collections. Earning with the new program is pretty straightforward but redeeming, not so much. First, reward stays depend on inventory. Some coveted hotels like the Kimpton St Honoré Paris seem to have award inventory year-round while our search for the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso yielded five nights across all of 2022 bookable with points (despite IHG claiming there are no blackout dates). Next, if there is inventory, the number of points charged is based on a dynamic pricing model that accounts for factors like peak versus off-peak season and the property’s going rate in dollars. In the most general sense, standard rooms cost between 10,000 points per night and 120,000 points per night, depending on the hotel.
Under the new IHG One Rewards loyalty program, there are four elite tiers (up from a previous three) and better rates for elites looking to earn bonus points on their stays.
Anyone can sign up for the program through the IHG website and attain basic Club status. At this level, you’ll collect points on stays (but with no bonus multiplier), get free internet, and even be able to request a 2 p.m. checkout (a new perk starting in June). Elite status begins at Silver, progressing to Gold, Platinum, and finally Diamond Elite, previously known as Spire Elite. Each tier brings an added layer of benefits, one of which is a bonus multiplier on points earned during stays to help travelers earn points faster (as outlined above). These bonus multipliers kicked in on April 13, 2022.
Achieving elite status requires members to bank a minimum number of qualifying nights at IHG properties per calendar year or amass a certain number of IHG-elite qualifying points per calendar year. Elite qualifying points are achieved through IHG hotel stays, spending on IHG-branded credit cards, and even transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to the IHG One Rewards program. (However, note that new cardmember welcome bonuses do not count as elite qualifying.) That said, those who acquire or already have an IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card (annual fee $99) or an IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (annual fee $99) automatically gain Platinum Elite status, bypassing all requirements of minimum stays and spending.
A major issue with IHG’s previous rewards program was a lack of solid benefits for its top elite members and minimal enforcement of existing perks like priority check-in and space-available upgrades. According to IHG leadership, this will be improved through the new program.
Elite members should now have more opportunities for early check-in, availability-based late checkout (2 p.m.), and room upgrades. Upgrades can escalate as high as suites or other premium room types for Platinum Elite and Diamond Elite members. Platinum Elite and Diamond Elite members also have exclusive access to reward night discount promotions (sometimes up to 20 percent). Moreover, Diamond Elites will be able to choose free breakfast as a Welcome Amenity (far more valuable than the previous welcome offering of a measly 600 IHG points.) True, that’s a nice improvement, but considering that equivalent food and beverage credits are given even at the Gold level for Hilton Honors members, we wouldn’t call this new benefit game-changing in the least.
Finally, the IHG One Rewards program will introduce Milestone Rewards. Beginning at 20 IHG nights, and then awarded every 10 nights thereafter, members will be able to choose Milestone Rewards like food and beverage credits in $20 increments, a confirmable suite upgrade, or an annual IHG lounge membership after 40 nights (there are lounges at select InterContinental and Crowne Plaza hotels). A maximum of nine Milestone Rewards can be earned per calendar year.
Below is a summary of benefits by new elite tiers. All benefits will be live by June 2022.
The quickest way to score lots of IHG points is by signing up for one of its newly branded credit cards. Both the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and the IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card carry a $99 annual fee and are offering a welcome bonus of 140,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. Meanwhile, the no annual fee IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card is luring new cardholders with an introductory bonus twice its usual amount—120,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months.
Beyond the hefty bonus, these cards make it easy to rack up IHG points through spending. With the Premier card, earn five points per dollar on all non-IHG travel, dining, and gas plus three points per dollar on everything else. The Premier Business card has the same earnings structure as the personal with the addition of earning five points per dollar spent on marketing for your business. With the Traveler card, earn three points per dollar on utilities, internet, cable, phone, select streaming services, dining, and gas, plus two points per dollar on everything else.
Using any of these cards at IHG properties will earn you oodles of points, but the Premier and Premier Business cards promise a points palooza. With either the Premier or Premier Business card, you’ll first earn 26 points per dollar on purchases made with/at IHG hotels and resorts. Then, given the automatic Platinum Elite status that comes with either card, you’ll also get a 60 percent bonus on the base points earned through your stay.
In general, you earn 10 base points for every dollar spent at most IHG hotels (except 5 per $1 at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites). So, if you booked just one night at, say, the Kimpton St Honoré Paris that came out to $500 including tax, you’d earn 13,000 IHG points by using the Premier or Premier Business card and then another 8,000 IHG points for the actual stay (5,000 base points with 60 percent bonus), for a total of 21,000 IHG points. It’s almost too good to be true! Those with the Traveler card earn 17 points per dollar on purchases made with/at IHG hotels and resorts. For this Paris hotel example, it would amount to 13,500 IHG points earned (8,500 for using the Traveler Card, plus 5,000 base points). That’s still substantial.
IHG Hotels and Resorts’ revamped loyalty program, IHG One Rewards, is a definite improvement from its predecessor, but we won’t really see how it all pans out at the hotel level until June. Since the new program’s earning structure is already in effect, we recommend getting the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or the IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card now for big introductory bonuses, to earn mega-points on stays at IHG hotels, score automatic Platinum Elite status, and soon enjoy all the new perks that come with being Platinum.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.
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